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Unusual Accommodations Fit for Bond

  • 21 Sep 2012
Spitbank Fort, a fortress on the Solent, the stretch of water between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. You can hire the entire island, or stay in its luxury hotel.

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, more often than not with a female companion in tow. Find out how to experience Bond’s Britain at some of the nation’s unique accommodation options.

Newly opened South Place Hotel is perfect for budding Bonds, situated next to the stomping ground of a notorious 1920s spy ring in the City of London. The hotel’s dining rooms are named after (in)famous spies and its residents’ games room, Le Chiffre (who ardent fans will remember as the name of the villain in Casino Royale), is stocked with Ian Fleming novels, as well as a billiards table and vinyl record player. Bond needs his gadgets, and all rooms at South Place are equipped with touch-pad panels for electrics. For those who really like their gadgets, the Eccleston Square Hotel in London claims to be Europe’s most high-tech: iPads in all the rooms, beds by Swedish company Hastens that massage you, and 3D LED TVs will appeal to anyone whose favorite Bond character is ‘Q’.

Historic London hotel St Ermin’s has been gadget-focused from the start; when it became a hotel in 1899 it was designed with a telephone in every room, which was cutting-edge at the time, but its Bond connections go deeper. The hotel was used by officers of the Secret Intelligence Service – now known as MI6 – and played a key role in covert operations during World War II. It is even rumored that a tunnel runs from underneath the grand staircase in the lobby to the houses of Westminster. Mini-Bonds should accept a mission to crack St Ermin’s code-breaking puzzles, supplied for children as part of the iSpy for St Ermin’s pack, which also includes an alcohol-free cocktail (shaken not stirred) from the hotel’s bar.

As far as bars are concerned, Bond would only stay somewhere that makes a good Vodka Martini. Have yours with a view over 007-territory at the DoubleTree by Hilton - Tower of London, whose Skylounge looks over Tower Bridge, the Gherkin and St Pauls. For a more cozy setting, the Cigar Lounge at the May Fair is in an intimate and low-lit enclave, with an impressive array of cigars as well as signature martinis including a Rococo Chocolate version. Or else you can enjoy your cocktails totally undisturbed at the aptly-named Flemings Townhouse in Mayfair, an exclusive seven bedroom luxury townhouse that offers the services of a five-star hotel. Order a Martini and canapés from room service, and enjoy in the sumptuously decorated Diamond Suite Sitting Room.

Bond is just at home in the countryside as the city, and often finds himself in an exotic location while on his secret agent duties. The stately home Cliveden is a stone’s throw from 007’s former school, Eton, where Bond author Ian Fleming studied. The venue was built in 1666 by the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, a notorious rake, schemer and wit, and the house has since seen hundreds of years of riotous and decadent partying of the sort frequently seen in Bond films. For Ian Fleming connections you can’t beat Creggan’s Inn in Argyll, Scotland. The picturesque venue on the shores of Loch Fyne was purchased by Sir Fitzroy MacLean in 1957, a great friend of Fleming. It is thought that the diplomat, politician, soldier and author inspired the character of Bond. Roger Moore has stayed at the inn, along with many Bond fans over the years.

Bond spends his life hunting and being hunted, but it would be difficult for any enemies to uncover the spy at one of Chewton Glen’s luxury treehouses, built high up in the trees of a secluded valley on the edge of the New Forest. Accessed by golf buggy from the main hotel, and then via a gang plank, the treehouses feel truly removed from the land and offer luxurious touches among the branches, from the private balcony to the daily breakfast hamper delivered to your Suite. For the ultimate escape, why not take it one step further and stay on a fort on your own private island that can only be reached by boat? Spitbank Fort is located on an island in the Solent (the stretch of water between the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth) and was formerly home to hundreds of soldiers who guarded the approaches to the mainland. Now it’s a luxury venue with a hotel, that is offering a Bond package – From Spitbank With Love – which includes testing out Aston Martins at Goodwood Racetrack before you take a helicopter to the Isle of Wight, then a high-speed powerboat (the same as those used in The World is Not Enough) to the island where a champagne reception, Martini masterclass and dinner followed by poker await.

It doesn’t all need to be about luxury though – you can do Bond on a budget. There are hostels all over Britain, many of which offer private rooms as well as shared accommodation. St Christopher’s Inn at London Bridge is superbly located and a short walk from the London Eye Pier, where you can take off on a high-speed boat ride along the Thames reminiscent of Pierce Brosnan in The World is Not Enough. You can then head back to St Christopher’s and watch the film in the hostel’s private cinema room. The Astor Hyde Park Hostel is a stroll away from Buckingham Palace, last seen on screen during the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony when Bond escorted The Queen to the stadium. Or you can get close to the action of Skyfall by heading to Glencoe in Scotland, where parts of the latest film were shot; there are great hostels there to choose from to explore the rugged landscape and Bond’s Scottish ancestry. Book any of these or search hundreds of hostels in Britain at hostelworld.com.

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