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“Kicked me out!!!”
Review of Hill Spa Busan

Hill Spa Busan
Reviewed March 3, 2014

I first found out about this sauna through this website and thought it would be awesome to go and see what's the rave about. I'm not comfortable about getting naked around ladies (this would've been my 2nd time in a sauna), but I went with an open mind. I came in at around 4 pm (after a Temple Stay), got my two (super small) towels and uniform, key for the shoes, and went up. I put my small laptop-sized bag into the locker and went to shower. I couldn't use the sauna because I got hair laser removal and my doctor told me to avoid saunas for a week. It was crowded. I was the only foreigner and was stared at (I'm used to it). I went to check out the 'Ladies' Sleeping Room', which is why I picked this place over a hostel. Apparently, they only provide a brick pillow (no mattress pad). There was only 1 lady there, sleeping on the hard floor. I thought I will come back after dinner and sleep (I was really tired). After dinner I spent about 2 hours at a PC bang trying to transfer my phone pictures into a USB (which wouldn't work for the life of it). Anyway, at last it worked and I returned at 12:03 am (on the dot). Here's when my troubles began.

The lady at the counter asked me when I came in (which was weird to begin with). She said she didn't remember my face coming in and paying (but she remembers all the other Korean faces that paid and didn't?!). She doesn't remember me because she started her shift after I already checked in. I said that I came at around 4 pm and went away to eat, and came back. The lady said that the sauna operates on a 12-hr schedule and that after the 12 hours you have to pay AGAIN. I speak intermediate Korean, so I told her that 1. she should lower her voice - everyone was looking at us (she was yelling at me now). 2. I already paid once and there is no way I will pay again (the lady on the 1st shift didn't say once I leave I have to pay again). 3. I still had FOUR hours left on my shift, hence, will not pay a dime to her. 4. she should not talk to ANY customer this way no matter WHAT the circumstance is. At this point, the lady was really irritated and so was I (at her yelling at me). There were about 7 people in the lobby and EVERYONE was looking at us. Then, this older man started translating for me and even he told the front desk lady that I still had time left. He also told the lady to be quieter (in Asia 'saving face' is super important, but this lady had no qualms whatsoever). She would not hear it though. I got super annoyed at the awful service (in what hospitality establishment does the service staff yell at a customer??!!), packed my stuff, and left to stay at a nearby hostel - never to return again.

So, here's my experience. I'm sure others had an amazing experience. I had an extraordinary awful one and I felt compelled to write this as a warning to others.

14  Thank Roseetalent
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (43)
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11 - 15 of 43 reviews

Reviewed November 10, 2013

I can't say I loved it and that is the only reason I'm not giving it 5 stars because this is definitely going to be an unforgettable experience for a non-Korean. The spa is in an amazing location overlooking the beach. For 10000 won you can use the spa and stay the night. For a westerner it is quite an experience. You get a t-shirt, some shorts and a key. The key you use to lock in your shoes, then you take the elevator up to either the 4th or 2nd floor depending on whether you are a boy or a girl. Once there you can leave all your stuff in a second locker. Then it is time to get naked...and everyone here is. The baths have lots of different baths that mostly face big windows overlooking the bay. Then you can lie and soak there in 41 degree (Celsius) warm water with about 30 naked Koreans. Once you've done...unless you want to try the saunas or showers you put on the uniform and head to the third floor to eat or sleep. Sleeping takes place on the heated floor in a big open space in front of the windows or in special rooms. I was there on a Saturday so it was hard to find any space and it takes some getting used to lying on a blanket on a marble floor between about 200 sleeping Koreans all dressed the same. Pick your spot wisely...where I was there were some kind of small flies that bit, later when I moved they were gone. You wake up to a stunning view of the bay. All in all an unforgettable experience, but I didn't get much sleep.

1  Thank LavenderLemon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 20, 2013

This has to be one of the spas with the prettiest view anywhere. The building is located on a hilltop next to the sea so you can see much of the citiscape, Haeundae beach, the ocean and some coastline and little islands across the bay. Facilities include a fairly authentic (for Korea) Finnish sauna, steambath, chill room at 13 degrees, outside hot bath, very hot bath at 44 degrees, (basic) restaurant, open air roof terrace, karaoke, (chargeable) computer room, TV (only Korean channels) and what proved to be an extremely popular jimjilbang (floor-based dormitory). The price is just 6,000 Won which is way less than it costs to spend the night in a messy crowded backpacker's hostel but incomparably more pleasant. There is one female-only and one male-only dormitories, equipped with mattresses and kept suitably dim, but the vast majority of overnight customers seem to prefer sleeping in the open-plan mixed area in spite of the lack of mattresses and the hard marble flooring. We dealt with this problem by asking for several extra blankets which we piled up until we built an adequately soft surface. My only complaints are 1) the total lack of Wi-Fi (they obviously don't want to discourage customers from spending extra money on desktop computer time any more than it already happens); 2) I felt puzzled by the main mixed area marble floor when they are bound to be aware of Japanese tatami flooring which would be both vastly more comfortable and better-looking; and 3) there are NO really cold showers or really cold baths -the Koreans seem not to believe in them, even straight after a hot sauna. We loved this spa in spite of its few flaws -it's the best place to be in Busan. Remarkably, the few meters altitude gain over sea level combined with the breeze are enough to keep the terraces pleasantly cool even while the city streets below are tropically hot.

Thank Steven G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 24, 2013

Vesta is a little different from others saunas/jjimjilbang that I know. Is a little bigger, has massage, and seems new. I must say tthat I was a little shy since I was the only western in the area, but well, we need to get used with curious looks. The food there is great (you better try the Ice Tea and the Tteokpokki!This last one has a different, handmade sauce!), they have a rooftop with some pools and, wow, what a view! I had a lot of fun in the common area with my friends too; it's quiet and perfect to take a nap! :P
Also, my boyfriend came to Korea to visit me and was his first experience in a sauna: He was so amazed with the place...for him, it was the best part of the trip!.

Thank atypicalclara
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 8, 2013

Vesta has been the third spa I've been to in Korea and it had all the normal baths and sauna's the other two did as well. The food there was good and so was the chinese massage (despite it being tough to find). The only improve I would have is that you have to have a credit card or cash on you while you are in the area for everyone. Usually they use the RFID chip on the key you carry around but this was not the case. The view there is awesome and you get to see it on every floor. It may be worth the money just for the view. Walk there if you are already in Haeundae. It isn't that far, but Apple Maps has issues with it. Also, TripAdvisor uses Bing so just copy the address and put it into Google Maps. This is especially a good trip after a long night of drinking in Busan.

1  Thank brow1714
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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