Love Motels – How to travel on the cheap in Korea

Traveling can get expensive, and so can living in Korea if you are living in a rural area. For us to go to Seoul is a two-hour bus ride, and then a possible 30-40 minute subway ride to get to the area in Seoul we want to be. Your Saturday becomes very short once you spend 5 hours just on traveling to and thro. This is where the lifesaving love motel comes in. I like sleeping fancy just as much as the next person, but I would also prefer having more money to spend on coffee, wine, and pizza rather than on sleeping.

  1. What is a love motel?

Not so long ago it was illegal in Korea to have a love affair when you are married. Due to this, couples who were having affairs had to find somewhere ‘safe’ to get it on. In comes the Love Motel. These motels/hotels are cheap and situated in discreet areas. The neon signs will clearly indicate to you that you are in the district of love. The entrance to the parking is covered with frilly flaps to hide the cars inside (it’s all very hush-hush).

        2. How does it work?

Many Love Motels are still trying to keep true to the secrecy tradition, even though having an affair is no longer illegal. Depending on this you might never see the person working at the desk.  When you go inside you will find a small lobby with a desk. This might be a regular counter like at a hotel, or it might be a one-way glass thing where you stare back at yourself and somebody is watching you from the other side.  Usually, there will be nobody at the desk and you will ring a bell for service. You will interchange the info, which is no info at all – no names, credit cards, phone numbers etc. Total anonymity.  You will say one room, they will name a price, money and keys will be exchanged and you will have to see yourself to your room.

       3. Is it clean?

YES! The bedding at love motel is a crisp white, and you can smell that it’s been washed in boiling bleach water. The bathrooms are standard Korean style, either a detachable shower head with no separate shower or the bath/shower combo. You will find shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion. You will get sealed toothbrushed, lube and a condom.

          4. Is it tacky?

Sooooo tacky. The typical fake antique furniture, a lot of gold and glittery parts all over the room and most likely the most hideous wallpaper you’ve ever seen. A different pattern for each wall.

           5. Is it worth it?

Absolutely yes! A regular hotel/guesthouse stay will cost you about 70 000 Won for a private double room. A shared hostel-style room can go up to 50 000 per night, and you will have to share a bathroom with a bunch of strangers. The love motel prices range from 30 000 Won to 60 000 per room per night. This includes absolute privacy and your own bathroom. You don’t have any hassle with booking, you pay cash on the spot and you don’t have to complete any forms or share your information. Even if saving money is not a priority to you, you should still visit the love motel just for the experience!

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