Explore James Bond’s Most Iconic Destinations In New Coffee Table Book

Sightsee like a superspy from Monaco to Morocco, traveling first class all the way.

‘No Time to Die’, Italy, 2021 / courtesy EON Productions

Some like the iconic Ocean Club in the Bahamas and Cala di Volpe in Sardinia are world famous. Others in far-flung places from Thailand to India are a bit more under the radar. But all have in common the honor of having hosted James Bond, in one of his many incarnations, at some point over his six-decade cinematic career.

Be it Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Daniel Craig or one of the “in-betweens,” 007 has signed the guest register at some of the most impressive hotels, in some of the most stunning locales, the world over.

As 007 producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of EON Productions note in the introduction to James Bond Destinations, in impeccably illustrated new book from French luxury publisher Assouline, “These destinations are not just backgrounds, or even backgrounds that simply inform characters. In our movies, they are characters.”

EON Productions / Courtesy Assouline

As such many of the locations in the famed film franchise have become iconic in their own right; think of the famous car chase through the Swiss Alps, with Connery confident as ever at the wheel of his careening Aston Martin, or the even more enticing encounter with Ursula Andress on that beach in Jamaica.

“When James Bond saved the world for the first time on the big screen, in 1962’s Dr. No, he was setting a cinematic standard: 007 would forever be a traveling secret agent,” as author and EON editorial collaborator Daniel Pembrey writes in the book’s introduction.

‘Dr. No’, Jamaica, 1962. MGM / courtesy Assouline

“He reports for duty in London but is quickly dispatched to Jamaica, to fight evil in paradise. From those sugary-sand beaches and light-reflecting waterfalls, he has ventured to volcanic islands in Japan, crystalline alpine peaks, exotic palaces in India, undersea Mediterranean realms, luxuriant Brazilian rainforests and even outer space.”

And while other productions relied solely on studio soundstages, “EON Productions put Bond on the front line in an atlas’s worth of real destinations, around the globe and beyond,” he points out.

‘For Your Eyes Only’, Greece, 1981. Image: MGM / courtesy Assouline

So what exactly makes a James Bond destination worthy of 007? “The locations are not only beautiful and glamorous locations,”Pembrey notes. “These are places that lend themselves to fantasies—ones that we too, yearn to explore, while knowing in our hearts we can never do so quite like 007,” though the inspiration is certainly there.

‘For Your Eyes Only’, Italy, 1981. Image: MGM / courtesy Assouline

“Bond travels on covert operations with dizzyingly high stakes. He must overpower nemeses while saving the world and, ideally, not compromising his Savile Row suits. [Hence] his ultra-high-octane assignments involve especially scenic environments that are guaranteed to deliver riveting cinema on a truly transportive scale.”

‘Goldeneye’, Monaco, 1995. Image: Keith Hamshere / courtesy Assouline

In 60-plus years of Bond films, the world’s most famous secret agent has visited over a hundred destinations, always in high style. The book follows “007’s well-shod footsteps to some of the world’s most heart-stopping and iconic settings, via both behind-the-scenes shots and the sumptuous vistas themselves that inspired the filmmakers.”

Ranging from “romantic hotel suites and surreal villains’ lairs” to “great cities and the most remote spots on earth,” the variety of the locales connotes that, “Bond is, after all, a creature of both mountains and sea—just like his creator, British author lan Fleming, who went to boarding school in the Austrian Alps and spent much of his career in London, but later found his true home in Jamaica.”

‘Skyfall’, Scotland, 2012, featuring a throwback vintage Aston Martin. Image: MGM / Courtesy Assouline

Each chapter in the book details a different 007 location: Jamaica, Venice, Rome, Bahamas, Istanbul, Egypt, Udaipur, Morocco, Greece, Lake Como, Mexico, Brazil, Sardinia, Scotland, London, the Alps, Côte d’Azur, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Some of the hotels he has visited—frolicking with innumerable, beautiful Bond Girls, always in the very best suites—include the aforementioned Ocean Club in the Bahamas and Cala di Volpe in Sardinia.

Then there’s the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur, the Fontainebleau in Miami, Hotel Atlantic Kempinski in Hamburg, Hotel Danieli in Venice, the UK’s Stoke Park, The Peninsula Hong Kong, Hotel du Cap Eden Roc in the South of France, The Langham London, and Palazzo del Duca in Matera, Italy, from No Time to Die.

Aston Martin DB10 car chase from ‘Spectre’, Rome, 2015. Image: MGM / courtesy Assouline

EON has at times gone to extreme measures to make sure moviegoers are enthralled by the scenery. The Grand Canal in Venice was closed for the first time in 300 years to shoot Daniel Craig’s sailboat scenes in “Casino Royale.” Even the legendarily frenetic Las Vegas Strip was closed down for five whole nights to film “Diamonds are Forever.”

From the beginning of the franchise audiences couldn’t get enough. Barbara Broccoli, the daughter of the original Bond producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, says her father “wanted to take people out of their lives and transport them on an adventure to something magical.”

‘Octopussy’, India, 1983. Image: MGM Studios / courtesy Assouline

“It is easy to forget that, in the early to mid-1960s, international travel was comparatively rare,” Pembrey writes. “That is not to say some people didn’t attempt these trips. The Bond films not only prompted audiences to dream of glamorous, exciting places; they provided a blueprint,” from the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel shown at the start of Goldfinger, to elegant Estoril on the Portuguese Riviera—where McLaren recently staged its reveal of the incredible new 750S supercar—where George Lazenby frolicked in his underrated appearance as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Skyfall, London, 2012. Image: MGM / Courtesy Assouline

“At the same time,” Pembrey notes, “the price of a cinema ticket proved remarkably good value. Bond became the cinema-goer’s trusted concierge to an increasingly global array of settings, immersively and vicariously (also safely), in a way that no package tour could conceivably emulate,” though some have given it a try.

From the start, “Bond travelled differently. He was outfitted with tools, boxes of tricks and inventive modes of transport”—most iconically, his series of sensational Aston Martin supercars, starting with the DB5, and that famous amphibious Lotus—that uniquely served his missions. No matter what firepower or sharp objects might be in his possession, he was not held up at airports or on trains. The earlier films put down another marker: Bond is forever a traveler, but never a tourist per se—even if sometimes he adopts the disguise of one.”

James Bond Aston Martin
James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 / courtesy RM Sotheby’s

And as travel became more accessible, Bond’s excursions became ever more exotic, the location scenes ever more elaborate. “You have to find places that haven’t been seen, or you have to think of doing something spectacular in a well-known place, as we did with the Aston Martin DB10 car chase through Rome in 2015’s Spectre,” as Bond producer Michael G. Wilson tells Pembrey. “The scene involved hundreds of blockers along two miles of main road to ensure no bystanders entered the shot,” adds associate producer Gregg Wilson.

‘Spectre’, Mexico, 2015. Image: EON Productions / courtesy Assouline

“This travel-destination ‘DNA’ is unique to the Bond franchise,” Pembrey points out. “It cannot be found elsewhere, and it is a big part of the reason we keep returning for the next Bond film in the series—to be surprised and enthralled.” And while for 007 fans “visiting the locations can prove a conundrum,” i.e., “how to avoid disappointment relative to what they have experienced on the big screen?”

‘Spectre’, Morocco, 2015. Image: MGM / courtesy Assouline

EON recently appointed top-drawer luxury travel company Black Tomato, known for its incredibly luxurious adventures, to create officially sanctioned, beautifully-curated 007 travel experiences designed to bring all of the Bond locations to life. They haven’t yet closed down the Grand Canal, but we wouldn’t be at all surprised if it’s in the works.

Courtesy Assouline

In the meantime, be sure to pick up a copy of this epic book on the world of Bond. While we’re all waiting to see who is officially chosen as Daniel Craig’s successor as 007, it’s an armchair adventure of the most sublime sort.

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2024 issue of Maxim magazine.