It was time to check in to the guest house we booked for the night in Gyeongju city – Lucky Won Guest House (락희원 게스트 하우스) when we finally arrived in the city that evening. Before the trip, I had mentioned to my Korean friend that I would very much like to experience staying in a traditional hanok, because it’d be more memorable for a night in Korea’s historic city.
Thanks to her, we got this budget hanok guest house at a steal for 4 persons, only KRW 80,000 (S$95.60) a night! That meant only S$23.90 each! Wohoo~ 😀 One point to note about Lucky Won is that the owners (an elderly couple) do not speak English, & they only accept room reservations via phone. So I was indeed fortunate to have local friends travelling together for a hassle-free booking of the traditional guest house!
Located in central Gyeongju city’s Hwangnam-dong (황남동), guests at Lucky Won can enjoy the privacy of a peaceful stay because it is tucked away in a quiet alley off the main street. But upon leaving the guest house, just turn left, walk about 100m along the alley and you will be able to see the vibrant tourist street filled with many shops, restaurants and convenience stores. Getting to famous tourist attractions like Cheomseongdae Observatory (경주 첨성대) & Daereungwon Tomb (대릉원) is just a convenient 10 minutes by foot. Furthermore, there are also public buses that go to the bus terminal & railway station as well as other attractions in the city along this street. That’s what I call a perfect location for a private yet convenient stay in the city!
Upon arrival at the guesthouse, we were pleasantly greeted with the sight of its lovely courtyard garden surrounded by the guest rooms. There are a total of 10 rooms in Lucky Won, with the small rooms for 2 guests and big rooms for 4 guests. The room we booked for 4 was supposedly the big room, & we were lucky that our room was just next to the communal kitchen.
As you can see, the “big room” wasn’t that big afterall haha. But it fits 4 futon mattresses nicely with space to walk to the bathroom. 😉 Nonetheless, the room had all the basic amenities we need: fitted with heated flooring, an air-conditioner (for warm summer months I guess), private bathroom with towels (small ones though, imagine those in traditional Korean saunas / 찜질방), hairdryer & CRT television. Do remember to bring your own toiletries as they aren’t provided here. Free Wi-Fi is provided throughout the hanok, but somehow when our room door was closed & I sat nearer to the bathroom, the signal was pretty weak. It was stronger nearer the door & strongest when in the courtyard.
As mentioned earlier, the communal kitchen is just next to our room. Besides the free Wi-Fi login details, there is also a reminder to take off your footwear before entering the kitchen written on the chalk board at its entrance. A shared PC can be found in the communal kitchen if you need one. We could also make use of the kitchen facilities as well as help ourselves to the free coffee, tea, water and instant noodles provided. I had a nice ramen breakfast the next morning with my friends, eating from the big pot, just like a typical ramen-eating-scene you see in the Korean dramas hehe. We could also find tourist maps and written advice about the city, with recommendations on things to do & what to eat around the area for reference, thoughtfully prepared by the owners in the kitchen.
Sleeping on the ondol floor with a thin futon mattress may not be as comfortable as staying in a modern hotel, but it’s definitely a memorable experience to remember many years down the road. At least I did what the traditional Koreans do when I visited the beautiful capital of the Silla dynasty! Try it for yourself next time! 😉