The amenities in a South Korea love hotel are not what you’ll see at your local Holiday Inn: flashing colored lights over the bed, a higher-than-average number of mirrors or a “personal massager” for sale in the minibar.
If you travel to South Korea, though, you’ll find some good reasons to check into a love hotel. Here’s what you need to know about the love hotel experience.
Why They Exist
In South Korea, it’s not unusual for several generations of a family to live together. Sure, that can make for a close-knit family. But it also detracts from privacy. So when couples feel like gettin’ freaky/frisky/funky, they might leave the family at home and check into a love hotel for a night — or even a few hours.
Why They’re Different
First of all, a love hotel in South Korea is cheap – as much as half the cost of a conventional hotel. And they’re considerably nicer than hostels or guesthouses: You’ll find a generously sized TV, a computer with Internet and very likely a fancy Japanese toilet that can blast a jet of water a good 12 feet. It’s everything people need while they travel – and then some.
Also, you’ll enter through a discreet entrance designed to conceal guest’s identities. You’ll pay through a bank teller-like window (and possibly not even make eye contact with the staff) in cash per day. And I’m serious about the in-room amenities. The staff issues a little care package with things like powdered coffee, tea bags, razors, hair ties, bubble bath gel … and condoms.
Why You Might Think Twice
As far as I could tell, most love hotels allow smoking in rooms. That’s a tough smell to get out of the rooms to nonsmokers’ satisfaction. It took a little arm twisting to make sure it was eradicated from our room – or at least enough to pass muster.
How You Can Find a Love Hotel
It seems love hotels don’t really fly their flag on the Internet. There’s a feeling that the people of South Korea consider them ever-so-slightly tawdry (if necessary). But they stick out in the landscape. Just look for a building that’s on the garish side, likely with a word like “Queen” or “Castle” or somesuch in the name: I saw one called the Wow Motel.
And observe how people in the area act. Anyone acting a bit furtive or secretive can be a dead giveaway. This is definitely part of the odd dichotomy we noticed: South Korea will shift from in-your-face sexual banter at a place live Jeju Loveland to some rather extreme pearl-clutching just about everywhere else.
Final tip (how could I resist a pun like that?): If you see neon, fringe and jarring colors, you’ve found yourself a love hotel.
Final Thoughts About Love Hotels
You’ll notice that booking a night at a love hotel might save you some cash. For some reason, these accommodations cost less than many other places where you could get a room.
This is particularly odd since love hotels have nicer rooms — and they’re far bigger than what you might find at other hotels.
It’s a fun experience, too, and completely unlike anything you might find in the U.S. If love hotels have improved at all on keeping smokers from stinking the rooms up, that’s yet another incentive for giving one a try.
You might also notice love hotels in Japan. We didn’t stay at any during our brief time in Tokyo and Hakone. If you’ve stayed at a Japanese love hotel, feel free to hit me up for a guest post. I’d love to publish it!
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