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Nine Spectacular Bond Destinations

Bond Langham Grand Junior Suite
Bond Langham Grand Junior Suite

Why do we still love James Bond movies decades after the first, Dr No, was released in 1962? The outrageous plots, flamboyant acting and wacky gadgets used by British Secret Service agent 007 may be reliably entertaining, but they alone can’t explain the franchise’s enduring popularity. Perhaps it is the locations that continue to draw us in – the cities, both familiar and foreign, where Bond chases villains against historic backdrops, and the far-off islands where he recuperates, often with a beautiful companion by his side. Sumptuously photographed, these locations fire the imagination, tempting us to jump on the next plane.

The latest and 24th James Bond feature film, Spectre, visits Mexico, Morocco and The Alps, and features some of the world’s most characterful hotels: pure eye candy for luxury travellers. To celebrate the staying power of Bond, we open the file on nine spectacular Bond destinations so that you may plan a covert mission of your own.

London

For decades, luxury travellers have been drawn to the British capital’s stately hotels, traditional restaurants and posh boutiques. But attractions such as the fast-growing London Fashion Week and the edgy drinking-and-dining scene in East London have put the destination on the map for younger jet setters. The city takes centre stage in the 2012 Bond instalment Skyfall, which includes a memorable chase through the Underground and an instantly iconic shot of Daniel Craig on a rooftop near the Houses of Parliament. Buildings in London have also ‘stood in’ for countless other locations during filming – check out Goldeneye (1995) to see The Langham transformed into St. Petersburg’s Grand Hotel.

Where to stay

The Langham, London.

Rates start from £317 (about A$662) per night. langhamhotels.com

Udaipur, India

This vibrant city on the shores of Lake Pichola lives up to its reputation as a haven for romantics, boasting ornate palaces and temples, enchanting alleyways, bustling markets and an abundance of upscale hotels. The finest guestrooms in town can be found at the Taj Lake Palace, a striking white-marble edifice that served as Octopussy’s lair in the 13th Bond movie of the same name. In the film, Roger Moore swims up to the palace disguised as a crocodile and spots Octopussy and her entourage relaxing by a shimmering pond. Udaipur may have evolved since the release of Octopussy in 1983 (the lakefront is now crowded with modern hotels), but those in search of historic luxury will not be disappointed.

Where to stay

Taj Lake Palace

Rates start from INR 23,100 (about A$489) per night. tajhotels.com

Hong Kong

The city state’s days as a colonial outpost are captured in The Man With the Golden Gun (1974), which features Hong Kong’s quintessential old-school hotel, The Peninsula Hong Kong. In the film, 007 (Roger Moore) observes Bond girl Andrea Anders being picked up by one of The Peninsula’s distinctive green Rolls-Royce courtesy cars, and follows her to the hotel. Today, visitors to Hong Kong can recreate the classic Bond experience by staying at the restored Peninsula, while sampling some of the island’s newest luxury offerings, including recently Michelin-starred restaurants such as Nur, Akrame and Upper Modern Bistro (all less than two years old), and the burgeoning Art Basel fair (March 2016).

Where to stay

The Peninsula, Hong Kong

Rates start from HK$ 3,480 (about A$605) per night. hongkong.peninsula.com

Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

The shallow expanse of water between Phuket and the Thai mainland is dotted with small limestone islands, two of which feature in the climactic scenes of The Man With the Golden Gun. Khao Phing Kan, now known as “James Bond Island”, serves as the lair of antagonist Francisco Scaramanga, while adjacent islet Ko Tapu – narrow at its base and wider at its top – also appears. Today, Phang Nga Bay’s picturesque rock formations draw scores of day-trippers on boats from Phuket and Krabi, but several ultra-luxe resorts – including Six Senses on Yao Noi island – manage to retain a sense of seclusion.

Where to stay

Six Senses Yao Noi

Villa rates start from THB 14,786 (about A$567) per night. sixsenses.com

Paradise Island, Bahamas

His lushly forested speck of land – a stone’s throw from busy New Providence island and Bahamian capital Nassau – featured prominently in early Bond film Thunderball (1965), but is perhaps better known as 007’s Caribbean getaway in Casino Royale (2006). After arriving by seaplane, Bond goes to the One&Only Ocean Club resort, where he plays an intense game of poker, seduces a beautiful woman in his villa and receives an important phone call. The resort is one of the most luxurious in the region (Daniel Craig stayed there while filming Casino Royale) and promises to be even more alluring when its current renovation is finally completed.

Where to stay

One&Only Ocean Club

Rates start from US$1,329 (about A$1,791) per night. oneandonlyresorts.com

Venice

Bond briefly visits the Floating City during From Russia With Love, but spends considerably more time there in Moonraker (1979), in which he shows off a gondola that doubles as a hovercraft. Venice also looks gloriously romantic in Casino Royale, when Daniel Craig sails into the lagoon with his love interest and moors at the Hotel Cipriani. The hotel, offering postcard views of St. Mark’s Square and an Olympic-sized swimming pool (the only such amenity in crowded Venice), is an enduring favourite in a city with no shortage of luxury accommodation options. A recent renovation has made the 95 rooms and suites even more opulent.

Where to stay

Belmond Hotel Cipriani

Rates start from €680 (about A$1,005) per night. belmond.com

Note: Hotel Cipriani closed from 8.11.15 to 16.3.16.

Switzerland

The Swiss Alps have been a playground for Bond and his villains on more than one occasion. Some memorable car-chase scenes were filmed in Switzerland including Goldfinger (1964) and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) – which was the only 007 movie to feature Australian-born actor George Lazenby as Bond. In the film, the villain Blofeld, played by Telly Savalas, has his headquarters on Schilthorn Mountain in the Bernese Mountains. In August 2015, George Lazenby visited Schilthorn Mountain to open the world’s first 007 Walk of Fame at 2,970m. There’s an interactive exhibition that screens scenes from the film, and a helicopter simulator.

Where to stay

Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa, Interlaken

Rates start from CHF386 (about A$529) per night. victoria-jungfrau.ch

Istanbul

The ornate buildings and winding streets of Istanbul feature prominently in From Russia With Love (1963), the poorly received The World Is Not Enough (1999) and Skyfall, which includes a memorable chase across the roof of the Grand Bazaar. Watching the films in succession is an effective way to get familiar with Istanbul, which continues to draw large numbers of luxury travellers from Europe and beyond. The place to stay is the çırağan Palace, a 19th-century sultan’s residence on the shores of the Bosphorus reborn as a five-star hotel.çırağan Palace, a 19th-century sultan’s residence on the shores of the Bosphorus reborn as a five-star hotel.

Where to stay

Çırag˘ an Palace Kempinski

Rates start from €420 (about A$621) per night. kempinski.com

Mexico City

Billed as the most ambitious introductory sequence in the franchise to date, the opening of Spectre includes 1,500 extras parading in Day of the Dead costumes and a fight scene on an airborne helicopter. Much of Mexico City’s centre was closed off for several days to facilitate filming. The interior scenes were shot on location, too. Rooms at one of the city’s most impressive historic hotels, the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, feature prominently. Bond buffs may also recognise the Gran Hotel from Licence To Kill, (1989), shot in Mexico, but largely set in the fictional Republic of Isthmus.

Where to stay

Downtown Mexico

Rates start from A$321 per night. downtownmexico.com

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