Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Guesthouse Korea – Seoul, South Korea


After breakfast, I headed towards the rooftop of Guesthouse Korea to watch my first ever sunrise in Seoul. It was half past seven in the morning and the chilly weather greeted me as I opened the door leading to the top deck. It felt refreshing, at first, but after one minute under the harsh weather, my fingers started to feel numb. I realized that I was only wearing a fleece jacket. I hurriedly went back to my room, glued my feet on the heated flooring and planned my battle gear for the day. I was traveling solo and my room witnessed my feats and defeats in conquering winter, a first for me.

It was the last week of January when I traveled to Seoul for my first ever solo trip abroad, it was wintertime. I prepped up for two weeks prior my visit which includes securing my Korean Tourist Visa in the Philippines. I also took note of some guides for first-time travelers in Seoul that I found online. And when it came to deciding where to stay, I narrowed it down on two criteria; good location and low-cost private room.

Guesthouse In Korea
My quiet neighborhood during Seollal (Korean New Year)
I was skimming through different hotel booking sites and found out that there are hundreds of hotels in Seoul, both luxury and inexpensive ones. The deciding point for me was the location (check here for discounted tours, transportation and activities in Seoul).

Centrally located in the heart of Seoul’s CBD area, Guesthouse Korea is just minutes away by foot from the royal palaces and other famous landmarks in Seoul. The place is very accessible to all types of public transportations including Seoul Metro, public buses and Airport Bus Limousine. The friendly neighborhood also offers a wide variety of dining choices and shop houses.

Seoul Metro Subway
Jongno 3 (sam)-ga exit number 7
Arriving at Incheon International Airport, I took the AREX Express Train that brought me directly to Seoul Station in 43 minutes. I then transferred to Seoul Metro and then took the Subway Line#1 which was just three stations away from Jongno 3 (sam)-ga, the station near Guesthouse Korea.

My first taste of sub-zero temperature was when I emerged from the exit stairs of Seoul Metro Subway. I was preparing myself to the frozen environment as I was tugging my luggage up the stairwell. I hurriedly searched for my beanie and gloves then wore it as I treaded along the eerily quiet street.

Seoul Metro Subway
My first real taste of sub-zero weather
My trip coincided with Seollal New Year, the most celebrated festival in the whole of South Korea. The four-day holiday observes the first few days of the Korean lunar calendar. With this, families usually go back to their hometowns to be with their families leaving the city of Seoul deserted.

I walked into the brick path leading to my guesthouse which was cleared from the slippery snow as everything was bunched up to the side. It was quiet, aside from two stores that were open, all the shops and commercial establishments were closed during that time. My unhurried walk (with the help of my GPS locator) led me to Guesthouse Korea.

Seoul Seollal Festival
The first day of Seollal Holiday coincided with the first day of my trip
I opened the glass door and found a lounge area with books piled under a flat screen TV on the right side. There’s also a fridge that’s obviously for in-house guests use. A fully functional kitchen with complimentary coffee and tea were on another side together with a business center for your internet needs. I was greeted by a gracious gentleman and assisted me with my luggage.

Guesthouse In Korea
Guesthouse Korea
Guesthouse In Korea
There's a business center, kitchenette and lounge area
Guesthouse In Korea
A fridge is available for guests' use
The corridor leading to the reception area was filled with photos and other knick-knacks from former guests. The guy (which I failed to get the name) processed my booking swiftly then immediately ushered me to my room.

Guesthouse In Korea
Mementos from former guests
There are dormitory and private room types that cater to all guests (check discounted rates here). I could’ve stayed in a dorm-type room to save a bit but chose to have my personal space as I’m the type who loves to scatter my stuff around. So to save others the bother, I booked for N-Type Single Room for KRW42,000 per night (US$37.03).

I opened the door to my room and was glad to have my own space. The room had all the basic amenities I needed for a comfortable winter stay; double-sized bed with duvet and fluffy pillows, mini fridge, AC (which I didn’t get to use, of course), TV with local and international channels, table, power plug extension cord and a hair dryer. The floor was also heated which was such a comfort.

There was also a private toilet and bath with hot and cold shower, and bathroom amenities such as, shower gel, shampoo, and liquid soap.

Guesthouse In Korea
N-type Single Room
Guesthouse In Korea
Bathroom amenities are also available at the private toilet and bath
I slumped into my bed and heaved a sigh of relief. Finally, I was comfortably tucked in my own space, away from the harsh condition outside. I opened the small sliding window just above my bed only to realize that there was another window which I also opened and felt the biting weather outside. I quickly shut it and molded myself back to bed.

After an hour of rest and acclimating, I went outside and battled my first stroll in the snowy Seoul. It was not until ten in the evening when I came back to the guesthouse. The walk from the subway station was creepily quiet but there was no feeling of threat or whatsoever, it felt totally safe. There is no curfew at Guesthouse Korea but you have to take note of the security code of the main door for you to enter after midnight.

Seoul Seollal Festival
Some of the royal palaces are just meters away from Guesthouse Korea
Free breakfast is served daily from eight to ten in the morning. I enjoyed toasts, butter, jam, coffee and tea at the kitchenette. You may also opt to prepare your own meals as cooking utensils are readily available. All guests are also entitled to free laundry located at the third level, free WiFi connection, and rooftop use. I tried lounging at the rooftop but only managed to stay there for five minutes because of the chilly weather. The staff could help you as well with tour bookings and other activities around Seoul. They also have luggage storage for free up to two weeks, beyond that, they will ask for a minimal fee for it.

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What I love about staying in guesthouses is that there’s this certain communal feel to it that you won’t get to experience if you’re staying in a hotel. You become friends with other guests and exchange travel stories from around the world. The caretakers, who are usually locals, can also help you acquaint yourself with local culture and norms. Guesthouse Korea definitely makes sure that their place caters to a healthy mix of locals and international community. For a solo traveler like me, it was just the perfect place.


155-1 Kwonnong-Dong, Jongno-Gu,
Seoul, Republic of Korea
Contact Number: (+82) 2.3675.2205 | (+82)70.4228.6863
Email Address: webmaster@guesthouseinkorea.com





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