Tome travel: holidays inspired by classic books

Unburdened by boring things like office jobs and school holidays, the literary greats often travelled prolifically, which made their writing of distant lands all the more evocative – and all the more enticing. Take your travel cue from these literary hot spots

Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Côte d’Azur, France

Fitzgerald was the first person to label France’s Riviera a playground, his tale of an eternal summer and an endless party set against the alluring backdrop of a sparkling Med, bronzing bright young things and the sun-kissed glamour of newly “discovered” Cannes and Cap d’Antibes. The Côte d’Azur quickly become synonymous with the golden age of travel and Hollywood alike, and it hasn’t lost any of its sparkle since. To hit the Riviera in true Dick Diver style, you’ll need a soft top to go tearing past Provence’s vineyards and lavender fields, yacht access for coastal jaunts and honing an extra-impressive tan, a smart sundress or two, and a good appetite for Champagne and joie de vivre. Fly into Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport and whizz along the coast to Cap d’Antibe’s Plage de La Garoupe, the beautiful beach immortalised in the novel, for a holiday of exquisite surrounds, fine dining and south of France sunshine.

Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel


Laura Esquivel’s sensational Como Agua para Chocolate doesn’t just transport you to the heart of rural Mexico, but right into its very stomach. While romance, revolution and ranch life are key, food is at the novel’s core, each chapter led as it is with a traditional recipe. From chili and mole to cream fritters and rose petal sauces, heroine Tita’s enchanted recipes have the power to induce tears, amorousness and a serious hankering to get on the next flight to Mexico. Although the novel’s ranch sits pretty in the north of the country, the true Como Agua experience is more about gastronomy than geography, so follow your stomach to a proper Mexican cookery class. Flying into Cancun, Puerto Morelos’ Little Mexican Cooking School is a particular favourite – half educational, half edible, and wholly authentic, there are seven menu options, one from each region – or, for something a little luxe, the Ritz-Carlton offers in-house classes.

A Room with a View, E M Forster

Florence, Italy

“One doesn’t come to Italy for niceness,” wrote Forster in his classic coming of age novel, “one comes for life.” And indeed, his heroine Lucy Honeychurch returns from her Italian grand tour a new woman, so there must be something in it. The action occurs in and around Florence, impressions from that famous well-appointed window of “beautiful hills and trees and marble churches and [the river] Arno, gurgling against the embankment” disturbed by violent passion – which, frankly, all sounds rather fun. Come for your own Italian romance amidst imposing piazzas, Renaissance art and architecture (it is, after all, home to Michelangelo’s David), aperitivo hour, al fresco dining and, of course, a whole host of stirring views. It could just be a life changer.

The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

Pamplona, Spain

The fiesta: bull fights, late nights and strong drinks in shady squares and shadier bars; heat and dust and music and lust; spectacle, celebration and complete and utter chaos; the noble matador, the blazing flamenco dancer and the self-exiled American writer exultant in their midst. Hemingway wrote the world, but no country did he capture better than Spain – particularly his beloved Pamplona, to which The Sun Also Rises is, at its heart, a love letter. Like protagonist Jake, Hemingway made an annual pilgrimage to witness the sacred running of the bulls and immerse himself in the San Fermín fiesta, still a truly thrilling experience today. With trains and buses running regularly from Madrid and Barcelona, or internal flights into Pamplona and plenty of accommodation in the thick of it, your Hemingway holiday is as accessible as your next tapa.

You Only Live Twice, Ian Fleming


If you’re less about classic lit and more of a high-octane action kind of reader, it’s undeniable that no one does far-flung adventure travel better than Bond – and You Only Live Twice paints a thrilling, tantalising picture of Japan. His Tokyo is as fast-paced and exciting as you’d expect: speeding cars, dark corners, bright lights, beautiful women and plenty of sake. But if you want a break from the fast and the furious, try taking travel tips from the amnesiac Bond who starts a new life in a sleepy Japanese fishing village. Although not named in the novel, the traditional fishing village of Tomonoura is a good choice. An unspoilt, olde-worlde village near Fukuyama city – which also inspired Hayao Miyazaki’s film Ponyo – its noble temples, splendid views and slow, serene atmosphere are the perfect antidote to the buzz of Bond and Japan’s big cities.

Suitably inspired? Next, find your flights and accommodation, then check out our experiences and activities for your destination.

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