From their laser beam tables to their bionic eyeballs to the fluffy white cats that sometimes follow them around, there’s never been anything subtle about Bond villains.
That includes the lairs from which they conduct their dastardly business.
In the latest (and last) from Daniel Craig, No Time to Die, Rami Malek’s villain du jour kicks it in a massive concrete island base that’s home to some of the world’s most toxic plants. Sounds like a great place for dispatching henchmen who have failed to kill Bond, but maybe not such a great place to live (depending on your brand of aesthetics).
Some of 007’s other opponents, however, really knew how to live in style. You almost have to wonder why somebody would feel compelled to take over the world when they’re already set up in the sweetest pad ever. But I guess, as the saying goes, for some even the world is not enough. So cuddle up with your favorite fluffy white cat (or perhaps you have a sullen-looking goldfish, which you should probably just leave in the bowl—and maybe try to cheer up sometime), and join me on a tour through ten of the raddest domiciles belonging to Bond villains.
10. Palmyra — Thunderball (1965)
Let’s be real, any waterfront property in the Bahamas is not going to be too shabby of a place to live. Especially when it comes with two pools. Though SPECTRE’s No. 2, Emilio Largo, spends much of his time on the island directing underwater frogmen on where to move a couple of atomic bombs—as one does when they’re in the Bahamas—he also gets in some skeet shooting and enjoys a refreshing Rum Collins by the pool. Any villain who favors pool chairs and sea breeze over command stations and the hum of nuclear reactors can’t be all bad.
Why yes, the place comes with its own Golden Grotto sharks. Just don’t mix up the swimming pool with the shark pool or accidentally leave the underwater passage open between them. Wait…why are the shark pool and the swimming pool connected? Who designed this place?!
9. Clifftop monastery — For Your Eyes Only (1981)
St. Cyril’s, the monastery that serves as a not-so-accessible getaway for smuggler and opportunist Aris Kristatos, is found high in the stunning Meteora rock formations of Greece’s backcountry. The cottage-like residences and interior courtyards feel quaint and cozy in a medieval sort of way, but the real draw here would no doubt be the view.
While the real monastery dates back to at least the 11th century, it’s actually still occupied today by Greek Orthodox monks. So you technically could live there if you wanted to. I mean, you’d have to be a Greek Orthodox monk and go without running water, but I’m just saying, you know, if you really wanted to….
I’d suspect birds would be able to handle the altitude.
8. Stud farm — Goldfinger (1964)
This one is just the place for the sportsman who wants to get away from it all: mint juleps on the veranda, afternoon horse rides, country banjo tunes licking the air, and when the sun gets too fierce a game of billiards in that fabulous Ken Adam-designed rumpus room.
With the perfectly laidback atmosphere of his Kentucky ranch already at hand, it’s hard to see what more Goldfinger has to gain from obliterating Fort Knox. Pussy Galore mentions she plans to use her share from the caper to retire to an island somewhere. If you ask me, Goldfinger’s already got the perfect retirement spot. There’s even a little KFC right around the corner.
This place is an equestrian’s paradise.
7. Luxury villa — Licence to Kill (1989)
When not investing in schemes to expand his drug operation into a global empire, Franz Sanchez likes to roll up his blood-spattered sleeves and relax in one of the most peaceful and most luxurious settings to be found anywhere. With lavish open-air floor plans, a home waterfall, expansive views of the bay, a swimming pool that comes with its own winking fish statue, and a funicular rail to get you from the terrace to the beach and back again, why would you ever leave this place? Sanchez’s digs were filmed on location at the magnificent Villa Arabesque in Acapulco and truly reflect the epitome of high living.
Iguanas do nicely in this climate, and they rock a killer diamond-studded collar.
6. Scaramanga’s island — The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
Nothing says world’s highest paid assassin quite like strutting around in gold cufflinks, gold knuckle rings, and an 18-karat King Midas Rolex. Nothing except owning your own island perhaps.
Whether you’re sunbathing on your own private beach, three nipples and all, or practicing your assassin-ry on wax effigies in your revolving mirror funhouse, the fact that the whole island is yours just makes it so much better. While Scaramanga’s tastes run eccentric—frames of pinned butterflies, a pommel horse, rampant saloon decor, and enough trick stairs and hidden passages to satisfy the spectral paranoia of Sarah Winchester—there’s no denying the dwellability of this master assassin’s island paradise.
Apparently bats, lizards, and water snakes frequent the region…so, yes!
5. Aztec pyramid — Moonraker (1979)
Found deep in the Amazon, among picturesque waterfalls and lush jungle, the Aztec pyramid used by Hugo Drax to launch his Moonraker space shuttles makes for one of the most outlandish and most lavish Bond villain lairs.
The most impressive feature here is the interior pond and jungle garden, beside which you’ll find swooping accent chairs and a low table for the perfect indoor-outdoor picnic (if one could ever find the time between all the world domination). While we’re never shown any actual living quarters, I’m sure you could pretty easily set up a hammock somewhere and be perfectly comfortable in this climate. Just not too close to the launch bay.
You saw Anaconda, right? The one with Ice Cube and J-Lo? Yeah, it comes with one of those.
4. Ice palace — Die Another Day (2002)
Surely the grandest looking Bond villain lair not designed by Ken Adam, the swanky ice palace owned by Gustav Graves in the frozen expanse of Iceland brings whole new meaning to the phrase “chillin’ like a villain.”
The palace’s whole interior is endowed with an air of cool luxury by the seamless blending of ice with shimmering chandeliers and bejeweled candelabras. Between the crystalline bar, the beds made from ice swans, and that great cavernous entryway, who could resist the chance to live in such wintry splendor? Plus, when asked how guests like staying at your place, you’d get to say, “Many are cold, but few are frozen”—and how cool would that be?
Only if you’re into penguins.
3. Atlantis — The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Inspired by a floating marine research lab from Japan’s 1975 International Oceans Expo, the visually imposing Atlantis serves much the same purpose for sea fanatic Karl Stromberg. But, you know, with a little world domination on the side.
Combining ultra-modern, quasi-space age interior design with decidedly Jules Vernesque vibes makes for one of cinema’s all-time coolest lounges. The recessed windows open not onto a landscape but a gorgeous seascape where schools of fish and rays form moving art—and for the pièce de résistance, a skeletal whale fin stands on end like an ominous statue. With all that, you’d hope Stromberg might find it in his briny, world-annihilating heart to at least spare his amazing interior decorator.
As mentioned, you’ll be able to spot plenty of cool sea life from the windows, from leatherback turtles to poison-spined lion fish. But as far as tamed animals go, just a great white shark.
2. Piz Gloria — On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Part allergy clinic, part alpine lodge, part viral warfare factory, Blofeld’s mountaintop retreat, Piz Gloria, has stood the test of time as one of the coolest and most stylish Bond villain lairs.
The revolving restaurant where filming took place was quite serendipitously midway through construction when the filmmakers went location scouting, and it still operates today under the same name as its fictional counterpart. While anyone can visit Piz Gloria for fine dining and a breath of fresh, crisp, high-altitude air, one can only imagine waking to views of the surrounding peaks, snapping on a pair of skis for some morning exercise, and returning for a cup of hot cider by the fire. Putting things in that perspective makes it easier to understand Blofeld’s ire when Bond blows the place up in the third reel.
There’s a medic St. Bernard on standby to deliver avalanche victims tiny kegs of whiskey and cuddles.
1. Volcano lair — You Only Live Twice (1967)
Are there more practical lairs on this list? More accessible ones? Maybe some lairs that aren’t in such close proximity to hot magma and sulfuric acid? Some lairs with better views or multiple swimming pools? Sure. But are any of them a volcano? Didn’t think so.
While Blofeld set up camp inside Japan’s Mount Shinmoedake in order to secretly launch SPECTRE rockets into outer space—perhaps hoping people will think it’s just Mothra getting some fresh air—he certainly didn’t skimp on the costs when it came to decking out his personal living quarters. Blofeld’s apartment blends Japanese design with traditional European decor and includes without rhyme or reason a wild vegetation-bordered pool of piranhas one must cross over via footbridge to reach the control room. Sounds like kind of a dangerous setup actually. The bridge doesn’t even come with railings, and anybody could make it collapse at any time by pressing a switch under the desk.
But I’m not here to judge the minds of those madder or more genius than I; just to say how swank it would be to live in a volcano.
Does it matter? You’re living in a volcano! But yes, for all the animal lovers out there, it comes with the aforementioned piranha pool—plus the eponymous white feline, but you must cradle and stroke it at all times. And no, that’s not Mike Meyers you see on screen… that’s an entirely different article.