Rodrigo Viera is in charge of the Favex Hostel, and he gave us some time to talk about what makes it the best place to stay in Rio. Originally from Uruguay, “Rodri” has spent ten years in southern Brazil, so we also asked him what are the best places to see in Rio de Janeiro.
What does the Favex Hostel offer that's special?
The most special things about the hostel to me are the moments that we've shared here, the people who pass through here as guests, and all of the connections and discoveries made during the last two years. To me it has represented a growth in understanding and in community that has extended around the world. It's also special that ours' is a social business that aims to work for the common good, that seeks to improve the social and economic status of those living in the favelas.
What makes us special solely as a hostel is that we can really help guests to plan their activities since we know Rio very well and have lots of contacts throughout the city, including among those involved in social projects, so whatever the interests of our guests we can probably connect them with really interesting people and events.
What are you favorite places in Vidigal?
I particularly like the terrace of the hostel; the view is simply incredible and it's a place that gives me energy and makes me dream. Also I like Vidigal Beach, it's very different to the other beaches in southern Rio – the people who come there are from the community so you'll see a lot of families, neighbors, and children playing together. It has a local feel with few tourists and almost no people trying to sell things: it's a beach that you can visit and really relax.
The summit of the mountain of Dois Irmãos that rises behind Vidigal is also one of my favorites: from there you can see all of Rio and look across at the other mountains, it's incredible (learn more about it here).
And what about elsewhere in Rio?
I like Santa Teresa where I lived - it's a well-located neighborhood that's very leafy but has a lot of culture as well. I also like Prainha Beach in the west of Rio that's a great place to go to rest – it is surrounded by green mountains and is very peaceful.
Also I like the famous Pedra do Sal, a center of nightlife that's a great place to go with friends and to meet new people. It has a special energy and is also a good place to go to learn about the Afro-Brazilian history of Rio, because that was where Afro-Brazilians worked for many years and also where the roots of samba music are.
How is the security situation in Vidigal?
I've lived here for nearly two and a half years, and in that time I've never encountered any problem. You can go where you like and you don't encounter people giving you bad looks – on the contrary – this is a place where people generally smile at each other and are welcoming to foreigners. The sense of community here is very special, people share what little they have with each other, and it's open as well: there are lots of foreigners living here and are accustomed to hearing foreign voices and other languages.
How did you come to work at Favex?
Back in 2014 I was working in a social program helping children in a favela close to Santa Teresa near the center of Rio. I knew Adam (Newman) who was also living in the area and who had been connected to Favela Experience by its founder Elliott, and so together we agreed to develop the hostel: Adam knows the world of business, another friend Facundo had great experience in tourism and hostels, and I, as an engineer, take care of the development of the property.
As a team we work very well, not just professionally but socially as well, and that is reflected in the atmosphere of the hostel, it's a friendly place, and given our shared experiences in the city we don't just provide a bed, we immerse you in the culture of Rio.