Travel has changed a lot since I began to roam around the world back in the 1990’s. For one thing, the internet was new back then. Most businesses didn’t have websites, there were no blogs to speak of, and certainly there was no Facebook, or Trip Adviser.
Even the things we looked for in a hotel, guest house, or hostel were different back then. To find a hostel we could look in a Lonely Planet (if there was one for that country or region) or more likely we would pay to get a Youth Hostel Association membership and then go to the hostels they had listed in their book. Yes, in their book. No kindles, no laptops on the road, no pdfs, or websites.
These days, finding a hostel is easy. You can simply search for hostel and the city name and a list will come up.
Even better though is that you can come to Vagobond and see if we have a personal recommendation for a hostel. For example, if you are heading to Seoul, South Korea and you want to stay in a friendly, clean, safe, and centrally located hostel. I fully recommend that you stay in the Kimchi Hongdai Hostel.
This is another hostel that I found through my social network. I made contact with the owner, David who opened the hostel just a few weeks before I visited. David is a Canadian of Korean descent who has come back to Korea where he and his brother are running a couple of hostels based on their successful guesthouse in Vancouver, Canada.
I’ve said it before, but the key to a great hostel is to have a great owner who is involved, hires a great staff, and interacts with the guests. Actually, it’s the key to having any great business from hotels to blogs. David is a great example.
It’s easy to see that his number one passion is making friends with the many guests he hosts. He doesn’t do this in an intrusive way, but in an inclusive way, such as organizing outings and if he sees someone asking them if they want to come along. He’s also readily available for offering tips of where to go and what to do. His staff, Jun and Steven are also both the same way.
Kimchi hostel is new and developing in all the right ways. I stayed in both the mixed dorms and in a a private room. There is wifi throughout and the signal is strong on all floors. There are plenty of bathrooms, showers with hot water which are kept clean and tidy, and the lots of slippers to make the typical Korean ‘leave your shoes at the door’ policy comfortable.
There is a small TV area, free computers for guests without laptops to surf the net, a washer and dryer (coin operated), a small kitchen, and free tea, coffee, and water available all day. My only complaints (and this is a new hostel, so it’s possible these things will have changed by the time you get there) were that there was no free breakfast and in fact, not really any decent place to take your meals aside from the TV room. David told me that the hostel is expanding into some neighboring apartments, so I’m sure there will be more space in the future. Probably, the computers and reception will move out of the kitchen and some tables and chairs will move in.
The Kimchi Hostel was five minutes from the subway and David’s directions were crystal clear. I arrived at around 11pm and had no problems finding it.
This was a quiet, clean, newly furnished, friendly, and centrally located place. There are convenience stores very nearby along with banks, ATMs, tons of cafes and bars, easy access to the airport by bus or subway within 5 minutes walking, the popular Hongdae clubbing area five minutes away, plus movie theatres, parks, and the many universities located nearby. No extra charge for towels, linens, or wifi and a great staff with plenty of information. In addition there are guidebooks available for those who don’t have one to use.
Kimchi Hostel gets my highest recommendation. Great job David! Thanks.
Kimchi Hongdai Hostel.
Seoul, Mapo-gu, Yeonnam-dong, 570-16
Tel: 82-2-6082-6059 / 82-10-6315-6696
Originally published in 2012.