It is 9:30pm on a Tuesday night, I get a call from my editor – surely I have not missed a deadline? ‘Do we have a photoshoot?’, quick questions run through my mind – I take the call. ‘Pack your bags, you’re going to Monaco’ she continues ‘And once you are done there, Barcelona’ – I check to see if I’m still asleep, very awake! and a bruised arm later – I mentally plan my wardrobe, realising actually I don’t have any time whatsoever – I rush off to pack. Nothing screams adventure like a trip to Monaco and Barcelona.
Sat in the airport – It becomes more of a reality! Tanned from my escapades in Spain the week before, I’m so glad that my holiday wardrobe works on my new found skin tone! I decide to take a look at the Itinerary. I will be attending the Au Soleil summer soiree hosted by the Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts.
The adventure begins when I board a helicopter from Nice airport to take me to Monaco – as we fly over the French Riviera – I can’t help but imagine what is in store! The views from up above are impeccable – stunning crystal blue seas – yachts bigger than my house! White sand beaches if everything looks so magical up here, I can’t wait to land.
I place my oversized Dior sunglasses on my face – as I leave the helicopter, channelling my inner Grace Kelly. This was her life – once upon a time she owned this – so I’m doing this for her.
I am shown my room – as the door opens – I am greeted by the view, quintessentially French Riveria – the crisp blue sky meets the charming aqua blue sea – which touches the white sands so perfectly – it is inviting you in! The bedroom itself is a haven just in case it decided to rain! It is one of those rooms you wouldn’t mind being locked in!
Feeling refreshed and showered I go downstairs to meet my host, as I approach the lobby I am greeted by a sparkling aperitif and it’s over cocktails I meet the wonderful Nastasia of Dame Traveller and Angelina of The Lovely Escapist – sometimes press trips are much more fun when you’ve got your girls!
Dinner that evening is at Avenue 31 – a charming idyllic restaurant 5 minutes away from the hotel – the food is sublime and the service is impeccable, each course is partnered well with a fantastic wine.
As I wake up in the morning, I realise I slept with curtains open – and this was on purpose – I wanted to be greeted with the view – and there is nothing more spectacular than waking up to a sunrise from the comfort of your own bed and at Le Meridien Monaco – this is possible!
Monaco is perfect, perfectly expensive and rich smelling – the yachts are super – the labels are everywhere – the go to holiday destination of the rich and famous. As we stroll the streets and admire the buildings – everything is beautiful the way the flowers are arranged down to the pavements. We stop to get coffee, and literally missing an actual ‘bumping into’ Liza Minelli, like you do, after all this is Monaco.
Exploring the streets of Monte Carlo – we find the church where Grace Kelly got married – making the perfect picture opportunity – we have been walking for hours and I have deleted every app on my phone that could possibly make room for more pictures. I have never been anywhere where the views have been so spectacular whether it is of the sea or the cliffs behind us – we seem to stop and go ‘wow’ every few minutes! We continue exploring, eating ice creams and of course I have to sneak in some shopping! It is Monaco! It would be rude not to!
Arriving back at the hotel – we are treated to a drive in a vintage car! Wearing tailored shorts and a crisp white shirt – the car is a peugeot 406. It is the perfect colour of cadet blue and goes well with my outfit – driving through the picturesque french riviera it is easy to see why old Hollywood flocked here from Kelly, Hepburn to Gable – the place oozes class prestige and most of all it is serene – the panoramic views are enough to leave you speechless and driving in a car with the top down it’s hard not to emulate that classic Gable persona.
The evening arrives the hotel is hosting the Au Soleil summer soiree. The past few days have
seemed like a dream from an old Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart film retro glam travel teamed perfectly with the vintage suitcases – the soiree is set on the beach which the sea and the sky provide the most indulgent backdrop. Sipping Rose underneath yellow umbrellas which provide that perfect amount of shade from that golden hour burn. Wide straw beamed hats teamed with oversized sunglasses, the wind blows gently and in the corner of my eye 3 older gentlemen in ivory suits share a cigar. Truth be told if I closed my eyes I could almost imagine this whole scene 50 years ago – it is classic. Le Meridien have not only created a beautiful event that invigorates all your senses but has created a memory that will last forever, all those feelings of nostalgia were set on fire. As the night draws to an end – the singer performs an acoustic rendition of La Isla Bonita – the stars appear and the canapes which are so moorish are soon finished. That indeed was a summer soiree.
A hop a skip and a flight later – I am in Barcelona! Now I have a love for Barcelona which rivals New York – it is cool, it is contemporary there is amazing architecture the food the art – If I was given the opportunity to live there – it would be snatched. However all the times I have been to Barcelona I have never travelled outside of the centre. And this trip was the perfect opportunity – we arrived at Le Meridien Ra which is located in Castell – an hours drive from Barcelona.
Greeted by thee most cutest ice cream truck – it is the perfect remedy after a 2 hour journey and a luggage mix up! All hotels should do this! I open the doors to my room – and this one is different from Monaco – this is streamlined focusing on features like the huge water feature which is derived from the sea and creating a pool like feature outside my window. There is more thought taken into the furniture. It is slick and sophisticated and by my bed is Harper’s Bazaar and Spanish Vogue – they knew I was coming.
Spain is chilled, unlike the fast paced life in Monaco – we take time indulging and reflecting – we are given the opportunity to stargaze at night on top of the hotel’s roof – and through giant
telescopes I find jupiter and Saturn – this is a truly thrilling experience having always been a solar system geek.
There is something more personal about Le Meridien Ra – the staff are incredibly helpful and seem to know my name – always offering to help and opening doors. The hotel itself is magnificent and old 1920 children’s hospital which has been modernised but kept its cool high ceilings and windows. It also houses its own orchard with orange trees and grapevines which are located in the blissful courtyard. The property is ideally placed on the beach front but is the perfect combination of modern and classic spanish architecture – clever use of minimalism that partner so well with the outstanding views! Le Meridien is full of surprises and stories – and it down to you to find them. It would be rude not to take advantage of this magnificent hotel and we hold an impromptu photoshoot! Styled in a White Joseph shirt Boots from Daniel Footwear Jacket by Gucci and in my favourite ACNE jeans – the 1920’s building is a the perfect backdrop
Overall it has been a wonderful trip full of midnight walks getting lost in Barcelona! New experiences and trying new foods. Making new friends and making memories, laughing uncontrollably, making plans and talking about dreams – and all the perfect ingredients for the perfect adventure.