Kristal Palas, Istanbul


While in Istanbul during From Russia With Love, James Bond stays “at the Kristal Palas on the heights of Pera.”

He arrives, noting the “entrance hall with the fly-blown palms in copper pots, and the floor and walls of discoloured Moorish tiles.

Entrance hall to the Pera Palas hotel in Istanbul.

Bond admits that having a “perverse liking for the sleazy romance that clings to old-fashioned Continental hotels, had decided him to stay and he had signed in and followed the man up to the third floor in the old rope-and-gravity lift.

The historical rope-and-gravity lift at the Pera Palas in Istanbul.
"Right this way, Mr Bond."
“Right this way, Mr Bond.”

As with many Fleming creations in the Bond novels, the Kristal Palas was based on a real hotel. According to Steve Turner:

This was a thin disguise for the Pera Palas Hotel, which did have a run-down air to it in the Fifties. Built in 1892 to accommodate passengers arriving on the Orient Express, it was Istanbul’s first top-class hotel and stood close to the British French, German, Russian and American consulates. Its bar became a natural watering hole for diplomats, and a hub of gossip, scandal and intrigue.

The Pera Palas still exists, and went through a recent renovation to restore it to its pre-James Bond glory.

While Bond is initially unhappy with the hotel, after waking up the next morning, his choice is rewarded when he opens the curtain and sees the view of the Golden Horn from his balcony.

View of the Golden Horn from the Palas balcony.
View of the Golden Horn from the Palas balcony.

Ultimately, Bond is moved to room 12, which is the Honeymoon Suite. That was part of the plan for the opposition, which wanted Bond where they could watch him. Literally.

The Palas is a solid base for Bond while on assignment here, and while he doesn’t actually spend much time there, it adds nicely to the atmosphere and setting of  the book.



Hotel Okura Tokyo

When James Bond first arrives in Tokyo in You Only Live Twice, he meets up with Dikko Henderson.

The crowd parted unresentfully to let the giant through, and Bond followed in his wake to a smart Toyopet saloon waiting in a no-parking area. The chauffeur got out and bowed. Henderson fired a torrent of instructions at him in fluent Japanese and followed Bond into the back seat, settling himself with a grunt.

‘Taking you to your hotel first – the Okura, latest of the  Western ones. American tourist got murdered at the Royal Oriental the other day and we don’t want to lose you all that soon. Then we’ll do a bit of serious drinking. Had some dinner?’

The Okura in Tokyo opened in 1962, making it indeed one of the newer hotels at the time of Bond’s visit.

Hotel Okura


The main lobby of the hotel is largely unchanged from the day that it opened.



Bond and Dikko pass a few hours doing some “serious drinking in the Bamboo Bar of the Okura.” While there is no Bamboo Bar, Bamboo is prominent throughout the facility.


It looks like the Highlander Bar would be a good fit for Bond and Dikko.


Sadly, the original building of the hotel is scheduled to be torn down in September, 2015. There is an online petition against the demolition.