Honorable Mention: The Clermont Club – London, UK
Situated in Berkley Square in the heart of London’s Mayfair is The Cleremont Club, a private, members-only casino with more stately panache than Wills and Kate’s wedding. The Cleremont Club boasts no boutiques, laser light shows or concert extravaganzas. Here, hobnobbing with royalty and Britain’s top celebs is the main attraction.
Built in the 18th century on a property known as Devonshire House, The Cleremont Club features high ceilings, huge chandeliers and a restaurant with exceptional fine dining. Game selection is not as vast as more modern, resort-style casinos as there are only three gaming machines and a handful of table games on offer. Among these are roulette, blackjack, three card poker and Punto Banco. But what The Cleremont Club lacks in substance, it makes up for with style.
The only problem with The Cleremont Club is getting in. Prospective visitors must apply for club membership in advance, after which a vetting process begins. Many applications are denied. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend who is a member, you may enter as his or her guest.
#3 Porto Carras Grand Resort – Sithonia, Chalkidi Peninsula, Northern Greece
Compared to the elder statesmen of European casinos, the Porto Carras Grand Resort in Greece is in its infancy. Built just 35 years ago, the casino sits on an enormous beachfront property that boasts breathtaking views and more entertainment options than you can shake a stick at. There’s golf, water sports, horse riding, diving classes, beach volleyball, hiking trails, a spa, marina tours…and did we mention the rock climbing wall?
If you come to Porto Carras for the gambling – it is a casino, after all – you won’t be disappointed. There are more than 400 slot machines and table games ranging from American Roulette to Blackjack to Caribbean Stud Poker. Just be sure to bring your ID. The Porto Carras Grand Resort requires its casino guests be over – surprise! – 23 years old.
#2 Le Grand Casino de Monte Carlo
The antithesis of the brash, circus-like casinos so popular today, the renowned Le Grand Casino de Monte Carlo eschews modernity in favor of a more “old world” style. Built in 1861 and designed by architect Charles Garnier – the same man responsible for the Paris Opéra House – the Casino de Monte Carlo features 316 gaming machines and 35 tables spread over three luxurious salons replete with high ceilings, onyx columns, elegant tapestries and moldings and enormous glass chandeliers.
In the Salon Privés, guests can enjoy European Roulette, Chemin de Fer, Blackjack and Punto Banco for a €10 admittance fee. The Salle des Amériques hosts Blackjack, Craps and American roulette games. The ‘Les Super Privés’ is a salon whose entrance is by invitation only.
#1 Baden Baden Casino – Baden-Baden, Germany
A lot of European casinos rest on their laurels, with design, décor and gastronomy that mirror their host country’s heritage. Not Baden-Baden casino in Baden-Baden, Germany. Nestled against the western foothills of the Black Forest, this opulent gaming complex and resort looks like a fine French chateaux and boasts an idyllic terrace whose palm trees and Mediterranean cuisine will have you wondering whether you’re in Byblos or Bavaria. Marlene Dietrich once remarked that it was ‘the most beautiful casino in the world’.
Opened in 1838, Baden Baden casino offers French and American roulette, blackjack and poker – the later on Fridays and Saturdays only. The gambling at Baden Baden Casino is fast and the tables consistently busy. It is said that Dostoevsky was inspired to write The Gambler after witnessing the action here. Be warned, however, that in order to play you must dress the part. Men must wear a jacket and tie and sport shoes are strictly prohibited. You must also present your passport or European national ID upon entering, and cell phones must be switched off.