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Monaco Yacht Show Complete Guide: The Denison Team Weighs In

Sarah Nadler | September 22, 2022

With the Monaco Yacht Show right around the corner, Denison yacht brokers share their tips, tricks, and recommendations for how to truly enjoy one of the most beautiful–and yacht-friendly–spots on the French Riviera. Technically its own country, Monaco is the second smallest country in the world (fun fact: Vatican City takes first place–and yes, it is a country).

With recommendations from some of our local brokers working out of Denison’s Monaco office, this very solicited advice may prove invaluable (hint hint: find out the best way to get around in sometimes hard-to-navigate Monaco). Read on to discover what each of our featured brokers suggests for your stay in Monaco.

COYA, MayaBay, and More: Pierre Badin Gives a Local Perspective

COYA Monte-Carlo Monaco Restaurant
COYA Monte-Carlo

European yacht broker Pierre Badin may be viewed as an expert in all things Monaco for a number of reasons. For one, he was born and raised in Cannes, another major yachting hub in the heart of the French Riviera. In addition, he graduated from a hotel management school in Nice, France, from which he moved on to work at some of the best-known restaurants in the area. On top of all that, Pierre is currently based out of Denison’s Monaco office, so he truly is a Monaco local in every sense of the word.

Pierre had a number of fabulous recommendations. In terms of dining, his favorites are COYA, MayaBay, and Cipriani. He especially likes Buddha-Bar, which he dubbed to have the “best sushi in Monaco” (it’s also a club). If we’re already on the topic of clubbing, he recommends Jimmy’z or Twiga. For crew parties, La Rascasse. “During the show”, Pierre explains, “there will be plenty of parties even in places that are usually quiet. My advice: make sure you book your tables early.” Advice heeded!

Hotel Metropole vs. Hotel Hermitage: Alex G. Clarke Knows Where to Stay, Where to Eat, and Then Some

Hotel Metropole Monte Carlo Monaco
Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo

Coming to us with a wealth of knowledge from years of visiting the annual Monaco Yacht Show, superyacht broker Alex G. Clarke shared a long list of places to see and be seen (in typical Monaco fashion). At the top of his list? His top two hotels: Hotel Hermitage and Hotel Metropole, where he has stayed in the past. The former is “super popular” and overlooks Port Hercule, where the show takes place. The latter (Hotel Metropole) is located just opposite the famous Casino de Monte-Carlo, a great location given that it is quite likely you’ll be visiting this famed spot (who knows–maybe you’ll spot James Bond at one of the poker tables). The casino also features many restaurants and clubs that both Alex and a number of other brokers highly recommend. Not only is the location hard to beat, but despite it, it is also–shockingly–”a little quieter”, Alex claims. Talk about a win-win-win (if you include your casino winnings, we hope!).

When it comes to food, Alex also knows his way around Monaco. According to him, the “best quick bite” is L’Escale–which literally translates to ‘The Stopover’–conveniently located just outside the show. “I have been going there for over ten years,” he shares. A decade of return visits makes us think this one is a must. Another favorite is A’TREGO, which, Alex says, “is directly on the water with great views and excellent seafood, just a short taxi ride from the heart of Monaco.” For those who want excellent cuisine but may be on a budget, Alex mentions Il Terrazzino, offering “fantastic Italian food and pastas at surprisingly low prices, it is the best quiet place for a good dinner–my go-to almost every time that I go to Monaco.”

In regards to nightlife, it is worth mentioning that Alex, too, is a big fan of the aforementioned Buddha-Bar, sharing similar sentiments to Pierre about the “great sushi” and that “when dinner is over it turns into a nightclub with a DJ spinning, so the vibe is amazing…it is one of those must-do experiences.” Similarly, he also suggests Twiga for the “over-the-top” Monaco experience–another obvious must. “Tucked down on the water,” Twiga comes with a friendly warning from Alex–”last time I was there with a client, over 40 bottles of Dom Perignon were ordered and we didn’t leave until 4 am, so be careful.” Consider yourselves warned (of a fun time)!

Sass Café and Nikki Beach: Lewis Mabey Shares His Favorite Restaurants and Clubs

Nikki Beach Monte Carlo
Nikki Beach Monte Carlo

Lewis Mabey is a charter broker who is also based out of the Monaco office; his efforts have been a big part of the growth of Denison’s European presence. Lewis had a number of recommendations to share with those visiting Monaco at the end of September.

One of his biggest suggestions was the Fairmont Hotel, not only for accomodations; it also features the notorious Nikki Beach and Nobu (recommended for both food and nightlife). For one of the most infamous nightlife experiences in Monaco, look no further than Sass Café. Multiple Dension brokers, including Pierre Badin, have mentioned visiting this posh restaurant that turns into a club in the late hours of the night.

In terms of other food, Lewis had a few that were top-of-mind. Crazy Pizza is located on the marina, which is great when you want to eat somewhere close to the show. He greatly recommends La Bionda for its “great steak”. Tip Top is open 24/7, which Lewis says is “great for late night” (especially if you’re out enjoying Monaco’s bustling nightlife–see above!).

A Villa in the Mountains or an Apartment in the City: Aaron Antonson Thinks Outside of the Box

Le Louis XV - Alain Ducasse à l'Hôtel de Paris Monaco
Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse à l’Hôtel de Paris Monaco

Aaron Antonson is another Denison yacht broker who is a regular at the Monaco Yacht Show. While he, too, recommended the classics for accommodations like the previously mentioned Fairmont Hotel and Hotel Metropole, as well as another icon–Hotel de Paris, he also suggested something even more special. “If you’re up for something with more of a local flair,” Aaron says, “I would recommend renting a villa in the mountains or an apartment in Monaco–you never know who you’ll run into there!”

When asked about the best spots for food, Aaron knows the finest and the most relaxed. “I would definitely recommend eating at Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse à l’Hôtel de Paris,”–say that three times fast–”which is a Michelin 3-star restaurant. For something more casual, I would recommend Horizon Rooftop, which gives you stunning views over the Med and yachts at anchor.”

With so much of your stay revolving around yachts, Aaron even recommends doing something different for a nice little break. “If you’re tired of touring yachts, I would take a look at Prince Rainier III’s private car collection, which includes many classics as well as some iconic F1 cars which raced around the Monaco Grand Prix.” The most impressive yachts in the world followed by rare cars and a palace? Sign us up (under “your highness”!).

Beachside Restaurants Along the Côte d’Azur: Gary Hardcastle Takes Us for a Drive

La Réserve de la Mala
La Réserve de la Mala

Speaking from experience, yacht broker Gary Hardcastle took us outside the country limits for one of his best recs. “A short drive out of the center of town is La Réserve de la Mala, a beachside restaurant and beach club with a beautiful view of a French bay.” Technically outside of Monaco (it is located in Cap-d’Ail in France), this breathtaking spot is so worth the drive, which is under 20 minutes from the show. Why not broaden your horizons?

“Another great hidden gem of a restaurant is Anjuna Plage Eze,” Gary shares. Only a 15-minute drive from Port Hercule, this spot is also outside of Monaco’s borders (don’t forget how small it is!) along the picturesque French Riviera.

In terms of what to do, Gary puts first things first: “To start, the Monte Carlo Casino is a must-see.” As mentioned, this iconic place is world-famous; visitors can spend hours at Monte Carlo square, just outside, taking in all the extravagence. The square is constantly filled with beautiful people and even more exotic cars–it is the true epitome of wealth. Speaking of cash flow, Gary also shares another popular Monaco attraction: shopping. “If you are looking to go shopping, you have all of the major brands within walking distance from the square. “

When disussing accomodations, Gary pointed to one of the best, also recommended by Aaron Antonson: “On the higher end, Hotel de Paris is an iconic hotel and much sought-after, with an incredible view of the Monte Carlo square. There is also a bar located inside on the first floor, The Bar Américain, with live music and good drinks that draws a great crowd. A beautiful Asian-inspired restaurant and lounge within walking distance from the Monte Carlo Square is called Buddha-Bar.”

The Hidden Hack: Julian Calder Shares His “Secret”

Sass Café Monaco
Sass Café Monaco

Another European broker working out of the Denison Monaco office, Julian Calder knows his way around Monaco during any time of year. “One of my favourite places to get away from the boat show madness is La Cambuse in Cap d’Ail: great food, family-run, super friendly place for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just a coffee. Closer to the show, obviously Stars’N’Bars for American-diner-style food and Quai des Artistes is my favourite restaurant in Monaco. The steak tartare mix soi même is consistently the best tartare I’ve ever had. For after show drinks and dancing Sass Café is always good.” It seems if you don’t go to Sass Café, you’re doing it wrong (just ask Pierre or Gary…).

However, Julian heeds: “Navigating around town is a bit of a pain.” Probably the most important tip on this guide? He says: “Let people know where the ‘secret’ elevators are.” Jeremy Roche, Denison’s Europe director who is also based out of the Monaco office–so another local pro–expands: “Not exactly secret…there are public elevators. These are very helpful given the topography: it’s a basin, leading to the marina, meaning everywhere is uphill…Look out for the public elevators as these are very helpful!” Pierre agrees: “It’s a very good recommendation, as it can save a lot of time and sweat.” He even shared a map of Monaco with signs for all the elevators–you can see it here (for reference, the elevator icon is the first one in the legend).

You may be wondering how else you can prepare for the Monaco Yacht Show. How about guarding yourself against some common boat show faux pas? Check out our guide on what not to do at a boat show, here.

Still haven’t signed up for the show? Request complimentary Monaco Yacht Show tickets and schedule a tour by filling out the form here.