After 4 days of adventure in the southeastern part of South Korea (Andong, Gyeongju & Busan), I moved back towards Seoul in the north. But before that, I decided to stop over 1 night in Suwon-si. It lies about 30 km south of Seoul, & is the capital of South Korea’s most populous Gyeonggi province that surrounds Seoul.
From Busan Station, it takes 2 hrs 44 min to arrive at Suwon Station by KTX (KRW 46,300/ S$55.30 for an adult standard ticket). It took me quite some time before I decided to book Benikea New Suwon Tourist Hotel (베니키아 뉴수원 관광호텔). The main reason for visiting the “City of Filial Piety” is because I wanted to revisit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Hwaseong Fortress after 11 years, so I wanted to stay in an accommodation which I could get there conveniently. Based on online reviews, this hotel is strategically located within the Hwaseong Fortress vicinity, just renovated last year (2015) & fits my budget. Furthermore, Benikea is a Korean Business Hotel chain brand supported by the Korean Tourism Organisation & ranked as the most popular business hotel chain in 2015.
I took a taxi from Suwon Station to get to the hotel, which by right shouldn’t be too far away & about a 10-min drive. However, the taxi driver just couldn’t seem to find the directions to the hotel on his in-vehicle GPS, so we took about double the time before I reached Benikea New Suwon. 😦 It is nestled in a quiet neighbourhood, located along a small alley with some shops surrounding it.
Upon arrival at the lobby, I was warmly welcomed by a bubbly short-hair Korean staff. The moment I mentioned I was there to check in, she immediately confirmed my name. What a pleasant surprise to have someone greeting me by my name! 🙂 My check-in process was swift & soon, she took my luggage & provided a brief introduction of the hotel facilities on the way to my standard double room at level 7. Her English was quite good, in fact the best 1 compared to the others I met during the trip. The other male staff that was on night shift wasn’t so conversant in English so I had lots of problems communicating with him, regardless of which language we used. As I entered my room, I became quite disappointed.
The room was much smaller than I thought. I remember reading that the size of the standard double room is 16 sqm, but it definitely didn’t look this size to me. The room I booked in Hotel Foret Busan Station is also about the same size as this, but it is much more spacious in reality! I wonder which room size is the correct one? -_-
There wasn’t much walking space in the room as you can see, & so I had to put my big 26-inch luggage in between the doorway & the double bed. That meant I either had to walk sideways along the limited space between the flat-screen TV & the bed, or I had to “jump” over my luggage from the doorway to get to the bed. I could only place my stuff, either on the lean tabletop below the TV, or on a small stand beside the bed. A small stool lied in a corner of the room near the entrance, so I used that to put my bag.
Fortunately the bathroom size was still OK & not too cramped, just sad that the towels provided are the small ones, more like face towels I use back home. 😦 Glad that I was travelling alone so I could use both towels to “combine” it into a big one… The hotel website said toiletries are provided, but they actually came in a welcome bag together with the bathrobe (see the top right pic in my collage above) which the staff gave me on the way up to my room. The toiletries were an assortment of Korean skincare & bath brands that I had never heard before.
Thankfully, the room may be very cramped, but it was clean & well-maintained, guess it’s because they just renovated last year. The free Wi-Fi connection was also strong & stable. At first, I thought the room was stuffy & had to open the small window for fresh air, but later I realised I could actually turn on the aircon. 😛
I had an unpleasant episode late at night while sleeping in my room though. Not sure the exact time it happened, but it was after midnight when the phone in my room suddenly rang loudly & woke me up. I was shocked at such a late call, & wondered who would have known my hotel phone + room number when I didn’t inform anyone? It was some Chinese man who spoke loudly & quickly as I picked up the call, asking how come I wasn’t “there” yet. I had to tell him he had called the wrong number twice before he gave up & apologise before hanging up. 😦 Never mind, I thought I could go back to sleep, but about 5 or 10 min later, I heard someone trying to open my door! Obviously the attempt failed because I had locked the room from inside so that person kept pressing the doorbell… No choice, I had to get up to open the door (no door hole to see who’s outside) to check what’s happening. I guess my sleepy look made the guy outside (a Chinese middle aged man) embarrassed that he had knocked on the wrong door, & he apologised before hurrying off. I could start hear his loud voice talking along the corridor with his other travel mates in Mandarin… arrghhh! Thanks to this China man (& his rowdy group), I became scared & paranoid & couldn’t sleep well that night. 😦
The room size, above unpleasant episode + the communication breakdown I had with the male staff somewhat made me regret my decision of coming to Suwon + to stay here. I could have just continued 1 more day in Busan, since there are other activities I could do e.g. day trip to Jinhae for the Cherry Blossom Festival, before heading back to Seoul. -_-
Guess the only merits I found here were the friendly female staff I mentioned earlier + its location. The hotel may be located in a quiet neighbourhood (which got me worried at 1st), but it’s really quite convenient & easy to walk to famous attractions & restaurants like the Hwaseong Fortress, Temporary Palace & the Suwon Chicken Alley, after some guidance from the friendly female staff.
Should you visit Suwon in future, think about what is more important to you 1st prior to booking your accommodation, so that you know whether you want to book Benikea New Suwon after reading my review. Ending this post with a photo of the hotel building for your reference. 🙂