< ITALY | NAPLES: Grand Hotel Parker's
Grand Hotel Parker’s history is very long. It began in 1865 when the hotel was farmstead owned by Prince Salvatore Grifeo. In the 1870s, Prince Salvatore Grifeo
had rented the farmstead to Guglielmo Tramontano, for conversion into a hotel and, around 1870, Tramontano had already started business, immediately imbuing the Hotel with a precise
identity, appreciated in particular by guests for its enchanting position and privacy, and above all as a “First Class” establishment able to provide all the latest comforts and amenities.
Naples continued to be one of the main stopping places on the international tourist trail. The city was visited by rich and famous travellers from all over the world who chose to stay in the most attractive places, such as Posillipo, the Riviera of Chiaia, Santa Lucia and Corso Vittorio Emanuele. The guidebooks of the period contained the names of many hotels that have now disappeared; under Hotels, the Bronner and Cipriani Commercial guidebook indicates, in 1880, the Tramontano at No.135 of Corso Vittorio Emanuele.
In the 1880’s the Tramontano decided to add “Beaurivage” to the name of the proprietor and referring obviously to the beach of Chiaia that could be admired from the front of the Hotel.
In 1872, work started on the new layout of Villa Reale and the Zoological Station, desired by the German scientist Anton Dohrn, was set up inside this. During his first visit to Naples,
Dohrn stayed at the Hotel Tramontano Beaurivage. He invited Hans von Marées to fresco the rooms of the Aquarium, creating what can only be described as a marine paradise for the observation
of the fauna of the Gulf of Naples and of the Mediterranean with 26 tanks containing more than 200 species.
In the same years, F. Marion Crawford, a famous writer of mystery and novels set mainly in Italy, stayed at the Tramontano Beaurivage when passing through Naples. Her books were printed and distributed all over the world by the publishers B.Tauchnitz of Leipzig, Germany. The Hotel still has a historical library including many of her novels. 1886 marked the arrival in Naples of a young marine biology researcher, George Parker Bidder, the son of a wealthy English family with a passion for literature, the hobby of writing poetry and an admirer of classical art. Bidder, sent by the University of Cambridge to Naples to the court of Anton Dohrn, stayed three months, lodging in an initial period in a boarding house managed by the English Protestant church. He was to return again in 1887 mainly for short periods, moving on Dohrn’s advice to the Tramontano Beaurivage, where he always occupied the most beautiful suite.
As already mentioned, apart from marine biology, one of George Parker’s main interests was literature, as amply confirmed by the volumes he purchased between 1886 and 1905 that are part of the above mentioned library. In the mid 1880s, the Hotel was extremely popular with English, French, American, Swiss, German and Scandinavian visitors who mingled with the Italian and Neapolitan guests that thronged the salons around the Hall and Bar where they sipped tea and tasted a speciality of the Chef, the almond soufflé. Coffee was obviously still the main beverage served to guests at the Library tables, together with another speciality of the Hotel, the Gateau Moka, made of biscuit pastry baked in the oven and covered with a coffee-flavoured butter cream when cold, all accompanied by an impeccable service. The Hotel was furnished in Liberty stile and, at the end of the eighties, was decorated with majolica ware and tile paintings adorned with romantic scenes, the work of Laino.
One morning in 1889, Mr. Brazil, accompanied by a bailiff who had come to confiscate the Hotel for the owner’s gambling debts, knocked on the door of Mr.Parker’s suite – it was about 10 o’clock and the scientist was as usual sleeping until late in the morning. Brazil knocked several times and Parker finally responded in an annoyed but courteous voice. Remaining outside the door with the bailiff, Brazil explained what was happening. At this point, without getting out of bed, Parker told the owner to put the Hotel on his bill. We heard this rather romantic story at the Naples Aquarium, where we were told that it was related some years before by Parker’s daughter to a scientist friend who worked in Naples at the aquarium.
From that day on, the Hotel was known as Hotel Parker’s – Tramontano and appeared with this name in the famous Baedeker’s guidebooks, that were extremely fashionable all over the continent. A frequent visitor to the Hotel was Lamont Young, a famous engineer who lived at the Parco Grifeo above, as his father (Giacomo) had bought a number lots from Prince Grifeo in 1869 and in 1873. He was an habitué of the Bar where he passed the time with his friends, mainly intellectuals and artists such as Vincenzo Caprile and Postiglione and later with Virginia Woolf and Oscar Wilde.
Lord Currie, the British Ambassador to Italy, the Princess of Sweden and Norway and the Grand Duchess Anastasia de Meklembourg Kannes also lodged at Parker’s. Together with the other large Neapolitan hotels, visits were also made by King Victor Emanuel II and Prince Amedeo of Savoy. These were the years in which many foreign magnates, in particular English, made offers to the City Council to invest in the new Chiaia quarter that was already becoming the “salon” of the city.
At the dawn of the new century, Naples had become a city not to be missed and Parker’s provided a vast range of exclusive amenities. With regard to this, a 1990 Scottish guidebook published by Murray reports the following regarding the Hotel: “Healthiest and beautiful situation; close to the railway stations for San Martino, (funicular) and Pozzuoli and Baiae; especially convenient for sightseeing. An English house. Recommended to English and American Visitors. Tariff and Electric Light in every room. Lift. Fixed charges, always including Baths in the Rooms, light and attendance.”
From 1990 to 1905, G. Parker continued to own the Hotel, visiting Naples in the Summer months. His director was J.J. Loeliger, a German Swiss who encouraged visitors from Germany, Switzerland and the countries of Northern Europe.
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