How to Experience Monaco Like a Billionaire
Monaco is known as the most expensive and the wealthiest place on earth. It’s been a magnet for high-rollers and hedonists since the early 20th century, partially because Monaco is one of the world’s most famous tax havens. If you’re looking for luxury, you’ve come to the right place. This small principality is where the world’s wealthiest come to spend with abandon.
Not coincidentally, Monte Carlo also happens to be one of the best places in the world for people watching. You can sip champagne on any number of terraces while admiring the Cartier and Van Cleef diamond-dripping residents stepping out from their shiny custom-painted Lamborghinis, Bentleys and Rolls-Royces.
Below, find out where you can go to feel like a billionaire in Monaco, and how the uber-wealthy live:
Experience Luxury in Monaco
Here are the best places to go that (with some imagination) will let you feel like a billionaire:
Play a Game at the Monte Carlo Casino
Channel your inner James Bond or Bond Girl in this ultimate gambling den. The very first scene of the very first James Bond film is set at the Monte Carlo Casino (although it was re-created at a soundstage in London) In fact, it’s the location where the words “Bond, James Bond” was uttered for the first time. As the opening moments of Dr. No unfold, the camera reveals Sean Connery, cigarette lit, commanding attention while playing Chemin de Fer, an early version of Baccarat, at what is supposed to be the Monte Carlo Casino. Here’s the clip:
Bring cash. A lot of cash. The minimum bet is €40 (about $47) and the entrance fee just to get in is €17 (about $20). Be prepared to show your passport. Insider info: The citizens of Monaco are actually forbidden from entering the gaming rooms!
Check out our complete guide to the Monte-Carlo Casino.
Attend a Show at the Opéra Monte Carlo
Dress up for a night out in this impressively opulent opera house, which is attached to the Monte Carlo Casino (on the sea-facing side of the building). There are about five or six operas per season, and you can check the schedule here. Since its inauguration, the theater has hosted 45 world premiere productions of operas.
All year long, many international stars perform in this magical setting, including Prince, Lionel Richie, Patti Smith, Peter Doherty, Jane Birkin, the legendary rock band YES, the fabulous Lana del Rey, Carla Bruni and many more. It’s also host to the Monte Carlo Jazz Festival.
Check out our guide to the Monte Carlo Opera House.
Envision Living Inside the Prince’s Palace of Monaco
Le Palais des Princes de Monaco is the official residency of the Royal Prince of the ruling Grimaldi dynasty. The palace, which was built as a fortress in 1162, is guarded by a 98-man force made up of highly trained French military men. It sits on The Rock and overlooks all of Monaco. Since several rooms are open to the public for self-guided tours, you can enter and imagine the castle was built just for you.
Pretend the Prince’s Car Collection is Yours
The royal family built a garage, located on the Terrasses de Fontvieille , for their vintage, racing, and luxury car collections. In this 5000 m2 exhibition, which is unique in the world, you can view the collection of over 100 exotic vintage and racing cars owned by the Prince of Monaco. Wander around and imagine that this was your garage.
Hang Out in Villa Paloma & Villa Sauber
Wander around these luxurious properties and check out the art inside these villas-turned-galleries, previously owned by the uber-wealthy:
Villa Paloma is an art museum housed in a magnificent villa with beautiful gardens. Explore the villa and view the rotating modern art exhibits in this glamorous and historic 4-story hilltop house. Part of the ‘New National Museum of Monaco‘, Villa Paloma has sweeping Monaco views from its outdoor lounge, which is a great place to sit and read. The gardens have a terraced Italianate look, surveying city and sea.
Part of the ‘New National Museum of Monaco’, Villa Sauber is worth visiting for its renaissance architecture and pretty gardens alone. But the art’s nice too! Villa Sauber is one of the last Belle Epoque villas in Monaco. At the beginning of the 1900s, it belonged to the Blanc family who played a fundamental part in the development of the Société des Bains de Mer (SBM) and the Casino of Monte-Carlo.
What Billionaires Do in Monaco
Ready to take it to the next level? Add these to your itinerary to really experience how many Monaco residents live:
Arrive by Helicopter
The seven-minute ride on a chopper from the Nice airport offers the experience of flying like a passenger-royal. Get a private ride and have them drop you on your yacht’s helipad in Port Hercule.
Ride prices vary by season from €140 to €2150 per person. More details in our Monaco transportation guide.
Valet Your Supercar
To stand out on the streets of Monte Carlo, owning a top-of-the-line Bentley, Aston Martin, Ferrari or Rolls Royce simply won’t cut it… Residents up their game by collecting limited-edition concept cars that cost in the millions.
While visiting, why not hire your own high-speed luxury car for the weekend? When you’re not watching the professional drivers race through the streets of Monaco, make heads turn as you rev the engine of a 700 horsepower, V12 Lamborghini Aventador, which goes from 0 to 100 km/h in six seconds. Imagine the thrill as you cruise along the same streets that the F1 Monaco Grand Prix happens on. It can be yours for €3,200 per day (plus €30,000 deposit).
Check out our guide to seeing supercars in Monaco.
Throw a Yacht Party
Monaco wouldn’t be Monaco without its yacht parties. The French Riviera is home to over 50% of the world’s superyacht fleet, while 90% of all superyachts have visited the region’s coast at least once in their lifetime. Personalities who own yachts in the area are Sean Connery, Sophia Loren, and George Clooney.
Thankfully, it’s easy to pick up a luxury superyacht rental that promises a better experience than 5-star hotels. Expect to pay at least €150,000 per week, but prices can easily climb to the millions. A ride for a day is around €6000 to €10,000.
As you sit on the deck of your yacht, watching the French Riviera drift slowly past, you’ll witness a changing landscape of extraordinary beauty. In Monaco, gleaming skyscrapers and grand hotels cling to the steep hillside, and the Prince’s Palace sits high on the Rock above Port Hercule.
Check out our guide to yachting on the French Riviera.
Play in the Casino’s Private Rooms
The Casino de Monte-Carlo and Hôtel de Paris were credited with inventing the “jet-set”; the biggest international stars rubbed shoulders with industry barons and powerful world leaders within the casino walls.
The Casino de Monte-Carlo has several private rooms for high-stakes players. Inside some of these rooms the betting chips are €500,000 each!
Check out our complete guide to the Monte-Carlo Casino before you go.
Attend a Luxury Gala
The Prince’s ‘Monte-Carlo Gala for the Global Ocean‘ dinner party costs between €8000 and €200,000 per ticket, but you’ll rub elbows with A-list celebrities and Monaco’s royalty. It’s held at the Terraces of the Opera of Monaco, overlooking the sea, and features a cocktail reception, a Michelin Star Chef seated dinner, performances, a live auction, and admittance to the after-party.
Sleep Like a Royal in Luxury Suite
Rest after a day of luxury at the Diamond Suite of Hotel Hermitage (€16,000 per night) or chill on a terrace at the Hotel de Paris in the Princess Grace Suite (€40,000 per night) or Prince Rainier Suite (€45,000 per night). The hotel can even arrange for you to rent your own Michelin-star chef for private dining; that costs around €600 per person, per meal.