I stayed at Gyeongju Kolon hotel for 3 days in September 2011, while visiting Gyeongju, Korea. It was a rather hard decision for me to choose a hotel in Gyeongju. I read the reviews and was going back and forth between the Hilton, the Hyundai and the Kolon. Though I was leaning towards the first two because of the reviews in regards to comfort and overall style, I finally decided on Kolon because of its peaceful location and close proximity to the attractions I was interested in.
I traveled with 2 other people, so we had booked a triple room on agoda requesting a non smoking floor, 3 beds, and lake view.
Upon arrival the hotel we were greeted by concierge who helped us with our baggage. When I asked whether we had garden/lake view she informed us that the triple room they had given us on the 5th floor was facing the mountain. She said there is another oom available on the 7th floor but there are only 2 beds so they would have to bring one more bed in. She kindly let us check both rooms. We were really disappointed with the room on the 5th floor. It seemed tiny for a triple and the carpet was covered all over with cigarette stains, there was no view as well only a big tree, so we opted out for the 7th floor room. It seemed bigger, definately cleaner with no major stains and they offered to put another bed in at no extra cost.
I have to agree with the others, that the outside decor of the hotel as well as lobby does not match the decor inside the rooms or even out in the hall. The hall carpets on the floors are stained and old, and the hotel rooms just seem as if you stepped back into the early 80's. The is a bathtub but seems yellowish. Don't forget to bring your own soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and so on as it is not provided. You may purchase a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a razor or a comb, but that's basically it.
Aside from the inside room drama-decor, the hotel was quite nice. It's huge with a nice korean type of rooftop. It's in the middle of mountains and hills and very close (about 10 minute) walking to Bulguksa Temple, which is wonderful and totally recommended. From Bulguksa, you can hop on bus #12 and pay about $1.50 for a 15 minute ride to the top of the mountain where Seokguram rests. I think the bus comes every 30 minutes from Bulguksa to Seokguram and from Seokguram to Bulguksa every hour. There are local restaurants on the opposite side of Bulguksa's exit, but I hadn't eaten there.
In terms of the hotel, you can definately relax in this remote location, there is an outoor pool, open of course in the summer, there is a lovely garden, golf course and lots of walking trails. For my purpose, the location was perfect. However, it's about $25.00 taxi ride from Gyeongju station. The other hotels, Hilton and Hyundai are closer to the downtown area, probably about $16.00 taxi ride or so.
I also visited Anapji Pond which seems more popular at night, as the grounds and temples are lit. Very nice and relaxing and it is surrounded by lotus gardens (just outside of it), so you may want to check those out, and then proceed to Anapji pond. All the entrance fees to Anapji, Seokguram, Bulgoksa, are cheap, about $1.50 or so.
The 3 of us wanted to try some famous Gyeongju beef and asked at the hotel where to go. The front desk ordered a taxi for us and the taxi driver took us to a traditional restaurant, however, u had to sit on the floor and one of us couldn't sit crossed legged on the floor due to an injury, so we asked the same driver to take us some place else where there are tables. He called around and started driving. The drive, though scenic, seemed to go on and on and on, the meter running close to $50.00...at that point we asked where is he taking us and he replied to a "beef town"...It was still a bit away and getting quite late, so we decided we diddn't want to go there and spend over $100.00 just on the taxi ride. So we had asked him to take us back to Gyeongju downtown where there were other restaurants, and we opted out for some samgyeopsal, (korean pork barbeque). It was quite good and really cheap, we only spent just over $40.00 for 3 servings of pork. However, the next two days we opted out to eat at the hotel.
There are two restaurants, one western and one korean. We ate twice at the western one for buffet breakfast (which was decent, had everything you could think of, nothing fancy but good) and also had dinner there as well. We ordered pizza, soup, and salad. The pizza was tiny and there was too much sauce, the italian soup was okay served with 3 buns and butter and the salad was okay. Not totally satisfied, we opted for the korean restaurant next day. It was great, we had some bibimbap, and korean beef dinner. My only regret is that we didn't eat there more than once.
The prices at both these hotel restaurants where not expensive, comparable to the outside restaurants, with the convenience of being right there. After that disastrous and expensive taxi drive, we were glad we could satisfy our taste buds right there at the hotel.
There is also a tiny bakery shop there, which sells traditional korean bread-cookies with bean paste, bought some and they were good, but too sweet. We also spent one evening there, had some drinks and desert while listening to a live performance. There is a Phillipino woman who sings in English quite well and her partner plays the piano. I enjoyed the relaxing evening listening to their performance.
There is also a sauna which i did not use and a souvenir shop which is quite expensive, so you might want to get your souvenirs in town.
Aside from the inside room decor and the taxi drama, I actually had a good time in a relaxing atmosphere. The hotel staff speaks little English but enough to communicate and understand your needs.
They definately need to upgrade and do some renovations soon and it would be nice if they had separate smoking and non smoking floors as the smoking and non-smoking rooms are next to each other, which is a pain!
At the time I was staying, I saw mostly Korean and Japanese guests with some Westerners.
I would recommend this to those who want to relax in a truly quiet and serene environment and who want to be close to the attractions on this side of town. This is more of a 3.5 star type of hotel, but the price was definately good, and so were the views and atmosphere. I think if they renovated the hotel rooms, i would come back.
Ps. there is a good size soccer field next to the swimming pool.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Kolon Hotel is seated in the time-honored city of Gyeongju well known as one of the ten famous world spots. Guest room is cozy and comfortable dominating the sun rising from Mt. Toham. Restaurants provide for delicate & special dishes. Available is conventions of large and small size, golf green, swimming, jogging, hiking,other leisure and spa facilities. You may feel like being at your own home and your stay and every hour may be most happy and pleasing to you. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gyeongju Kolon Kyongju