He is a name larger than life, first for being the novelist who forever changed 20th-century literature, and then for his travels around the world, and the places he would have a drink, and which would later find a home in his work.
Like the Ritz Paris, where he set part of his novel “The Sun Also Rises”. The author once observed:
When in Paris, the only reason not to stay at the Ritz is if you can’t afford it.
And he came here time after time, once famously rolling into the Place Vendôme, determined to liberate his beloved Ritz from the Germans who were using it as headquarters during World War II. The Germans were gone by then, but Hemingway, who was a war correspondent for Collier’s magazine at the time, still stormed inside and ran the bar tab for 51 dry martinis.
To this day, the hotel keeps the author alive with a bar named after him, and the dry martini he had that night is still one of the most popular drinks bartender Colin Field serves.
Another Parisian haunt of Ernest Hemingway was the Hotel Lutetia where he met Irish novelist and short story writer James Joyce and acted as the occasional editor on his 1922 book Ulysses. Hotel Lutetia also safeguards those memories with two bars that recall Belle Époque France.
His other travels around Europe
For most of his life, Ernest Hemingway lived on a farm outside Havana with his wife, 9 staff, some 52 cats and 16 dogs, and 3 cows, but he also traveled the world, lived in Paris for several years and attended the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona, Spain no less than 9 times throughout his life.
There are also stories of him in Venice, which he called another one of his home towns. The last time the author and his wife were in Italy, they lived for four months in Venice and the Cortina Valley, and he went hunting. Recalling that time, he said:
It was sort of like having died and gone to Heaven, a place you’d figured never to see.
In Venice, he spent much of his time staying at the Gritti Palace where he once staged a midnight baseball game in the hotel lobby. His favorite room was a corner suite on the second floor with a balcony that opens to a bend of the Grand Canal, and where he wrote several passages of his novel Across the River and Into the Trees.
And then there was Harry’s Bar, just a couple of blocks from the Gritti Palace where the author loved to have a drink…or a dozen of them, to the company of the likes of Aga Khan, Orson Welles and Truman Capote. Hemingway loved small, out-of-the-way bars, and it’s why he loved this bar in Venice. Like his writing, it was plain, well-scrubbed and wonderfully sophisticated.
Hemingway in the Far East
In the Far East, Hemingway was a patron of the Raffles Singapore and its Long Bar and is said to have enjoyed many a Singapore Sling here on his trips to the Garden City. Too bad he never ran into English novelist Somerset Maugham, who would also come here in the 1920s and 1950s, and work for hours in the shade of the frangipani trees of the Palm Court. The Raffles Singapore even has a Personality Suite named after him, with memorabilia like a personal letter he wrote, and in which he said: “Raffles Hotel stands for all the fables of the Exotic East.”
And then there was the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok where the Authors’ Lounge still exudes an old world charm reminiscent of the 1900s when Hemingway stayed here, along with novelists like Joseph Conrad and Rudyard Kipling.
This is one hotel that loves its history with the literary figure, even inviting Asia’s famous bar, The Old Man to temporarily relocate to its lobby for a pop-up experience last year.
The reason? The bar’s themed-cocktail experience with creations inspired by Hemingway. There was one inspired by the characters of The Old Man and the Sea, and one that uses a rotary evaporator to extract elements of the sea and concentrating them into liquid form. It pays homage to a Hemingway book set in the idyllic south of France in 1927.
For more fables of our favorite globetrotters, stay tuned.