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A small country located on the azure Mediterranean Sea, sandwiched between the French Riviera and Italy, Monaco is no stranger to fame and attention. Home to one of the world’s most illustrious royal families and known for its beaches, yachts, Grand Prix, shopping, casino and all out fun - this destination tops many lists of travelers' who want to bask in its glow and feel what it feels like, even if just for a moment, to be there. I recently visited Monaco, my fifth visit, and found it even more alluring than the times before. Of course I had experienced so much of what it has to offer on trips prior, but, what never ceases to amaze me about such a small place is its ability to consistently offer new experiences to its visitors keeping time spent here as fresh and exciting as before. I walked away feeling wowed by what I experienced over three days, and excited to pop-in again next time the opportunity arises. 

I was greeted warmly after touching down at Nice, France’s Côte d’Azur Airport by a representative from Blade. Blade is my absolute favorite way to get from the airport to Monaco because of the drama and efficiency. Of course, one can land and simply take a taxi or Uber along the coast for roughly 45 minutes to reach Monaco, but, helicopter is a bit more glamorous. Checking-in to the Blade counter is easy-breezy and passengers are usually led into a private lounge at Nice Airport. As soon as boarding commences the Blade team escorts you from the lounge and out to a private transfer that carries you over the runway and to the helipads along the sea where guests can be taken by helicopter to Monaco or anywhere they’d like along France’s coastline - such as St. Tropez or Marseille. We were brought right to the door of our flying chariot, a beautiful and new Blade-branded helicopter that flew us in just 7 minutes over the sparkling waters, along the coastline, and safely into the Monaco heliport. The views are unreal and the photo opportunities, endless.

Once I landed in Monaco, a Blade representative met us at the helicopter door and escorted us into the lovely lounge where passports are processed, and refreshments served. Their transfer includes taking you via private shuttle to your hotel from the heliport, so I was taken seamlessly to the stunning Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo

A true historic property, Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo was built in the early 1900s and stands tall as a palace of luxury in one of the most convenient squares in all of Monte-Carlo. You can literally get anywhere by foot within 15 minutes and the hotel is the perfect combination of luxury with a casual flair that makes staying here an elevated experience, but one where you can let your hair down and relax a bit.

Inside, the hotel offers gorgeous rooms, many with views of the sea and marina, as well as direct access to the stunning Thermes Marins Spa through a long corridor. While at the hotel I took breakfast each morning in the heart of the Winter Garden at La Mezzanine, which is capped by ironwork done by Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) and stained glass by L. Jaques. Enjoying freshly-baked pastries under this stunning work of art each morning never grew old. My day would instantly start through a lens of inspiration as I’d peer-up at it and find something new and beautiful to look at within the stained glass each morning. 

While at Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo I indulged in their fabulous, seasonal outdoor lounge Le Crystal Bar - which offers sofas and outdoor lounge beds to sip craft cocktails and smoke hookah, should the mood strike you. The cocktails here are put together with such care utilizing only premium spirits. Editable flowers, hand-picked glassware and over-the-top garnishes only add to the beauty of the chill atmosphere. The music is very Buddha Bar-esque and the vibe is perfect for a pre-dinner drink. 

If you stay at Hôtel Hermitage, you must enjoy lunch at Pavyllon, by famed chef Yannick Alléno. Mr. Alléno is a three Michelin-Starred chef with a legendary name and a reputation of offering the finest food, in the most refined environments. The location in Monte-Carlo is no different. The room is absolutely stunning with soft pastels and hues of blue to complement the sea, beige and cream are easy on the eyes, and mixed metals add just the right touch of sophistication. The outdoor veranda was where I sat and would always be my recommendation because of the stunning views over the marina and the sea. The menu here is seasonal and includes locally-sourced ingredients, with special attention to seafood. You are, after all, on the sea. I enjoyed a delicate filet of John Dory, the most incredible salad and, of course, one too many glasses of champagne. This is a spot that is romantic, perfect to take that special someone, or even a friend who truly knows good food.

Days in Monaco can be filled with whatever you want them to be. Of course you can visit the royal palace, the resting place of Princess Grace, or shop at one of the many international boutiques that line the streets - but, when it’s warm out, poolside is where I always choose.

The beautiful Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel is located directly on the water at the far end of the principality. Here you can grab a lounge bed, take a dip in the huge swimming pool, and order cocktails or coconut water between applications of SPF.

I did just that after lunch at “Le Deck”, a poolside restaurant where you’ll have some of the best fresh fish and homemade pasta, ever. Le Deck is the perfect poolside lunch -  casual, easy, and delicious. If you want something a bit more private and with a beach club vibe, I recommend the new Club La Vigie Monte-Carlo. This spot feels very St. Barth with an elegant and fun restaurant/lounge setting with phenomenal drink and food options. It also offers sun beds and a DJ to really get the party started. I love how private it is and a completely different feeling than the family-friendly pool area. 

The food is fresh, with international influences - each bite better than the last.

After a day by the pool and a few too many cocktails, you might need a nap. I certainly did. But, who’s judging, right? You’re in Monaco. Evenings in Monte-Carlo offer a melange of things to do and you never know what you might find. Of course as a guest of a SBM-owned hotel, you can get admitted with your passport and hotel key to the famous casino, which is absolutely worth seeing.

After a day by the pool you'll find that, sometimes, events pop-up in the evening and you can grab tickets to something special. This happened in my case when I found out Ricky Martin would be performing with the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra.

I attended the concert after dinner at the ever-fabulous Coya, a Latin-inspired dining spot near Jimmy’z, with sweeping views of the sea. Dinner was incredible and so was the concert - a lovely surprise I stumbled into during my trip. But, that’s Monaco…you never know what will happen here.

Two favorite dining venues in the area that are must-visits, in my opinion, are both Maona and Buddha Bar. Maona is a nod to Monte-Carlo’s history and glamor with jazz and cabaret enjoyed over delicious fare that tends to be done in Monegasque style - all in celebration of the principality’s glamorous history. Buddha Bar is spot-on for lovers of Asian cuisine, those who want both tantilizing food and cocktail options, with almost a club-like atmosphere. Both restaurants are equally fun and different, and have to be experienced first hand.

Before departing Monaco, I believe no day is wasted that is spent indulging in a little self-care. And, the perfect spot to do that is the iconic Thermes Marins Spa. Floor after floor of glassed-in opulence with views over the sea stand as a testament to beauty rituals and relaxation that will keep you looking and feeling your best during your stay in Monte-Carlo. I cannot begin to describe their spa menu as it is extensive and holistic, but a massage, facial and body scrub are a must to cure jet lag. I spent an hour in the hands of one of the talented masseurs and it helped me get over the 6-hour time difference between New York and Monaco. Their pure knowledge and access to some of the latest beauty technologies is mind-boggling, so this is a definite stop for anyone so inclined to take care of themselves during their stay.   

Of course food is such a big part of any trip here, that even after a day at the spa, you can't help but want to experience one of the incredible dining options - many of which I haven't even mentioned here. The spa even has an outdoor restaurant to nibble on healthy salads, fruit, and fresh-pressed juices.

Monaco can definitely capture your heart, even over a short stay. It always does mine. But, what it offers in beauty, decadence and glamor, it also offers in culture, newness and experiences that are fresh and exciting. Things flow here and once you get past the day trippers or those who are here only for the superficial layer of what it might offer, you begin to dig into the layers and see that it’s a place where you can spend a while uncovering things you never new about or saw before.

You can make memories with your family here, friends, or even just yourself. There quite simply is nowhere else like it and I guess that’s why it has withstood the test of time and held up as a destination above the rest.