If it’s true that first impressions tend to last, my idea of Seoul would be one of futuristic looking cityscapes, locals adorned with modern accessories and an efficiency that only well planned contemporary cities manage to achieve.
That is one of the obvious sides of Seoul, no doubt about that. But there is more to the Korean capital than high rises, crowded shopping areas and suited men drinking late at night near their office towers. It was searching for those traditional vibes that Seoul can still offer, that we ended up booking ourselves at Raon Guesthouse for a hanok stay.
Hanoks are traditional Korean houses. In Seoul, visitors who’d like to marvel at how beautiful and serene these constructions are, tend to head to Bukchon Hanok Village. When you’re inside this village it’s easy to forget that you’re in the middle of Seoul. This is what Seoul used to be.
Sandwiched between Bukchon and Gyeongbok Palace, Raon has an ideal location to experience both the architecture of this hanok dotted neighborhood, while easily hopping elsewhere in the city. Bus and metro stops are less than 10 minutes away on foot.
At Raon, just like you would do at any authentic hanok, you sleep on a thin mattress on the floor. Even during winter, you’re always comfortable as the wood is warmed with ondol, the floor heating system powered by hot stones that Koreans pioneered.
This guesthouse offers single, double and family rooms.
The bathrooms are shared, but we found them to always be impeccable when it came to cleanliness. The same applied to the kitchen area, even though I’d be surprised if anyone actually decided to cook, considering the sheer amount of great food you can find around here at fair prices.
While this guesthouse does not serve breakfast, you’ll find complimentary freshly brewed coffee and tea to start your morning with. Right outside Raon’s gate, it only takes a few minutes of walking down the lovely streets of the neighborhood to come across one-off cafes (thankfully there are no chains around here!) and eateries serving both local and foreign foods. These are the kind of establishments the Instagram crowd tends to love.
The atmosphere at Raon is a mix of guesthouse and hostel. While most hanoks in Seoul operate as boutique hotels, Raon has the particularity of being run by a traveler, Ryu, who is keen on socializing with guests. This is where the true hospitality of Raon Guesthouse shines through, in a somehow informal and familiar style. The common areas that include a living room and terrace with a hammock invite travelers to mingle with each other too.
If you’re looking for a welcoming hanok with fair prices to enrich your Seoul experience, look no further than Raon Guesthouse. Kindly leave your shoes outside the door, and make yourself at home.
Raon Guesthouse in Seoul
Rooms start at aprox. USD30 per night.