From September 14 to 15, 2016, we stayed in Seongyojang House as part of a Hanok Stay instead of a hotel when we were travelling in Gangneung in South Korea. For those of you who don’t know what a Hanok Stay is, I’ve copied and pasted below what it is:
Hanok Stay refers to staying in a traditional Korean house. It is a good opportunity to experience traditional Korean lifestyle and culture. The traditional houses available for hanok stays are decades to hundreds of years old. They have been somewhat renovated for the convenience and safety of its guests, but the traditional Korean style and sentiment are still retained.
Old furniture, paper-pasted windows, and props like soy jars add to the traditional ambiance. Most homes for hanok stay have electronic goods, including a TV set, and Western-style toilets, but some still have traditional toilets. If you prefer a Western-style toilet, you are strongly recommended to make reservations in advance. Some houses offer various programs to experience Korean culture, including tea ceremonies, pottery making, and traditional Korean folk games. Simple meals are usually available at an extra charge. (Taken from the Official Korea Tourism Organization site)
I absolutely loved this experience and really am grateful for Melissa who took the initiative to research and look into these unique residences as part of our travels. I remember visiting these traditional Korean style houses before as a tourist in my previous visits to Korea but never thought that they could be renovated for use for tourist accommodations!
We stayed at Seongyojang House, located at 63, Unjeong-gil, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
강원도 강릉시 운정길 63 (운정동). It was categorized as a type of folk house. More specifically, we stayed in the Jungsarung building, the place where guests who visited Seongyojang were received. It was a shingle-roofed house with a two-room studio-style suite. There were other buildings at Seongyojang House that you could choose for accommodations as well.
When we first got there on September 14 in the afternoon around 2 p.m., there was a little confusion as to how we were going to locate a restaurant for lunch. The lady at the reception spoke a bit of English and was incredibly helpful and extended her kind guidance towards us during the entire duration of our visit (I talked about it a little bit in my two blog posts). We were able to check in easily and she informed us of which building we were to stay in.
When pulling up our luggages on the pebble-covered paths, it was initially a little difficult to do so. (Most of us are used to dragging our luggages on pristine and clean hotel floors when travelling.) However, this was definitely a unique experience and we were going to be living in the house where previous guests were received back in the day of the royals. It was really exciting!
Once we got to Jungsarung, we moved apart the pylons which kept tourists from opening the door and unlatched the ‘primitive’ lock and key assemble that was used to lock the doors together. We left our shoes outside, as it is for Korean custom to do so.
Once inside, there were two studio-style suites with rolling panels to divide up the rooms and for privacy. There was also a really large washroom that contained a toilet, wash basin, and two removable shower heads, air vents, and a drain in the middle of the floor for the water to run into.
The room had a flat screen TV, cable TV, wireless Internet, fridge, cups, water pitcher, floor mats for sleeping, pillows, a clothes rack, and a shelf. It was all very tidy and cozy!
We had five people staying in the Jungsarung and at first, it took a little bit of shuffling and reorganization to fit all of our luggage and beds on to the floor. However, we did it and it was quite nice to be able to sleep like the Korean guests did back in the day.
Also, at first, I was quite hesitant about the idea because it seemed so cramped and there was nowhere to sit except the floor. However, I quickly got used to it and really enjoyed it by the second night! The sleep was restful.
Since there were only two outlets in the room (asides from the washroom), I asked the nice lady at the reception for an extension cord. Luckily, she was able to lend one to us so that we could charge our devices more conveniently during our stay. They also refilled our water pitchers each morning!
The day we checked out, we enjoyed breakfast at the Traditional Food Experience Hall.
(Traditional Food Experience Hall restaurant served traditional Korean dishes cooked according to family recipes handed down in Seongyojang for over 300 years. It was built in 2006 as part of the tour resource development project, along with the Korea Traditional Culture Experience Hall.)
It was an included meal as part of our stay there and it was a delicious and truly satisfying breakfast! Everybody’s shoes were left outside (I love the photo I took of all these shoes) and you could choose between sitting in a traditional table (on the floor) or the western style. Again, I loved this breakfast that included lots of fresh banchan, rice, and soft tofu! It was so peaceful to be dining breakfast at the Seongyojang House like they did in decades past.
I think if you want a memorable experience staying in South Korea, try out these Hanok Stay programs! They’re a lot more unique and memorable than a standard hotel. 🙂