Playground of the rich and famous, bite-sized principality Monaco welcomes guests to enjoy the finer things in life, and lapping up the sights and sounds of the French Riviera, the Hotel Métropole is at the heart of the bustling Monte Carlo Quarter. Step through the grand triumphal arch and down the long, lush driveway, however, and you hit seclusion. Like a scene from a classic riviera film, the luxurious hotel building sits ahead, home to a new Joël Robuchon creation – and Karl Lagerfeld-designed poolside space – al fresco dining restaurant, Odyssey.
This summer celebrating it’s 10th anniversary after reopening in 2004 as the Hotel Métropole Monte-Carlo, the building first opened its doors in 1886. Built on land previously belonging to Pope Leon XIII, the Belle Époque-inspired interiors were designed by Jacques Garciabring, bringing a stylish and luxurious atmosphere to the hotel. It’s not flashy and pretentious – the books in the library room are real and to be read, the tapestries on the wall are authentic and of the time – but what the hotel sets out to achieve, it does in truly the best way possible, going beyond what you’d expect, even of a five-star hotel.
Within walking distance of the famous Casino, the Hotel Métropole is popular all-year-round, welcoming high-powered businessmen and women, celebrities and film shoots, even a retreat for a handful of high-level employees at Twitter while we at the hotel. The spa is world-renowned for tailor-made treatments and several of the hotel rooms and balcony spaces even overlook the Monaco Grand Prix racing track, though that weekend also brings a steep hike in the nightly rates.
In total the hotel offers 133 rooms, including 64 suites and a 1,302-square-foot penthouse, plus the 80-retailer strong Métropole Shopping Centre located in the commercial gallery of the building.
The heritage of the Hotel Métropole carries through to its plentiful dining options. Entrusting responsibility to the very capable hands of the multiple Michelin-starred Joël Robuchon, the hotel offers guests three enticing restaurants.
A fine dining menu, Joël Robuchon Monte-Carlo is the winner of two Michelin stars, while the Michelin-starred Yoshi is Robuchon’s first ever Japanese restaurant.
We ate at the latest of Joël Robuchon’s ventures for the hotel, Mediterranean al fresco experience, Odyssey, located on the pool terrace at the front of the Métropole.
Normally reserved exclusively for hotel guests and members of the spa, this summer the hotel will also be welcoming non-resident guests until September 6th, every evening from 7.30pm. It is perfect too for breakfast and seasonal lunches throughout the peak summer months.
Designed by legendary fashion designer, artist, and photographer, Karl Lagerfeld, the striking Odyssey dining area features his signature black and white colour palette. Beside the pool – though you needn’t worry about splashing or noisy kids – the open air space makes for the dream location to enjoy a lazy lunch and a couple of cocktails before retiring to a sun lounger.
A long mural by Lagerfeld illustrating the mythological Journey of Ulysses acts as a backdrop to the space, featuring several of his modern day muses superimposed onto a archive photograph of a Greek coast taken in the 1850s.
From autumn to spring, the pool is transformed into a luxurious, heated indoor space, maintaining Lagerfeld’s iconic style.
Joël Robuchon’s fresh Mediterranean menu is inspired by by local cultures and flavours, with France, Spain, Greece, Italy and even Lebanon all influencing his dishes.
We started with a traditional Salad Niçoise. Served at the table from a big salad bowl, the lettuce was so fresh it was like it was just picked from the hotel’s own garden plot and the big flaky of tuna was off the boat and straight in the pan. Bright, bold red tomatoes, local olives and quarters of a sun yellow boiled egg were the perfect garnish. It was the best Salad Niçoise we’d ever eaten, something that would become a theme over the course of the lunch.
For main course we had the steak. Served skewered, the three cuts of meat were grilled to perfection, accompanied by new potatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. The steak had a smokey flavour but was cooked to perfection, effortlessly tender and flavoursome. The local sun-dried tomatoes were delicious too, and it was impressive how much the kitchen stressed the smaller details of each dish.
For desert we had the fruit salad, but couldn’t have imagined just how impressive it would be. Brought to the table in numerous bowls, both local and exotic fruits prepared ready to serve, each fruit salad is mixed at the table according to diners’ preferences. An array of ice creams, custards, compotes and sauces are also brought to the table to finish the dish. The only problem will be when you can’t eat any more.
The food is unpretentious but what they do is with real excellence. It won’t be the first time you have these dishes, but they’ll probably the best iteration you’ve ever had. I really never knew a fruit salad could be so remarkable.
The drinks menu at Odyssey matches the food in both quality and care. Before wines with our meal, I had a fantastic Old Fashioned, with tumblr of boozy, candied cherries on the side.
The restaurant carries a wealth of spirits and the skilled barmen are able to concoct any cocktail for you, even if it isn’t on the menu. A carefully collated selection of high calibre wines and champagne including vintage Dom Pérignon are available too.
While the Hotel Métropole Monte-Carlo comes highly recommended, al fresco restaurant Odyssey deserves praise in its own right too. The luxurious setting make dining a unique experience, and though the menu isn’t as experimental as Joël Robuchon’s fine dining restaurant at the hotel, it is one of supreme accomplishment, each dish is the very best iteration of well known classics and homely favourites. What’s more, each summer it will now be open to the public, including a destination cocktail bar too.
For more information about the hotel and restaurant, and to make a reservation or booking enquiry, please visit: www.metropole.com
Odyssey at Hotel Métropole Monte-Carlo, 4 Avenue de la Madone, BP 19, Monte-Carlo, 98007, Monaco