Five Legendary Hotels in Spain

Ritz sculpture

The Westin Palace (Madrid)
The former palace of the Dukes of Medinaceli was inaugurated by Alfonso XIII in 1912 and refurbished in a French style. It was frequented by Picasso, Buster Keaton, Sarah Bernhard, Mata Hari, Dali, and Ava Gardner among other celebrities. Hemingway drank dry martinis at its bar, while the bullfighter Manolete walked out the hotel door towards the arena of Las Ventas. In the Palace halls, the Socialist Party held its first victory in the general elections of 1982. Here was celebrated the Madrid Peace Conference (1991) and the dance-opening of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.

Ritz (Madrid)
It was the first hotel in Madrid designed by Cesar Ritz, in the early twentieth century. King Alfonso XIII ordered it built, because he wanted to offer a luxury hotel in the cultural and artistic heart of the Spanish capital for hosting guests at his wedding. Princess Grace of Monaco and Prince Rainier celebrated their honeymoon in one of its suites.

La Posada del Peine (Madrid)
Four hundred years ago, the Posada del Peine passed into history as a popular expression for a messy place (“it seems like the Comb’s Inn!”) because of its narrowness and the ramshackle aspect of its rooms. The popular saying refers to a landlord who usually warned his guests against the robbery of amenities by tying the comb to the bathroom sink with a rope. Winner of the Nobel Price for Literature, Spaniard Camilo José Cela, honored this four centuries old inn in his first speech as a new member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Language. He praised also some of the historical figures who stayed in it, like the widow of the romantic Spanish writer Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, Casta Esteban, and the painter Solana.

Gran Hotel La Perla (Pamplona)
With over 140 years of history, it is considered the bullfighters’ hotel at Pamplona. From its balconies, guests get the best views of the bull enclosures, in the morning, and the best music events during the San Fermín week feasts. The hotel reserved Room 217 for Ernest Hemingway each year during this event. Also, the establishment was appreciated by such guests as the Spanish Kings Alfonso XII, Alfonso XIII, and Juan Carlos I, Queen Regent María Cristina, the Aga Khan, bullfighters Manolete and Cayetano Ordóñez, filmmaker Orson Welles, musicians Pablo Sarasate and Julián Gayarre, sculptor Mariano Benlliure, and painter Ignacio Zuloaga, among others. Each room of this hotel has been christened in their memory.

Reina Victoria (Ronda)
On the edge of the famous ‘tajo de Ronda’ (a stunning cliff over the Guadalevín River), this romantic hotel was built in 1906 by an English businessman in honor of Queen Victoria. Hemingway used to stay in it when he watched its ‘corridas goyescas’ (bullfighters dressed in Goya époque garments). In its gardens and on its walkways along the cliff, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote his Spanish trilogy. His room, Number 208 ,is preserved today as a museum.

Fernando Gallardo |

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