Grandhotel Pupp, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

Hotel Pupp, which doubles as Hotel Splendide in Casino Royale
Hotel Pupp, which doubles as Hotel Splendide in Casino Royale
photo © Hotel Pupp
photo © Hotel Pupp
Hotel Pupp Restaurant, where Bond and Vesper have a drink after the poker game in Casino Royale
photo © Hotel Pupp

1. Bond and Vesper arrive in taxi at the hotel; 2. Hotel restaurant where Bond and Vesper have late night dinner; 3. Parking lot where Bond's Aston Martin DBS is parked; 4. Where we see Bond walk from the hotel to the casino for the first time; 5. The Kaiserbad Spa building which doubles as Casino Royale (exterior shots only)

Grandhotel Pupp, a 228-room luxury hotel located in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Czech Republic, doubles for Hotel Splendide in Montenegro in the 2006 movie Casino Royale.

The hotel is located very close the the building that doubled as the Casino Royale in the film. Many exterior shots were taken at this location, including Bond walking from the hotel to the casino. The parking lot of the hotel is where Bond finds his Aston Martin DBS and later starts the chase. The parking lot is also seen when the police finds the bodies of Le Chiffre's henchmen in the trunk of a car. The dining room in the hotel was used to film the late night dinner of Bond and Vesper (where Bond comes up with the name of the drink Vesper Martini). The hotel desk is also seen in the film, when Bond and Vesper check in.

From 2007 - 2012, the hotel offered at special package for Bond fans "In the footsteps of Agent 007". Read the comment of a fan who experienced Karlovy Vary and the hotel with this package.

The village of Karlovy Vary is definitely worth a visit, not only for the hotel but also for the building that doubles as Casino Royale, the former Kaiserbad Spa. Also the scene where Bond and Vesper arrive and take the black Daimler taxi to the hotel was filmed in the town at the Mill Collonade (which doubles as the Montenegro Train Station).

Grandhotel Pupp
Mirové námesti 2
360 91 Karlovy Vary
Czech Republic

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For route descriptions and more information, visit the official website (see below).

Product Code: 
tr010

Comments

Well I booked a wedding anniversary weekend away (June 2008) as a treat for the wife and all she was told was that it would be a mysterious and romantic weekend somewhere in Europe - but with a twist.

We flew out of London on the earliest morning Friday flight with the usual mix of Czechs returning home for the weekend and the more animated groups of stag and hen parties. Couple of hours later we landed and thankfully the other groups headed off for their Prague hotel transfers and we were met by our taxi driver. Now, having never visited the Czech Republic and discovering that the Grand Hotel Pupp, Karlovy Vary is 100km west of the Prague, you have two choices, either to rely on the hotel to arrange your transfer, or arrange your own. The latter it transpires is the cheaper option, but it still costs £135 return by taxi due to the distance and with no motorway link, it takes two hours between the airport and the hotel. You need to be careful which taxi company to use and it's recommended that you pre-book this as there are unlicensed taxi drivers hovering the arrivals hall and the Prague taxi drivers have a poor reputation for inflated fares and unscrupulous applying of exchange rates. We used Prague Airport Transfers and they proved to be friendly, reliable, easy to book as well as being cost effective check out their website on http://www.prague-airport-transfers.co.uk/karlovyvary.htm for more details.

The long journey from the airport did give us the opportunity to take in the beautiful countryside and as most tourists tend to remain in the Prague area, we were treated to some fine greenery and billiard board landscapes. Coming from Lincolnshire in the UK, it was home away from home!

After a couple of hours, we pulled off the main highway and the taxi wound it's way into the hillside along a mountain road and once at the top we journeyed down into a valley which was thick with high trees. Eventually as we reached the floor of the valley, the town of Karlovy Vary (aka Carlsbad) appeared out of the tree line. Karlovy Vary was founded in 1370 and it is historically famous for its hot springs (13 main springs, about 300 smaller springs, and the warm-water Tepli River). In the 19th century, it became a popular tourist destination, especially for international celebrities visiting for spa treatment. The city is also known for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and the popular Czech liqueur Karlovarska Becherovka liquer. The glass manufacturer Moser Glas is also located in the town. The town architecture reminded me of the town in Chitty, Chitty Bang, Bang and as we moved through the edge of town, we were taken aback at how beautiful the town was and it was as though we had stepped back in time. The Tepli River splits the town in two with small bridges every few hundred yards cross the river as it winds it's way through the valley. The hotel eventually appeared at the far end of the town and looked absolutely majestic as our taxi pulled up to the steps of the entrance. The hotel front looks even better up close and personal than the website photographs portray and you just know at that point that a special treat awaits.

It was now lunchtime on day one and we had booked the three night £170 per night "In the Track of Agent 007" package through the hotel, so we were anxious to dump our bags and get on the trail as soon as possible. The main reception is exactly as seen in the film and the you can't help but remember the sparring between Bond and Vesper when they checked-in. We were provided with our Bond welcome pack with our room key for the fourth floor, which is the same floor that Bond had his room on in the film. It was off to the lift next which also shared a few scenes during the film. The current lift has mirrors but in the film these are covered by panels of wood to hide any camera reflections. We exited our lift on the fourth floor and again the corridors and room fronts were exactly the same as in the film. Bond's room was room 405 in the film, but the real room numbers only begin at 420, so there was a little disappointment at not locating the actual room, but this disappeared when we noticed that our assigned room was 450!! Each room in the hotel has it's own doorbell, which is a first for me and caused some confusion when a chambermaid appeared at the door to put the bed sheets down for the evening. The hotel room was very spacious with a large sitting area and we had three balcony windows on the three walls overlooking main square on one and the river and town on the other two. We had some improvising to do with the surprise of having two single beds to deal with which didn't quite fit my selling point with the wife of a romantic weekend. That aside, the room was of the highest quality and the chandelier in the centre of the ceiling just finished off the look quite nicely. There was a flat screen TV and DVD player in the room and the hotel had also entered the spirit of things by leaving a DVD copy of Casino Royale and Goldeneye for us to access at our leisure though to be honest we only used the Casino Royal copy to remind us of points of interest in the hotel scenes from the film. Was surprised though that the Casino Royale Disk 1 was actually a re-writable DVD!!!

The marble bathroom has the two table top sinks and large mirror as seen in the film when Vesper is getting ready whilst Bond tries on his tuxedo. Though there was neither the promised marble bath we had paid for as part of the package nor any sign of the shower room as seen in the film. The package also included a present in the room which transpired to be a Grand Hotel Pupp black umbrella and a small basket of bath salts. This was disappointing as neither had any Bond relevance, so between the beds, missing marble bath, pirate DVD and poor hotel presents I have to admit to starting to have some apprehension at this early stage about what else was in store for us over the next three nights.

We checked out the emergency stairwell in the hope that these were also part of the film-scenes, but ascertained that the emergency stairwell was too narrow and having checked the film in our room it was clear that these were probably shot at Pinewood with the stunt team. The large staircase that Leiter offers the CIA funding Bond needs do not exist within the hotel, which was a surprise but to be fair the actual stairs away from the reception are narrow and poorly lit and did not provide the elegance that the ones in the film had.

Part of the package was a luxury 007 dinner for two in the hotel so decided that this would be good for our first night so made the reservation in the Belcher restaurant which is the English themed restaurant/bar in the basement of the hotel. We received a call later that day to cancel the dinner reservation because the restaurant had been booked for a private function, so yet again we were disappointed and our trail of agent 007 was feeling rather bumpy at this point. We decided to eat out that evening and following a walk through the town past the numerous designer clothes and jewelry shops we found ourselves in a quiet restaurant were we had a pleasant meal and beer or two before returning to the hotel for the opening of the Casino at ten o'clock. It was funny that on exiting the restaurant we then noticed that there was a photograph of Daniel Craig and one of the Casino Royale film crew sitting in the same restaurant in May 2006 having a meal.

Back to the hotel then and on with the glad rags for our first visit to the hotel Casino. By now it was starting to get dark and as approached the hotel, the lights and spotlights now adorned the high corners of the hotel and as if by magic, the Hotel Splendide now appeared in front of us. We could now imagine the DBS being parked out front and the lines of tuxedos and cocktail dresses entering the entrance as seen in the film. The hotel looks absolutely magnificent lit up in the dark and at this point you actually feel as if you are standing on set watching everything go by. We enter the Casino through the same door that Bond staggers out of when he is poisoned and the car park where the DBS is parked is exactly as seen in the film and is adjacent to the Casino entrance.

Up the one floor to the Casino reception and after handing over our passports to the receptionist they are handed back with a membership card for the Casino. As we enter the Casino we pass the no cameras picture, but also the no guns sign which just adds to the atmosphere of where we are. The Casino is one large room with a roulette table, three blackjack tables and a small stud poker table, so not the largest of Casinos by any stretch of the imagination, but if we had been wanting a weekend of proper gambling with all the trimmings we would have gone to Vegas. The room itself and the bar is unrecognizable from the film, so again it looks as though those particular film shots can be put down to Pinewood again, but by this point we were so caught up in the atmosphere that we actually didn't care. We were provided with three free chips each and a drinks token each to start us off, so with an additional fifty pounds of chips purchased we set off to break the Casino. The roulette table was our focal point and of course Bond's lucky number 17 was the obvious number of choice and it was with disbelief that the number came up on our second spin. Ten minutes later having allowed the wife to take over the Tiffany Case approach to gambling we had lost our entire chips! We visited the casino each of the three nights for a drink during our stay at the hotel and the most number of people in the casino on an evening ranged from ten to fifteen, with most of those being Russian expats.

Day two according to our welcome pack had a free visit to Castle Locket on the schedule so we decided to try the buffet breakfast. This was served in the Mirror Hall which runs on to the main Grand Restaurant (more of that one later). The breakfast is part of the package and is served in a buffet style, but although the quality of the bread, hot and cold cereals and fruits was good, the fried breakfast elements were average for quality and size and the plates were of a small child's size so if a hot hearty breakfast was your desire, this would disappoint. That aside, the interior of the Mirror Hall is splendid (no pun intended) with three hundred years of intricate carvings adorning the walls and you feel yourself immersed in luxury whilst you eat breakfast.

Our pack showed we had an 11am appointment to access the Castle Locket so we checked with reception only to find that the castle is 12km away and as with the beer spa which is also included in the package, but is 55km away, the transport is not included and it's down to the guest to arrange and pay for their own return transport - this is made clear in the hotel paper literature you receive on arrival but is not mentioned on their website when booking the package. It transpired that the beer spa was off the agenda in any event as it was already booked up, so we were offered a ninety minute hot stone massage in the hotel relaxation room as an alternative, so with the teething problems we had experienced getting us hot under the collar, this was a timely offer!!!

Later that afternoon we were scheduled to attend the shooting range, but again this was offsite and some 3 km from the hotel, but in a forest with no signage and a steep stepped approach that only the physically fit could overcome. We utilised the services of a taxi to the range that the hotel kindly ordered for us, but at our expense.

The gun range though has to be one of the highlights of the weekend, with the range itself based in a seedy and remote location in a converted crypt. We were offered twenty bullets and a choice of pistols, ranging from the Walther PPK through to a Glock and various semi-automatic machine guns. With ten bullets per gun we each had a crack at the Walther and then swapped for another gun. The riddled paper target was an unusual holiday souvenir to bring back with us, but being from the UK and it's no gun law, this was a rare opportunity to have access to and fire a real weapon. At last, we were back on the trail of agent 007!!!

The Saturday evening of day two was set aside for a meal in the Grand Restaurant – hopefully this would go according to plan.

The Grand Restaurant is the centre piece of the hotel and is even more beautiful than in the film, with the luxurious surroundings, candlelit atmosphere and quiet ambience it completely took our breath away and made any service problems we had experienced so far pale, away into insignificance. The a la carte food and waiter service is first class and the four course meal is one of the best meals I can remember ever having. With £145 for two of us excluding drinks it was extremely good value for money and would be worth a visit to the hotel in its own right.

The third and final day was a lazy one, which we set aside to exploit the hot stone massage, sauna and roman bath. The facilities including a gym, all of which are on the first floor of the hotel were of excellent quality and can be accessed twelve hours each day, seven days a week. The evening allowed us to enjoy the re-scheduled luxury 007 meal in the hotel's English themed Becher Bar. The predictable vodka martini starter was there to be enjoyed as part of a 007/Hotel Pupp branded menu (waiter kindly let me take one home) and was the perfect end to a day of luxurious pampering.

Now we had reached the end of the trail for agent 007 and liked what we had found. Yes there were a number of issues that the hotel needs to address such that needlessly distracts and undermines the hotel's reputation.

But overall, this is first class and affordable access to the lifestyle of Bond and one not to be missed.

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