Back in 2006 everyone in England knew all about Baden-Baden. At the height of the WAG culture, England captain David Beckham campaigned for wives and girlfriends to travel to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
As skipper and just about the most powerful man in English football, he got what he wanted and they all checked in at the spa town of Baden-Baden. For three weeks it was paparazzi photos of Cheryl Cole, Victoria Beckham, Colleen Rooney and co drinking cocktails all day, making trips making to designer boutiques in the afternoons and hitting the nightclubs when the sun went down. What a waste.
They should have ventured up the mountain to the town’s famous Casino. On the outskirts of the Black Forest, the 1824-built Casino is made to look like a French palace in the Belle Epoch style, filled with chandeliers suspended by velvet ropes, golden mirrors and hand-painted stained-glass windows.
The surrounding Caracalla Spa is a 43,000 square-foot complex with thermal waters in pools, grottos and whirlpools and once you’re done feeling cleansed and invigorated, you can always visit the Faberge Museum, also on the premises. Up the road is the Iffezheim racetrack, home to some of Europe’s most prestigious horseracing events.
Dostoyevsky’s famous ‘The Gambler’ is set there and the great Marlene Dietrich, who knew a thing or two about these things, called it ‘the most beautiful Casino in the world’.
Hotel de Paris & Casino de Monte-Carlo (Monaco)
If it’s luxury, exclusivity and tasteful bling you want, head to this one.
Created, built and owned by Monaco’s ruling Grimaldi family as a way of financing the principality almost 150 years ago, it’s been a big hit among millionaire businessmen, big-spending sportspeople, deep-pocketed playboys and members of European royalty ever since.
It’s not unusual to see millions of pounds worth of sports cars parked outside the doors or to spot world-famous names chancing their arms at Roulette, Blackjack or Baccarat. Mind you, it’s not so easy to get a game there as most evenings are invite-only affairs and getting on the guest list is easier said than done.
Part of Ocean’s Twelve was filmed there and It was the inspiration for James Bond’s first-ever gambling outing in Casino Royale. That’s pretty appropriate because as far as the world’s Casinos go, it’s royalty.
Estoril Casino (Portugal)
Like with the Monte Carlo Casino, James Bond makes a stop here as well, this time in ‘On her Majesty Secret’s Service’. And that’s hardly surprising.
During the Second World War it was a popular meeting place for real-life spies, double agents, informers and ‘upmarket’ criminals, so a realistic spot for 007 himself to get to work at. Rubbing shoulders with the spies of the day were also dethroned Royals and wartime chancers, playing the tables like everyone else.
These days it’s a slick, smooth, sharp operation that lacks the somewhat artificial feel of a Vegas Casino and is far more friendly to the general public than some others on this list.
Located in the seaside town of Estoril, the Casino boasts a performance space for concerts, a valuable art gallery and one of Portugal’s finest Chinese restaurants.
But what about the gambling? Well, there’s the small matter of it having the largest slots/video poker gaming area of any Casino in Europe, on the ground floor. Head upstairs for all the usual table games.
If you’re not currently within a stone’s throw of Estoril, you can always play casino games at Marathonbet, instead. Signing up and getting under way should take you less than five minutes.
Marino Bay Sands (Singapore)
Not every Casino on this list can have history on its side and this one isn’t even quite a decade old. Built in 2010 and apparently costing a rumoured $8 billion, it’s thought to be the most expensive standalone Casino in the world ever built.
Nightclubs? An indoor ice-skating rink? Michelin-starred restaurants? You got it. They’re all there, as are 600 gaming tables and over 2,5000 slot machines in what is the best-known building in the whole of Singapore.
If you’re one of the guests occupying one of the 2,561rooms you’d be well-advised to take a trip to ‘the pool’, which happens to be the largest infinity pool in the world, on the top-floor roof deck.
Venice Casino (Venice)
This one has more time on its side than any other featured here. After all, it’s the world’s oldest Casino.
Admittedly, the building in which its located has only been the site of the Casino since the 1950s but before that, Venice Casino was just a couple of doors down and had been since 1638.
It manages to combine classic good taste with modern, understated décor and cool lighting and doesn’t make an unnecessary spectacle of the gaming itself. Games are played out in a professional, controlled way rather than in the loud, chip-throwing, vigorous-clapping environment of a few other Casinos we could name.
Given a trip to Venice Carnival or the Film Festival are great outings in their own right, a trip here to the Casino is a must, if only to be able to say you once arrived at a Casino by water taxi.
The Wynn Casino (Macau)
Say what you like about the controversial Steve Wynn but he sure knows how to build a Casino. Having been responsible for the facelift given to lots of Casinos on the Vegas strip in the 90s and having owned plenty of Casinos in Vegas for almost 50 years, he decided to roll the dice in the East.
The Wynn, built on Macau’s waterfront, comes under the lavish and decadent category of gaming joints. Another one where Michelin-starred restaurants are two-a-penny and one where the grounds have more luxury shopping outlets than most mid-size cities have in total.
There are 840 slot machines and 500 table games to choose from in a place that’s all about the extravagance. Case in point: a Dragon of Fortune with an animated head and red eyes rises 30ft from the at regular intervals to the shock of the Casino’s patrons. Just because.
Crown London Aspinalls (London)
Sadly, you can’t just rock up and play here. You’ll need to fill in a membership form in advance, e-mail or fax it to the Club and well, hope for the best. You’ll also need a Tuxedo or an evening dress because a place for the gambling riffraff, this is not.
When it first opened its doors in the 1960s it really was the place for English aristocrats to gamble away money they hadn’t worked for, in luxurious surroundings. Among those was Lord Lucan, whose disappearance in 1974 remains one of England’s great unresolved mysteries. Founder John Aspinall didn’t want his mate to be forgotten about and erected a bust of the enigmatic Lord within the Casino. It’s still there.
These days it’s more representative of Mayfair’s current residents, so English gentry has been replaced by internet millionaires, the odd Premier League footballer and other folks for whom money is of little concern. But there’s still something very special and classy about the place and the name is still associated with everything that’s affluent and stylish about London nightlife.