Home is where I lay my head… is a true saying for me, but “I just want somewhere to lay my head for the night” are words you’ll seldom hear off my lips. Milking a romantic and dreamy experience out of a budget accommodation is almost always the challenge for the budget backpacker. However, “cheap” doesn’t need to mean crappy and “adventure” doesn’t have to entail bugs. One of my favorite travel experiences are my accommodations, so I’m not looking for just a pillow; ideally, I’d like a theme park! Enter the Korean Love Motel…
Motels are usually my least favorite dwellings, but ever since I saw My Sassy Girl (a Korean romantic comedy film), I admit, it piqued my curiosity. As guessed, love motels are primarily geared for couples wanting private loving away from the stern eyes of their parents … maybe even wives! Words like “illicit”, “seedy” and “red light” always conjure my interest; and with sex being a tightly closeted subject in Korea, I’ve wondered what some of those closets might look like. I traveled from Gunsan/Syeonudo Islands to Jeonju with travel buddies (Chance and Margaret), who were perfect accomplices to help satiate this curiosity.
The Love Motel Tour
After docking in our cities, we were off to see the bizarre, the gross, film-noir on-the-cheap; while also hoping to find a bit of clean decency for ourselves. Hand it to artists- when you put ’em together, you’re always going to lean a bit off-line; you’ll geek out on the bizarre, the sketchy, the kitschy and garish. If it had a cheesy name or a tacky facade, we were sure to attempt a room viewing to check it out. We covered about 9 motels in the span of 2 cities. What we found, however, was surprisingly C.U.B. (chic, unique, boutique); at times, downright luxurious! It certainly put sexy back into Korean sex and made me think that perhaps, sleaze was not the main selling point to these motels. Perhaps, romance did exist?…
9 Korean Love Motel Tips for Travelers
1. Korean Love Motels can be found near the city Express Bus Terminals.
So you’ve just stepped off the bus into your new city and you need find a place to stay. Unfortunately, guidebooks don’t have these places covered. My advice? Just look up and follow the high beacon of neon building lights (and cheesy signs)… it’s like a homing device for newly arrived travelers.
2. Rent a room by the hour or at 40,000W/night
What do you get?
A room with a queen-sized mattress bed or a Yo (bedding on the floor) but keep reading… you’ll find it comes with more! Extra beds aren’t an obvious client choice, but are occasionally accommodated for an additional 5-10,000W.
3. “Bang chom polsu issoyo?” (Meaning: See Room?)
(phonetically: bhang chohm pohl-su ee-so-yo)
What I originally uttered in waygook- ian (aka foreigner) however, was completely guttural– Bang poseyo?
Still, miming it brought me close to the same thing and Koreans only give you a rough time when you’re attempting to pronounce their language correctly. In Korea, it’s okay to ask to see a room before you book it and believe me, you’ll be glad you did! Either an office manager will accompany you to the room or give you a key to go up and have a peek yourself.
4. Getting into the mood for love
Flowery wallpaper do it for you? A princess theme? How about mirrors on your ceiling or red, plush leather backboards and mood lighting? Jacuzzi or massage table?
Can you find love in love motel? Maybe. If you’re Korean, you’ll learn to carry a little humor with you when you’re in the mood for sex. Some motels are flavored with mis-matched themes and fun dabs of kitsch. The cheesiest are always the fun to stumble upon!
5. Peek-a-boo bathroom windows
Not all rooms or motels have this unique feature, but it’s not uncommon. The bath is occasionally separated from the living/bedroom space by a giant glass window (some of it frosted). One of our hotels didn’t have a door so we had the honor code system of “we won’t look” privacy.
6. All-in-one luxury and convenience
Some love motels leave nothing unturned. Widescreen HDTV, computers, a hot/cold water dispenser and a refrigerator with beverages to boot! Best of all, unlike western hotels, you don’t get charged for everything you use!
7. Leave your toiletries at home
Our love motel rooms had everything we needed and then some! They came fully stocked with enough Kleenex, towels and jumbo-sized wash products to take several baths! Some even came with individually wrapped toothbrush sets.
8. Help in getting you sexed up and hooked up
What finally differentiates a love motel from an ordinary pad is the probable fact that it helps you get sex-ified, for that special moment. Fragrant feminine lotions, facial masks, bubble bath… hey, some even kick in lube and condoms!
9. Privacy Getaways
What’s a love motel without covert methods of escape and anonymity? Some motels aid you in your privacy.