A Luxury Guide to James Bond's Favorite London Spots
Nobody does it better than James Bond when it comes to international travel. From the Bahamas to Brazil and Mexico City to Monte Carlo, the British super spy possesses a passport as well-worn as his license to kill. But rest assured, when all is said and done, Bond always comes home. In fact, all 14 of Ian Fleming’s original novels and all 25 of the official films - including No Time to Die - share just one location in common: London.
So when he’s not globetrotting, where is 007 to be found on the rare occasions that he has a license to chill in his hometown? As a purveyor of the finer things in life and a professional intelligence operative, one would assume his picks are worthy of our attention. On the eve of Daniel Craig’s final outing in the storied role, we cast a golden eye over James Bond’s London.
35 St James’s Place, Mayfair, SW1A 1NY
This refined, well-appointed bar off the lobby of Duke’s Hotel in Mayfair was a frequent haunt of Fleming’s during the 1950s and ‘60s. It was here, legend has it, that the author was inspired to choose a medium dry martini (“shaken not stirred”, of course) as Bond’s signature drink. Those in the know still come here for the wickedly strong martinis, shaken and served tableside by one of the white-jacketed waiters. Reassuringly, their drinks are just as good as they were when Fleming first pictured Bond rubbing shoulders here, with the New York Times recently hailing their martini as “one of the world’s best.”
Don’t miss: Aside from the unmissable vodka martini, there are two specific Bond-themed drinks on the cocktail menu – the Golden Eye and the Fleming ’89.
34-35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, SW1A 1NY
London’s oldest restaurant, Rules was established in 1798 and is renowned for its traditional British cuisine and classic, regal décor. Frequented by Fleming, it also formed the backdrop to one of the pivotal scenes in Spectre, where Moneypenny, Q, and M debate helping Bond in his battle against Blofeld’s nefarious crime syndicate. The lavish menu (woodcock and wigeon anyone?) places heavy emphasis on small game, oysters, pies, and puddings, with dining here ideally being a long, leisurely affair.
Don’t miss: The steak and kidney pudding with oyster
Turnbull & Asser
71-72 Jermyn Street, St. James’s, SW1Y 6PF
A Jermyn Street staple since 1885, Turnbull & Asser was Fleming’s shirtmaker of choice – and that preference was subsequently inherited by Bond. For his debut in Dr. No, Sean Connery was fitted at the company’s flagship store, with six bespoke shirts made for each scene. The relationship between tailor and spy has not been tinkered with since – Pierce Brosnan added Turnbull & Asser silk ties to his Bond, while Daniel Craig wore the ‘Casino Royale’ shirt for his celebrated debut as 007. In terms of your own wardrobe, it doesn’t get much more ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ than this - Turnbull & Asser has been a Royal Warrant holder for more than 40 years.
Don’t miss: The “Legends” collection: recreations of Bond pieces for sale in the Jermyn St. store (our favorite is the plain white cotton shirt with Dr. No collar and cocktail cuff).
The National Gallery
Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN
During Skyfall, the first-ever meeting between Daniel Craig’s Bond and Ben Whishaw’s Q takes place in the National Gallery – specifically Room 34. Here, while Bond is studying an allegorical Turner painting of an old warship being broken up (‘The Fighting Temeraire’), Q ghosts up beside him on the same bench, handing over tickets to Shanghai, plus a pistol and simple radio transmitter. “Well what were you expecting?” asks Q. “An exploding pen?”
Don’t miss: The Morning Walk by Thomas Gainsborough, one of the artist’s most celebrated works, is displayed in Room 34.
28 St James’s Street, Mayfair, SW1A 1NY
Fleming based his ‘Blades’ club, where a large portion of the Moonraker novel takes place, on Boodle’s of Mayfair. The second oldest gentleman’s club in the world, Boodle’s is just around the corner from the Ritz, and boasts a number of illustrious names amongst its former members, including David Niven, Winston Churchill – and Ian Fleming himself. In the novel, Bond bests the megalomaniacal Hugo Drax at cards, before toasting his success with M (who is particularly partial to the club’s selection of Algerian red wines). Blades appears in the movie franchise too – as the club where Bond fences with Gustav Graves under the watchful eye of Madonna in 2002’s Die Another Day.
Don’t miss: An existing member. You’ll need one to gain access to the club’s inner sanctum.
34-35 New Bond Street, Mayfair, W1A 2AA
In a memorable Octopussy scene, Roger Moore’s 007 visits the famous Mayfair auction house to bid on a gold Fabergé egg at the heart of the plot. After driving the price up to £500,000, Bond palms the original egg, tricking Louis Jordan’s villainous Kamal Khan into buying a fake, before tailing him out onto a bustling New Bond Street. Sotheby’s has a long connection with the Bond franchise, regularly auctioning off rare promotional posters, props, and even cars from the films.
Don’t miss: The rare drama of sale days. All of Sotheby’s auctions are free and open to the public.
87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7XL
At the start of The Living Daylights, Timothy Dalton’s 007 is sent to Harrods on M’s orders, tasked with buying a hamper for a defecting Soviet general. He fills it with foie gras, caviar, and Bollinger R.D champagne before personally delivering it to a safe house. The grand old department store has had a long association with the movie franchise: Roger Moore’s Bond is seen with a Harrods-branded diary in Moonraker, while the store has created memorable window displays for a number of releases, including dedicating all 72 of its windows to Casino Royale in 2006.
Don’t miss: The Omega watches, John Lobb shoes, and Persol sunglasses – all Bond-approved favorites.
1C Portland Place, Marylebone, W1B 1JA
Europe’s first Grand Hotel, the Langham is quintessential Bond territory – and the producers of Goldeneye thought so too, setting some pivotal scenes there. Doubling as St. Petersburg’s “Grand Hotel Europe” (the Union Jack outside was switched for a Russian flag), the Langham is the backdrop to a failed attempt by Famke Janssen’s Xenia Onatopp to seduce and kill Pierce Brosnan’s Bond.
Don’t miss: Afternoon Tea. The Langham was the first to introduce the custom in 1865, and prides itself in its stylish execution.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.