I arrive using the minivan shuttle service that runs between the Monte Carlo SBM’s four hotels every 20 minutes. Travelling from the five-star Hermitage, with its old-world beauty dating from 1900, to the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort, a four-star, 10-storey structure opened in 2005, is less jarring than expected – the newer hotel is both inviting and more laid-back. Check-in is done quickly and my bags reach my room swiftly.
The 334-room hotel occupies a prime piece of reclaimed coastal land at the easternmost part of the principality of Monaco. Sitting at this boundary of Monaco and France gives it an excellent vantage point in two directions, between the built-up Monaco Bay area, with its high-rise apartments and hotels, and the more-relaxed, quieter slice of France between Monaco and Italy. Within easy walking distance are public beaches in both Monaco and France, the Monaco Bay waterfront, the Grimaldi arts centre and the historic Nouveau Musée de Monaco. Sporting Monaco, an events space, is next door.
Despite its size, the hotel feels quite exclusive. It has a resort-like feel to it, with four bars and restaurants, landscaped gardens, an indoor-outdoor swimming pool, a sand-bottomed artificial lagoon, Cinq Mondes spa and fitness centre. Later this year, a sea-bathing facility will be added. A casino is attached to the hotel. Most of the guests are French, and split between the business and leisure markets (in summer, leisure dominates, and Gulf travellers make up 10 per cent of guests). The average age is about 40, with most travelling in families, couples or groups of couples.
My room is a standard room on the eighth floor, with a great view of the Monaco Bay. It’s 40 square metres, with a large private balcony. Everything works and is simple to operate, from the lighting to the shower fittings.
Most of the staff are French or Italian, and are well-mannered and helpful. They tend to speak to you in French, before switching to English. Housekeeping is very quick to bring requested items; the front desk is sometimes engaged on other calls. Generally, the hotel seems very well-staffed.
The buffet breakfast at Blue Bay (€36 [Dh145]) consists of freshly baked breads and pastries, yogurts, cheeses and salads, hot items including tomatoes and eggs, and a selection of fresh juices. At night, the same venue is a Michelin-starred restaurant under chef Marcel Ravin, from Martinique. The food mixes styles, spiralising papaya into a pasta-like dish, pairing foie gras with cherries and making fish soup dark and spicy. Beetroot is mixed into fruit sorbet and olive oil is infused with turmeric, and there’s a bread made from cassava flour. Set dinner menus cost from €88 (Dh353) per person.
The location, the haven-like room and good service.
There must be some maintenance going on in the hotel because I can hear drilling from my room during daylight hours. Sitting outside at Blue Bay restaurant, I was bothered by the cigarette smoke from other diners and a nearby terrace.
A surprisingly good hotel with a restful, holiday atmosphere.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort (www.montecarlobay.com) cost from €168 (Dh674) per night in low season, excluding breakfast.
This review was done at the invitation of the hotel.