When thinking of holiday destinations with little ones, Monaco probably isn’t a destination high on the list of family friendly places. I think if Keith and I hadn’t been previously, we wouldn’t have been as confident about taking Little J with us. We booked to stay in the Fairmont Hotel, Monte Carlo through the British Airways sale on Boxing Day 2014. It was an offer too good to pass up. Four nights accommodation in the Fairmont with flights for £1,100. If you are not an F1 fan, you may not understand the relevance of this hotel. The Fairmont has one of the prime locations in Monaco. It is on the hairpin of the F1 track and famously has a rooftop swimming pool, where the rich (costs about £4,000 per person/night) can view the race.
I can honestly say it is an amazing hotel. The staff are friendly and polite – even when you arrive in a beaten up taxi – not quite their normal airport transfer vehicle.
We stayed in a garden view room. It had a large and very comfortable king sized bed and a fold away bed for little J. The room was light and spacious, even with the extra bed. The bathroom had a shower over bath, ideal for children who refuse to take a shower. Little J was happy when he saw the bottom washer opposite the toilet. Thankfully he didn’t mis-use it!
Our balcony was wonderful.
The small triangle of outside space with a sun lounger, table and chairs was where Keith and I spent the evenings while little J slept. It had a wonderful view of the back of the casino and the other exhibitionist guests! My goodness did it get hot late afternoon. There was no way of testing the temperature, but Keith and I could only manage 15-20 minutes at at time.
The Fairmont hotel has several wonderful places to eat and drink in. It is expensive, as you would expect from a top hotel in the centre of Monte Carlo. A beer set us back €16 and a glass of wine was similar. Even soft drinks were around €8 each. Breakfast was priced at €36 – it’s safe to say we found the Carrefour pretty quickly and brought some croissants and wine. Here is a view from the roof top restaurant.
Not bad hey?
Our only criticism of the hotel was their use of the pool from midday. At 12pm, the pool area became the Nikki Beach – a loud, pool party for the elite! With the DJ pumping the tunes out, champagne flowing and young scantily dressed people taking up the prime positions around the pool. If I was 10 years younger with no children, it would have been great, but I wasn’t feeling it if I’m honest!
You may be wondering where we did go to eat. There are plenty of bars and restaurants in Monaco. We visited some of our firm favourites:
Stars ‘n’ Bars – located in the harbour area is well worth a visit.
Inside, it has many items of memorabilia on the walls, a bit like Planet Hollywood I suppose. I really liked the menu at Stars ‘n’ Bars. It had all the normal burger type foods, as well as many healthier options (vegan too). This was the only place we visited which had a menu for children. I chose the falafel sliders, they were rather yummy!
Ma Carthy’s – was close to our hotel. Until this visit, I had only ever had a drink in here at grand prix weekend. We definitely missed a trick. The food was lovely. The lack of children’s sized portions let it down slightly, but in all honesty little J enjoyed it so much, he ate an adults portion of salmon and rice! Little J was fascinated by the bubbly pipes!
The Monaco Bar (Place d’Armes) was a great little find. Amazing fresh baguettes that would fill the largest of tummies. Little J’s ham baguette was €4. Again, no children’s menu or portions, but by now we had realised the children were expected to eat what the adults ate. Little J does at home, so I can’t see why not on holiday!
Not all our choices of restaurant were good. There was a little italian restaurant on the Prom du Larvotte, over looking the beach, which was not very pleasant. The owners did not seem to want to be there and it showed! Our worst dining experience by far was at Cafe De Paris. I won’t bore you with my thoughts on it again, but if you haven’t read my blog on cafe de disappointment, it’s worth a read!
There is so much to see in Monaco. The boats:
Monaco will take your breath away.
Public transport is reasonable and reliable on the south coast too. We took a train to Ventimiglia in Italy. It cost €22 for a return ticket for the three of us. We had a lovely day trying to forget our French and use our limited Italian!
All in all, we had a wonderful holiday. Monaco probably isn’t the most family friendly place on the planet, but we felt welcomed almost everywhere we went. There were no shortage of public places to entertain little J, even if your hotel doesn’t have the same facilities as the Fairmont. Playgrounds, a large public swimming pool in the harbour, the beach, McDonalds… oh yes, there are two!
If you’re tempted, I can recommend waiting for the BA sale at Christmas. But don’t tell everyone, as we want to go back 🙂