The Kensington Diary
A Luxury Family Retreat in Monaco
Updated: Feb 22
Monaco is jewelled sovereign state on the Cote D'Azur (French Riviera) known for it's glitz, glamour and magnificence. I've been lucky to spend many a trip here for leisure on girls trips, business travel and together with my family.
Known for its annual F1 Grand Prix that takes place during May, the Grand Casino de Monte-Carlo and best the luxury shopping, it might not be the first destination considered for a family stay.
Forget it's ostentatious reputation from those who don't really know it - it truly is a destination that offers a mix of adventure, relaxation, and indulgence. From the iconic Monte Carlo Casino to the tranquil Japanese Garden, this picturesque little country on the French Riviera has so much to offer.
Getting to Monaco
Monaco is easily reachable from London and other European cities. It is a mere 1.5 hour flight via British Airways to Nice. From Nice it is a quick 30 minute taxi drive or 7 minute private helicopter ride to Monte Carlo.
The city itself is easily accessible by foot or taxi. I would not recommend hiring a car if your stay is only in Monaco and you will not be visiting rest of the French Riviera, as parking in Monaco, beyond the hotels, can be a quite a hassle unless you opt for valet service throughout your trip.
A Plethora of Child-friendly Activities
You may think that Monaco caters for adults only, but this is absolutely not the case. We found a host of suitable activities for kids and also a kid-friendly slant on some of the more adult-centric activities! Even walking along the port and marveling at the super-yachts is fun for kids.
Enjoy the Monte Carlo Casino While the Monte Carlo Casino might not be the most family-friendly attraction, it's worth a visit for its sheer grandeur. You will be amazed by the grand architecture and extravagant decorations. It's perfect for a 'Casino Royale' date night out too! At night, it could also be a great date spot if you fancy dressing up and experiencing the vibe.
Take a tour of the Prince's Palace and watch the Changing of the Guard Located on Monaco-rock, right next to Monaco Old Town, the Prince's Palace of Monaco is one of the most iconic buildings in the country. It has been the official residence of the Prince of Monaco since the 13th century, and the palace grounds are open to the public for tours. The changing of the guard and exploring the palace's opulent rooms was a huge hit for us! Spend time time exploring the area, including the quaint little streets of the Old Town.
Take a stroll around the Japanese Garden The Japanese Garden in Monaco is a peaceful oasis away from the bustle of the city. The garden is beautifully landscaped and features a traditional Japanese tea house and a Koi pond. It's a great place for a relaxing stroll with the family, and there are plenty of benches where you can sit and enjoy the tranquility
Visit the Princess Antoinette Park
Designed for children and including a dedicated kids outdoor play area and an 18 hole miniature golf course, kids can also make use of the multipurpose sports grounds. Activities at the park include ball games, table tennis tables, badminton, volleyball and a small skateboard park. For the youngest visitors, there is a mini farm to visit.
Prince Rainier III's Classic cars
This classic car collection will impress both you and your kids. Located in the Fontvieille district, the Monaco Top Cars Collection is home to all sorts of beauties — everything from sports cars to horse-drawn carriages. Around 100 vehicles are on display from names like Ford, Maserati and Rolls-Royce.
Credit: Palais Princier de Monaco
Explore the Oceanographic Museum One of the most popular family-friendly attractions in Monaco is the Oceanographic Museum. The museum houses an impressive collection of marine life, including sea turtles, sharks, and colorful fish. My son was so fascinated by the shark lagoon, and there are plenty of interactive exhibits to keep everyone engaged.
Stay in the Epitome of Luxury
Monaco is home to some of the world's most luxurious hotels in the world, many of which are family-friendly and welcome children wholeheartedly. We have stayed on all the hotels on the below list and love them for very different reasons. The great part about this small unique country, is that you have a selection of some of the best family friendly hotels in the world
Monte Carlo Bay Hotel The MC Bay hotel always holds special memories for us as we spent our son's first birthday here - it hosted the perfect family-friendly stay for a luxurious holiday. . The hotel juts out from Monaco’s Larvotto peninsula into the Mediterranean Sea and is about a 5-10 minute walk from the main town. With a sandy-bottomed lagoon, it is the perfect place for family fun, and the kid's club offers a range of activities to keep children entertained.
There are a range of family rooms and suites that are spacious and comfortable, making it the perfect base for your family's Monaco adventure. For children between three and 12 years old, there’s a kids’ club in the shady palm grove where children can indulge in everything from stringing beads to cookery workshops and ping pong. The plush Cinq Mondes spa is styled in calming cream tones and light wooden slats. Organic beauty rituals on the menu come from as far as Bali, Polynesia, China and Brazil.
The Blue Bay restaurant services delicious breakfasts but heads up: it gets really busy in the height of Summer. By night, Blue Bay serves Michelin-starred fare inspired by talented chef Marcel Ravin’s Caribbean roots. For more informal snacks, L’Orange Verte restaurant serves onsite patisserie and ice-cream trolley ensure exceptional desserts.
In summer months, lunchtime snacks are also served on the sea-facing terrace of Las Brisas. Guests and locals alike crowd here for Sunday brunch: at Las Brisas in summertime and at the Blue Bay in low season. At the end of the day, you can relax over a game of billiards or a pumpkin cocktail at the richly-decorated Blue Gin bar.
Hotel de Paris
Located in the heart of Monte Carlo in the fabled Casino Square, the Hotel de Paris is one of the most iconic hotels in Monaco. With its grand architecture and exquisite decor, this hotel is the epitome of luxury and is perfect if you are looking for a purely opulent stay. It's not surprising that two Bond movies were filmed here and it's such a magnet for Hollywood! The Pierre-Yves Rochon fused historic features with light contemporary touches are constant throughout the hotel. The hotel has a rooftop pool with panoramic views, which is the perfect place to soak up the sun with the family.
Hosting a kid's club, children can enjoy a range of activities while parents relax at the spa or explore the city. Whilst the kids are having, the spa offers the perfect place to unwind after a long day of exploring the city. The hotel has an interior garden courtyard has been created with palm trees and marbled colonnades. The hotel additionally hosts a shuttle to resort facilities owned by the hotel group such as a thermal spa and a private beach resort.
The hotel's Le Grill restaurant offers stunning views of the city, while the Le Louis XV - Alain Ducasse à l'Hôtel de Paris is a must-visit for foodies. The American Bar hosts a fab live-jazz evening for a date night.
Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo If you're looking for a hotel that offers a mix of luxury and relaxation, the Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo is another great choice. Situated slightly off the main casino square, the hotel has ample parking and has a magificent entrance.
To keep you occupied, you will find the Odyssey rooftop pool, one of the best in the city, and the spa offers a range of treatments to help you unwind. The Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo offers a range of amenities for children, including a kid's club, a playground, and a heated (in Winter) family-friendly pool. The hotel’s Little Chef program is fantastic and has been designed for 6 to 10 year olds who are keen to cook. This beautiful hotel also has the Spa Metropole by Givenchy where children are also welcome if accompanied by an adult.
The hotel's Restaurant Joel Robuchon is iconic and a must-visit for foodies, while the outdoor garden is a tranquil oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Odyssey is the pool-side restaurant designed by the late Karl Lagerfeld with a modern monochromatic style.
The Hotel’s gardens are stunning and a great place to explore during the day. Opposite the hotel there is the lovely Jardins de la Petite Afrique – The Little Africa Gardens, with a duck pond and an exotic green oasis for kids to explore.
This hotel also has a special place for me as I spent many a business trip here and always had a fabulous time with superior service.
Indulge in fine dining When it comes to dining in Monaco, the options are endless, with a variety of Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as local specialties and international cuisine. Some of our favourites which cater really well for kids and are also quintessentially Monégasque are below.
An institution in Monaco, Sass Cafe is a lively restaurant and bar located in the heart of city's famous Carré d'Or and is not to be missed! Known for its live music and performances by famous artists, it throws amazing parties. However, Sass Cafe also has a kid-friendly side, with a special children's menu that includes classic dishes like pizza and pasta. The atmosphere is vibrant and fun, with a cozy yet lively ambiance that will keep the whole family entertained. If you fancy, it is also a wonderful date night spot!
Cipriani Monte Carlo
You can't ever go wrong with Cipriani and the Cipriani Monte Carlo does not fail to dissapoint! Overlooking the stunning Port Hercule, the restaurant offers a refined, elegant atmosphere that's perfect for a special family dinner. Cipriani welcomes families and can accommodate children's requests upon request. The restaurant also has a terrace with panoramic views of the marina, which will definitely be a hit with both adults and children.
Maya Bay Monaco
Maya Bay Monaco is a chic beach club that offers a relaxing and stylish atmosphere. The venue features a private beach area, a swimming pool, and a restaurant that serves fresh, Mediterranean-inspired dishes. Kids will love the pool and beach, while parents can enjoy a refreshing cocktail and a delicious meal. The beach club also offers a range of activities and events, including yoga classes, DJ sets, and parties.
Song Qi is an upscale Chinese restaurant that combines contemporary design with traditional flavors. The restaurant offers a sophisticated, family-friendly ambiance and a menu that will satisfy even the pickiest eaters. Children can choose from a dedicated kids' menu, which features chicken satay, crispy duck pancakes, and more. Adults can enjoy the delicious main menu, which includes dim sum, crispy pork belly, and other classic Chinese dishes.
I hope you have an excellent time in Monaco when you travel! Let me know if you have any questions about this wonderful destination!
The Kensington Diary