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Korea’s capital is a hub for culture, art and politics, from the opulent Gyeongbokgung Palace to the bustling shops of Myeongdong, this is a city well worth exploring. Do it on a budget by staying in one of Seoul’s best cheap hotels.
Small House Big Door is a trendy hotel in a quiet area of central Seoul, within walking distance of Myeongdong. It’s small, arty and design-led, with a minimalist, industrial-chic style. Although it’s not the cheapest option on this list, it’s still very affordable compared to Seoul’s bigger hotels, and it has an independent vibe, with lots of Korean character. It’s well located for exploring most areas of the city and has a hip little coffee shop attached.
The swanky neighbourhood of Gangnam – immortalised in the hit song – is known for elegance and exclusivity, and price tags to match. Stay Hotel is one of the cheaper hotels in the area, but it isn’t noticeably dialled-down in terms of design, service or location, and it’s a great example of the subtle elegance that Korean design does so well. The hotel is close to Gangnam station and the Express Bus Terminal, so you can travel around the city with ease.
The red-brick building of Hamilton Hotel is an Itaewon landmark – it’s also right by the metro station, making it easy for even the most directionally challenged traveller to find. The foreigner-friendly neighbourhood is known for its lively nightlife and international restaurants. Rooms are comfortable and modern, ranging from doubles to suites sleeping four. Take a dip in the rooftop pool or make use of the on-site gym. Hamilton Hotel is one of the more upscale options for budget travellers in Seoul, but boy do you get your money’s worth.
In the heart of Myeongdong shopping district, Tmark Hotel is a solid choice for an affordable hotel. What it lacks in glitz it makes up for in good service, an excellent location and spacious, comfortable rooms. The hotel has a roof deck with a great view over Myeongdong and Seoul, and a good breakfast buffet as an optional extra. There’s a free shuttle bus, too, that runs directly from the hotel to Seoul station.
Head to Bukchon Yujung, right next to Bukchon Hanok Village in Jongno-gu, for something a little different. More of a guesthouse than a hotel, it offers two-bedroom apartments and double rooms in old-school Korean style – expect sliding wood panels, elegant screens and floor futons. Underfloor heating provides comfort in the winter, and there’s a shared kitchen for guests to use, making this one of the city’s most homely places to stay.
Lee Kang Ga Guesthouse is in Mapo-gu, a 15-minute walk from Hongik University station and lively Hongdae. Its beautifully designed rooms merge traditional Korean style with modern elegance, making for a quiet retreat from Seoul’s hustle and bustle. All the rooms come with a kitchenette, and some also have a balcony. There’s a spacious rooftop garden, and a hanbok rental service. Breakfast is included and, unusually for Seoul accommodation, is both delicious and different every day.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Phoebe Taylor.