The Weekend Australian - Travel - - DESTINATION EUROPE -

Ho­tel Columbus Monte-Carlo, 23 Av­enue des Pa­palins, Monaco; colum­busho­

TARIFF: Room-only rates from about $212 (VAT in­cluded); check for pack­ages and sea­sonal deals. Grand Prix sea­son (May 25-28 this year) will be pre­dictably pricey.

GET­TING THERE: Monaco has a rail­way sta­tion (part of the French na­tional sys­tem) but the clos­est air­port is at Nice, about 15km west. From there you can reach Monaco by a seven-minute he­li­copter flight or 40minute bus trip; vis­it­

CHECK­ING IN: Vis­i­tors who want qual­ity ac­com­mo­da­tion with­out break­ing the bank. David Coulthard no longer owns the ho­tel but it’s still pop­u­lar with the For­mula One crowd.

BED­TIME READ­ING: Gra­ham Greene’s novella, Loser Takes All (1955) is set in Monaco, as is Wendy Leigh’s True Grace: The Life and Times of an Amer­i­can Princess. Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale (1953), set in the fic­tional re­sort of Royale-Les-Eaux, drew in­spi­ra­tion from Monte-Carlo’s cel­e­brated casino.

WHEELCHAIR AC­CESS: The ground-floor en­trance is level and wheelchair-friendly; lifts to all floors and eight adapted suites.

STEP­PING OUT: Visit The Rock, the 800year-old fortress that is home to the Grimaldi palace, the cathe­dral and Oceano­graphic Mu­seum. Try al­fresco seafood at Les Per­les de Monte Carlo, on Fontvieille break­wa­ter. Spend a jaw­drop­ping hour at the Prince of Monaco’s Vin­tage Car Col­lec­tion. And visit the belle epoque Casino; en­try to the lobby is free, and €10 ($15) gets you into gam­ing ar­eas.

BRICKBATS: Hard to find one other than the IQ-chal­leng­ing shower gizmo.

BOU­QUETS: Bright and friendly staff, on the ball and mul­ti­lin­gual. Ex­cel­lent lo­ca­tion.

ALSO TRY: Novo­tel Paris Les Halles; Cen­tral Ho­tel Freiburg, Freiburg im Breis­gau, Ger­many.

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