World’s Best Independent Airport Lounge Revealed

Plaza Premium Lounge London
Plaza Premium Lounge London

Plaza Premium Lounge has claimed the top prize at the Skytrax World Airline Awards

Plaza Premium Lounge at London Heathrow Airport T2 has been voted “World’s Best Independent Airport Lounge” at the 2019 World Airline Awards. This is the fourth consecutive time the airport lounge brand has achieved a first-place ranking, with the Plaza Premium Lounge in Brisbane additionally placing in the top 10.

“It is such a pleasure for Plaza Premium Lounge to once again be named as ‘World’s Best Independent Airport Lounge,’ not to mention our deepest gratitude for millions of global travellers and our dedicated team around the world that strives to make travel better every day,” said Song Hoi-see, Founder and CEO of Plaza Premium Group. “As the world leader in airport hospitality, we are committed to continuously enhancing our experience to alleviate the pain points of travellers.”

Closer to home, the Brisbane branch is known for prioritising wellness in its travellers’ airport experience with private spa and wellness facilities, as well as showers with customised amenities. Guests can expect to board feeling fresh and relaxed.

“In the past year, we have put in much efforts in upgrading our service quality and adding new features – from zone planning, ambient design, furniture selection, food and beverage offerings to facilities that cater to different travel types. Our goal remains unchanged, that is to create a journey to make travel better for all travellers,” Hoi-see says.

In the past year, Plaza Premium Lounges have opened in Sihanoukville, Cambodia; Ahmedabad, India; Rome, Italy; Cebu, Philippines; Langkawi, Malaysia and Helsinki, Finland. The award-winning company now has a global network of more than 160 locations in over 44 international airports, across 22 countries and regions and serving 15 million travellers every year.

Commonly deemed the “Oscars of the aviation industry,” the prestigious Skytrax’s World Airline Awards are determined through the largest global annual airline customer satisfaction survey and receive millions of responses from air passengers around the world.  The survey and the award selection are independent and free of any airline influence or interference.

First St. Regis Opens in Hong Kong

St. Regis Hong Kong
St. Regis Hong Kong

Renowned luxury brand St. Regis brings its signature style to Hong Kong and introduces an eButler service that guests can access 24 hours a day, electronically

Luxury brand St. Regis has arrived in Hong Kong with a property that melds the city’s cultural elements with modern sophistication. A curated mansion with interiors by the acclaimed André Fu (The Upper House), The luxury hotel resides in the bustling Wan Chai area, just steps from the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and Golden Bauhinia Square, and minutes by car to Admiralty, Lan Kwai Fong in Central, and Victoria Peak.

“Hong Kong has long been considered the point of convergence for East and West, and we are thrilled to open the first St. Regis property in this exciting destination,” said Lisa Holladay, Global Brand Leader for St. Regis Hotels & Resorts. “The hotel’s incredible architecture and design beautifully capture the energy of Hong Kong all through the lens of St. Regis’ signature glamorous spirit and sophistication.”

A residential-inspired retreat designed for business travellers and culture seekers, the 27-storey St. Regis Hong Kong boasts 129 guest rooms and suites. Each guestroom features wood flooring, deep soaking bathtubs, expansive windows with stunning harbour and city views and accents infused with an understated Asian sensibility. An outdoor verandah, heated swimming pool, poolside bar, health club and spa treatment room are additional guest-wide luxuries.

The brand’s signature Butler Service makes the guests’ stays even more immersive. This round-the-clock amenity is a St. Regis tradition and includes private in-room check-in, unpacking and packing, beverage service and garment pressing. Guests can also make plans or arrangements for special occasions simply by informing their dedicated butler, who will then take care of all the details to ensure a memorable celebration.

St. Regis Hong Kong will also be introducing the 24-hour eButler chat – where guests can contact their dedicated butler through the Marriott Mobile App or by scanning an electronic butler contact card that connects the guest to reach the butler via a dedicated line, email and apps like WhatsApp and WeChat.

The hotel’s signature restaurant, L’Envol, is led by the acclaimed Olivier Elzerwho boasts an impressive pedigree with no less than 24 Michelin stars. L’Envol offers guests French haute cuisine in either its main dining room or more intimate private dining salon. Renowned and award-winning chef Hung Chi-Kwong will additionally treat guests to a refined Cantonese menu at Rùn. Other dining options include The Drawing Room for a leisurely afternoon tea overlooking the terrace, and the St. Regis Bar for a more sophisticated after-hours digestif and a choice of over 800 wine labels and 100 champagnes. The latter additionally features the signature St. Regis cocktail, the Bloody Mary, and nightly live jazz performances.

The St. Regis Hong Kong also features nearly 1,114 square metres of event space across five venues, including the sophisticated Astor Ballroom, which is 518 square metres with a cathedral-high ceiling design and exclusive direct lift access from the 72-bay private car park.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Releases Japan Voyages Aboard EUROPA 2

By Staff Writer

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has announced its luxury vessel EUROPA 2 will be heading to Japan for the first time in 2019, with two new itineraries on offer: a 15-day ocean cruise from Hong Kong to Tokyo and an 18-day voyage from Tokyo to Singapore.

The journey out of Hong Kong will take you to Taipei, before journeying to Jeju in South Korea where you’ll take a trip across the volcanic island to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak.

Your first port in Japan will be Nagasaki, where you’ll learn all about the city’s turbulent past on a tour, before visiting the historic Sofukuji temple and the Peace Park. This route will take you up the Inasayama hill by cable car giving you spectacular views of Unzen, Amakusa and the Goto Islands.

Continuing the historic adventure, visit Hiroshima and the holy island of Miyajima to discover the moving details of Japan’s involvement in the Second World War. You will also find out all about traditional Japanese life and the vermilion Itsukushima-jinja Shrine.

On this voyage you’ll also get to visit one of the best-known spa resorts in Japan and melt into the hot thermal springs of Beppu and the Tatsumaki Jigoku geyser on an a shore excursion.

With two full days to spend in Kobe, you can head off on shore excursions to the ancient imperial city of Kyoto, famous for its countless shrines and temples; Nara, the legendary city of myths and traditions; or bustling Osaka, Japan’s third-largest city.

Wrapping up your Japanese journey is a vital visit to the county’s sprawling capital city of Tokyo. Here, visit the imperial palace and the Ginza district at your own pace or enjoy a view over the city on a helicopter flight. There are shore excursions on offer to world-famous Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, and you’ll get to experience the high-speed Shinkansen train.

On the lengthier 18-day voyage aboard EUROPA 2 from Tokyo to Singapore, guests will not only get to know the metropolis of Japan’s capital, but also some of Japan’s natural wonders. On the itinerary are trips to Ago Bay with its fjord-like waters and Mikimoto Pearl Island, where the first cultured pearls were created at the end of the 19th century.

Ishigaki, the main island of the Yaeyama archipelago, is famed for its idyllic swimming spots and fine sandy beaches, and guests on board EUROPA 2 will get to discover its beauty on a tour, with the fast ferry also taking you to the neighbouring island of Taketomi with its long sandy beaches and picturesque town.

Other highlights include an excursion to the Shuri Castle where fascinating impressions of Okinawa Prefecture await, a visit to the Shikinaen Royal Garden, and a trip to the ruins of Nakagusuku Castle, which dates back to the 15th century.

State of the Art: Cruising Southeast Asia on Europa 2

By Grace Smith

“Guten morgen,” says the young woman handing me a moistened towel as I step on board Europa 2, an ocean cruise ship that is widely regarded as the best of its kind in the world. I utter an awkward “thank you”, silently reprimanding myself for not downloading a German translation app before my trip.

My discomfort is quickly forgotten as I am handed a flute of chilled champagne and ushered into the ship’s grand atrium. Light floods through immense floor-to-ceiling windows and the room’s sleek, minimalist interiors feel more suited to a Scandinavian design hotel than a cruise ship. Contemporary artworks from the likes of Damien Hirst and Gerhard Richter hang on the walls, and curved sculptures stand on plinths.

While the curated interiors are striking, the clever architectural design is what makes Europa 2 truly outstanding. The soaring ceilings, open-plan layout and absence of thick pillars means that everywhere I turn I see the endless turquoise sea surrounding Koh Samui, the Thai island where we are currently docked.

I have joined Hapag-Lloyd’s grande dame for the final leg of her Hong Kong to Singapore sailing, and am looking forward to finding out why Douglas Ward (author of the 2017 Berlitz Cruise Guide) chose to bestow the ship a five-star-plus rating. Despite its stellar reputation, the German cruise ship, which sailed its maiden voyage in 2013, is still relatively unknown in Australia, with German-speakers making up 90 per cent of passengers.

As I step into the elevator that will take me to my room I realise the turquoise waves outside are following me – the elevator’s glass walls provide unobstructed ocean views, and I reach my deck without taking my eyes off the mesmerising blue sea.

I am staying in the most modest of the ship’s 251 cabins, although as I open the door to my 35-square-metre Veranda Suite I realise that Hapag-Lloyd’s idea of modest is vastly different to that of other luxury cruise lines. The room has its own balcony as well as a lounge, walk-in wardrobe and a bathroom not dissimilar to what you might find in a boutique hotel: there’s a spacious shower, generous-sized sink and vanity and even a bathtub.

On my first day, I decide to spend a few hours luxuriating in the room, starting by taking advantage of the complimentary 24-hour room service and my private balcony while blaring The Beatles from my entertainment system (one of the few English artists pre-programmed). I pop the cork on my welcome champagne and drop a bath bomb in the tub, enjoying a soak to wash off my flight.

I emerge feeling incredibly reinvigorated – I later learn that unlike most air conditioning systems, which use partially recycled air, the air on Europa 2 is drawn continuously from the outside, adding to the freshness of my cabin. It is a subtle feature that makes a big difference and gives me a new appreciation for the attention to detail the German company pays when it comes to clever design.

I now have my afternoon to plan, and consider the activities on offer across the ship. I can play a round on the golf simulator, take a guided tour of Europa 2’s 890 artworks, sample some of the world’s largest gin collection at sea, head to the gym for a workout with a view, or visit the spa for a beauty treatment or a sauna. Not wanting to overdo it on my first day, I decide to head to the pool.

As the elevator doors open onto the pool deck, I am instantly overwhelmed by the buttery-sweet smell of baking waffles. I follow my nose to the waffle stand and take my bounty back to one of the empty sun loungers dotted around the pool. Waiters descend on me almost instantly, offering fresh coconuts, fruit salad and assorted juices.

The attentive service on deck is reflective of the ship’s high ratio of staff to passengers. Europa 2 is almost at capacity on my trip, but a limit of 500 guests means that rather than the crowded feeling common to even some of the best cruise ships, this beautiful ship feels almost empty. There are dozens of free chairs around me, I never queue at the bar, and it is not uncommon to walk along an entire floor without seeing another passenger.

After whiling away a few hours in the pool filled with filtered ocean water, I decide to continue my German cultural immersion by dining in the ship’s signature restaurant, Weltmeere. After a failed attempt at deciphering the menu I am handed an English translation, which features international dishes along with some German favourites like wurst (sausages) and brisket. Weltmeere is one of the seven restaurants on board, along with Italian, French, Japanese and pan-Asian dining rooms and an obligatory buffet, all included in the fare.

During dinner at Weltmeere, my companion asks for tomato sauce with her fries and is rather bemused when the waiter returns with a freshly prepared bowl of hearty pomodoro pasta sauce. We are more than willing to forgive this amusing miscommunication from our friendly waiter, however the general service provided in the on-board dining venues is somewhat less attentive than what one might expect on a five-star-plus ship, with orders occasionally forgotten or only partially delivered. A tip for international travellers is to head straight to the self-serve buffet restaurant Yacht Club where the selection is extensive and the views are fantastic.

As I step into the elevator that will take me to my room I realise the turquoise waves outside are following me – the elevator’s glass walls provide unobstructed ocean views, and I reach my deck without taking my eyes off the mesmerising blue sea.

After dinner, I decide to skip the tap dancing performance in the theatre in favour of checking out the ship’s nightlife epicentre, Sansibar. I am pleasantly surprised to see plenty of groups sipping cocktails and a number of couples and young families tearing up the dance floor to a mix of ’80s classics, pop hits and the occasional German folk song. It is clear that the laidback luxury of the Europa 2 attracts a younger demographic than its more formal sister ship, Europa.

As I order my Mai Tai at the bar, I convert the cost to Australian dollars – drinks are, surprisingly, not included in Europa 2’s rates. Prices are very reasonable (significantly cheaper than at a standard Australian bar). But the additional expense does detract from the feeling of complete indulgence that draws people to luxury cruising. Hapag-Lloyd seems to understand that international guests expect an all-inclusive experience, so they offer all non-German guests a €200 beverage credit – more than enough for my eight days on board.

From my table at Sansibar’s outdoor seating area, I spot a small staircase on the side of the deck. I climb the stairs until I reach what may be the ship’s best-kept secret. The open-air top deck of the ship – the only area not serviced by an elevator – has a hot tub and plenty of bed-sized sun lounges, and when I visit it is completely deserted. I can’t resist a quick soak while staring up at the clear night sky, marvelling at the fact that I have the deck entirely to myself.

Sinking into my bed that night I think about the activities I have planned for the next day: a morning yoga session overlooking the ocean followed by jet-skiing around a private island and a champagne tasting in the evening.

While there’s so much to look forward to, I find myself most excited about the idea of spending a week sailing through the beautiful waters of Southeast Asia while immersing myself in the German microcosm that is the Europa 2.

The Peninsula Hotels partners with Imperial Tours

The Peninsula Hotels has partnered with high-end travel designer Imperial Tours to launch an exclusive range of private jet tours through China. The three journeys are centred around culture, gastronomy and family travel and will take travellers through Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing with stays in the five-star Peninsula Hotel in each city.

The Culinary Voyage through China is a 10-day journey that will begin in Beijing where guests will meet the chefs at Peninsula Beijing watch them prepare Peking Duck as well as partake in an introduction to Northern Chinese cuisine cooking class. Other highlights include a two-Michelin starred dinner in Shanghai, a Cantonese dim sim class at Peninsula Hong Kong and a helicopter flight over the city and surrounding coast.

Families can embark on the 10-day Family Tour of China where they will be taken on private tours through to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, see a Chinese acrobatic show in Shanghai and go behind the scenes of the panda enclosures at Ocean Park in Hong Kong. While the Culture & Heritage of China tour features a private tour of 798 Art District in Beijing, a Chinese calligraphy painting class and private visits to Hong Kong’s contemporary art centres.

Rates start from HKD198,190 (about A$33,226) per person based on double occupancy.


Suite life: The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

About the hotel

The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong was located in Central, Hong Kong until 2009. In 2011, the hotel relocated to the International Commerce Centre in Kowloon. The Deluxe Victoria Harbour Suite has a separate work area from the angled corner lounge, which has floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Enjoy the spectacular Victoria Harbour view from the built-in window seat, or take a closer look with the supplied telescope. Asprey of London toiletries stock the bathroom. The suite is well-equipped with all the conveniences you expect and whilst compact in size, it is well designed to maximise a sense of separate work and living spaces.


Unique features

Staying at the Ritz is really like living on cloud nine for a few days. The hotel occupies floors 102-118 of the International Commerce Centre and has the highest bar, Ozone, and swimming pool in the world at 484 metres high. The tallest building in Hong Kong, the hotel arguably boasts the best views to be had of Victoria Harbour but when the sky is not clear it really is like living in the clouds, a strangely exhilarating experience. When walking around the hotel there are dramatic pieces of art to be viewed – the hotel has over 1,100 contemporary artworks installed, mainly by contemporary Chinese artists.



Hong Kong is a culinary destination for foodies, and the Ritz-Carlton is certainly high on the lists of must-visit restaurants, as two of its three restaurants, Tin Lung Heen and Tosca, are Michelin-star restaurants. Tosca is headed by star chef Pino Lavara, who came from Italy to join Ritz-Carlton to run Tosca. Under Pino, the restaurant achieved its first Michelin star after six months. Dining at Tosca is an experience for all senses, with dishes such as truffles and biscotti served on a cloud made of white fairy floss.



The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong Spa uses East meet West therapies incorporating indigenous healing Lava Shell and Chinese massage techniques. Bookings recommended. 



Club lounge guests have access to a 24-hour lounge and bar. The club is staffed until 11pm at night, though the jet-lagged guest can visit at 3am and help his or herself to snacks and drinks with automatic wine and whisky dispensing machines.  Club lounge guests are also entitled to a free pressing service.


Could do better

As part of the club package, you are able to book a chauffeur to drive you to any part of Kowloon as a complimentary service. However, this is so popular it can be booked out, so a few more drivers may be needed.


If you’d like an upgrade

The Ritz-Carlton Suite Victoria with 415 square metres of splendour includes a personal butler.


Insider tip

Rediscover your inner child at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong. From the reception floor of the hotel it is possible to head into a shopping mall, which has all the usual luxury brands housed, alongside a Zara and Nespresso, but also includes an ice skating rink for those looking to cut loose.

Hip in Hong Kong

This was my fifth trip to Hong Kong in the last ten years, and having stayed in both Central, Kowloon and Wan Chai I was keen to have a different experience of the city. Ovolo, a member of Design Hotels, has five hotels in Hong Kong and each has a unique design style. Southside is the newest addition and has an arty, industrial feel. It’s a 20-minute taxi ride from Central, but if you are looking to stay in a hip, groovy hotel away from the touristy main attractions, this is the place for you.  

The hotel lobby has an art and event space, and when I arrived this was filled with black and white photos, suspended from the ceiling, of the hotel staff, inclusive of directors, in quirky shots: the communications manager sitting on a bar, another jumping on a bed in one of the hotel rooms. From arrival, you feel somehow invited into the Ovolo family. Reception is located next to the Lo-Lounge, and with a pool table, free WiFi, magazines, soft couches and a free bar – it felt like a home away from home, albeit a slightly cooler one.

My room, the Corner Room, maximised the use of Hong Kong’s tight real estate with a clean, minimalist, industrial feel, a pleasant contrast to the trendiness of the communal spaces. Floor to ceiling windows look across to the hills and below I watched the soccer mum and dads cheering on their kids at the weekly match. The room was straightforward and comfortable with a double bed, television and two bedside tables.

Quirky highlights in the room were the travel power kit to charge up your phone or computer, Malin and Goetz toiletries, lolly bags and a complimentary mini bar with water, juice and beer. But between the roof top bar with live DJ, the hotel restaurant, the Lo-Lounge and the local contemporary art galleries, time in your room will probably be spent on a quick shower and refresh before heading back out.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

Note: Hotel Cipriani closed from 8.11.15 to 16.3.16.


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.


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.

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.