London, Bond HQ
London is a world-renowned tourist destination for fans of James Bond, the British secret agent created by novelist Ian Fleming. With its iconic landmarks, sophisticated culture, and rich history, London is the perfect setting for the suave and sophisticated Bond.
London is the capital of England, and being the home of the UK Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), it is HQ for MI6. So, every Bond investigation stems from here.
Bond is often seen driving through the city’s winding streets, visiting its chic hotels and restaurants, and solving crimes at some of its most famous landmarks. From the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben to the River Thames and dining at some of the world’s finest eateries, London offers endless opportunities for Bond fans to follow in the footsteps of their favourite spy.
If you’re a Bond fan, a pilgrimage to London is a must. So, in this article we take a look at what London has to offer for Bond fans and beyond.
Famous London Scenes in Bond Movies
As London is HQ, the city features heavily throughout the James Bond series. In this first section we’ll take a look at the movie scenes of some of the most iconic landmarks you can visit.
SIS Building – Bond HQ
The MI6 headquarters is the most obvious place to start for any Bond fan. Located on the banks of the River Thames at 85 Vauxhall Cross in central London, along the Albert Embankment next to the Vauxhall Bridge. The nearest tube station is either Vauxhall or Westminster.
It’s only been the HQ of MI6 since 1994. Back then MI5 and MI6 weren’t officially acknowledged, so the government paid outright for a new building, so they could keep MI6 as a secret organization.
It’s not the biggest of buildings, but for a secret service it’s ironically quite prominent. In Bond movies, it’s home to all the offices, and Q’s playground. It’s appears in Goldeneye, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Skyfall and Spectre, where it comes under heavy attack and is blown up.
Fun facts about MI6 Building:
The windows in the building appear green because the glass is 3.5in (89mm) thick.
There was a private showing of Spectre to workers at the SIS building, and when the place is blown up there were huge, ironic cheers form the staff there.
The River Thames is one of the great world rivers and impossible to evade if you’re visiting London. For any James Bond fan, this iconic river has played a prominent role in numerous Bond films, including Skyfall and The World is Not Enough, and of course the MI6 headquarters sits overlooking the river.
One of the best ways to experience the Thames is by taking a boat tour. These tours offer breathtaking views of the city’s landmarks, including the Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. These have all featured in Bond movies, and as you sail down the river, you’ll feel like you’re right in the middle of a Bond adventure.
No trip to the Thames would be complete without a visit to the Tate Modern, which is housed in a former power station on the river’s south bank. This contemporary art museum featured in Die Another Day and The World is Not Enough, and its stunning architecture is sure to impress even the most discerning Bond fan.
Fun facts about River Thames:
In the hot summer of 1858, London’s abysmal river polluted with waste created an unbearable stench known as ‘The Great Stink’. It was so bad Parliament to halt operations until the smell subsided. This brought about the invention of the modern-day sewage system in London which was launched in 1865.
Spanning the iconic River Thames are more than two hundred bridges, including monumental landmarks like Tower Bridge, London Bridge, and Westminster Bridge.
Rules Restaurant – The Oldest Restaurant in London
London is home to some of the finest cuisine in the world, and Rules Restaurant in Convent Garden is up there with the very best. Not only that, but it’s the oldest restaurant in London, opening at the same time as the French Revolution was underway in 1798.
It makes an appearance in Spectre, where M, Q, Miss Moneypenny and Bond gather to discuss business. It’s such a sophisticated locale, with some very affordable and delicious British food.
You can find Rules at 35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2E 7LB. The nearest tube station is Covent Garden. Just be sure to dress in your smarts, and no sportswear. And, if you do wear a hat the Rules rules state that ‘Gentlemen are respectfully requested to remove hats and caps as courtesy to others.
Fun facts about Rules
Rules plays host to many Heads of State and leading businessmen from around the world in their Private Dining Rooms. These are available to book.
You can eat Grouse if you visit during the grouse shooting season, generally from Aug-Dec, you can enjoy a nice grouse.
Throughout the restaurant, you can still find much of its original style and décor with cultural and political cartoons and artwork adorning the walls.
Dukes Bar – Shaken Not Stirred
If London is home to some of the best cuisine in the world, it’s arguably the capital city of bars. And Dukes Bar in the Dukes Hotel is up the with the very best and most refined bars.
Dukes Bar in Mayfair is a must-visit destination for any James Bond fan. Located just steps away from some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, including Buckingham Palace and Green Park, this luxurious, upscale bar has a long history of association with the Bond franchise.
It’s said that Bond creator Ian Fleming got inspiration for Bond’s mannerisms and the famous phrase, ‘Shaken not stirred’ while he frequented the bar.
Seeking the perfect signature cocktail for 007, Fleming visited Duke’s, where he was recommended a version of what is now known as the Vesper Martini, with its famous method of preparation.
The Vesper Martini is a blend of vodka, gin, bitters, aperitif wine and citrus peel, and you can enjoy one if you visit Dukes Bar, shaken not stirred of course. Or is it?
Dukes Bar is really close to the most popular attractions in London, and the nearest underground station is Green Park, although Dukes does arrange transportation from the airport or train station for its clientele.
Fun facts about Dukes Bar:
Their most ordered one by far is the Vesper Martini.
You should never ‘shaken’ a Martini, because it would break the ice, and dilute the drink, which would make it cloudy. But of course, James Bond has broken every rule in every book.
James Bond’s House – Not HQ but Home
When in London you should try and make your way to visit James Bond’s house. Although there has never been an address given for the British secret agent, the description used by the author of the novels, it makes it possible to track it down to a likely location in a posh area of Chelsea.
It’s believed that James Bond lives overlooking the stunning Wellington Square, Chelsea. In the novels, his home comes up a few times and it’s described as a ‘comfortable flat in a Plane-tree’d square off the King’s Road.’
This doesn’t tell us everything, but in Thunderball novel, Fleming describes Bond driving out of Wellington Square onto King’s Road and then ‘fast up Sloane Street and into the Hyde Park.’
This isn’t the official home but the investigation work was done by journalist William Boyd. Wellington Square was also the location that author John Pearson had suggested in his 1973 James Bond biography.
The only issue with the two is that Pearson believed it to be number 30, whereas Boyd thinks it’s more likely number 25 – a house that was owned by Ian Fleming’s colleague at The Times.
The terrace home has five bedrooms, two bathrooms and three reception rooms, and of course it adorns a ‘long, big-windowed sitting room’ as Fleming describes in From Russia with Love.
Fun Facts about James Bond’s home:
There have only been scenes of the interior of James Bond’s home, so there’s no official address.
25 Wellington Square was owned by the family of Ian Fleming’s colleague until they sold it in 2020 for £5.2m.
Somerset House is a historic building in London, located on the south side of the Strand. It was originally built in the 16th century as a palace for the Duke of Somerset, and has served a variety of purposes over the years.
Today, Somerset House is home to a number of cultural organizations and is a popular tourist destination, known for its stunning architecture, art exhibitions, and events.
It has featured in 2 Bond movies. First the courtyard is used as a make believe St. Petersburg setting in Goldeneye, and as a War Office in Tomorrow Never Dies, where Bond goes for a meeting with the Admiral of the Royal Navy and M.
Somerset House is such an iconic building in the heart of London, and well worth a visit. If you go during the winter there’s a famous outdoor ice skating rink, the courtyard and neoclassical edifice really makes for a wonderful setting.
It’s on The Strand, London WC2R 1LA, and the nearest underground station is Covent Garden. It’s also a 5 minute walk from Rules Restaurant, so you could go there for some delicious food afterwards.
Fun Facts about Somerset House:
Edward Seymour, Lord Protector and Duke of Somerset got the palace built but before it was finished he was executed (1552), and ownership of it was passed to the Crown.
In 1553, Princess Elizabeth moved to Somerset House, and lived there until 1558, when she was crowned Queen Elizabeth I.
James Bond Tour
If you don’t want to visit all the places independently, you can always jump on a James Bond London Tour. There are walking and bus tours, and with them you get the chance to explore the exciting city of London through the eyes of James Bond.
From iconic filming locations and historical landmarks, you’ll get to see everything without the need of using a map.
The local tour guides are very knowledgable about Bond so you’ll learn some interesting facts and intriguing information about Bond that not everyone knows.
You’ll get an inside scoop on the James Bond franchise, including details about the actors who played him, connections between London and Ian Fleming’s books, and much more.
If that’s not enough, you’ll also gain a unique perspective into the true secret service world. We have done both the walking and bus tour and highly recommend both.
London is the Best City on the Planet
London is the best city on the planet. Sure enough, New York, Paris, Sydney and Tokyo are all fantastic cities and have valid claims to the title, but London simply has everything.
Whether you’re a Bond fan or not, you should visit London, and enjoy the history of places like Tower of London and Bucking ham Palace. If you’re into the arts you can experience a Shakespeare play at The Globe or enjoy Les Miserables at one of London’s many theatres.
There’s nowhere like London for pubs and whether its a Saturday night on the West End or a Sunday afternoon pub crawl in Soho there’s no better life anywhere. London is home to many football teams, and there’s no bigger game in the capital than when Arsenal take on local rivals Tottenham. Check it out and enjoy true London life.
From Buckingham Palace to Harrods, and from Camden Town to Shoreditch there’s so much to see and so many different suburbs to experience. Whatever you enjoy doing, we’re sure you’ll find it in London, the best city on earth.
London is the epicentre of everything Bond. From the SIS Building everything the MI6 does is run from here to to most sophisticated bars London and James Bond are synonymous.
Throughout the James Bond series, there have been many scenes of the famous places in London, and seeing them up close and personal is a great experience.
Of course, London is much more than James Bond. With so much culture and history, it’s a place everyone should visit at least once in their life. Just be warned, when you do visit, keep an eye out for anything suspicious as it’s SPECTRE’s number one target after Bond.
There are plenty of things to do in London, such as visiting iconic landmarks like the Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye. You can also explore the city’s museums and galleries, such as the British Museum and the National Gallery, or enjoy the nightlife in areas like Soho or Camden. Or if you want somewhere that’s not really touristy and is “real London”, head to Shoreditch and Brick Lane, especially in the summer months.
The London timezone is Greenwich Meantime (GMT) (also known as UTC) during the winter months from the last Saturday in October until the last Saturday in March. After the last Saturday in March, clocks go forward and London and the rest of the UK is on British Summer Time (BST).
London is not located in any single county. It is a city and a separate administrative region in England, and counties: Middlesex, Essex, Surrey, Kent and Hertfordshire are parts of London.
As of the 2021 consensus, the population of London is 8.982 million people.
London covers an area of approximately 607 square miles (1,572 square kilometers).
The Great Fire of London started on September 2, 1666, and lasted for three days, destroying much of the city.
The best way to get around in London is by using public transportation, such as the Underground, buses, and trains. You can also use taxis or ride-sharing services
The weather in London is generally mild, with cool temperatures in the winter, averaging about 7c, although it can have spells of freezing cold temperatures. In the summer London can get over 30c, but it generally averages 23c.
London became the capital of England in the 12th century, during the reign of King Henry II. The city had already been an important center of trade and commerce, but its strategic location on the River Thames made it an ideal location for a capital city, and so it was moved from Wincester.