Ambos Mundos"The rooms on the northeastern corner of the Ambos Mundos Hotel in Havana look out, to the north, over the old cathedral, the entrance to the harbor, and to the sea, and to the east to the Casablanca peninsula, the roofs of all houses in between and the width of the harbor." Ernest Hemingway wrote these words in 1938. This was, and remains, Hemingway's hotel. An insightful friend recently commented: “True, the prices are high and the service is often second rate but what do you expect? This is a nationalised hotel in a nationalised economy where the government controls the prices.” One day though it will surely be restored to its former glory.
How the Stage was Set We haven't as yet been able to uncover a mass of information on the history of Ambos Mundos. It's opening date is vague - presumed to be at some point in the lat 1920s. We do know that Hemingway stayed here in on and off for several years when he lived just across the water at Key West in the 1930s. It was here that he wrote 'For Who the Bell Tolls', after returning from the Spanish Civil War in 1938. If you have any useful information and would like to share it, please send it to [email protected].
Ernest Hemingway wrote 'For whom the bell tolls' in room 511. He kept a room at the hotel for 7 years.
It was the early 1930s. Ernest Hemingway, a game fishing enthusiast, had heard that the best swordfish were to be found off the coast of Cuba. A friend who smuggled rum between Cuba and the States introduced him to La Havana. Seduced, Hemingway abandoned the blue waters of Key West and moved to the Cuban capital. He took a room on the corner of the fifth floor of Ambos Mundos, a hotel not far from the Plaza de Armas. In later years, Hemingway would say that Ambos Mundos was a 'good place to write'. He wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls in room 511. Hemingway quickly settled into a routine that suited him perfectly. He worked from 8 am until 2 pm, then went fishing on the Pilar with his new associate, a quartermaster by the name of Gregorio Fuentes, who was the inspiration behind The Old Man and the Sea. He would also shoot live pigeons at the Club de Cazadores del Cerro and down daiquiris at the Floridita, a bar in the calle Moserrate where he gambled with a group of exiled Basques. Hemingway never avoided a fight and could hold his alcohol like no one else. It was usually a glass of absinthe to start with, followed by a good bottle of red wine at dinner, vodka when playing cards, and whisky to finish the night. Or half a dozen mojitos at the Bodeguita del Medio. Then, the next morning at dawn, it was back to work at Ambos Mundos. Ambos Mundos would be his Cuban port-of-call for seven years. As soon as he arrived in La Havana, he would take up residence there, always in the same room, which cost him two dollars a day. From there, he dominated the port and old La Havana, which at the time was a vast fun-filled area housing brothels, neon-lit cafés, bands, pretty girls and warm temperatures. In 1939 Hemingway's third wife, Martha Gellhorn, bought a Cubab ranch above San Francisco, some 15 kilometres south east of La Havana, spelling the end of the writer's life at Ambos Mundos. To this day, the hotel treasures Ernesto's room, maintaining it in a better state than it ever was when he occupied it; a lasting tribute to a man who eventually spent 22 years on Cuba, one-third of his life. 'People ask why you live in Cuba,' he once said, 'and you tell them it's because you like it.'
The hotel is found in Old Havana's historic center, very near Havana's old Cathedral.
Rooftop terrace restaurant ------ Lobby piano bar
Visit the room where Ernest Hemingway stayed and penned the classic 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'.