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The Spanish Civil War hotel that Capa, Hemingway and Gelhorn called home

A review of Hotel Florida, by Amanda Vaill. This sanctuary for war tourists, opportunists, dreamers, buccaneers and writers kept Republican hopes alive

21 June 2014

8:00 AM

21 June 2014

8:00 AM

Hotel Florida Amanda Vaill

Bloomsbury, pp.464, £25, ISBN: 9780374172992

In February 1924 the Hotel Florida, a ten- storey marble-clad building with 200 rooms, a glass-roofed atrium and red plush furnishings, went up on Madrid’s Gran Via. Along with the Ritz in Paris, certainly the most celebrated hotel in the literary world, the Florida became, during the two-year battle for the capital waged between Franco’s nationalists and the republican forces, the meeting place for an eccentric, glamorous and self-important assortment of war tourists, zealots, opportunists, romantics, dreamers, buccaneers and writers who had come to observe the fighting, file dispatches of variable truthfulness and proclaim loyalty to the republic.

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Available from the Spectator Bookshop, £20. Tel: 08430 600033. Caroline Moorehead is the author of Martha Gellhorn: A Life.

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