As one of the lucky ones who gets to travel to some of the world’s most special destinations, I’ve been welcomed at more than my fair share of luxury hotels and resorts. But I never actually contemplated just how important first impressions are until I ambled down the gloriously welcoming driveway of Monaco’s Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo after riding my bicycle all the way to Monaco (nearly 1,000 miles) from London last September.
Unlike most guests who were arriving in Bentley’s and Ferrari’s, I arrived on a bicycle. And if that wasn’t enough, my wrinkled shirt, well-worn shorts, and cool socks stuck out like a sore thumb. I was literally impossible to mistake for a VIP.
But then the doorman spotted me. In fact, he’d spotted me as soon as I started down the perfectly cobbled driveway. I was too tired to understand it then, but I’d subconsciously braced for the snobbery that someone who looked like me might encounter in a situation like that, and I was prepared to have to convince him that I was in fact, checking in.
Then he met me with his wonderfully warm eyes. He smiled and took my bicycle, “I’ll handle that for you sir,” he said in English (how did he know?), before I had to convince him of anything. It’s almost hard to describe but in that instant, he made me feel almost as warm and welcome as I do when come home to my family after a long trip. And that my friends, is only one of the many things that made my all-too-short stay at the Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo so magnificent.
The warm embrace of the sincerely friendly staff combined with the sweeping and exquisitely furnished social spaces of this historic hotel only intensified once my new found friend showed me inside.
As you can see, the large welcoming lobby is big enough to feel spacious, the assortment of tables, chairs, and comfy sofas make it easy to have an intimate meeting and escape the outside world, and the large flower arrangements are always changing and always spectacular. The subtle elegance of the place slowly started to sink in as I sipped a wonderfully strong coffee while I checked in.
But since there’s no rest for the wicked, I didn’t spent too much time in the lobby or admiring the view of the harbor from my suite because I had a very pressing appointment…with a massage therapist in the spa.
As you can imagine, my hot stone/deep tissue massage, that was administered by a highly skilled therapist (and came merely hours after riding 1,000 miles in 10 days) was quite transformative. And everything from the lighting of the massage room that was adjustable (I chose blue) to the soothing music and fine cabinetry in the changing room oozed calm. And just when I thought I couldn’t get any more relaxed, I went for the full “heat experience” that uses multiple steam rooms, saunas, showers, and even crushed ice to wring every last ounce of tension out of you. It worked so well I literally wiggled back to my suite and spent the most amazing 15 minutes simply laying perfectly still on my large bed’s stupendously high thread count sheets.
Then it was back to work and I was off to the Monaco Yacht Show gala. But I didn’t stay out too late. My weary, massaged, heat treated muscles needed to sleep. And I needed to simply enjoy the peace, quiet and sheer luxury that makes Metropole so suites so…sweet.
It’s big windows open up to a view, there was plenty of room to spread out, the over-the-top- bathroom called for a little extra preening (even for a simple cave man like me), cushy carpet underfoot was glorious, and don’t even get me started on the aforementioned ultra-high thread count sheets.
My next appointment was at 8AM.
Needless to say, breakfast in the hotel’s main restaurant that the world renowned chef Joël Robuchon, in partnership with Head Chef Christophe Cussac served was outstanding. But what the thing I remember most from that early morning was the service…and the sunrise.
My working breakfast was punctuated by my computer at the table because I had a deadline to meet. But the smiling staff made sure that my “working breakfast” was going to be the most elegant I ever had.
Watching the sun rise out of the Mediterranean as I “worked” and sipped my coffee was pretty special too.
I know this won’t be my last visit simply because, the pool was pretty special too.
And I never got a chance to go for a swim.