Monaco oozes affluence at every narrow street corner. It is littered with Ferraris and Rolls-Royces and if you have under £10 million in the bank you’re considered poor by Monte Carlo standards.
There are jewellery shop windows flaunting million pound watches and even shoebox- sized flats set you back £1500 a month. A comparatively large four bedroom apartment recently went for £60 million here.
When it comes to the best places to be seen in Monaco, there are a select few spots that attract the affluent and bedazzle the business moguls, year after year.
Watching the Race
The yachting fraternity usually gather at the Yacht Club de Monaco for dazzling cocktail soirees and sporting events, but in race week it’s all about the best and biggest yachts and who has the most prominent Berth.
The best berths are in Zone A which has the best views of the tunnel exit, the straight, chicane and the massive live action screen.
On Thursday before the race, an invitation to a cocktail party aboard a luxury yacht is where you want to be. The party will go on into the small hours and it’s a good chance to test your sea legs.
On race day itself, aboard billions of pounds of yachts all tightly packed together, Champagne will be flowing, bikini-clad belles in massive sunglasses will be lounging on top deck and the air will be filled with the thunderous noise of F1 machines hurtling by.
The second VIP option on race day is the F1 Paddock Club, which is hosted in an enclosed village made up of a series of specially designed marquees with food, drink, music and other entertainment. The Paddock Club is usually the main VIP area but, at Monaco, the Yachts are the true VIP playground. Choose from Amber Lounge party yacht with fashion models and young jetsetters, or Jenson Button’s boat for the young F1 crowd, or a place on a Super yacht for the older high-net-worth business people.
There are probably more five star hotels per square mile in Monaco than anywhere else in the world.
If you are looking to consort with F1 Drivers, then Columbus Hotel is the place for you. This Riveria chic hotel (owned by David Coulthard) is a modern marvel with a boutique feel and is the place to go if you are one of the young F1 crowd.
Old money and the super rich are more likely to head for the red carpet outside the most iconic Monte Carlo Hotel of all; the Belle Epoque gem that is the Hotel De Paris.
If you can afford a meal for two with a bottle of wine costing £1000, then experience Alain Ducasse’s 3 Michelin star Louis XV restaurant in the Hotel de Paris.
For a meal with an outstanding view over the Med, go to the the L’Horizon Deck or L’Argentin Restaurant at the Fairmont Hotel which sits right on the sea edge. Expect to rub shoulders with American billionaires and rich widows with massive coats and tiny dogs.
The most first word in celebrity Grand Prix nightlife has to be the prestigious Amber Lounge. The Amber Lounge is the official race after-party and chases the Grand Prix all over the world. It is run by Sonia Irvine, the sister of ex-F1 driver Eddie Irvine and is celebrity-packed night time entertainment in lavish style.
The two most famous nightclubs in Monaco are Jimmy’z and the Living Room. Jimmy’z has been rocking Monaco for over 30 years; with indoor and outdoor dance floors so you can dance under the twinkling stars. You’ll need some fresh air when you get hit with the 30 euros a drink that they now charge. Here you might see Bono, Pink, Lionel Richie or George Benson.
The Living Room only lets in the most glamorous people, so you have to scrub up really well just to get past the doorman who carefully assesses fashion credentials before admitting anyone. If you do get past the fashion police, you’ll find a piano bar and discothèque. This is the place for the in-crowd in their 30s and 40s.
This is a pretty solid itinerary for those wishing to mingle with the stars. Remember that the etiquette when seeing a celebrity is to smile and give them a nod if you catch their eye. Shouting, “Lionel!!!”, and running over to bear-hug them, singing ‘Hello…is it me you’re looking for?’ is going to get you thrown out.