When I found out that the revolving restaurant from the James Bond Film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was to be found in a resort just one valley away from where I was skiing I knew there was no way I could miss it. I mean, revolving restaurants are cool at the best of times (in a slightly cheesy 70s kind of way, but cool all the same). But a revolving restaurant at the top of a mountain is even cooler. And one that’s starred in a Bond film too? I had to see it.
Getting there from Wengen turned out to be quite an adventure in itself – first of all we took the mountain railway all the way back down into the valley to Lauterbrunnen. From there, a funicular took us back up the other side of the valley, from where we jumped onto yet another train, heading towards the resort town of Mürren. We got off half way, and then took a chair lift up to a ridge, then skied down to a valley, up a second chair lift to the next ridge, and then skied down a beautiful, wide run all the way down to Mürren and the start of the huge cable car. This cable car takes you up to another mountain, with gorgeous views over the wide, main ski area. At the peak, called Birg, we then changed cable car yet again for the final leg, up to the peak of Schilthorn, the 2,970m high mountain that dominates the resort, and to our final destination, Piz Gloria, the revolving restaurant that sits right at the top.
Once you get out of the cable car, there’s a little exhibition explaining the history of the restaurant, and it turns out that not only was it featured in the film, but that it was actually built especially for it. That’s quite some investment for a few short scenes, there can’t be many other iconic buildings like this that were just created for one film, can there? There’s also a little cinema showing the film (which we skipped – even though I’ve only seen the film once I figured I could always watch it again when I got back home). Then it was time to head upstairs for the views – and they are spectacular. We were incredibly lucky to have yet another really clear day, and it turns out that the mountain is the perfect location for a revolving restaurant, for the mountain sits out on its own, unconnected from any mountains close to it in height, and separated by valleys from the higher peaks all around, giving a fantastic, wide open 360 degree view across the Alps.
The view of the beautiful trio of the Eiger, Mönch & Jungfrau was far better than from Wengen in one direction, and in the other we could see all the way down to Interlaken and the wide plains in the distance. It was all quite stunning. After taking time to take dozens of photos, it was time to head into the restaurant itself for a nice warming coffee. They take their Bond seriously here – the 007 motif is plastered all over every window, and the restaurant menu contains a heavily Bond-themed selection of cocktails and desserts. All pretty cheesy but fun, and the views made the long journey all worthwhile.
Unfortunately due to my lost confidence, and my friend Ed having a dodgy knee, we decided not to ski down the long lack run into Mürren, and instead took the cable car back down to Birg for a hearty lunch of big curly swiss wurst and a beer (my teenage years living in Germany have definitely left me with a love of Germanic sausages, mmm), before taking the long cable car / walk / funicular / ski / button lift / ski / chair lift / ski / train / funicular / train all the way back to Wengen.
Funnily enough, even though I did less skiing that day, it was probably my favourite of all my days in Switzerland. The mountain views have always been one of my favourite things about skiing, and the views from Schilthorn are the best I’ve seen in Europe. We didn’t spend that long skiing there, but I actually much preferred Mürren to Wengen, even if it is a bit smaller – the ski area was more open, and seemed to have a much wider variety of runs across different mountains and ridges than in the resort we were based in, where most of the runs are down one side of the same ridge.
It was only after we’d got back to London that Ed realised he’d also been skiing recently in yet another resort featured in a Bond film – the airport in Courcheval is featured in Tomorrow Never Dies, which made me think perhaps I should check out the other resorts that have also featured in the films – Cortina in Italy (featured in For Your Eyes Only) and Berngarten in Austria (For Your Eyes Only) – although it turns out that sequence was actually filmed in Canada.
You can see all of my photos of my Swiss ski trip here.