Hotel La Perla is by far, the best hotel in Pamplona. If we talk about location, it is unbeatable. Located in Plaza del Castillo number 1, La Perla is at the heart of the city. If we talk about comfort, it touches perfection. It´s 44 rooms combine history and modern luxury like no other hotel in Spain. But if we talk about service, it is beyond. The team that works at La Perla is the best one in town. When you enter the building, you are not welcomed to the hotel, you are welcome home.

A hotel in Hemingway´s heart

This 5-star hotel was founded in 1881 and was fully restored in 2007. It is the second-oldest, still-standing hotel in Spain and is still run by the Moreno family. In fact, it is easy to find the actual owner, Mr. Rafael Moreno, talking with guests at the lobby. He is easy to identify. He is the perfect representation of a gentleman. Always dressed with a suit, his personal charm and his signature moustache stand out. His family have hosted illustrious personages at their hotel, including all of Spain’s royals; Hollywood directors and actors like Orson Welles, Woody Allen, Charlie Chaplin, and Charlie Sheen, and many movie stars from Spain. And of course, let’s not forget the incredible American writer, Ernest Hemingway.

The relationship between Mr. Hemingway and La Perla started when the writer arrived in town on July 6th 1923. Searching for inspiration for his next book, Ernest was looking for a hotel in the heart of the celebrations, and Pamplona´s main square (Plaza del Castillo) was—and still is—that place.

hotel la perla traveling steps

That first time in Pamplona blew Hemingway’s mind. The energy in the city, the joy in the locals, and especially the festival of San Fermín and its companion tradition of the Running of the Bulls moved him so much that he found the inspiration to write  his first book, The Sun Also Rises.

Although Ernest loved La Perla, the main characters in the book are hosted in a different hotel named El Quintana (in the novel it is called Hotel Montoya). We will never know why he did that. Some people say it was because he wished he could have afforded to pay the Quintana. At that time, it was the best hotel in town, where many bullfighters used to stay. Other people say that he knew that the novel was going to be a total success and he wanted to preserve his privacy in town.

What we do know is that Mr. Hemingway came to Pamplona nine times to celebrate the running of the bulls. He always booked  the same room in La Perla, room—217. It was not the best room of the hotel, but it is the one with the best views over the main street of the Running of the Bulls.

Even with the hotel’s restoration and renovation in 2007, room 217 (officially room 201 since the hotel revamp) retains its original decor from Hemingway’s time there. It’s available for booking, but you’ll pay a pretty penny (about $2100/night during San Fermín). Low and shoulder seasons provide more reasonable 5-star rates for a variety of room styles. So, whenever you come to Pamplona, if you want to be part of history and pamper yourself, nothing beats La Perla.