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Travellers' checks

Adam Nebbs

 

Hemingway hotels American writer Ernest Hemingway (pictured above, with actress Lauren Bacall, in Spain in the late 1950s) spent many a year adding his name to the visitors' books of European hotels, many of which still trade on the Hemingway-slept-here claim. When British travel show host Michael Palin checked into Madrid's Hotel Suecia in the late 90s, however, he was surprised to find that the staff "does not seem to know, or care, that he stayed here, which is quite refreshing in a way, if a little odd, as the cultural centre next door is running an exhibition called 'Hemingway y España', consisting mainly of photographs of Ernest on that trip in 1959". Since then, Hemingway's connection to the hotel - the last of many in Madrid to welcome "Don Ernesto" as a long-term guest - has been commercially rediscovered, with the recent rebranding of the property as Innside Suecia. With 120 rooms and seven suites, the Cortes district hotel, which originally opened in 1956, is pitching itself as Hemingway's "home". Other hotels in the Spanish capital made famous by the writer from the 1920s to 50s have been either demolished (Hotel Florida), converted into private residences (Hotel Gaylord) or occupied by international logos (Westin Palace Hotel), and those that remain are, inevitably, much changed - like the Tryp Madrid Gran Via Hotel, with its "Ernest Hemingway Bar-Cafeteria". So anyone travelling to Madrid, as many do, to follow the city's Hemingway Trail should find the Innside Suecia - operated by Melia Hotels International - one of the more authentic options. For suitable travel reading, Hemingway's life and work in Madrid during the Spanish civil war are covered in Hotel Florida: Truth, Love and Death in the Spanish Civil War, which will be published next month by Bloomsbury.

Swinging Scotland Golfers have two chances this year to embark on a posh railway tour of three of Scotland's finest courses: Royal Dornoch, Castle Stuart Golf Links and Cruden Bay Golf Club. Steaming out of Edinburgh on May 17 and September 22, Britain's only luxury sleeper train, The Royal Scotsman (pictured), will accommodate passengers for four nights and supply them with "Michelin-standard" meals between rounds. Lunches, green fees and pull-cart hire are included, and clubs and caddies can be arranged. The Classic Scottish Golf Tour is priced from about HK$62,000 for the five-day/four-night tour, which includes a fair amount of sightseeing and side-trips for non-golfing partners. For bookings, the easiest route appears to be googling "Classic Scottish Golf Tour" and clicking on the Orient Express link there.

Downhill destinations The Winter Olympics may be over but there is still time to take to the slopes, if you can get away this month. Cathay Pacific Holidays has several skiing destinations still on the books, in South Korea and Japan, starting from HK$3,290 per person for two nights at the Yongpyong Resort (pictured), which is a couple of hours' drive east of Seoul. Options in Japan include resorts in Hokkaido, including Club Med Sahoro, which starts from HK$13,840 per person for four nights, but this includes full board, ski and snowboard lessons and unspecified "nightly entertainment". For further details, go to www.cxholidays.com and click through Packages/Popular Activity/Ski Frenzy Holidays.

Deal of the week Westminster Travel's two-night Ho Chi Minh City package includes two nights' accommodation with breakfast at a choice of hotels, starting at HK$1,860 (per person, twin share) for the cheap and cheerful Elios Hotel. Better value is the Sofitel Plaza, where a third free night is offered for a package price of HK$2,750. Top of the list for both price and quality is the Park Hyatt Saigon (pictured), which is offered for HK$4,150. These prices, which will be available until the end of this month, include round-trip, economy-class flights with Vietnam Airlines and travel insurance. For further details, visit www.westminstertravel.com or call 2313 9800.

 

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