50 years of Bond

By | Category: Travel destinations, Travel news, Travel tips & opinions

The 23rd Bond film, Skyfall, is due to be released later this month (26 October). To celebrate the latest film around the world’s most high-profile secret agent and ultimate English gent, VisitEngland selects a number of Bond-style adventures to leave you shaken, not stirred.

Live like Bond
Take it one step further; don’t just watch the film – live like Bond! 007 is often seen with a Martini glass in hand. Dukes Hotel, near Turnbull and Asser, has one of London’s most elegant bars and Ian Fleming’s famous line ‘shaken, not stirred’ is said to have been inspired by the barman at this boutique hotel. Those wanting to experience some Bondish action should take a high speed boat ride down the River Thames (tickets cost £34.95 for adults and £20.95 for children), zipping through London at 35 knots. Follow it with a climb Up At The 02 (tickets from £22) – almost recreating a scene from The World is Not Enough, which featured a race down the river that climaxed with a fight scene on top of the arena; there are great views from the top to those brave enough to make the climb.

Live like a Bond girl

There has only ever in fact been one Mrs Bond but there have been countless Bond girls. 007 jumped out of a plane into the Olympic Stadium with Her Majesty the Queen, so experience falling through the sky over some of England’s spectacular countryside. The British Parachute Association has a list of drop zones all over England where you can experience the thrill of shooting through the air. Somehow Bond girls manage to look immaculate while flying planes (and jumping out of them). To achieve those looks that could kill, head to the Dolphin Square Spa, London, which goes one step further with a 23 Carat Gold Body Ceremony (£199). Their full body massage uses gold minerals and precious oils, and the treatment ends with a dusting of gold powder – Goldfinger would certainly approve. To be a match for Bond, you need to get fit, because it’s very likely that as a Bond girl you’ll be involved in a high-speed chase or some impromptu kickboxing. Forget the gym though – Bond girls are more likely to be seen crunching iron at hard-core boot camps. GI Jane boot camp offer weekend courses in Kent (experience costs £399 and includes shared accommodation, food and beverages, nutritional advice, life coaching and fitness training).

Bond- inspired exhibitions
The National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, has opened the largest collection of James Bond vehicles ever displayed to celebrate the fiftieth year of the Bond franchise. Bond in Motion (tickets cost £18 for adults and £8.95 for children), which will run until January 2013, includes the 2008 Aston Martin DBS from Quantum of Solace, the 2002 Jaguar XKR and SFX weapons from Die Another Day and two Honda CRF250R motorcycles that feature in the opening sequence of Skyfall. Additionally, until next month Proud Chelsea hosts All About Bond: Photographs (free entry) by Terry O’Neill, running 13 September – 4 November. From the glamour to the guns, Terry O’Neill’s Bond collection is the epitome of British style, boasting shots of six official Bonds, with additional portraits of David Niven and Peter Sellers (from the 1967 Casino Royale) and Bond Girls such as Ursula Andress and Honor Blackman. Bond is known for his bespoke tailoring and in 2013 visitors at the V&A can enjoy iconic garments from stage and screen at the new exhibition Hollywood Costumes, featuring 007 star Daniel Craig’s tuxedo from Quantum of Solace.

Daniel Craig as 007

Bond hotels
The life of James Bond is one of constant travel, and the secret agent has been known to find himself in some particularly quirky and luxurious settings. Spend the night at St Ermin’s (rooms from £139.30 per night) and explore the hotels deep-rooted connections with Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service. Ian Fleming himself once worked out of the building, which operated as a base for SIS and MI5 officers to meet their agents during the war. It is even rumoured that a tunnel runs from underneath the grand staircase in the lobby to the houses of Westminster. Bond is just as at home in the countryside as the city and Berkshire’s most luxury hotel, Cliveden, (rooms from £252 per night) is a stone’s throw from 007’s former school, Eton, where Bond author Ian Fleming studied.

Set-jetting locations
007 helicopter landing pad on the lawn, golden female statues and a dramatic fight scene featuring Sean Connery are all part of the James Bond connections at Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa (rates start from £230 per room per night). As Bond fans celebrate the 50th anniversary, Luton Hoo has been attracting a share of the limelight with diehard fans visiting to pinpoint exact film locations from Never Say Never Again and The World Is Not Enough. Why not visit the home of James Bond’s ultimate Bond girl… Besides from being the backdrop to the Queen’s scene-stealing turn in the London 2012 opening ceremony, Buckingham Palace is mentioned in Moonraker and Goldeneye, but is perhaps better known for its appearance in Die Another Day when Sir Gustav Graves makes his showy entrance by jumping out of a plane and landing safely by parachute in front of the palace. Every summer visitors can explore this most regal of film sets, which holds some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection in its State Rooms (admission costs £18 for adults and £10.25 for under 17s). Finally, Hankley Common near Elstead, Surrey was used in The World Is Not Enough and will also be used in s – the site is rumoured to be the setting of Bond’s ancestral home. Nationally important for its bird, reptile and invertebrate populations, Hankley Common represents some of the finest remaining heathland in southern England and is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.


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