Hamilton moved into the lead after gambling to stay on wets for a prolonged stint in the opening period of the race, before switching immediately to slicks - thereby skipping the stop for intermediates tyres favoured by almost every other driver, including early leader Ricciardo.
And while Hamilton's cause was aided by a disastrous second pit stop for Red Bull - which took 13 seconds and saw Ricciardo emerge almost exactly alongside Hamilton - the Briton says the focus and skill it took to stay ahead on track, in changing conditions and against a faster car, made the triumph incredibly sweet.
"I've had a lot of races, but personally this feels like the best ever - this feels like the one, in my heart, that I earned," Hamilton said.
"And I earned it today. It didn't feel like a stroke of luck. I really ground out every inch of track, every ounce of grip, every bit of skill that I had in order to stay ahead of Daniel.
"My 44th win, in Monaco, when I haven't won in ages…it feels like the greatest blessing."
Asked about the gamble to stay out on wets while his rivals pitted for inters, Hamilton added: "Today I wasn't necessarily the quickest, but when the track was drying, those are generally my preferred conditions.
"I decided to stay out; I knew if I could eke them [his wet tyres] out just a bit longer I could do a one-stop and come straight out for slicks. That was my goal.
"There was still a long way to go on those tyres - and the crazy thing is you don't know how long they will go.
"There are things you can do to manage the tyres, but every now and then Daniel would close the gap so I had to keep pushing. It felt like a lifetime. I'm so grateful, so happy."
Alongside victory, Hamilton had the added bonus of closing substantially on team mate and championship leader Nico Rosberg in the standings. With the German losing sixth on the line to Nico Hulkenberg, Hamilton is now just 24 points behind, having come into the weekend with a 43-point deficit.