As a James Bond enthusiast, less eloquently known as a total fan girl, I could not miss the opportunity to go on a James Bond Tour as a part of my first trip to England. After searching online, I was able to find a two and a half hour walking tour through Brit Movie Tours. We met at Planet Hollywood which is on the bustling street of Haymarket, a stone’s throw away from Piccadilly Circus. Our tour guide, easily recognizable with a 007 lanyard and a 007 backpack hanging off one shoulder, stood just outside the entrance. Unfortunately, our James Bond walking tour guide did not have the first name of James nor the last name of Bond. In fact, his name was Stewart. He did, however, say he was “willing to be called James Bond.” To further his point, Stewart showed us his 007 cuff links. An intimate group quickly gathered and with our fabulously British tour guide, two American young women, a Canadian couple, and a French family, our group was complete and we set off on our adventure.
To gauge the group’s level of understanding, Stewart asked us where we were in the James Bond series (movies and books). Side note: I have watched all the movies and have read four of the books. On a nearly empty side street with the wind blowing, we huddled around our guide to learn some of James Bond’s history before going to the first sight. Stewart gave us detailed information such as the city James Bond’s mother, Monique, was from. Not more than ten minutes into the tour it was obvious that any James Bond aficionado could learn something new.
Stewart let us know that at least one billion people in the world have seen at least one Bond movie. As it stands, 1/7th of the world’s population would get something out of this tour. For those who would find less meaning in the James Bond sights we visited, it was still a unique way to see Central London. We were shown buildings significant to World War II and Commander Fleming as well as current government buildings. The group also learned an extra fact about the middle gate in the Admiralty Arch: the gate will only be opened for a car holding the Queen.
Already a week into my trip, I had been on my feet for days, and although excited, I was worried about being able to handle a 2 and a half hour walking tour. It turns out there was no need to worry. Although we were on our feet, most everything was located close together. In addition, at each stop we stayed for a good portion of time, huddled together looking at screenshots and learning facts while in front of us lay the real filming location of each scene. This tour focused on Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig film sights.
My personal favorite sight we saw on the tour was the top of a building. Although we were not permitted to go up to the roof, it was the building that Daniel Craig’s James Bond stood on looking out over London in Skyfall. It was my introduction to Skyfall as it was an opening in one of the trailers, which I watched time and time again in the months leading up to the release of the film. Seeing that rooftop reminded me of the joy I received from a trailer I watched three years ago. In this scene, M’s name is finally revealed: Olivia Mansfield. Bowing to the writers of Skyfall, of course the scene was filmed right near the blue plaque for First Chief of the Secret Service Sir Mansfield Cumming at 2 Whitehall Court. We did not have time to visit the plaque, but its general whereabouts were pointed out so that one could make their way there quite easily at a later time.
An oyster card (London metro card) is needed for this tour because near the end we did pick up a bus so we could head to the actual MI6 building. Across the street sat a local pub, the Morpeth Arms, where we were invited to have Vodka Martinis (shaken, not stirred!) We ended our jaunt in the Spying Room upstairs. The Spying Room was fantastically on the nose, including binoculars attached to the window seals. We all sat at a table talking and watching some videos Stewart had on his tablet.
It was plain to see that Stewart, who spends his retirement taking groups on tours and watching/reading James Bond again and again, could have filled a five hour tour with the information he has amassed. I loved every second of the tour. Of course, there will always be more to learn and I must go on another James Bond tour the next time I’m in London.
Huge thanks to my good friend, Kim, who accompanied me on the tour and kindly wrote this post for my blog! She’s much more intelligent than I am when it comes to James Bond knowledge so I couldn’t imagine anyone else reviewing our James Bond adventure throughout London.
Are any of you a fan of James Bond? Would you ever take a tour like this or one similar while traveling? I’d love to know in the comments below!
*Note: I did receive two complimentary tickets for our Brit Movie Tour. Opinions are entirely my own. I would only ever recommend something that I actually enjoyed and support!