One of the questions I am most frequently asked is, “Where is a good place to stay when visiting Seoul?” Since I live just south of the city and often commute for business, I have a hard time answering that question. Therefore to better serve my readers and viewers, Jo and I have decided to make it a point to stay overnight in Seoul and document our accommodations. In addition, we’ll be reviewing more places around Korea, so stay tuned for future updates.
For this trip we headed out to Sinchon on Seoul’s northeast side. It’s an area popular with college students and the expat crowd due to its proximity to both Yonsei and Honggik Universities. Our choice for accommodation: The Alpha Guesthouse. They were kind enough to provide a complementary room during our stay and this is what we found.
The guesthouses are located a short distance away from Sinchon station (line 2). It takes no more than five minutes walking from the station to arrive at the Alpha office, so if you’re coming to Korea with a lot of baggage, it’s easy enough to navigate on your own. Those with backpacks will fare better than if you’re traveling with large rolling suitcases.
Looking at the above map, one can see that finding the facilities is quite easy; however, if you’re reading the directions off the web page, you might get a little confused. The best advice I can give you is head toward the Hyundai building away from Exit 6 and 7. In no time you’ll be at the light, cross the street and be at the office.
What makes Alpha unique is that it is not a single property. Rather than a cookie cutter building, the Alpha Guesthouse is really a set of five renovated homes. This means they are quite different from what one would normally expect to find. Each is different and has their own unique charm. Since these are converted homes, the one thing they do not have is private bathrooms. This really isn’t a problem for those accustomed to staying in jjimjilbangs or hostel dormitories, but those desiring a private toilet will need to look else where. With the Alpha Guesthouse, you’ll find very clean rooms varying in size. They offer several sleeping options ranging in size from 8 person dormitories to small private rooms for two people. Some privates have double beds while others only have bunks. On our stay, Jo and I shared a 6-person dormitory, but had it to ourselves.
In each room you’ll find a coat rack and locker unit. This is great for those traveling, since it means you can keep a lot of your stuff off the floor. With each bed, you’ll receive a bottom quilt, pillow, and top sheet. Our room also had a desk and air con. Since this is an older Korean home, the ondol was on and provided a good amount of heat. However, with the rain outside during our stay, we were a little chilled and opted to take the extra quilts from neighboring beds to make sure we were warm enough. By morning, both Jo and I had ditched them.
The common area boasted a full kitchen and refrigerator for us to use. However, Alpha Guesthouse does not provide a complementary breakfast. This means that you’ll need to grab some food from a neighboring market the night before. It is a shame that with all the hot water kettles and coffee cups around, there isn’t a jar of Maxim available. I suppose by not having these it allows the rates to be lower, which is greatly appreciated. Each Guesthouse also comes with a community table, computer with internet, free wi-fi, and a television. In the bathroom you’ll also find a hairdryer. Those needing laundry facilities will be able to complete that here as well for a nominal fee.
Normally when one ventures into Seoul for a night out or a weekend trip, the choices of budget accommodations will usually be limited to a jjimjilbang or love motel. The former will usually cost 10,000원 while a motel may cost in excess of 50,000원. This makes Alpha’s 17,000원 price for a bunk in a dormitory very attractive. If you’re looking to have a private room, that’s only 35,000원. There might not be a lot of bells and whistles, but what you will find is a great place to stay.