An extravagant home to the late Princess Grace Kelly, a prominent host of the Annual Formula One Grand Prix, a global hotspot for partygoers at the La Grand Casino, coasted by the stunning Mediterranean Sea on one side and the enticing French Riviera on the other; it therefore came out as no surprise when Forbes magazine heralded this visionary locale as “the billionaire’s playground”. Understated glamour, uber chic and exclusivity are terms which summarise this city which has a resident population of only 3,000 – this was to be my holiday destination and boy, did it deliver! Predictably the day of our departure, England was raining felines and canines, Heathrow Airport stood against the torrential downpour, much like the Titanic and we flew out of our damp city with a duration of an hour and 50 minutes before landing on an eye-catching runway which I can solemnly declare have never before experienced in my life, until date. Our plane inched its way towards the edge of a turquoise river. Alabaster white cliffs surrounded the tarmac. It was a view that seemed surreal beyond words as our eyes became transfixed upon this divine setting. We were in for a further 30-minute drive from Cote D’Azur Airport to the Novotel Hotel in Central Monaco. Checking into our suites and getting some quick drinks by the pool bar, us three, headed out for dinner to Le Louis XV – Alan Ducasse for a French supper. Known for its regal menu, which comprised mainly of seafood, I tucked into sumptuous lobster spaghetti served with lime wedge potato dices and a rocket salad. Needless to mention that we needed a spacious cab ride home and spent the rest of the time paddling by the Jacuzzi until wee hours of the morning. Tuesday morning was spent exploring the city; jumping on a hop on/off tour bus we jostled through luxury boutiques, sports bars, exclusive spas, museums, flower gardens and marinas to name a few attractions which bordered the plush grey-cobbled streets that had been taken over by European tourists who skimmed the locale in their neon ganji’s, denim shorts, matte moccasins and S’wood sunglasses whilst clutching on to MC Cocktailia’s with the dazzle of French sunshine as a background note. We had earlier in the day made reservations for a luncheon at Joel Robuchon’s restaurant with a booking with the owner himself at La Table du Chef tucking into escallops with pomegranate and Gorgonzola cheese accompanied by frites and tzatziki sauce – delicious beyond taste bud imagination. After a detailed catch up with Joel and feeling completely sated from a glorious array of goodies, we headed back to Novotel for a much needed siesta and lazed around the pool for the rest of the evening, inviting over a few local friends. Having an early night in, meant us three were awake and sprawling for a lavish breakfast at Camrose Alberta: sirloin steak sandwiches, grilled seasonal veggies and asparagus coleslaw filled our table with generous portions of fries that could easily feed the country itself. Having scoffed, it only felt apt to burn off the calories and so we decided some sight-seeing and visual documentary was required; the Monaco oceanographic museum, world famous for its location atop a cliff side rock over-looking the vastly expansive Mediterranean Sea thus became our choice of visit. The palatial building gave the impression of a heritage castle, complete with stunning mother of pearl marble flooring, a gigantic and almost never-ending oak staircase and exquisite antique artefacts scattering the main lobby theatre. The museum was designed on four storeys; it began underground which held the sea-world aquarium, the first floor was based around fossils and historical pieces collected from within Monaco, the second floor had art-related paintings which had captured sights of the Riviera during different events that have occurred during its existence, a souvenir shop decked the third floor where hordes of tourists purchased caps, tees and mugs all sporting the Monte Carlo logo and finally the rooftop acquired the museum cafe de Noir where as we sipped on our raspberry fromage frais frappuccinos, the sea below reminded me of a scene from one of my most loved Hollywood movies: Troy. Given the foodies we are, it was mutually decided to spend most of the next day indulging in the best gastronomical, culinary cuisine offered by the Monegasques and so after a hearty breakfast poolside at the Novotel we sashayed our way through the city which seemed to feel like an unreal surrounding; incredibly idyllic and almost perfection personified, given the stunning architecture, sophisticated Riviera and lively populace. Before long and with devouring of ice-cream cones we had reached the Prince’s Palace, a quadrangle surrounded by towering forts and marble monuments, centrally holding a striking fountain, which gleamed against the July sunshine. Luckily we had made it in time for the ‘Change of Guard’ – a ceremony conducted every morning and evening whereby the royal and official security panel switches over to another consort and thus again the procedure continues – what a sight! Having witnessed yet another Kodak moment we strolled through the courtyards of the palace and entered through the gates of Jardin Exotique – The Exotic Garden. The most captivating quarter of this garden was the semi-circle cliff edge that overlooked the endless Mediterranean Sea and saw waves clash against its ivory base far below. Having clicked enough pictures to create our very own album tribute to the country itself we took a cab straight to I’Horizon Deck at the Fairmont Hotel and delved into alluringly decadent European cuisine, overlooking the city for all its beauty’s worth: treating ourselves to a seafood platter, German breads, French cheese, Spanish frittatas and griddled jacket potatoes; a meal ended with divine passion fruit and kiwi sorbets. Reaching the Novotel for a much-anticipated siesta, we awoke late night to check out the Buddha Bar, known for its celebrity clientele and international jet-setter stock list. Spotted were Matt Damon, Khloe Kardashain and Claudia Schiffer who cascaded the night away amongst a dense crowd of partygoers, the nightlife had truly preceded it’s glamorous reputation and we returned completely spent from the day’s itinerary yet utterly enthral led with the vivid memories. The palatial building gave the impression of a heritage castle, complete with stunning mother of pearl marble flooring, a gigantic and almost never-ending oak staircase, and exquisite antique artefacts scattering the main lobby theatre As the sun came up on our final day in Monte Carlo, it was planned to go meet our friends staying at the Radisson Edwardian on the other side of town near to Larvotto Beach. Sunbathing, munching by the water’s edge and walking upon the white sand sounded like a brilliant way to end the week’s schedule. Coconut-cupped Piña Coladas, strawberry and lime mocktails alongside canapés of sushi caviar were served generously whilst we lounged on deckchairs beneath gigantic umbrellas. It seemed like eternity had froze, for time went by as soothingly as our love for the serene ambience; a gentle breeze would remind us all of the arriving sunset. Beyond the horizon where the sun dipped beneath the sea, us three bid farewell to friends and drove back to the hotel for some rejuvenation at the spa and then prepared to dress to the nine’s as La Grand Casino was our final call for the trip. Upon reaching the quad area of the venue itself, a plethora of Porsches, Lamborghinis and Bugatti Veyron’s stood like ushers at a wedding, greeting us into this mansion of a building with tall, well-built and stocky black-suited bouncers giving everyone a nod and a polite smile before standing aside to let us into the foray of the casino itself. Golden ceramic marble lay the floor plan of the place, an almost 10 feet large chandelier hung above the ceiling, reflecting everything into magical shades of kaleidoscopic colours; contrasting with the plush red and sweet black furnishings. The ‘Games Room’ was filled with an entourage of men in tuxedos; rampantly playing roulette or poker, dragging on their cigars whilst the women clad in stunning gowns exchanged conversation on their most recent diamond purchases. Mingling with a few familiar faces and acquaintances from back in London we headed over to Les Ballets! By mid-morning the next day, we were checking out of the Novotel. And so as our plane took flight, peering through the cosy window, I almost graciously let out a brief wish of a promised return. Beloved Monaco, until next time! The writer is a globetrotting entrepreneur, specialising in corporate and lifestyle consultancy to an international demographic. He Tweets at @Queridaxx and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, July 25th 2017.