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London's top-secret spot

The historic and stately The Royal Horseguards Hotel once served as headquarters for the British secret service and it’s said that Winston Churchill and others used secret tunnels within the building. Today, the hotel mixes old school elegance and modern panache — and is still the site of intrigue (keep reading). 

Located on a quiet side street in Whitehall on the banks of the River Thames, you know you've arrived when you see the Royal Tank Regiment Memorial, a bronze statue on the corner just outside the main entrance featuring a five-member British tank crew. Cross the street and hotel porters in top hats escort you inside, where you’ll find crystal chandeliers, a fireplace and tall ceilings with white moldings. The Forbes Travel Guide Recommended hotel is connected to One Whitehall Place, which was originally built in the late 1800s and used as the National Liberal Club and is now a popular place for events.

We recommend ordering the Churchill cocktail from the Equus bar before asking hotel employees about Winston Churchill’s secret tunnels in the hotel's cellar, which he supposedly used to get from the House of Lords to his own personal bar. You’ll also want to find out where scenes from the latest James Bond Skyfall film were shot in and around the hotel. And inquire about the English Heritage blue plaque that adorns the outside of One Twenty One Two Restaurant. It honors Sir Mansfield Cumming, the first Secret Intelligence Service chief, who lived and worked at the London hotel. Nicknamed "C" because he initialed papers with the letter, Cumming was Ian Fleming's inspiration for the "M" character in his Bond novels.