How To Holiday Monaco-Style Without Leaving London
Written by Jaillan Yehia
I’ve got a different kind of seven step program for you in this post; one that won’t help break your addictions to travel, shopping and good food but which will show you where to find your fix of the luxurious Monte Carlo lifestyle without leaving London.
Here I share my 7 favourite places in the Principality of Monaco and uncover their London equivalents…
Here’s my mini guide on how to holiday Monaco-style in the capital. Let’s go to Montecarlondon!
1. Where To Shop
Sale in English; Soldes in French, Rebajas in Spanish – most self-respecting international shoppers are attuned to this very important word in as many languages as possible, and I challenge anyone not to be tempted by the sales on offer in both London and Monaco.
Ever since I happened upon some amazing mid-season sales bargains at Dior in Monte Carlo this has been my favourite shop in the entire Principality – as well as my most oft-recited travel story: I was literally so busy buying boots at the centrally-located Avenue des Beaux-Arts branch of Dior that I missed my flight home.
In London a visit to the stand-alone Dior boutique in Sloane Street would be the best way to replicate the shopping location of the Monaco branch, but I’m more a fan of the Selfridges outpost, partially because when I needed to exchange a purse from the Monte Carlo branch, this is where I found its replacement, and the staff couldn’t have been more helpful.
Dior Monte Carlo
Avenue des Beaux-Arts, 98000 Monaco
400 Oxford Street, London, W1A 1AB
2. Where To Eat A Burger
I have a confession to make – as much as I love good food once in a while I like to go out and enjoy a gigantic American style burger. But all burger joints are not created equal and having done a lot of research (no need to thank me) I present to you the best places to indulge in a dirty burger in both Monaco and London. Once inside these two it’s pretty hard to tell the difference.
In Monaco it has to be infamous burger joint Stars ‘N’ Bars which has been serving up burgers since the early 90’s. On the port of Monaco, meaning you can dine on the terrace or indoors, the burgers here live up to their reputation and this is a really enjoyable place to have a relaxed dinner in Monaco.
In London there’s a lot of pretty stiff competition, but for the exact same Americana vibe, complete with memorabilia adorning the walls you may be surprised by my choice. Despite looking like a tourist trap (just like Stars ‘N’ Bars) Maxwell’s Covent Garden is my absolute guilty pleasure in central London, serving really tasty burgers, great cocktails and also giving you a fun, high energy setting for a night out.
Stars ‘N’ Bars
6 Quai Antoine 1er, 98000 Monaco
8 James Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8BH
3. Where To Go For French Food
If you’re after something a little more ‘Monaco’ than a burger and would like a traditional French meal without visiting one of Monaco’s 4 Michelin-starred restaurants, my recommendation for delightful, refined but unpretentious French/Modern European cuisine is without a doubt Huit et Demi.
The name is a nod to Fellini and inside black and white film stills adorn the walls, while outside there are street-side tables where you can eat good food for pretty normal prices. And while I can’t promise it will be on the menu when you visit, look out for the White and Dark Chocolate Mousse which converted me to mousse deserts for life.
In London there are of course plenty of French restaurants, many of them also Michelin-starred but for a similarly understated and perhaps underrated dinner in a restaurant that isn’t primarily about seeing and being seen, but instead about enjoying good honest yet innovative cuisine I really like Truc Vert. There’s also the option to dine indoors while the alfresco tables are on London’s slightly more traffic-heavy North Audley Street.
Huit & Demi
42 North Audley Street, London, W1K 6ZR
4. Where To Get Outdoors
There are plenty of leafy vantage points in Monaco but many visitors don’t realise that the pint-sized principality has a botanical garden of its very own, but the Jardin Exotique de Monaco is well worth a visit to enjoy the beauty of the plant life on display. This garden is located in the northern part of Monaco, adjacent to Fontvielle, close to the Princess Grace hospital and the French border – but of course this being Monaco it’s still very easily accessible no matter where you are.
London’s equivalent is undeniably the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew – and even though London can offer a very similar experience to that on offer in Monaco, Kew Gardens itself is far larger, meaning that its location on the outskirts of town is a tad further away from downtown than its Monaco counterpart. A visit to Kew is a full day out – but a beautiful way to spend a few hours if the French Riviera’s sunshine decides to descend on London.
Jardin Exotique de Monaco
62 Bd du Jardin Exotique, 98000 Monaco
Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew
Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB
5. Where To Meet The Royals
London and Monte Carlo really do have a lot in common – as well as their reputations as international centres of wealth and sophistication, both cities are probably best-known as home to some of the most famous royalty on the planet.
The Royal families of Windsor and Grimaldi are equally responsible for captivating the imaginations of the public the world over – with women of all generations continuing to look back at Princess Grace as an embodiment of classic style and glamour, while Kate Middleton now represents a more modern take on royal beauty.
Monaco Prince’s Palace State Apartments
Place du Palais, Monaco
Buckingham Palace State Rooms
Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA
6. Where To Mix Coffee With People Watching
Most of us enjoy a leisurely coffee break on our travels, and while going for a coffee may not sound like much the location you choose as the backdrop to your hot caffeinated drink makes a huge difference to your experience.
Monte Carlo’s famed Cafe de Paris, smack bang in the middle of downtown Monte Carlo and opposite the casino is the archetypal place to see and be seen – and while the coffee you are sipping may be wildly overpriced the outdoor tables with a view of the sports cars, the great and the good of Monaco and the gawping public, is what you are really paying for.
Similarly frequenting London’s Bar Italia isn’t about coffee alone. While the coffee here is undoubtedly better and a good deal cheaper than its Monaco counterpart, its place in Central London culture is identical. You may encounter famous faces, you may just witness tourists of all nationalities try to take in the scale of the bustling city by night, but you’ll do it all from the busy outdoor tables with a smile on your face.
Cafe De Paris
Place du Casino, 98000 Monaco
22 Frith Street, London W1D 4RF
7. Where To Admire The Yachts
London and Monaco are both harbour cities, and one of the most pleasant things you can do in Monaco, and one that I never tire of, is to stroll around the port and check out the yachts which are moored for the evening. This may be a quintessentially continental pastime and be best accompanied by a balmy breeze, but there’s no reason why one can’t enjoy the same pleasure whilst in London – a jaunt down to Chelsea harbour would be the easiest way to satisfy your curiosity.
If you’re more in the market for purchase rather than window shopping, Monaco and London have world-famous yacht shows, so if you aren’t able to make it to the Monaco Yacht Show in September you can head to London’s Boat Show in January.
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