@JonB I went there last year and would agree with Chen Lim. It’s definitely not somewhere to go on your own. It was very expensive but I enjoyed it for various reasons. Some people were very friendly but there was also a sizeable crowd of Russian ‘models’ who made a beeline for anyone that they recognised and were quite aggressive about it towards the rest of us. I saw a few drivers but you have to remember that you’re not actually guaranteed to see anyone. You just need to go with an open mind.
An important thing to note is that you cannot take pictures, even on your phone, which is disappointing because if you’ve gone to all the trouble of going, you at least want some sort of souvenir at the end of it.
As for which day to go, the event runs from about 10pm to 5am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so it will impact on what you have planned for the following day.
We stayed in Nice last year and took the train to Monaco each day. The timetables show that the trains run until late at night, however last year the drivers were on strike and apparently this happens every year around GP time. There were still a few trains but it was a very limited service in the evening and there was nothing after about 9pm over the race weekend. The bus service to Nice normally finishes around 8pm as well. This meant that we were rushing to get back to Nice every evening and couldn’t enjoy a normal night out in Monaco.
To get to Amber Lounge, we pre-booked a taxi with the cheapest company at EUR 95. When we came out, we had planned to walk into Monaco and get the first train of the day but we were really tired and we hadn’t appreciated beforehand that the venue is at the bottom of a hill and almost on the border with France (not easy if you’re in heels!). We ended up sharing a taxi back to Nice with some other Amber Lounge guests. It cost EUR 250 for 4 people and the taxi driver refused to negotiate! Some friends of mine who had gone to the Coldplay concert earlier in the week and had missed their train from Nice to Menton ended up paying EUR 220.
Good luck whatever you decide. I’m sure that you will enjoy Monaco. Last year was supposed to be a one-off for me but I’d already made up my mind whilst I was there that I would come back again this year!
@Ian W Anyone who is not Monegasque can go into the casinos but you will need to take your passport with you. There is a cloakroom for rucksacks and large items. The casinos are open during the day, as well as at night and you are not under any obligation to bet but there may be an entrance fee. No cameras are allowed but you can walk freely around the public areas. There is a dress code – no shorts, flip flops etc. and a jacket may be required in the evening. We visited Casino Monte-Carlo during the afternoon and wouldn’t recommend it, as there was no atmosphere – only a couple of tables had anyone playing. If I went again, it would definitely be at night.