It's become one of the great architectural shorthands of the last half century: label a proposed project or outlandish villa as "like a Bond villain's lair," and it's immediately clear this isn't your standard residential commission or fancy high-rise. While the bad guy-bases in Bond films all have their own charms, there's a certain formula to these hideouts and HQs. A workplace befitting 007's nemesis needs to project grandiose, exotic and out-of-reach, have the space for a planet-destabilizing weapon of mass destruction and, if possible, be wedged inside an active volcano (or perched inside a cliff). With news earlier this month that the Moroccan lair featured in the latest Bond flick, Spectre, can be had for $4.4 million, it seemed like a fitting time to examine the real-life buildings and locations that served as the homes for many of Bond's greatest rivals. An atlas of notable locations an aspiration travel planning can be assembled from the franchise's globe-scouring film shoots.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
The base of operations for Ernst Stavro Blofeld, a criminal mastermind and the inspiration for other fictional figureheads such as Dr. Evil and Dr. Claw, this rotating restaurant in the Swiss Alps was still under construction when it was used as a setting for the 1969 film. Set above the Bernese Alps in Schlitthorn, Switzerland, and designed by local Konrad Wolf, the still-operating rotating restaurant, which completes a solar-powered circuit every 55 minutes, offers views of neighboring peaks, such as the Jungfrau. It also serves a James Bond breakfast and, of course, the famous martini at the James Bond Bar (which can be ordered with vodka or gin).
The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)
A gorgeous limestone formation on an island off the southwest coast of Thailand that was once relatively unknown, this natural wonder, called Ko Tapu, has been a signature feature of what is now called James Bond Island. In the 1974 film, this island serves as the sharpshooter's base and the backdrop to a gun duel. After attracting scores of tourists due to its cameo, the island and 66-foot-tall rock formation were incorporated into a marine park so they can be better maintained (and protected from erosion).
The headquarters of super-hacker Raoul Silva, this so-called "ghost island" sits off the coast of Japan, 10 miles from Nagasaki. The abandoned industrial facilities and concrete buildings found on Gunkanjima, called "Battleship Island" due to its shape, date back to its one-time role as a coal mining site, which was shut down in 1974. At its peak in the late '50s, the small speck of land employed so many workers, all of whom lived on site, that it had a population density that rivaled Manhattan. (It also was once manned by prisoners of war, who were forced to work under harsh conditions). Part of the island was reopened to tourists a few years before it made an appearance in the Bond franchise.
The titular bad guy shacked up at an estate called Palmyra, a real-life pastel home near Nassau called Rock Point that was owned by Philadelphia banker Nicholas Sullivan (a recent article suggests the home is now owned by George Mosco). Like much of the film shoot for that movie (a Time report says the fake carnival the producers staged laid up half the island with hangovers), the home was the scene of some expensive shots, including numerous close calls involving sharks. In 2006's Casino Royale, Bond, as played by Daniel Craig, actually drives just a few blocks away rom Rock Point (seems impolite not to visit).
Crab Key Island
Dr. No (1962)
The secret factory and front for mad scientist Dr. No was actually a real-life bauxite factory called Kaiser Terminal, located near Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Filmmakers cleverly shot the coast so as to suggest it was actually an island. Fans looking to scout out the site of the film's famous beach scene can even book a night at the GoldenEye, the villa-turned-resort where Fleming wrote many of his Bond books, which is located nearby.
License to Kill (1989)
A dark revenge thriller that sees Bond hunt down a drug kingpin, License to Kill was the first of the franchise to shoot not a second of film in the UK, instead bouncing between locations in Mexico and the Caribbean. Which is fitting if your antagonist is a ruthless killer named Sanchez. Filmmakers chose Villa Arabesque in Acapulco to stand in for the villain's lair. The story of the home, a lavish 55,000-square-foot residence with 12 bedrooms, 22 baths, and a table tennis court with gallery seating, probably deserves its own movie. The Acapulco Bay retreat of Baroness Alessandra and Baron Enrico di Portanova, it was the central nexus of a party circuit cultivated by the wealthy couple and a renowned gathering place for celebrities. To add to the over-the-top Moorish design, the estate boasted an underwater disco (called Poseidon Discotheque) and a small train that transported guests from the villa to the beach. Rumor has it that Frank Sinatra, upset the Baron was keeping a shark in a private pool, agreed to sing a song at one of his parties in return for a promise the fish would be released to the wild.
Kanaga's Underground Lair
Live and Let Die (1973)
The beginning of the Roger Moore era, this film features bad guys practicing voodoo and has been humorously called the Blaxploitation Bond movie. The underground lair of the antagonist Dr. Kanaga, on the fictional island of San Monique, was actually filmed in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, in the Green Grotto Caves. The noted tourist attraction contains a crystal clear lake, the centerpiece of the subterranean base of the drug-smuggling mastermind. Like Dr. No, which was filmed nearby, it's in the same region of Jamaica as Fleming's GoldenEye estate. In the novel upon which the film was based, the villain used these caves as part of his smuggling operation.
St. Cyril's Monastery
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
More a hideout than a full-fledged lair, this real-life monastery is no less stunning than other Bond filming locations. An Eastern Orthodox monastery balanced atop a precipice above the Peneas valley, Meteora (Greek for "suspended in the air") was used as a hideout for the film's villain, Kristatos. Priests were angry that the monastery was being used for the movie, and in protest, hung flags and their laundry in the windows to spoil shoots. The actor playing Bond at the time, Roger Moore, became dizzy due to heights, and in very Bond fashion, turned to light drinking to calm his nerves.
Perla de las Dunas Hotel
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Site of a climactic scene between Bond and a businessman-turned-eco-terrorist, its fitting the building is located in such an extreme setting, a relatively inhospitable and extremely dry desert in Chile high above sea level. The fictional hotel scenes were filmed a real-life resort designed by Auer + Weber, a unique structure built as a refuge for scientists working at the nearby Paranal Observatory. Unless the public obtains an advanced degree in astronomy and a work assignment, they can't book rooms at the surprisingly well-appointed ESO Hotel, which includes a swimming pool, sauna and music room.
While it doesn't compare to the exquisite Floating Palace, the island home of Octopussy and real-life Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur, India, the lair of exiled Afghan prince Kamal Khan, played by the Monsoon Palace, is still stunning. A white marble residence built on the hills above Udaipur in 1884, the nine-story residence was meant to serve as both an observatory to monitor monsoon clouds and a royal escape. Now surrounded by the Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary, its controlled by the government.
Drax's Jungle Hideout
The ruin of an ancient civilization, this stone temple was was given fleeting screen time in this Bond film, serving as the exterior of the headquarters of megalomaniacal villain Sir Hugo Drax. But it's not like it needed more time in front of the camera to be famous. In addition to being a prized ruin and UNESCO World Heritage site, Tikal also made an appearance in one of the few film franchises that can touch Bond in terms of influence, Star Wars. It can be seen in the background during a scene when the Millennium Falcon lands on Yavin 4.
The World is Not Enough (1999)
The setting of the penultimate confrontation between Bond and Elektra, an oil heiress, this slender tower in the Bosphorus Straits near Istanbul actually made an earlier appearance in the Bond movies. In 1966's From Russia With Love, it appears over Sean Connery's shoulder during a boat trip. A tower has stood at this site for centuries, alternately serving as a defensive fortification, tax collection point, hospital and light house. The current stone structure, known as the Maiden's Tower, was built after a previous building burnt down in 1720 and attracts numerous tourists.
Blofeld's Volcano Lair
You Only Live Twice (1967)
Yes, it was mostly recreated within a soundstage, and yes, it was insanely expensive (this set alone, created by production design mastermind Ken Adam and built by an army of workers for $1 million, was larger than the entire budget for Dr. No). But Mount Shinmoedake, the southern Japanese volcano that served as the exterior of SPECTRE's rocket base, closes out this list as arguably one of the most famous villain lairs in film. The volcano recently erupted in 2011, and while there are big and more imposing mountains around the globe, few can claim such a storied spot in film history (ok, except the Paramount logo).
· Bond Villain's Moroccan Lair in Spectre Asks $4.4M [Curbed]
· On James Bond's 50th Anniversary, the Films' Best Locations [Curbed]
· How Many James Bond Gadgets Would You Use in Your Everyday Life? [Curbed]
· Mapping the Glamorous Hotel Stays of James Bond, 007 [Curbed]