Stunning Alpine hideout used in Daniel Craig's latest James Bond filmWhat are your favourite Bond film moments? Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder rising Venus-like from the Caribbean in 1962’s Dr No? Or is it Daniel Craig’s own iconic appearance from the surf in his snug bathing shorts in a scene shot in the Bahamas for Casino Royale in 2006? These notable exceptions apart, Bond movies are largely about good-looking people knocking seven bells out of each other. But while one fight blurs into the next, the attractive locations where they happen have a habit of lodging in your memory. Given that a Bond film is seen by an awful lot of people – more than 35 million paid to see Skyfall at the cinema in the United States alone – it’s not surprising that for most tourist destinations, a proposed visit from a Bond production crew is the equivalent of a big win on the lottery. Almost a year ago, the crew from the forthcoming blockbuster Spectre went to Solden in Austria’s South Tyrol to finalise plans for location filming. There are better known ski resorts in this part of Austria: for example, the long-standing British favourite Obergurgl is just up the road. But when you’re looking for a modern building that will ‘play the part’ of a mountaintop residence, it’s not the number of testing ski runs that you’re considering – it’s glamour. In December 2013, the Bergbahnen Solden Lift Company opened a new restaurant at a height of 10,000ft on the peak of the Gaislachkogl – the area’s number one ski mountain – and they can hardly have guessed that they were creating a future Bond star. The Ice Q restaurant promises gourmet cuisine, excellent wines, 94 seats inside, 34 seats on the terrace and efficient table service. While this is all delightful, this won’t be the main reason so many have visited here; this is an ultra-modern restaurant with a view (and only two rapid cable car rides up from Solden). As you sit here gazing out, your mind is not fully on the special pinot painstakingly created to be enjoyed at this rarefied height of 10,000ft – what you’re really drinking in is the jaw-dropping scenery. (The altitude here really does make you breathless, even before the effects of the scenery work their magic.) The floor-to-ceiling picture windows of Ice Q restaurant are filled with views of the stunning Otztal mountains. The architect designed the building to be as transparent as possible, and so fit seamlessly into its natural surroundings. Together with the neighbouring top station of the mountain gondola, it ranks among Tyrol’s undisputed highlights: this an architectural ski resort masterpiece that surpasses any other. What part does the Ice Q restaurant play in Spectre? Well, with the film’s premiere still a few weeks away, people who might know the answer to that question clam up and plead that it is as secret as any code lodged in M’s safe. One thing we do know about the films is that the plot will be fairly preposterous – but you’re not watching Bond for verisimilitude. This is a fantasy world, into which the Ice Q fits perfectly. Our waiter fondly remembered the day earlier this year that Hollywood came to his mountaintop. Daniel Craig was happy to chat between scenes, while his co-star Lea Seydoux looked suitably glamorous, helicopters buzzed the valleys and Range Rovers burst into flames. ‘It was freezing but Daniel was cool,’ said the waiter. Well, 007 has always had a licence to chill. It’s understood that a replica of the Ice Q restaurant was created at Pinewood Studios, which suggests that Solden plays a significant part in the story, and could even be used as the baddie’s mountaintop lair (it wouldn’t be a Bond film without a mountaintop lair),Given that the Ice Q is under shared ownership with the excellent Das Central hotel in the heart of Solden, it might have been expected that this was where Craig would be based during filming.
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