My life in travel: Roman Coppola

‘Japan is intoxicating. It’s the travel experience that has moved me most’

First holiday memory?

So many of my early holidays were connected with my father’s work [the director, Francis Ford Coppola], so it was rare that we’d actually have a holiday in the traditional sense. Something that really stands out, though, is a family trip to Tokyo and Kyoto for Christmas in 1979. It was enthralling to be in such a different culture.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I’m most familiar with London. It doesn’t sound very enlightened, but I enjoy strolling around Jermyn Street. There are a couple of clothes shops – Tricker’s and Turnbull & Asser – that I like popping into. The Design Museum is a really cool place too and The Ivy is good for food. There’s a great Allen Jones painting in the restaurant I like looking at.

Best holiday?

Recently, I was in Bernalda, my dad’s ancestral home town in Italy. He has just refurbished a palazzo and turned it into a hotel, so we had my sister’s wedding there. It was beautiful.

What have you learnt from your travels?

The more you travel, the better you get at it. It sounds silly, but with experience you learn how to pack the right way. I remember one of my first trips abroad, travelling around Europe by rail, fresh out of high school. I brought all these books with me and a paint set. I really had too much stuff, so I’ve learnt to be more economical.

Ideal travelling companion?

My girlfriend and my little daughter. I own this old bus from the 1940s, that’s sort of like an RV. Recently, we drove to Redwood National Park in northern California and did a classic camping trip, which was really fun. We’ve also stayed at the San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, where JFK and Jackie had their honeymoon.

Greatest travel luxury?

A pair of slippers and a massage at the hotel. It’s a nice indulgence when you’re travelling.

Holiday reading?

I’ve been very busy recently, so I haven’t had the pleasure of reading good a book, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m travelling to Belize for New Year, so I’ve bought A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain in anticipation.

Where has seduced you?

Japan is the most intoxicating place for me. In Kyoto, there’s an inn called the Tawaraya which is quite extraordinary. The Japanese culture fascinates me: the food, the dress, the manners and the traditions. It’s the travel experience that has moved me the most.

Worst travel experience?

A place I stayed in Capri, which is, of course, an incredibly beautiful place. I arrived late at night and hiked up a hill to reach it, expecting to find this quaint little inn overlooking the sea. But  it was like someone’s garage, with the most  uncomfortable bed.

Best hotel?

When I’m in London, Claridge’s is a great favourite. I’m a big fan of Art Deco architecture and the rooms are extraordinary.

Favourite walk?

Near my home in the Napa Valley, California. It’s a beautiful place to walk with family, especially in autumn or early spring when the weather is perfect.

Best meal abroad?

I’m a big fan of a restaurant called Le 21 on Rue Mazarine in Paris. I hate to give away my secret tips, because it’s going to spoil things for me, but it’s a wonderful, very intimate seafood restaurant run by the chef Paul Minchelli.

Favourite city?

Tokyo, for the excitement of being there, but I’m relocating to San Francisco, so that’s the city I have the deepest affection for. On Sundays, I like going to the bandstand in Golden Gate Park, riding my bike around or going to the Exploratorium science museum. Even just jumping on the cable cars – as touristy as it is – is a blast.

Where next?

Belize for New Year’s Eve, then New York in January to promote my new film, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, with Charlie Sheen and Bill Murray.


The film director Roman Coppola collaborated with Intel and W Hotels on the 'Four Stories' project to discover rising film-making talent. To view the short films, visit:

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