posted by Colm Hanratty | 0 Comments
Meet Luca Coda, owner of the award-winning Hostel of the Sun in Naples. I was lucky enough to have stayed in Hostel of the Sun six years ago on a trip to Naples. While I meet Luca every year at Hoscars, the biggest hostel awards of the year, reading this makes me think I need to get back to Naples and his hostel sooner rather than later.
Read on to find out what his favourite bar is in Naples and more...
1. When did your hostel first open?
The hostel opened about eleven years ago, but was much smaller than it is now. We had just four rooms at the start on one level, I can’t imagine what it would be like to go back now to how it was then.
2. What can guests expect from a stay there?
To feel welcome. To feel at home and comfortable. To know that they’re getting the most out of their time in Naples and that we really do care that they have a good time while they’re with us in the city!
3. Describe your role to us.
Our hostel is medium-sized, but close-knit. There’s a tight team of us that work at the front desk and we’re all the best of friends. We share a lot of the roles between us, but basically our aim is to make sure that people are happy, calm, relaxed and satisfied. Everything I do, and that we do as a team, is with the aim of making every single person that comes through our front door receives an equally honest welcome. Having opened our hotel-quality private rooms a few years ago, our clientele changed, and having a clean, organised space became even more important than before. We aim to provide a service and atmosphere that fits every type of guests' needs.
4. How did you end up in this line of work? Had you backpacked/ travelled before?
A friend of mine and I decided at 18 that it was about time we went on holiday. Being 18 and Italian, we hadn’t spent much time fending for ourselves and therefore left home with grand plans about how to spend our money, which turned out to be an awful lot less than we would eventually need to do go from East Coast to West Coast in the USA. Cutting a very long story short, I ended up maxing out my Dad’s credit card after losing all my bags on the Greyhound buses, which we were forced to travel on after getting our hire car towed in downtown New York...
As you can probably tell, my travel experiences (and there are many others like this) did not exactly set me up to open a run a successful hostel. I think, instead, that it was my passion for my city above all that helped me make the decision to host travellers here on my home turf. This - a love of meeting people and telling stories...and a whole lot of patience!
5.What do you think is the key to running a successful hostel?
Liking people - you have to like people. You can’t expect to open a hostel and not be surrounded by people all the time, even when you don’t want them there.
6. What’s the strangest/funniest thing that you’ve encountered with one of your guests?
Wow, where to start. I could write a book about the strange things that have happened since we opened, but one that comes to mind now is the story of the bomb. Anybody that knows Naples well will know that, in true southern italian style, the Metro here has been under construction for the past 30 years. During some excavations that were going on near the hostel, they found a bomb that had been there since the end of the second World War. The whole street had to be evacuated, including 70 guests from the hostel in the middle of the night! We laugh about it now, but finding somewhere for everybody to sleep that night was not easy!!
7. What’s your favourite bar in Naples?
I like a bar called Perditempo. It’s on Via San Pietro a Maiella in the Old Town area of Naples. It’s tiny, but this is half the fun. The DJ is crazy, either topless or wearing a leather gilet and playing some crazy music from 11pm til late. Drinks are cheap and the tiny bar doubles up as a book shop. Added bonus: one of this city’s best fried food joints is right next door, and they serve up delicious cones of friend prawns or calamari until 4am - the perfect end to any night!
8. Same as above only restaurants?
Now this depends a bit on your budget. Naples has a massive range of choice, from pretty expensive to the cheap but very cheerful fried streetfood or a pizza ‘portafoglio’. My favourite restaurant serving up cheap, traditional pasta dishes and a typical Neapolitan welcome I would try a place called Nennella in the Spanish Quarter. Words cannot describe this place adequately... There's also a great seafood restaurant next to the Castel Dell'Ovo on the seaside called Trattoria Castel Dell'Ovo which serves up some of the best Spaghetti alle Vongole in the city, without the seaside price tag.
Instead, if you're looking for a 'Vera Pizza Napoletana', I would say 'Gino Sorbillo' in the Old Town and 'Starita' in the area Materdei.
If you've got a bit more money to spend, I would check out 'Mattozzi' or 'Da Dora' in the Chiaia area of the city.
9. What’s your ‘top insider tip’ for your city?
Naples has over 2,000 years of history, so there's plenty of stuff to see in terms of churches, monuments and museums. But for me, Naples is special because it's one of the few cities in Italy that still feels 'genuine'. True, sometimes it's dirty, but this is part of its charm. Arriving in Naples is like going back in time, to how the whole of Italy used to be before the tourists took over.
10. What’s the favourite part of your job?
I probably would have had a nervous breakdown many years ago if it wasn't for the amazing people that walk through our door every day. Not a day goes by without us all falling around laughing about something or someone! That's what I love about my job.
To find out more about Hostel of the Sun on their page.
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