OVERVIEW: Saerim Hotel is a pretty decent hotel as long as you have realistic expectations. I was put off by the place on my first night since the location was hard to find and some aspects of the hotel were a little shabbier than I imagined. But the next two nights I stayed improved my overall attitude when I considered the price and friendly staff.
LOCATION: In my experience, I had to find the hotel at night when there were record cold temperatures in Seoul. So it was terrible trying to find it. But I believe if you arrived during the day and/or during warmer months, your experience would be significantly better. While trying to find the place, nobody I asked had ever heard of the hotel, including the taxi driver I eventually took there. But once you do find the hotel, it’s simple enough. Very near the hotel is Insadong, a very traditional street filled with lots of small shops and some art galleries. There’s a famous Zen Buddhist temple very nearby too that’s worth seeing. A little farther from the hotel are some more temple/palace areas and further more you can start to really get into the main city areas like Myeong-dong. These farther areas are walkable if you’re up for it but also easy to access by subway or bus. Lastly, if you want to be near the best nightlife and younger crowds, I recommend staying in the Gangdam area instead. It’s very quite at night near the hotel and very boring unless you go to the other areas of the city.
HOTEL STAFF: During my stay I talked with a variety of hotel employees. They aren’t the most outgoing people but they are nice if you ask them something. Also there was a few small issues in my room and the woman I spoke with was very willing to help me out. The staff’s English ability was quite varied, some spoke almost no English (but this didn’t bother me, being in Korea and at a budget hotel).
ROOMS: The room was okay. On the positive side, the floors were heated, the TV was huge and with many channels, there was a computer with internet (free access), and a refrigerator with complimentary juice (2) and bottled water (2) that’s refilled daily. On the negative side, the bathroom was old (but clean) and the shower pressure was weak. The bed was incredibly hard and there was only the fitted sheet on the bed, a pillow, and a comforter. The lock on the door seemed cheap and not the most sturdy, so that’s something to keep in mind. But at the same time, Korea is generally a very safe country and I never felt concerned about my safety.
RECOMMENDATION: I think it just depends on what you’re looking for. For me personally, the biggest two problems I had with the place was the general location (boring for my tastes) and the super hard bed. But it wasn’t a terrible experience. Once I got back at night I was able to relax, drink the free juice, and do some research on the computer for my next day’s activities.
*** If the hotel staff see this, here's my recommendation for you: (1) invest in high quality doors and locks, (2) softer beds, (4) better/bigger hotel signage, and (3) fix the minor details like the paint fading in the bathroom walls and the bed heating pad that didn't work. These little differences will greatly improve the experience of guests.
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