Best and Worst Real Estate in James Bond Movies
James Bond movies are known for several staples, like questionably named women, last-name-first introductions, expensive suits, flashy cars and unique villains. But something we take for granted in Bond films is the exotic real estate and architecture used as backdrops and stages for the world's most acclaimed spy to do his dirty work.
Since Sean Connery's Bond in the first Bond movie, "Dr. No," from 1962 through Daniel Craig's Bond in 2021's "No Time to Die" (which will be the actor's last portrayal as 007), James Bond movies have taken place in beautiful places. From mid-century modern party pads in California to hotels, mansions and palaces around the world, the architecture of James Bond is worth a closer look.
This is the best and worst real estate in James Bond movies.
Bottom Line: Bouvar's Chateau
Shown briefly during the pre-credits of "Thunderball" is Jacques Bouvar's chateau.
This mansion is part of Château d’Anet, where several other "Thunderball" scenes were filmed, including the chapel.
As far as Bond locations, this one is a solid "meh." It's just not very imposing or all that impressive.
19. Blofeld's Lair
Location: Marrakesh, Morocco
Featured in: Spectre (2015)
Bottom Line: Blofeld's Lair
This is Blofeld's Lair from Daniel Craig's James Bond universe. You might notice that it is not located in the middle of a Moroccan desert, but is instead surrounded by lush greenery.
But in "Spectre," Blofeld has no such worries about "not building a home where no one else would ever want to buy it."
They CGI'd this home onto the desert, but in reality, the concrete, steel and glass home is located about 10 miles away from the Moroccan city of Marrakesh. It was on the market for $4.3 million in 2015.
18. The Drax Estate
Location: Maincy, France
Featured in: Moonraker (1979)
Bottom Line: The Drax Estate
In the Bond universe, this French estate belongs to Hugo Drax, the evil, spaceship-building billionaire who wants to kill off the entire world's population and repopulate it with his own race of superior humans.
In reality, the Drax Estate is Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte, a French estate located near Paris, France. The chateau dates back to the mid-1600s, when it was built for Nicholas Fouquet, the superintendent of France who served under King Louis XIV, until Louis XIV imprisoned him for 19 years in the prison of Pignerol, where he died.
This is a notable piece of architecture because Louis Le Lau, Andre Le Notre and Charles Le Brun all collaborated for the first time while building this massive estate, which marked the beginning of Louis XIV-style architecture.
17. Fort Knox
Location: Knox, Kentucky
Featured in: Goldfinger (1964)
Bottom Line: Fort Knox
If Goldfinger could get his grubby hands on Fort Knox, he could control the entire world's gold market.
He would certainly be able to manipulate the market — Fort Knox (or more specifically, the United States Bullion Depository) holds 147.3 million ounces of gold, about half of the United States Treasury's gold.
Almost never photographed from the inside, Fort Knox is quite literally stuffed with gold bars. The 1974 photo above shows Mary Brooks, then the director of the U.S. Mint, in front of hundreds of gold bars. Each one weighs about 27.5 pounds.
Architecturally, though, Fort Knox and the adjacent Bullion Depository where the gold is actually held is quite boring. Although the grounds are lined with minefields and razor wire, which is pretty cool.
16. Villa Sylva
Location: Corfu, Greece
Featured in: For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Bottom Line: Villa Sylva
Villa Sylva is the place where Bond is held hostage by Gonzales, who is killed by a crossbow bolt while taking a dive into his pool.
In the movie, the estate is located in Madrid, but in reality, this villa is located in Corfu, Greece. It's a wedding venue able to be rented. For your bride only.
And many others can rent, too.
Location: New Providence, Bahamas
Featured in: Thunderball (1965)
Bottom Line: Palmyra
Palmyra is an iconic estate belonging to villain Emilio Largo in "Thunderball." It's the place where Bond has to escape from man-eating sharks.
The real estate is located in the Bahamas. During filming, the home belonged to a millionaire couple from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but it appears to now be abandoned.
Architecturally, the house is great. It's set right on the ocean, and that beautiful 1960's pink color will never go out of style. Hopefully, someone repairs this piece of cinema history.
14. Casino Royale
Location: Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic
Featured in: Casino Royale (2006)
Bottom Line: Casino Royale
The Casino Royale from 2006's "Casino Royale" is a spa in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. The building dates back to 1895 and actually was a casino for a brief time during the 1980s.
The building is now known as Lazne I, or the Imperial Spa. According to a Tripadvisor reviewer, as of 2018 the spa is open and available to enter for 50 koruna ($2.37). Apparently, you can see the grand staircase where Bond and Felix Leiter meet as well as the bar used in the casino.
He also reports that the place was being turned into a cultural center.
13. St. Petersburg Square/MI6 HQ
Location: London, England
Featured in: Goldeneye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Bottom Line: St. Petersburg Square/MI6 HQ
Somerset House, located in central London, England, has been used as the location of two Bond films. It was first used as the St. Petersburgh Square in "Goldeneye," where Wade uses a sledgehammer on a Moskovich (the tank scene was done on a sound stage).
In "Tomorrow Never Dies," the neoclassical building became MI6 headquarters.
In reality, Somerset House houses creative organizations, restaurants, cafes. Various types of public events are held here, from art galleries to movie premiers to experimental dance routines.
The building dates back to 1547 and was originally going to be the personal palace of the Duke of Somerset.
12. Hotel Atlantic
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Featured in: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Bottom Line: Hotel Atlantic
In "Tomorrow Never Dies," Pierce Brosnan makes his escape from an executive suite after killing Dr. Kaufman, and scales the Hotel Atlantic up to the roof. It's quite a breathtaking scene, thanks to the block-long building and its curved corner façade.
The 221-room hotel was built over the course of two years in Hamburg, Germany, with construction completing in 1909. In 1942, a line item was added to the menu: "The possibility of an air raid warning forces us to kindly ask our honored guests for immediate payment."
This luxury hotel is quite striking from the street, especially at the corner angle.
11. Monsoon Palace
Location: Udaipur, Rajasthan India
Featured in: Octopussy (1983)
Bottom Line: Monsoon Palace
In "Octopussy," this castle is where Bond is served a stuffed sheep's head (with eyeballs intact) by Kamal Khan (he loves those eyeballs).
Built in 1884 by Maharana Sajjan Singh, this palatial home is located high on a hill overlooking Lake Pichola. Several scenes from "Octopussy" were shot here, including the finale and the elephant-riding tiger hunt scene (the sheep's head dinner wasn't, though).
The former palace is now owned by the Rajasthan government and is open to visitors.
10. Sutton Residence
Location: Oakland, California
Featured in: A View to a Kill (1985)
Bottom Line: Sutton Residence
In "A View to a Kill," this is the home of Bond girl Stacey Sutton, the oil tycoon heiress whose endowments are taken away from her by the evil Max Zorin. Embattled in a long-running lawsuit with Zorin and his company, the house is almost entirely bare, as Sutton had to sell her family heirlooms to fund her case.
In reality, the Sutton Residence is a neoclassical revival home known as Dunsmuir House. It has a bit of a tragic back story. Similar to the Sutton story, Dunsmuir House was built in 1899 by a wealthy coal miner named Robert Dunsmuir. The house was a wedding gift for his new wife, but he never got to live in it. He died while on his honeymoon in New York City. His wife died shortly thereafter, in 1901.
The mansion has been used in a number of other films, including "Phantasm," "Gloria" and "So I Married an Axe Murder."
9. Mr. White's Estate
Location: Lombardy, Italy
Featured in: Casino Royale (2006)
Bottom Line: Mr. White's Estate
Quantum leader and high-ranking Spectre member Mr. White lives in this imposing waterside castle.
In reality, the oddly shaped mansion is known as Villa La Gaeta, a 1921 medieval-style building located in Lombardy, Italy.
It's a very strange-looking house, and you can get an up-close view of it if you're willing to spend $1,322 per night to book it.
Location: Matera, Southern Italy
Featured in: No Time to Die (2021)
Bottom Line: Matera
This one isn't a house. It's an entire city. Specifically, it's the city of Matera, Italy. We're not entirely sure what role the city will play in "No Time to Die," but we do know the movie has filmed some scenes there.
Matera is an incredible-looking town. Over the last 70 years, the city went from being an impoverished place of squalor to a European capital of culture that's a hotbed for tourism — a quarter of the city's houses are available to rent on Airbnb.
Some of the homes are built into caves, and many of the cloistered homes are limestone grottoes built on a ravine.
7. Willard Whyte's House
Location: Palm Springs, California
Featured in: Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Bottom Line: Willard Whyte's House
Reclusive billionaire Willard Whyte lived in this spectacularly futuristic, mid-century modern house in "Diamonds Are Forever."
In reality, this 1960s-built home is known as John Lautner's Elrod House. The home with the curved dome sits on a hill in Palm Spring's swanky Araby Cove neighborhood, overlooking Coachella Valley. Lautner built the house for American designer Arthur Elrod, who in turn, designed the interiors.
This is the pinnacle of 1960s-1970s fantasy life. Recently, in the 2010s, the owner of the home defaulted on the property, and the home went to the bank (it was reportedly in need of repairs, as the roof had been neglected and was badly damaged). It went up for sale in May 2016 for $8 million and sold on Sept. 2, 2016, for $7.7 million.
6. Raoul Silva's Island
Location: Island off of Nagasaki, Japan
Featured in: Skyfall (2012)
Bottom Line: Raoul Silva's Island
2012's "Skyfall" featured the villainous Raoul Silva, who made his lair on an abandoned island off of China.
While that was a bit of fantasy, the island lair was based on Hashima Island, an abandoned island located off of Nagasaki, Japan. The 16-acre island was initially used for undersea coal mining in 1887, and several thousand people lived there up until 1974.
During World War II, it was a forced labor camp for Korean and Chinese prisoners of war, while the mine officially closed in 1974, signifying an end to the island. It has been occupied only by nature and the old, abandoned concrete buildings since. You can now visit it.
There's something just so hauntingly beautiful about this piece of land and its cold, industrial architecture.
5. Castle Thane
Location: Isle of Skye, Scotland
Featured in: The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Bottom Line: Castle Thane
In "The World Is Not Enough," Scotland's MI6 headquarters is located in Castle Thane. In reality, Castle Thane is Eilean Donan Castle, which dates back to the 13th century.
The first defensive structures on this small island were used to defend against the Vikings, and was also used as a defensive position against warring clans. That castle grew and shrunk over the ages, and in 1719, the castle saw heavy warfare during a Jacobite uprising and was partially destroyed. The castle lay neglected for 200 years until it was restored in 1932.
As far as Bond architecture — well, this is a friggin' 700-year-old castle. You don't get much cooler than that. The castle was also featured in 1986's "Highlander."
Location: Miami Beach, Florida
Featured in: Goldfinger (1964)
Bottom Line: Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau is one of the most recognizable pieces of architecture in America.
Designed by Morris Lapidus, this curved neo-baroque resort is synonymous with Miami resort life. In "Goldfinger," this is where 007 meets Felix Leiter, and it's where Oddjob kills Jill Masterson.
The luxury resort opened in 1954. Lapidus, riding that fame, was commissioned to build another, competing resort called Edon Roc right next door to the Fontainebleau. That really brought out the villain in Fontainebleau's owner, Ben Novak.
Furious that Lapidus had designed a resort so close to his, Novak built a 14-story addition on the resort's northern edge for the sole purpose of shading Edon Roc's pool. It's called a "spite wall."
3. Piz Gloria Restaurant
Location: Schilthorn, Switzerland
Featured in: On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
Bottom Line: Piz Gloria Restaurant
The Piz Gloria restaurant is called just that in both "Her Majesty's Secret Service" and in real life. That's because the building was only partially constructed when the filming team found the location. In exchange for filming rights, the movie's production studio funded the completion of the restaurant.
In the film, the restaurant was Blofeld's clinical institute, which is swarmed at the end of the film by Bond and his allies. In real-life, Piz Gloria is located in the Swiss Alps, and the restaurant revolves. There's a James Bond-themed bar, as well as other Bond-themed memorabilia at the place.
This is a rather awesome piece of architecture. It just looks like a Bond villain's base, doesn't it?
2. St. Cyril's Monestary
Location: Central Greece
Featured in: For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Bottom Line: St. Cyril's Monastery
This is the lair where "For Your Eyes Only" villain Aris Kristatos hid the stolen ATAC system, and Bond has to scale a steep rock precipice to reach it.
This is an incredible piece of architecture known as the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Meteora. Located in Central Greece, the building is located on a 60-million-year-old cliff over 500 miles high. It was built by monks in 1475, and is one of 24 similar monasteries in the area.
As far as buildings with a view go, this one certainly takes the cake.
1. Franz Sanchez Villa
Location: Acapulco, Mexico
Featured in: License to Kill (1989)
Bottom Line: Franz Sanchez Villa
In "License to Kill," this was the home of Franz Sanchez, a Central American drug lord.
In real life, Villa Arabesque in Acapulco, Mexico, was one of the homes of Baron Enrico di Portanova and his wife, Sandy Hovas, two socialites well-known for their flamboyant lifestyles and parties in the 1980s.
They mainly resided in Houston, Texas. The Baron once remarked that the best things in life were "sun, sex, and spaghetti." He was, as Texas Monthly put it, the "unwelcome heir" to a fortune that grew from $5,000 a month in the 1960s to $1.2 million a month in the 1980s.
It would be fair that lots of sun, sex, and spaghetti happened here in Acapulco. As well as ungodly amounts of cocaine.
Also, the home is a fantastic slice of tropical mid-century modern living. You can vacation there, too.
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