The Best Hotels in Monaco, Including One of the Most Expensive Pools in the World

This high-status hideaway in the Carré d'Or makes quite the splash

October 14, 2022 6:33 am
Karl Lagerfeld standing behind the Odyssey
A pool designed by Karl Lagerfeld himself.
Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo

Few places exude the glamor of Monte-Carlo in the Principality of Monaco: It’s been the location for splashy Hollywood movies like GoldenEye; Hercules Port displays a dazzling collection of massive yachts; and McLarens, Ferraris and Lamborghinis park in front of the famous Casino de Monte-Carlo where millionaires and billionaires play baccarat, roulette and blackjack. Not to mention, virtually every esteemed luxury jewelry and fashion brand — from Bvlgari and Cartier to Chanel and Dior — has a storefront along the Monte-Carlo Shopping Promenade. 

In the middle of all this ritziness sits Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo. Built in 1886 and renovated by acclaimed French architect and interior designer Jaques Garcia, it’s the only independently operated Belle Époque-style property in the Carré d’Or, the opulent area around Casino Square. The hotel draws a steady stream of royals, diplomats and celebrities. And yet, the most noteworthy attribute is the heated sea-water pool — that rivals all others in terms of price tag and prestige. One square meter of real estate in the Carré d’Or section of Monte-Carlo costs $100,000, which makes it one of the most expensive spots to take a dip in the entire world.

View of the Odyssey
Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo

Years ago, the owners of the hotel had the opportunity to build an additional tower with rooms and suites that would fetch thousands of dollars a night, but instead, they decided that creating an exclusive hideaway was more important. Then came a seminal moment: Karl Lagerfeld — the man credited with reviving Chanel — signed on to spearhead the project. The fashion designer, photographer and all-around sartorial legend conceived the entire rooftop, dubbed The Odyssey. His fingerprints are all over the oasis comprising the aforementioned uber-pricey pool, an elegantly tiled sundeck with private cabanas and striking views of the Mediterranean Sea and a poolside restaurant-lounge and gorgeous gardens.

“The space is utterly unique and we wanted the world’s finest signature in design to honor this very special place,” says Serge Ethuin, General Manager at Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo. I had the privilege of going on a tour this past summer and can confirm that it’s just as stylish as you’d imagine. The whole setup looks like it was tailor-made to serve as the backdrop for editorial photo shoots in high-fashion magazines. Walking past the tidy row of sun loungers that provide a chic spot to catch rays and snap pictures after cooling off, I couldn’t help but imagine models sprawled out, posing for the camera. 

View of the pool from a cabana
Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo

The pool is open to the air in the summer and covered by a canopy in colder months, it’s actually possible (and actually rather cozy) to swim even when the temperature dips. A glass mural created by Lagerfeld himself, and depicting the voyage of Ulysses, defines the aesthetic of the pool deck. And It’s even more mesmerizing in the evening when lights shine from under the water. A playlist of tunes curated by sound artist Béatrice Ardisson completes the chill mood — whether it’s day or night. 

If you’re not lucky enough to be a guest at the hotel, you can still snag a reservation for lunch or dinner poolside — which I would recommend just for the chance to soak in the ambiance. Chef Christophe Cussac, a protege of the legendary Joel Robuchon, runs the Odyssey restaurant-lounge terrace and serves seasonally-influenced Mediterranean cuisine. The drinks have the same polish yet whimsical vibe. (I recommend the L’Indalo cocktail, a mix of Milagro tequila, red pepper, raspberries, shiso and bitter lemon.)

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Besides the distinctive rooftop — and, of course, its crown-jewel pool — Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo has plenty more lavish amenities, accommodations and even restaurants. There are only three Givenchy spas in the whole world: Switzerland, Morocco and Monaco. The Spa at Metropole by Givenchy treats weary travelers to luxury facials and body rituals in a marble-clad sanctuary of self-care. 

It’s easy to see why people who have the means to stay anywhere, opt to stay in the hotel’s well-appointed guest quarters that blend the allure of old and new. Sunlight streams through the windows into rooms draped in plush fabrics, Carrara marble bathrooms are stocked with Hermès toiletries, and, located on the top floor, the jaw-dropping Suite Carre d’Or flaunts Louis XVI furniture, walls covered in Pierre Frey tapestries and a terrace with panoramic views of Monte-Carlo. 

The dining area
Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo

Run by chef Takeo Yamazaki, Yoshi has the distinction of being the only Japanese restaurant on the Cote d’Azur to be awarded a Michelin star. Diners can feast on dishes like yellowfin tuna tartare with caviar and fine sake in a tranquil Japanese-inspired garden. The Lobby Bar is equally impressive. Bow tie-attired bartenders mix up cocktails, from classic to creative — including a signature blue-hued libation called Sea You at M that helps support the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco — and rich jewel tones dominate the decor. The cuisine is Mediterranean with a contemporary and indulgent twist. I’m still thinking about the lobster salad with speck, which I devoured at a table on the shaded terrace. During the colder months, I would happily tuck into one of the intimate indoor booths before heading up to the rooftop to see that glorious pool — covered but still the crown jewel of Monte-Carlo.


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