Seoul,  South Korea,  Travel

Seoul Series: Why I Love 126 Mansion

After my posts on how to get a Korean visa and sharing our travel itinerary, here comes the next one to talk about the lovely guesthouse we stayed in while we were in Seoul last March 21-25. The guesthouse is called 126 Mansion in 126 Palpan-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul. The guesthouse is located in the quiet but artsy neighborhood of Samcheong-dong.

I haven’t stayed in a hostel or a guesthouse in any of my travels before because I am picky when it comes to hotels. However, as I was planning for our Seoul trip, I already had my mind fixated on staying in a guesthouse than in another corporate chain. I have seen so many K-dramas already (I started getting hooked on K-dramas since 2004) and I’ve always been fascinated with their ondol floor. This is why I thought it would be a waste of chance to experience Seoul for real if I stay in a hotel.

I dropped by AirBnB to look for guesthouses in Seoul but there’s nothing there that captured my attention except for 126 Mansion. Just by looking at the photos of their rooms alone, I already got convinced that it’s where I want to stay. But I didn’t book via AirBnB. I directly went to the website of 126 Mansion to make my own booking. And that’s how I started becoming friends with the owners of 126 Mansion.

Instead of getting a computer-generated reply confirming my reservation, I received a friendly email from the owner/manager herself. Her name is Hyunchung and she runs 126 Mansion along with her younger sister Su, an older sister, and their umma (mom). They’re a family of artists and they designed and renovated the guesthouse themselves. The older sister is the one responsible for the interiors; Su is an artist who’s good at drawing; Hyunchung is the one who manages the hotel and her art is in the form of writing; and their mom is an artist when it comes to cooking.

There are three floors at the guesthouse. The topmost floor has the roofdeck and the guestrooms are at the second floor. There’s no elevator so please don’t expect an easy way to bring your things up to your room. Just rely on your muscles because after all, sweating is not totally a bad thing.

The ground is open to the public as 126 Cafe and it’s where we had our delicious and filling breakfasts during the five days we were in Seoul.

They have books and magazines that you can read while having coffee. Near the shelf is a desk filled with maps and brochures to help you find your way. Of course, Hyunchung is always available if you have questions. Hyunchung has helped me with our itinerary, she arranged the vans that picked us up from and brought us back to the airport, and she also arranged for us the coach that brought us to Nami Island. She’s really accommodating and very helpful, she made me feel like there’s nothing I should worry about while I’m in Seoul.

Another thing that I love about 126 Mansion is its location. As I said, it’s in a quiet and very secure neighborhood. How secure? Very secure because it’s about 5-10 minutes away from Cheongwadae, the Blue House, or the President’s residence.

I’ll be making another post about the neighborhood of 126 Mansion but for now, let me just say that the following are the attractions you will reach within 5-15 minutes of walking from the guesthouse:

  • Gwanghwamun Square which has King Sejong and Admiral Yi statues
  • Gyeongbokgung / Gyeongbok Palace where you can witness the changing of the guards and experience wearing hanboks or the Korean traditional dress
  • Insadong where you can buy souvenirs and Jogyesa Temple which is at the street across Insadong
  • Bukchon Hanok Village where you can see Korean traditional houses and if you’re a K-drama addict like me, look for #43 which is the filming location for Personal Taste/Perfect Match which starred Lee Min Ho
  • Cafes and Galleries in Samcheongdong (lots and lots and lots of them!!!)
  • Changdeokgung / Changdeok Palace which is the filming location for Secret Garden which starred Hyun Bin
  • Kyobo Bookstore
  • Anguk MRT station

In fact, if you feel like walking for 30 minutes like what Hyunchung and I did one night, you can reach so many other places like nearby Yonsei University, Seoul Plaza, Cheonggyecheon Stream, etc. In short, 126 Mansion is in a superb location!

Going to the guest rooms now, the guesthouse has 5 rooms, 4 of which are for twin-sharing while one is good for quadruple sharing. We occupied the whole guesthouse because we’re 12 in our group 🙂 Every room has its own toilet and bath, TV, heater/air conditioner. The guesthouse has ondol floor which makes waking up and getting out of bed in the morning a very hard thing to do. There’s also a common kitchen and dining area at the second floor.

Each room has a unique and cute key chain. Hubby and I stayed in Room #5 and look at what we got 🙂

An overnight stay in 126 Mansion costs about 100,000-140,000KRW for two persons and it already includes breakfast. Breakfast may either be American or Korean and we tried both. Here are some photos of our 126 Cafe breakfasts:

Everything is really yummy but of the two kinds, I prefer the Korean breakfast. I love the fish as well as the bulgogi.

But aside from breakfasts, we also got to try their wine and desserts. Actually, in our last night in Seoul, hubby and I decided to have wine with Hyunchung and our companion. We had a slice of cake, nuts and raisins, and fruits to go with the white wine.

Food was good but the company’s even better! Gawd, I miss 126 Mansion, and Hyunchung 🙂 *will see you next year… in the meantime, Su and I are going to party in Manila hihihi*

If Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett left their hearts in San Francisco, well, you know where I left mine 😛 I miss Seoul and I’m already thinking of coming back. And when I do, there’s no way I’ll be staying elsewhere than in 126 Mansion.

It’s beautiful in photos and more beautiful when you’re actually there, it’s in a perfect location, it’s very accessible, it’s in a safe and clean neighborhood, the attractions are within walking distance, the hosts speak English and they’re really nice and accommodating, plus the food is so yummy. And oh, I almost forgot, another reason why guests love staying at 126 Mansion is because of this little fella who patrols the guesthouse.

That’s Shiru, their pet Japanese shih tzu 🙂

Anyhow, I hope you’ll consider staying at 126 Mansion. I’m not saying this because Hyunchung and Su are my friends. Go hit up Google and find out what others have to say.

Will be posting more of our Seoul-ful encounters in my next entries. Til then, annyeong!

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This is part of a series of posts about Seoul. Check out the others:

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