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Why ‘Istay’ in love with culture-rich Korea

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Why ‘Istay’ in love with culture-rich Korea

/ 05:19 AM August 12, 2017

Tourists can go back in time and dress up in Hanbok, South Korea’s traditional attire, at the Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Tourists are now just a click away to finding the perfect accommodation for trips abroad. The online booking market has been competitive with hotel websites keeping up with booking sites such as Agoda, Tripadvisor, Booking.com and shared economy service such as Airbnb.

While hotels provide top-notch service, hostels and houses for rent offer a homey feel and a local life experience.

Rates of a certain accommodation usually vary on every site, giving tourists an option to get the best lodging deal that would meet the nature of their trip.

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Meanwhile, tourists on a budget need not look far from Seoul as there are many cozy, cheap and accessible hostels in the capital.

Since Korea has an efficient mass transit system, it is best to look for an accommodation that is just a stone’s throw away from the subway station.

In a five-day autumn trip to Korea last year, my mother and I found the perfect hostel—Istay hostel on Tojeong-ro Street.

At night, you can catch the LED Rose Garden at the Dongdaenum Design Plaza. Created in 2015, it has 25,550 roses equivalent to the number of days Korea has enjoyed independence since 1945.

A room for two at Istay hostel, according to its website, costs KRW 60,000 (P2,820) a night. It was not the cheapest deal. But there was an offer of a discounted rate when one books directly to the owner, and not through third-party booking sites. So I did, and the rate for a “twin room” went down to just KRW 40,000 (P1,880) a night. It was a steal.

To get to the hostel from the Incheon Airport, take the Airport Railroad Express (AREX) to Gongdeok Station. From there, transfer to subway line 6 and get off at Gwangheungchang station and take exit 4. The hostel was just a block away from exit 4, so getting to tourist sites in your itinerary would be fast and easy.

Restaurants, bakeries, a grocery store line the hostel’s street as well as the adjacent streets if ever you suddenly feel hungry at night after a long day of traveling around.

The main door of the hostel was password protected to ensure the guests’s safety. The twin room we got had ample space for two people. It looked like a typical cozy room of two siblings, with a shared shower room.

This café in Heyri Art Village features floor-to-ceiling bookshelves—an eye candy for book lovers.

Mornings in the hostel were just as homey as breakfast food, such as bread, egg, jam and coffee, was ready in the common area’s dining table. You have, of course, to make your own plate and clean up after yourself (read: wash your dishes) as you do in your own home.

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The hostel also boasts of a “shared community space” on the building’s rooftop and basement. Guests can get together in an unlimited Korean barbeque party at KRW 12,000 (P564) per person from 6 to 10 p.m. on the rooftop, or stay in at the basement, where they can work or take a rest.

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TAGS: Business, property, South Korea
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