Running a hostel in a city where tourism is the most important economic factor, means you have to be very special to be on top. The Yellow in Rome is one of those hostels; they won the Hoscar from hostelworld.com for best hostel in Rome.
After a tiring day of sight-seeing, the Yellow offers you a good night out. The evening starts with beer pong, an easy American drinking game with a ping-pong ball and a lot of beer. Then, when you have met your new friends-for-life from all over the world, the party can begin. While dancing to the latest hits in the small, arched cellar with some simple disco lights, it’s proved again that the best ingredient for a party is not the venue but the atmosphere. At the Yellow everyone is very friendly, open-minded and nice. The crowd changes every day, but always consists of backpackers, study-abroad students and cityhoppers. They party like there’s no tomorrow; tomorrow they are in another European city.
“The DJs like to come here; the crowd is always enthusiastic because itâ€™s their holiday,” says Fabio Coppola, one of the founders of the hostel. He and his brother Marco started The Yellow in 1999. “Every night we have another DJ, who is found by our artistic director. He decides which locals can come in, so The Yellow is not a cover for a club. In this way it stays more intimate for the travellers.”
Italian culture is everywhere in Rome
But party and atmosphere are not the only paths to success. “You have to find a niche, a specialization,” Fabio explains. “We are a young, American-oriented party hostel. The age limit for the dorm rooms is 40. You can stay if you are older, but you get a private room. We have hamburgers and salads on our menu, not Italian food. If you want to taste the romantic Roman culture and food, you can find it everywhere in Rome. But if you want to party and play beer pong, you can stay here. We organise American theme parties, like Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas and New Years. Besides that we have our own theme parties, like my birthday on the second of November and the birthday of the Yellow on the first of May.”
It was never intended to be our life business
Marco and Fabio started the hostel when they were only 18 and 16 years old. “Our father bought an apartment and we made a bed and breakfast with 25 beds, to pay our study,” says Marco, while sipping his Italian espresso. “It was a fun way to meet new people. I just finished high school, Fabio was still in high school. We didn’t feel like it was a real business when it started; it was never intended to be our life business. Our plan was to go studying, graduate and do different stuff. But with time, it got more and more involved in our lives.” Now the hostel counts 220 beds and 25 people working for Marco and Fabio. “After the renovation in 2005 we realised it was no longer a game, but a real business.”
“I think you have to be a traveller to run a hostel,” Fabio explains. “I travelled all over Europe on my own, to see other hostels so we could improve The Yellow.”
“We travelled together once…,” Marco says with a smile. “It was a great experience, but we will not do that anymore, haha! We already run the hostel together, so it’s better to have our own space when we are on holiday. I prefer the United States, Fabio prefers Europe and Asia.”
Life’s top five
On the walls of the hostel you find a lot of movie posters, from classic Italian movies to new Hollywood productions. “I think there is a top five in life: travel, music, movies, people and love,” Fabio says. “You can find all of them here in the Yellow. In fact, the only thing we miss is the TV room. We are now renovating the second floor where we can have this room with a lot of couches where guests can sit down and see good movies. The only concern is that people don’t see Rome, but watch movies all the time.”
“But that’s part of the hostel experience,” Marco interrupts. “If you only want to see the city and sleep, you go to a hotel.”
The Yellow experience comes with locals, a well established niche, travelers as staff and a passion for traveling, people, love, music and movies. Marco and Fabio look happy, full of new ideas, passionate but also serious. Although they have been here for more than 14 years, you can still see the fun they have in running the hostel. This is the secret ingredient for having the best hostel of Rome.