24-Hour Room Service: Port Palace, Monte Carlo

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The Independent Travel

Monte Carlo's newest hotel is a break from the city's flashy norm.

Monte Carlo's newest hotel is a break from the city's flashy norm. Nothing gaudy is allowed to tarnish the minimalist lines of the Port Palace, which opened last September. It's understated elegance all the way, which is hardly surprising when you consider that the interiors are the work of Leila Menchari, design director of Hermès. The emphasis is on the quality of the materials, with Italian designers responsible for much of the furniture (Poltrona Frau) and the fabrics (Rubelli). Pale orange leather chairs circle the marble dining tables found in the larger suites, while panels of ochre leather add splashes of colour to complement the enormous red and gold silk cushions scattering the sofa and king-size bed. The lift walls are, exotically, lined with sharkskin.

Apart from its exquisite interiors, the Port Palace's biggest asset is its location on the quayside of Monte Carlo harbour - each of the hotel's 50 suites look out over the yachts moored in the port. Originally a dull government office, the building was converted into a hotel by a Tunisian businessman, Lotfie Maktouf, who was keen to add to Monaco's small selection of places to stay. Although it has no swimming pool, a chauffeur is available to take guests to a private beach five minutes' drive away. And the pampering continues for those who want superior beauty treatments. The hotel's Clé de Beauté Institute, created by Shiseido, is the only salon outside Japan that is allowed to use its luxury line of products.

LOCATION

Port Palace, 7 Avenue John F Kennedy 98000, Monte Carlo (00 377 97 97 90 10; www.portpalace.com). If you're lucky enough to check in for the Monaco Grand Prix, you'll get an excellent view from your window, and an even better one from the hotel's sixth-floor restaurant.

Time from international airport: Nice airport is 15 miles away, and a 35-minute taxi ride will cost about €70 (£50). Buses cost €13 (£9) one way, or you can pay €75 (£53) for a seven-minute helicopter ride. Valet parking at the hotel is €25 (£18) per day.

COMFORTABLE?

While some may consider its minimalism too austere for comfort, the feeling of light and space in the Port Palace is luxurious. Lotus-eaters can recline on the leather chaise longues by the windows, before enjoying the jacuzzis in each room. Corner suites have their own steam rooms, and all of the bathrooms are decked out in pristine marble with Villeroy and Boch ware and sleek chrome fittings.

Freebies: The bathrooms have a touch of English class in the form of Penhaligon's Quercus range - shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and soaps - all in large and small sizes and worth transporting home.

Keeping in touch: Free high-speed internet access is provided in all rooms, but you'll have to make do with one plasma television screen if you opt for a junior suite. The larger suites have two.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Junior suites cost €600 (£428.50) per night in low season, while an executive corner suite in high season costs €2,100 (£1,500). Breakfast, at €29 (£21), is extra.

I'm not paying that: basic but colourful rooms can be had at Hotel de France, 6 rue de la Turbie near the train station. Doubles cost €74 (£53) per night (00 377 93 30 24 64; www.monte-carlo.mc/france).

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