Madrid may not be recognizable from the same town Ernest Hemingway (el gran escritor) first visited in 1923, but for fans of the pillar of American literature...

there are still ways to visit some of the same establishments, hotels and museums that inspired him to write books such as Death in the Afternoon or The Sun Also Rises. Here you will learn about a few of those places and why they were so important to “Don Ernesto.”


Hemingway stayed in this boarding house (pensión) with his family between 1923 and 1926. This establishment can still be visited and his room was Number 7. (Lucky for some!)

Hotel Madrid Gran Vía

Still one of Madrid’s iconic locations on the Gran Vía, Hemingway mentions the establishment in Night Before Battle and in The Fifth Column. You can still pop in for a drink but don’t expect the same kind of atmosphere Don Ernesto was so fond of. ¡Los tiempos cambian!


Claiming to be “el restaurante más viejo del mundo”, Hemingway used to eat roast suckling pig (cochinillo) here. There are stories that he also tried to learn to cook Paella at Botín but let’s just say it was better he just stuck to his writing. The novel, The Sun Also Rises, ends with a scene in this same dining room. The restaurant is still worth a visit to try their famous huevos fritos con patatas.

Museo Chicote

Mentioned in his short story, The Denunciation, another of “Don Ernesto Hemingway’s” favourite bars! No visit to Madrid would be complete if Bar Museo Chicote weren’t on the list! The reviews are still positive so maybe you can see the world through Ernest’s eyes. This iconic bar situated on Madrid’s Gran Via was also a popular haunt for Ava Gardner when she lived here in the 60s.

Las Ventas Bull ring (Plaza de toros)

“If you really want to learn about bullfighting, or if you are ever very interested, sooner or later you will have to go to Madrid”. Quote from Death in the Afternoon, a classic of bullfighting literature. You should go and see it for the history even if you don’t want to watch the “sport”. It is a spectacular building in its own right and the local people who have yearly passes take it very seriously indeed and will not hesitate to tell the bullfighter (torero) exactly what he’s doing wrong! Ha ha!

Prado Museum (museo)

As mentioned before in these blogs, the Prado is a must-see. Did you know Hemingway was passionate about the museum’s works? You can wander through the halls for hours imagining the inspiration los cuadros (paintings) gave to Hemingway’s greatest works.

El Retiro Park

The Retiro is worth a visit at any time of the year for a hundred different reasons. One of those is that Hemingway was also a fan and El Retiro appears in For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Villa Rosa

Hemingway knew how to enjoy himself into the wee hours of the morning (la madrugada). This renowned flamenco house, a landmark of the most traditional Madrid nightlife, was regularly frequented by the writer (and others such as Ava Gardner.) It may be a bit more touristy than it used to be but it is still well worth a visit.

NH Collection Madrid Suecia

Last but no means least, this hotel is where Hemingway stayed in the 50’s. If you want the true Hemingway experience, ask for his signature cocktail (cóctel) named for the great man. That’ll be “Un Ernesto por favor!”

So, have I convinced you to come and check out Hemingway’s old haunts and get a feel of the Madrid he knew some 70 years ago? Just sitting on one of the outdoor terraces (terrazas) here over a caña (beer) or un vino, and watching the people go by is an experience in itself and as we know, learning Spanish is not only about the grammar and vocab, is it? The cultural aspect is also a really important part of it too! ☺. Ask your teacher in Hablamos for more info about how Madrid used to be in the past.

Learning all the time with Hablamos!