Skip to Content

How the super rich party at the Monaco Grand Prix

<i>Joash Lee via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Some bottles of champagne at Amber Lounge afterparties can cost €20
Joash Lee via CNN Newsource
Some bottles of champagne at Amber Lounge afterparties can cost €20

By Susan Griffin, CNN

(CNN) — The Monaco Grand Prix gets underway this weekend in Monte Carlo with its heady combination of glamor and adrenaline, not only for the tens of thousands who descend on the pristine principality, but for the millions watching across the world.

Even those who are typically indifferent to motorsports can find themselves enraptured, or at least intrigued, by the sheer spectacle of Formula One cars hurtling along the country’s winding streets.

It is also where you will find celebrities happily jostling their way through the crowds and cameras. “It is unlike anything I have ever been to, it is electric,” exclaimed Spider-Man actor Tom Holland while walking last year’s grid.

And of course, there is plenty of wealth on display.

Monaco is nicknamed “the billionaires’ playground” for good reason. Here, designer stores, supercars, multi-million-dollar yachts and astronomically priced restaurants are ‘la norme’, but during the three-day Grand Prix, the eye-watering ostentation increases three-fold.

When demand is high and options are limited, it is all to play for among the world’s wealthiest who are keen to revel in the race’s iconic location and party ‘til dawn.

If they are not using their own superyacht as a base, they might book into a private villa on the Côte d’Azur or check-in to Fairmont Hotel, Hôtel Hermitage or Hôtel de Paris in Monte Carlo itself.

A pioneer of Grand Prix party culture

Of course, it is not only about finding the finest suites to rest your head, but the premium spots for dining and clubbing, whether it is the top table at Cipriani, Sass Café or Café de Paris or the best booth at exclusive night spots such as Jimmy’z or Amber Lounge.

The latter has the distinction of being the go-to destination for the F1 fraternity, including Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, while previous guests have included Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, Kylie Minogue and Prince Albert of Monaco.

Established in 2003 by former racing driver Eddie Irvine’s sister Sonia as a “post-race destination” for drivers and VIP guests, Amber Lounge is regarded a pioneer of the Grand Prix party culture.

Notably, it will be marking its 20-year milestone (there was a year off during Covid) as “the most exclusive party in the world” with panache over the Monaco weekend with three nights of events costing just over €1.5m ($1.6m) to produce.

There will be after parties at an Amber Lounge beach club on the terrace of Le Meridien Beach Plaza (the only hotel in Monte Carlo with its own private beach), as well as VIP viewing of the race from aboard a 108ft superyacht moored just feet from the circuit’s famous Tabac corner.

“The size of the yacht also means we are as close to the action as you can get, unlike the larger yachts that are pulled back (from the coast). It also feels more intimate and exclusive on board. We have a lot of repeat clients (typically from the US, UK and Middle East) who want to network and build relationships,” said Lauren Green, Managing Director of Amber Lounge who oversees logistics of the three-day pop-up event in Monaco, as well as other F1 locations including Singapore, Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi.

Unsurprisingly, a ticket to one of the most coveted trackside spots does not come cheap.

A one-day VIP viewing package for the race itself on Sunday costs €3,500 ($3,800) per person — and the 65 available tickets sold out within two weeks of going on sale in May 2023.

While the dress code is ‘Riviera chic,’ shoes, however expensive, must be discarded on embarking so as not to ruin the yacht’s teak decking. Tickets include free-flowing beverages, including champagne, wine and signature cocktails, as well as food, a DJ and dancers before tenders return to shore at 6.30pm.

‘The center of the universe for a weekend’

At the club’s after parties held over the race weekend, a small army of waiting staff serve ever-flowing drinks for a 1000 strong crowd on Saturday and Sunday nights. On arrival, guests ring a bell and a gloved hand appears through a flower wall proffering a glass of champagne. Attendees have paid anything from €600 ($650) for entry to the afterparty on Saturday (the F1 qualifying day) to €800 ($870) on the Sunday (race day) in the hope they can party alongside drivers, celebrities and guests of high net worth, away from the public gaze.

For €40,000 ($43,400), partygoers can book what’s known as a “diamond table package” for 10 people — a prime table with unobstructed views of the stage and DJ booth (Fatman Scoop and Jax Jones are the acts for 2024), as well as cirqus-themed performances, and Methuselahs of champagne (6-liters) and premium vodka. Add an extra €10,000 ($10,800) on for a Salmanazar — a nine-liter bottle of champagne that requires a team of four to carry it to the table, or €20,000 ($21,600) for a 12-liter Balthazar-sized bottle.

The top-tier tables also have their own “hosts,” who act as a concierge; liaising with VIPs’ assistants or drivers to ensure guests can be greeted and escorted along the black carpet without having to queue.

Amber Lounge might be one of the most exclusive and expensive events taking place during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, but Monte Carlo itself is a veritable party hub. It’s common for champagne glasses and bottles to be cleared from the track from the previous night’s revelry ahead of that day’s qualifying or race sessions.

“The Côte d’Azur is one of the truly exceptional global destinations, and Monaco is at the heart of it. The scenery, the sophistication, and the opulence are unmatched,” said Bruce Bundrant, Senior Vice President of Business Development for rEvolution, a global sports marketing agency who lived in Monaco for three years as Commercial Director for AS Monaco FC.

“As a former resident, I can tell you there are two sides to the F1 Grand Prix arriving in Monaco. On one side, your town is now the center of the universe for a weekend where the top 1% of the 1% from all over the world arrive and engage in outrageous parties and events on yachts, at luxury hotels suites, and in hilltop mansions,” Bundrant explained.

“On the other, it’s the hybrid of the arrival of a hurricane and New Year’s Eve. A week out from the race, grocery store shelves are emptied as locals know it’s impossible to move around the principality when the F1 circus is in town. During the Grand Prix, your quiet, regular neighborhood bar has a line around the corner, charges a $100 cover charge, and a drink that typically costs $20 will be $50. But it’s a truly unforgettable weekend, with an unreplicable buzz and energy. Sure, it’s expensive, but come the Monday, things are back to normal.”

As normal as it can ever be in a place as excessive as Monaco. As the jet set move onto their next port of call, and the racetrack is dismantled, so too is the Amber Lounge club as preparations continue for their next F1 event, which will be Singapore in September.

“There is no rest at Amber Lounge,” Green quipped. “Just a lot of adrenaline. And a lot of coffee.”

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Style

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content