After a week of filming in Cote d'Azur and Milan, it was almost time to go home. The plan included a Lake Como tour, but bad weather forced us to abort that. A member of the team had a scheduled drive at Monza with Puresport the following day (for an update on our review), and the timing for that event was not flexible. Consequently, Como had to wait.
Despite the disappointment, I consoled myself with one thing. I was going to spend a day and a half in Monaco before returning to Seattle. Since there were no direct flights from Milan to Nice (maybe I was looking in the wrong places), I joined the Cannes-based crew for the drive back to the French Riviera.
As we closed in on Monaco, the Director of Photography asked me, "What hotel will you be staying in Monaco?" To which I replied. "The Hermitage, " with a smile on my face.
The hotel's official name is Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo. It's often referred to as Hotel Hermitage Monaco, or Hermitage Hotel Monaco, but I refer to it as "The Hermitage." Please humor me.
This was my first trip to Monaco (I didn't make the trip when we filmed the Monaco tour in 2022), and given the principality's size, I hoped to catch as many sights as possible. However, having only one full day at my disposal and being exhausted from filming for four days straight, it was a tall order.
The city-state had been on my list for a while, so the added excitement of staying at the place Société des Bains de Mer (SBM) qualifies as "the most elegant hotel in Monaco" was more than enough to soothe the disappointment of not visiting Como.
For those who may not be familiar with SBM, it is a publicly-traded company that owns arguably the most prominent properties in Monaco. These include Casino de Monte Carlo, Hotel de Paris, and Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo.
Casino de Monte Carlo is to Monaco what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. This truly magnifique (as the French would say) building has been featured in numerous high-profile movies, and you're not likely to find any write-up on Monte Carlo that doesn't mention it.
Once I arrived at the hotel, it was obvious right from the front door that I was in for a treat. The elegance of Monaco hit me right away. The Belle- Époque architecture was even more alluring live than in photographs. Here I was at one of SBM's finest, and I didn't have to worry about filming.
The front of the hotel had a handful of exotics cars, and the exquisite-looking Salvatore Ferragamo and Giorgio Armani stores added a nice touch to the front of the building.
These summarized what Monaco means to most people – a playground of the rich and famous. As cliché as that sounds, it's very evident on the streets of Monaco, and the Hermitage unapologetically highlights that fact.
The Hermitage has a wide range of rooms available, including various "Diamond Suites." Described as the most beautiful suites on the French Riviera, a desire to indulge means you should select one of these during your visit.
The suites have top-notch amenities, including multiple bedrooms, jacuzzis, and elegantly furnished living areas. The top-of-the-line Princely Suite has enough space to accommodate nine people. It has three bedrooms, two terraces, and a gorgeous panoramic view of the Mediterranean.
Like at the Negresco, I was escorted to my room and shown the hotel's amenities (it must be a French thing). My room had a balcony with a view of Port Hercule, the harbor famous for its collection of superyachts. It was everything I had hoped for, and I could have stayed there all day if I had more time to spend in Monaco.
After a great night's sleep, I woke up to a regatta of sailboats in full view from my balcony. I had no idea if this was a special event or the status quo for every Saturday morning, but that didn't matter. It was a very appealing view from a hotel room - the perfect way to relax after a week of hard work.
While you won't find the extensive art collection available at the Negresco, the hotel's interior is no less appealing. Walking through the hallway of the Hermitage from Lobby Beaumarchais to Lobby Jardin D'hiver reveals a very tastefully finished interior similar to what you'd expect to see in a castle. It reminded me of the Palace of Versailles but without the unnecessary extravagance of the infamous palace.
Just after the reception area, you'll encounter Le Limun, a bar/light meal area that's a favorite meeting place for business people. It's a great place to get refreshments after an exhausting afternoon of shopping. Speaking of shopping, there's no shortage of options as you'll find popular designer and jewelry stores in the building or right across the street at Hotel de Paris.
Further down from Le Limun, you'll find Le Crystal, a bar that's great for enjoying drinks with friends or colleagues. An interesting fact about the bar is that it moves to the Excelsior Gardens during the summer, where you can enjoy your evening drinks under the stars.
As you wander down the hallway, you'll encounter a Michelin-starred restaurant with Hotel Hermitage's Yannick Alleno in charge of the fine gourmet cuisine. There's an interesting story here. The restaurant, Yannick Alléno à l’Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo was renamed after Chef Yannick in recognition of his culinary prowess, so you can be sure that your taste buds will be delighted if you choose to dine here.
Outside of appealing décor and great restaurants, what else does the Hermitage have to offer? That may be the wrong question to ask. The right question is: what will you miss at the Hermitage? And I can confidently tell you that you'll miss very little. If I to had guess what people enjoy most about their stay at the Hermitage, it would be a visit to Thermse Marins Monte-Carlo. Accessible to guests of the Hermitage and Hotel de Paris, this is a luxurious wellness and beauty center with oversized windows that offer breathtaking views of Port Hercule and La Roche.
Equipped with a gorgeous pool and solarium, fitness area, and world-class spa services, this place ensures all that French cuisine won't add anything to your waistline. But beyond the fitness options, the relaxing environment and sublime views may entice you to spend most of your time in Monaco here.
Thermes Marins Monte Carlo also houses L'Hirondell restaurant, which specializes in healthy Mediterranean cuisine. Here, you're in the good hands of Chef Jean-Laurent Basile, who has also offered his services at other SBM properties before arriving at L'Hirondell. If you can't get enough of the view of the Mediterranean Sea, you have to opt to dine on the terrace. There's no better way to enjoy a meal.
Are you interested in the beach or golf? You can take advantage of the Monte Carlo Beach Club's private beach or a day of golfing on the 18-hole golf course at the Monte Carlo Golf Club. Beyond enjoying the game, the views of the Mediterranean Sea will convince you that you're in paradise. Guests staying at SBM hotels get a special rate to get into the club.
Looking to host an event? The Hermitage has you covered. Depending on the number of guests you have and the type of event you plan to host, the hotel has multiple options to offer. These include Salon Excelsior and its sea-facing terrace, Salle Belle Epoque with its gorgeous oversized chandelier (great for hosting banquets), and Salon Eiffel, which is more suitable for conferences and meetings.
It goes without saying that the Hermitage left quite an impression. However, it's fair to wonder if I'm now able to cross Monaco off the list of places I plan to visit. The answer to that is; absolutely not. If anything, my short stay only increased my desire to explore the principality.
I didn't get to see the Prince's Palace or visit the good folks at the Oceanographic Museum who were so hospitable while we were filming our Monaco tour. So I'll be going back in Monte Carlo soon. As much as I'd love to experience another one of SBM's hotels, I just don't see myself staying anywhere else but the Hermitage.