25 Mar 2017

Bond's hotel in Venice - St Mark's Square

In Casino Royale, Bond and Vesper are staying in a suite at a hotel by the famous Piazza San Marco, known as St Mark's square, in Venice. As Vesper is leaving for her secret meeting with Gettler, pretending she's just going to the bank. Bond walks her down to the lobby where Vesper kisses Bond goodbye for the last time, knowing that she will not see him again.

The view from Bond's hotel suite in the film

Bond is waiting for Vesper to come back and is looking out on the St Mark's square from the suite balcony. The famous Saint Mark's Basilica (Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco) the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice is seen at the far end of the square, next to the bell tower, known as St Mark's Campanile.

When Bond understands that he has been betrayed he runs down through the hotel lobby, scenes actually filmed at the Prague National Museum covered earlier. When Bond runs across the square on his way to the Venice branch of the Basel Bank, the basilica and the bell tower are briefly seen in the background.

The west facade of the Basilica di San Marco 

The square is enclosed with arcades on three sides with the two longest arcades along the north and south side of the Piazza. It is in one of these arcades that Bond finds the entrance to the Venice branch of Basel Bank.

Needless to say, St Marc's square is one of the most famous places in Venice and packed with tourists during the day. It is on this square that Sir Roger drives his hovercraft gondola (known as the Bondola) in Moonraker. This scene will be covered later.

The history of the Piazza San Marco is too long to even try to summarise, but the only pre-renaissance building still standing on the square is the Doge's Palace. The buildings surrounding the square on three sides date back to the 16th century.

18 Mar 2017

Osato's HQ - Hotel New Otani Tokyo

In You Only Live Twice, Bond visits the headquarters of Osato Chemical & Engineering Co Ltd in Tokyo, which in fact is a front for Spectre in Japan. Bond, posing as the managing director of a British chemical company, is meeting with Mr Osato, who is a Spectre agent working for Blofeld. The entrance is seen for the first time as Bond is taken there by one of the assassins after the murder of Dikko Henderson, believing that Bond is the accomplice. The following morning Bond arrives to Osato in a taxi for a scheduled meeting.

For the exterior of Osato's headquarters, the tallest building in Tokyo was used, namely the large hotel called The New Otani Tokyo. In the film Osato's office is located in the round extension on the top floor. The top floor is seen twice in the film when the camera pans up from the entrance, both at night and the following morning when Bond arrives an a taxi.

The exterior has not changed notably since 1967

The entrance is seen when Bond escapes from Osato's office at night. One of the guards fires at Bond, and he returns the fire and kills the guard. A few seconds later Aki arrives to save Bond in her Toyota. They drive off and she takes Bond to meet with Tanaka. 

The full exterior of the building is only seen briefly once as Osato arrives in his helicopter with his confidential secretary and Spectre agent, Helga Brandt.

Osato and Helga Brandt arrive in a helicopter

The New Otani Tokyo opened in 1964 and was the tallest building in Tokyo until 1968 when the Kasumigaseki Building was completed. It became famous during this period for the revolving restaurant on the top floor.

6 Mar 2017

Fall of a house in Venice - Casino Royale

During the ending of Casino Royale in Venice, after realising that Vesper has betrayed him, Bond follows her from St Marc's square to her secret meeting with Gettler. When Gettler spots Bond he escapes with Vesper and runs into an empty house by the Grand Canal. The large palazzo is being renovated and is piled up by large floating piers mounted on the ground floor. As Bond shoots and punctures the floating piers, the palazzo slowly starts to sink into the Grand Canal.

The Italian Carabinieri arrive and two gondoliers watch the sinking palazzo
The sinking palazzo was created in the studio and was a mix of CGI and model work by the construction unit. The row of houses seen next to the sinking palazzo are real however and can be found in the Cannaregio district in Venice. These houses are located close to the Rialto Bridge and visible four houses down to the left is Ca' da Mosto, a 13th-century Venetian-Byzantine style palazzo which is the oldest on the Grand Canal.

The red building to the right was replaced with the sinking palazzo in the film
The sinking palazzo is located in the same location as the dark red palazzo seen in the picture above. Immediately to the left of the house is Palazzo Bolani Erizzo. You probably have the best view over this row of houses from the other side of the Grand Canal on the street called Fondamenta Vin Castello.

The model that was used for filming has been exhibited various Bond exhibitions, for instance "Designing 007" in London 2012 and that currently tours the world.

Our gondolier told us that his gondola actually is seen in the film, as him and one other gondolier

28 Feb 2017

The Palacio Estoril Hotel - Portugal

In On Her Majesty's Secret Service from 1969, Bond is taking a few days off from his current assignment to track down Blofeld, an operation called Bedlam. Mi6 has no information about Bond's whereabouts and Moneypenny is searching for him through their contacts in Amsterdam, Madrid and Cairo, all with negative replies. In reality, Bond is holidaying in Portugal.

Bond is staying at the Palácio Hotel in Estoril on the Portuguese riviera, a short 30 minute drive from central Lisbon. Located in Cascais, one of the richest municipalities in Portugal, the five star Palácio Hotel is still one of the finest on the coast. It was built in 1930 and it is located only a five minute walk from the famous Casino Estoril, the casino which sign supposedly is reflecting in the hotel swimming pool in the film.    

             "-Your baggage sir? 
-In the boot. Take care of those clubs."

During the Second World War Portugal was neutral, which resulted in several royal families went into exile in Estoril, leading to the Portuguese Riviera around Estoril becoming known as the "Coast of Kings". The Hotel Palácio became the hotel of choice of numerous members of European royalty as well as both British and German spies and military personnel.

Visible in the film are several signs from various automobile clubs in Europe, including the Automovel Clube de Portugal, the Automobilclub von Deutschland and the Royal Swedish Automobile Club - Kungliga Automobil Klubben. These same signs can still be found on location on either side of the magnificent entrance to the hotel, as seen in the film.

The signs of Automovel Clube de Portugal ACP (below), the Automobilclub von Deutschland AvD, the Royal Swedish Automobile Club, KAK (Kungliga Automobil Klubben) and the Automobile Club d'Italia (above left) as well as the Automobile Club de France (above right) are all seen in the film and can still be found on location today.

In the film, the hotel is probably supposed to be located in France, given that the corresponding scenes from the novel unfolds in a fictive village called Royale-les-Eaux, a seaside resort close to Le Touquet on the Atlantic coast north of Paris. Furthermore, at the Baccarat table in the casino, Francs is used rather than the Portuguese escudo, which was the currency before the Euro in Portugal. However, the location of the hotel is somewhat unclear, since the hotel manager is named Manuel and it is obvious that he does not speak French to the bellboy in the hotel. 

From a Bond perspective, this is definitely one of the coolest hotels you can stay at, together with for instance the Grand Hotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary or the Peninsula in Hong Kong.

Read more about the hotel's history or make reservations on the hotel website here.