Best Hanok Stay in Korea – Staying in a hanok house whilst visiting Korea is as close to living as a historical Korean as you can get. It’s somewhat parallel in experience to visiting Japan and staying in a ryokan;the accommodation would be variably decorated with bits and pieces reminiscent of life in Korea as if it were transported back hundreds of years.
You’ll wake up inside a (usually) small but well-equipped room, share traditional toilets, dine on simple meals (if the accommodation provides this), and basically live a simple lifestyle while you’re there. All in all, it’s a rewarding, humbling experience that you can’t quite get anywhere else.
Just for the record, if you’re looking for a loud, party experience, a hanok is probably not what you’re after. The ambience in these traditional Korean houses is always peaceful, serene, quiet, and calming. It’s a place to relax and nurture your mind, to feel the balance in your body with the environment all around you, learn a different type of appreciation for the Korean culture, and come out rested at the end of your stay.
What is a Hanok?
We may have jumped the gun a bit there. For those who are still scratching their heads, a hanok is a traditional Korean house. It’s original design and structure stems all the way from the 14th century during the Joseon Dynasty, so you can imagine that it’s quite unique with its timber framing and curved roofs. The principle of the hanok is built on the idea that the structure needs to be in balance with the land and environment, taking into account where the lakes sit, where the mountains reside, where the land contours, etc.
Whilst many hanoks were sadly destroyed in the 1970s, small clusters have still been retained in the larger cities of South Korea. If you’re a big fan of Korean dramas, you would have seen plenty in the olden-era series’! A few that we’d recommend watching before you come include ‘Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth’ (starring Park Hyun Sik and Park Seo Joon), ‘Sungkyunkwan Scandal’ (staring Park Yoo Chun), and ‘Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo’ (staring Lee Joon-Ki and IU).
1. Sky Guesthouse
Sky Guesthouse is located right on the border of the Bukchon area in Seoul, so you get all the glitz and glamour without being right in the thick of the crowds. Its architecture is as authentic as it gets, and is very photogenic (you’ll be snapping away before you even reach the front door).
It exudes a thoroughly homey feel, with timber flooring and framing throughout, and guests can enjoy room service, comfortable bedding and large rooms with private bathrooms. It’s also close to Jogyesa Temple and Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Why Guests Love It: The hosts here are just so friendly and welcoming, and will make you feel comfortable the moment you step foot in the guesthouse. You can walk or take public transport to surrounding attractions, either option is easy and fun.
Book It Now: Sky Guesthouse
2. Cheong Yeon Jae Hanok Hotel
If you’re looking for authenticity without having to give up too many creature comforts, then Cheong Yeon Jae Hanok fits the bill perfectly. It offers guests the opportunity to sleep in traditional Korean bedrooms decorated in Korean paper, Hanji, and fitted with comfortable futon bedding, heated with Ondol, Korean floor heating.
However, rest easy knowing they have western bathrooms fitted in with free toiletries! There’s also 24/7 front desk service, and a Korean breakfast is served in the rooms every morning. This place is one of the more luxe options.
Why Guests Love It: Guests particularly loved how intimate and traditional staying in this hanok felt. The daily Korean breakfast was delicious, as was the warming attitude of the staff members.
Book It Now: Cheong Yeon Jae Hanok Hotel
3. STAY256 Guesthouse
STAY256 is one of the quaintest hanoks you will ever come across. It’s stayed true to the core principles of a hanok, and is built around a small communal courtyard.
The wooden architecture looks as though it has just come out from a movie, and all the rooms, whilst on the smaller side, are incredibly clean, well-equipped, and intimate enough for you to get the full experience of staying in an authentic hanok without feeling too stifling.
It’s close to many other attractions, and there’s a continental breakfast served each morning.
Why Guests Love It: It’s cleanliness is one of the most top-rated comments for this place, so if you’re the type to be quite pedantic about your environment, maybe consider this. It’s super cozy, it’s fully equipped, and did we mention it comes with a “handsome young” owner?
Book It Now: STAY256 Hanok Guesthouse
Bukchonae hanok encapsulates a rather rustic feel, so if you’re the type to appreciate twinkly fairy lights and floral arrangements, consider this place just for the picture opportunities. This hanok veers from the ordinary, though, and offers free Wi-Fi throughout the property as well as free private parking for guests who need to park their car.
Unlike many other hanoks, all rooms come with a private bathroom at this guesthouse. If you’re looking at visiting Jogyesa Temple, consider this accommodation, because it’s only located a walkable distance of 1.8km away.
Why Guests Love It: Patrick and his wife made the loveliest of hosts here, making many guests’ stay here unforgettable. If you come in winter, rest assured that even though it can drop to 0 degrees, the heated flooring kept everything amazingly warm.
Book It Now: Bukchonae
5. Ginkgo Tree Guesthouse
This absolutely gorgeous hanok sits in a rather secluded area of the Jeonju Hanok Village, and you will immediately fall in love with it the moment you lay your eyes on it. The rooms are rather spread out compared to those that are built around a courtyard, meaning you get just that little bit more room in your guesthouse to rest and relax.
Honestly, the layout of this hanok is something out of a fairy tale. It will make you feel as though gone back a few hundred years with its gorgeous curved roofs that are thoroughly admirable and wooden framed windows.
Why Guests Love It: It will immediately transport you back in time, as it did many other guests who stayed here. For the price that you pay, it’s extremely well located and equipped. The host is also one of the cutest grandmas you’ll ever come across, who’s equally accommodating and loveable.
Book It Now: Ginkgo Tree Guesthouse
6. Samlockhon Guesthouse
Samlockhon Guesthouse leaves nothing to the imagination, and you can tell by the absolutely stunning wooden structure of the exterior, the intricate detailing of the doors, and the purposeful placement of everything inside the rooms. Prepared to be wowed, because Samlockhon Guesthouse is one of the most beautiful hanoks you’ll ever come across.
Imagine Jiufen Old Town in Taiwan, but in Korea, and on private grounds, so you won’t have to deal with any crowds. That’s how visually appealing this place is. On top of that, it’s only 600m from the Jeonju Hanok Village centre, it offers Wi-Fi throughout, the guest rooms surprisingly come with a family room to relax in, and there’s a buffet breakfast served in the mornings, winning!
Why Guests Love It: This is one of the perfectly located hanoks in Jeonju, being so close to many popular attractions. Also, if you want to relax whilst there, there are restaurants and cafes right next door, as one guest has enthusiastically mentioned. The courtyard and garden is stunning, so if you’re keen to hire some hanboks for some photos, this is the place to do it!
Book It Now: Samlockhon Guesthouse
7. Jukheon Traditional House
As one of the longest standing hanoks on this list, Jukheon Traditional House stands out from the rest in the best way possible. If you’re after a thoroughly authentic experience, staying at this hanok is your best bet. It can’t get much better than if the view from your room is of trees framing hanoks in the distance, with mountains in the background, right?
Everything from cobblestone pathways to the wooden windows, to the embroidered cushions, traditional tableware, and furniture – it just screams (quietly) Korean history and culture.
Why Guests Love It: The fact that this house is truly traditional made it a wonderful experience for all guests. It’s also located away from the crowds in it’s own little space, so you can wake up and feel extremely rested with the peace and quiet. A favourite pastime of the guests includes visiting the old temple nearby.
Book It Now: Jukheon Traditional House
This hanok is run by a little family, and their goal is to make your stay as personable and comfortable as possible. Siwoowadang is located right in the middle of the hanok village in Gyeongju, making it the perfect location to walk around and explore the local area.
It’s very traditional looking on the outside, and is well-maintained inside like most guesthouses, but you’ll also find the free Wi-Fi throughout, flat screen TV, and private bathroom quite welcoming. The continental breakfast varies everyday, so we reckon that’s something to look forward to everyday!
Why Guests Love It: The host family here are very accommodating, and most guests have been able to organise rides to get to certain areas, so if you’re worried about not having a rental car, rest assured that you can organise something with the hosts. Whilst some guests have said the Korean breakfast may not be to their taste, others have said it’s one of the best meals they’ve had in Korea. The rooms are beautifully decorated.
Book It Now: Siwoowadang
9. Yettle Stay
Yettle Hanok Stay is where traditional Korean architecture meets modernity halfway. Whilst still a beautiful hanok in every way, from a structural point of view to the decor, small touches such as the renovated kitchen, western bathroom, raised beds, and sofa lounges make this place all the more inviting.
Feel free to set up a photo-shoot in here because there’s a lot of gorgeous natural light filtering in. Walk the beautiful garden in peace, hang out in the terrace area, all whilst still connected to the world through Wi-Fi.
Why Guests Love It: One of the few hanoks that provides both breakfast and a private bathroom for the comfort of its guests. It’s exceptionally clean, and whilst there are common areas, you will have space to relax privately as well (a big bonus!). Although breakfast may not be included as you book, it’s definitely provided, and past guests have simply raved on about how delicious it is.
Book It Now: Yettle Hanok Stay
Simply looking at the pictures of these hanoks makes you feel like you’re back in the Joseon period of Korea’s history. It makes you want to put your hair in a bun and don a hanbok and walk the cobblestone streets in the sunset searching for love. Besides the latter, these are all completely do-able if you book one of the listed hanoks (as most offer hanbok rental services for their guests).
If you are visiting Korea and have one or two nights to spare, consider staying on one of Korea’s historical forms of housing – it’s truly an eye opening experience, and you can only walk away feeling humbled and rested.