Review of an Authentic Hanok in Seoul: Yoo’s Family Guest House Byeolhadang

s I first wrote in this article back in October of 2014, if you are heading to Seoul and do not want to pay what seems to be a high cost when it comes to lodging, you could consider staying in a hostel or a no-name hotel where you have no idea what your experience will be like…

…or you can stay in a hanok, which is a traditional house in Korea — similar to a ryokan in Japan. I enjoyed staying at an authentic ryokan in the Asakusa district of Tokyo years ago; so I thought I would try staying at an authentic hanok in Seoul.

After conducting some research, I chose Yoo’s Family Guest House Byeolhadang. At that time, it had the best combination of everything for which I was searching — including location and price. It is located only a few blocks from two different subway stations serving three different Seoul Metropolitan Subway lines; and it is also located within walking distance of several palaces and shrines.

Yoo’s Family Guest House Byeolhadang is not located in the central area of the historic Bukchon Hanok Village; but rather several blocks east of it — and it is adjacent to some modern buildings, which was interesting to see the old and the new juxtaposed in the same line of sight.

I walked off of Yulgok-ro — a busy street — onto this little “street” of green and pink interlocking cinder blocks; and to my right was my destination. It was initially difficult to see if I had actually arrived at the right address at first glance.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Yep — this is the right place!

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

The room which was assigned to me is known as the Room of Love. I first removed my shoes and left them outside before I entered the room, which is customary in South Korea; and I always remove my shoes before I enter my home anyway, so this was natural to me.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

It is only one room; and guests sleep on a mat on the floor.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

The small bathroom — shared amongst the guests of all of the rooms — contained a toilet, a sink and a shower with no solid divider. As a result, the floor was constantly wet by the toilet from the shower; so unless you want wet feet, you must wear your shoes in the bathroom area. I did not take any photographs of the bathroom, as it was too small and too wet to bother. I personally did not like the bathroom.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

The room was equipped with an air conditioner near the ceiling, as partially shown in the above photograph; and there were items in the storage area on the wall for guests to use — such as a blow dryer for hair, for example.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

I was tired and the room was somewhat dark for additional photographs despite the lights; and I did not want to use the flash on my camera…

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

…so I decided to call it a night and resume taking pictures the next morning once I woke up.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

I was awakened by the light coming in through the entrance to the room, which was just fine with me.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

I slept well through the night, as the mat and linens were fairly comfortable; although not as comfortable as an actual bed — unless you prefer a really hard mattress.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

The room was equipped with an electric coffee pot.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Wi-Fi to access the Internet is available and included in the room rate; but I did not use it.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

I liked the wallpaper and some of the items which decorated the room.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

The “closet” of this room consisted of no more than a small wooden rack mounted on the wall with three wire hangers, as shown in the photograph below.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

I decided to walk across the small courtyard to get something to eat, as breakfast is included in the room rate.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Available for breakfast was two types of dry cereal, bread, and cups of dried noodles.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

There are no chairs in this combination kitchen and dining area. Rather, there are pads on the floor on which you can sit or kneel.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Letters of praise from guests — as well as foreign currency — hang on the wall around the combination kitchen and dining area. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

The flat-screen television in the kitchen was on, with a morning show pertaining to fashion — all in Korean. I eventually turned it off with the remote control which was on the table.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Wood block prints hang on the wall in the combination kitchen and dining area. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

In addition to the television and a toaster, the kitchen is equipped with a small refrigerator containing assorted fruit juices, water, milk and other items; a microwave oven; a sink; and a stovetop for cooking.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

You are expected to wash your own dishes and utensils after you have finished eating.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Can you guess the brand of these mango and orange juice boxes? Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

These are two dispensers, each containing a type of dry cereal. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Breakfast may be my least favorite meal; but I was just fine with the Korean cup of noodles and pineapple juice. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

I poured some hot water from an electric pot into a cup of noodles and had that for breakfast with a few boxes of juice. Because I used disposable chopsticks with which to eat my Korean soup from its cup, all I needed to do was dispose of the items — no washing dishes for me!

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

A washing machine is located right at the two wooden doors of the front entrance. The small office for hotel staff — family members, to be more precise — is located on the right out of view. The entrance to the kitchen and eating area is on the left. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Clothes and linens were drying in the small courtyard, which was quiet and peaceful.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

The entrance to the room assigned to me is on the left. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

This is the entrance to the Room of Love, which is the room that was assigned to me. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

It was interesting to see the modern architecture of a tall building from the courtyard of a traditional hanok.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

This is the lock to the door of the Room of Love. Yes, the screen of the door was torn at the edge; but there was a glass door which I closed as well. I was not bothered by any insects. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

This is the courtyard without the laundry drying in it. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

After I checked out of the hanok, I asked if I could leave my bag for several hours while I visited the palaces located nearby, which they replied affirmatively. I have to say that the staff at this hanok was friendly, welcoming, and very accommodating.

By the way, I intend to report on the palaces which I visited; as well as the Secret Garden. Until then and in the meantime, please refer to this article — which includes photographs — written by Seth Miller of Wandering Aramean, as he visited Seoul greater than a month after I was there.

Yoo’s Family Guest House Yeoreum Jip is a second hanok located nearby. Both locations have conference rooms available which can be rented out for meetings or other events. You can also participate in optional courses of the Korean cultural experience for added fees — such as experiencing a traditional Korean tea ceremony; folk drawing on a wood block print; cooking traditional Korean cuisine such as kimchi, buchimgae and bulgogi; or trying on traditional Korean clothing known as a hanbok. I did not participate in any of the optional offerings.

Based on my experience, if I had my choice between a stay in a hanok and a ryokan in Japan, I would have preferred the ryokan, where the bedding was still on the floor — but it was prepared for me; the room was larger; and the bedding was more comfortable overall. This is not meant to be a criticism against Yoo’s Family Guest House Byeolhadang, but rather a general observation. I suppose that different hanoks and ryokans can prove that statement false; but again, it is simply based on my experience.

I spent a total of $73.74 paid in advance through Expedia.com — including all taxes and fees — which roughly matches the room rate of 60,000 South Korean won for the room plus the fee of 20,000 won for the bedding per person.

If you find yourself in Seoul and want to stay in a traditional hanok for a change of pace instead of a typical hotel, I definitely recommend Yoo’s Family Guest House Byeolhadang.

Yoo’s Family Guest House Byeolhadang

110-10, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 110-350 South Korea
Telephone +82-2-3673-3266
Fax +82-2-3673-0320
Conveniently located within a few blocks near the following transit options:

  • Anguk Station bus stop, which is served by Airport Bus #6011 from Incheon International Airport; and also by Airport Bus #601 from Gimpo International Airport.
  • Anguk Station of the Seoul Metropolitan Subway, served by Line 3. Use Exit 4 from the station.
  • Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station of the Seoul Metropolitan Subway, served by Lines 1, 3 and 5. Use Exit 7 from the station.

All photographs ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

5 thoughts on “Review of an Authentic Hanok in Seoul: Yoo’s Family Guest House Byeolhadang”

  1. jim says:

    The bathrooms are all like that in Korea. Pretty annoying to use slippers. The worst is getting your underwear wet when taking a poo.

  2. juno says:

    Juices are from Del Monte. That was an interesting review… but I don’t know if i am man enough to stay in one of those places. I find my self and my family in ‘safer’ International chain hotels when traveling to foreign lands. Especially with a language barrier

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      They spoke English well enough at this hanok, juno. You would not have had a problem with communication here…

      …and that is one of the purposes of this review: to inform you of whether or not you should consider staying here. I obviously do not know you or your tastes; but in my opinion, you should at least consider trying it for one night.

  3. JEM says:

    Nice review. This is exactly the type of place I prefer to stay when traveling abroad. Family places aren’t always (usually aren’t) perfect or ‘luxurious’ but they are, in my experience, more fun, authentic, and sometimes safer than hostels or even chain hotels (where tourists can be high-value targets). Curious about the noise level, since it’s right in the middle of such large buildings.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That is funny that you mention the noise level, JEM. I did not even think about that because it was nice and quiet — even out in the courtyard…

      …and I agree with you about the authenticity of staying at places such as this one. Thank you.

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