Travel

From Macau to Germany and Scotland, chef Monica Galetti on the world’s most luxurious hotels


MASTERCHEF judge Monica Galetti knows a thing or two about high-end service.

But while presenting hit BBC series Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond The Lobby, even she was taken aback by the facilities on offer in the world’s most exclusive resorts.

Masterchef judge Monica Galetti presents the hit BBC series Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond The Lobby with foodie and co-host Giles Coren

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Masterchef judge Monica Galetti presents the hit BBC series Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond The Lobby with foodie and co-host Giles CorenCredit: BBC
She was taken aback by the facilities on offer in the world’s most exclusive resorts, including the jewel in the crown of this series being The Torridon in Scotland

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She was taken aback by the facilities on offer in the world’s most exclusive resorts, including the jewel in the crown of this series being The Torridon in Scotland

The show sees the Samoan-born chef, who owns fine-dining restaurant Mere in London’s Fitzrovia, and co-host Giles Coren work alongside staff in hotels where Lamborghini dealerships in the lobby are the norm and high-rollers have access to secret in-hotel mansions.

In the three-part series, which starts on Tuesday, the pair roll up their sleeves in the technology-obsessed MGM Cotai in Macau, in Germany’s Schloss Elmau, which claims to invigorate the mind, body and soul, and in The Torridon, a former hunting lodge in the Scottish Highlands.

Monica says: “Macau is the Las Vegas of Asia but leaves Nevada in the dust, every year raking in triple as much in gambling revenue.”

It comes as no surprise that bosses were happy to shell out almost £3billion building the MGM Cotai on China’s south coast.

Designed to look like Chinese jewellery boxes stacked on top of each other, the hotel boasts 1,390 rooms, eight restaurants and a super-secretive casino which the BBC was banned from filming in.

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The technology-obsessed MGM Cotai in Macau, on China’s south coast, was designed to look like Chinese jewellery boxes

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The technology-obsessed MGM Cotai in Macau, on China’s south coast, was designed to look like Chinese jewellery boxesCredit: BBC

Any guests who manage to cash in at the tables are tempted to spend their winnings within the hotel, where high-end boutiques are open 24/7 and there is, yes, a Lamborghini dealership in the lobby.

But there’s one area of the hotel that only the super-rich can set foot inside.
Hidden behind an electronic door is The Mansion, a glass-roofed Moro-ccan-inspired square comprising 27 luxury apartments.

Monica, who got to have a snoop around, says: “It’s completely separate from the rest of the hotel, which only compounds its air exclusivity. They won’t even tell me how much it costs — it seems if you need to ask, then you can’t afford it.”

In the Bavarian Alps, Germany’s Schloss Elmau couldn’t be more different to the MGM Cotai, as culture and calm are combined in the countryside. Guests are treated to five-star spa treatments and a concert hall that attracts the world’s leading classical music stars — who all play for free just so they can stay in the hotel.

Germany’s Schloss Elmau hotel is a retreat for the body and mind but Monica says 'it’s proved itself to be exactly that and so much more'

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Germany’s Schloss Elmau hotel is a retreat for the body and mind but Monica says ‘it’s proved itself to be exactly that and so much more’Credit: Alamy

Monica says: “This hotel is called a cultural hideaway — a retreat for both body and mind.

“It’s proved itself to be exactly that and so much more.

“Never before have we stayed in a hotel where its sole aim is the music — it’s very spiritual.”

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But the jewel in the crown of this series is Scotland’s The Torridon.

Set in the Highlands, where mountains meet the sea to create the most spectacular landscapes, this former hunting lodge seems worlds away from civilisation.

Staff work and live together on site, there’s a pub in the grounds — and an outdoor playground of wilderness in every direction.

Most impressive of all to Monica is that its rural location has forced the hotel’s kitchen staff to become almost completely self-sufficient, with 60 per cent of food served to guests coming from their on-site farm.

Monica says: “Their remoteness has made them value produce in a way that feels traditional, but also thoroughly modern.

“I’m just so impressed with everything, from the field to the fork, the welfare of the animals to how the meat is aged correctly.

“That’s how farming should be.

“It’s the only way forward, to be able to keep it sustainable both for the product and for the environment.

Monica says she is so impressed with The Torridon

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Monica says she is so impressed with The Torridon

“The Torridon is winning the battle to be self-sufficient. It’s a lovely feeling serving food you know has come from the landscape around you.

“Coming from the high-end, stressful job that I do, it’s a real escape. It’s good for the soul.

“I’ve discovered this beautiful sanctuary that has warmth and comfort. People are going to have to book in early because it’ll be almost impossible after this episode airs.”

  • Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond The Lobby starts Tuesday, BBC2 at 8pm.
TUI will cover all medical tests and flights for Brits who catch coronavirus on holiday

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