Robbie Hoyes-Cock's Travel Black Book

Monaco for the jet set - and kids

Monaco's hip party scene, Formula One races and picturesque coastlines draw European royalty, aristocracy, celebrities and the superyacht-set. Founder of The Podium Lounge Formula One After-Parties Robbie Hoyes-Cock likes Monaco for its mix of glamor
Monaco's hip party scene, Formula One races and picturesque coastlines draw European royalty, aristocracy, celebrities and the superyacht-set. PHOTO: ROBBIE HOYES-COCK
Monaco's hip party scene, Formula One races and picturesque coastlines draw European royalty, aristocracy, celebrities and the superyacht-set. Founder of The Podium Lounge Formula One After-Parties Robbie Hoyes-Cock likes Monaco for its mix of glamor
Founder of The Podium Lounge Formula One After-Parties Robbie Hoyes-Cock likes Monaco for its mix of glamorous parties and child-friendly activities.PHOTO: ROBBIE HOYES-COCK

Its glamorous party scene is unrivalled but it is also a very child-friendly place

Who: Robbie Hoyes-Cock, 34 , chief executive and founder of The Podium Lounge Formula One After- Parties, has called Singapore home since 1982.

The Briton travels regularly with his wife Anna, 33, and daughters Amelia, three, and Athena, two.

Favourite destination: Monaco

Why: Monaco will always be the crown jewel of the Formula One World Championship. It brings together European royalty, aristocracy, celebrities and the superyacht- set in the most picturesque of the French Riviera's coastlines.

I have been to Monaco more than a dozen times, sometimes for work or with friends to enjoy its glamorous and unrivalled party scene, and other times, I go with my family, as it is incredibly child-friendly, with many activities for our young ones to enjoy.

Favourite hotel: Guests are treated like royalty at the Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo (www.hotelhermitagemontecarlo.com), a prestigious palace-style hotel in the centre of Monaco. Built in the late 1800s with the help of Gustave Eiffel of the Eiffel Tower, it embodies all of the charm and luxury that Monaco is famous for. Rooms start at €400 (S$633) a night in the low season.

Larger groups should rent a cliff-side villa, most of which boast stunning views of the sea and offer more privacy.

Favourite restaurant: Le Bouchon (www.bouchon.mc) has a Parisian brasserie vibe that is hard to export. It has classic table wines and some superb champagne, and serves typical French brasserie cuisine stepped up to chic Monaco standards.

While main dishes cost €20 to €24, the price of an average meal there will depend entirely on the wine you choose.

Favourite museum: The Oceanographic Museum of Monaco (www.oceano.mc/enas).

Built atop the Rock of Monaco, a 62m-tall monolith jutting out on the Mediterranean coast, the Oceanographic Museum has overlooked the sea for more than a century.

Founded in 1910 by Prince Albert I, great-grandfather of H.S.H. Prince Albert II, the palace is entirely dedicated to art and science, where visitors can view exhibitions and collections of sea life and sea-related objects, such as model ships and sea-faring tools.

My favourite part of the museum is the shark-patting area where you can pat live sharks with your bare hands.

Favourite tourist site: The Rock of Monaco, the oldest area of Monaco. It is the location of the Old Town, the Prince's Palace - the home of King Albert II - and the Oceanographic Museum.

There are loads of little artisan shops in the area, where locals showcase handwoven textiles, painted ceramics and art.

Here you can meander the pedestrianised and cobbled stone streets and admire the changing of the guards outside the Prince's Palace.

Must-stop shop: My obligatory stop in Monaco is at shoe store Fernando Pensato for a pair of Kardinales (www.kardinale.com), which are made-to-measure shoes as comfortable as slippers yet so elegant you can pair them with a tuxedo. A pair costs from €375 to €600.

Best breakfast: The best place for breakfast is One Apple (www.oneapplerestaurant.com) in the Fontvieille neighbourhood, which was built along the water in the 1970s.

It serves healthy breakfasts, fresh fruit juices and breads fresh from the boulangerie (a bakery specialising in bread).

Being entirely surrounded by France, Monaco has undoubtedly been influenced by its neighbour, so a typical breakfast is very French and consists of freshly brewed coffee, croissants, baguettes, butter, jams and honey.

Where to try traditional dishes: Monaco's national foods are barbajuans, highly addictive deep-fried ravioli filled with spinach, ricotta, leek and onions; socca, thin chickpea pancakes cooked inside a wood-fire oven; and stocafi, dried cod boiled in a tomato and olive broth which is both light and refreshing and extremely comforting.

These three dishes can be found at Le Marche de la Condamine (www.monte-carlo.mc/en/visits/condamine-monaco), a covered marketplace which opened in 1880.

It is a sheer delight to walk among the food stalls where you can pick and nibble on fresh produce or buy it to cook at your villa.

In the evenings, the marketplace comes alive with music, family get-togethers and daily specialities prepared by the restaurants, which can range from €6 for a pizza to €25 for a plate of truffled pasta.

Best hidden find: My best hidden find is Le Cabanon Restaurant (www.capresort.com/cabanon/) in Cap d'Ail, a French town on Monaco's south-western border.

It is a five-minute drive from Monaco and is also accessible by foot from the Fontvieille neighbourhood.

The restaurant is situated at the tip of the peninsula, overlooking the sea, and the simple combination of local dishes and sprawling views enjoyed under the stars never ceases to inspire me.

Necessary day trips: A nearby town that I really love is Saint Agnes, only 20 minutes' drive from Monaco.

It is Europe's highest seafront village so you can imagine how spectacular the view is.

The best restaurant there is Le Saint-Yves (le-saint-yves.com) which serves traditional wild boar and rabbit dishes that are just brilliant.

Events to bookmark: Monaco is at its peak during the Grand Prix de Monaco and the Cannes Film Festival in May, and the Festival de Television de Monte-Carlo in June.

The latter two events are when superstars can be spotted on literally every corner.

The Grand Prix de Monaco, typically held over a weekend in May, is an awe-inspiring experience.

I recommend arriving on the Wednesday to feel the excitement building in the air and staying until the following Tuesday to give yourself a little recovery time from the late nights of partying and to avoid the mass exodus of F1 fans.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 13, 2015, with the headline 'Monaco for the jet set - and kids'. Print Edition | Subscribe