While in Seoul in October 2011, our travel party of seven (including a toddler) stayed at Namsan 2 Guesthouse for 7 nights. Namsan Guesthouse has 3 separate buildings on the same street, with Namsan 1 being the oldest and Namsan 3 the newest. We chose Namsan 2 as it had larger 3-person rooms and ondol heating (which Namsan 3 lacked), and was closer to the subway station compared to Namsan 1.
Our group split into 3 rooms – one 3-person room and two Twin B rooms.
I have no idea if there were more than one triple sharing room in the building, but the one we got on the 2nd floor was pretty spacious. One side of the room (facing the street) had tall windows, which we left open most of the time, eliminating the need for air-con. There was ample space to fit in another mattress for a 4th person, though we didn’t try it. Instead we used the space for our 3 luggage bags and tons of shopping bags accumulated over several shopping trips. 😛
Twin B Room
Twin B rooms in Namsan 2 could be either spacious or cramped depending on which room you were assigned. We stayed in 3 different Twin Bs and two of them were tiny while the other one was large enough to fit 3 people with some space to spare.
Generally, we were happy with the rooms (and bathrooms). Everything was clean, from the bedding to the toilets. We did not experience any weird or musty odour despite the lack of ventilation in the smaller Twin B rooms, though the sink and shower curtains were a bit mouldy.
I suppose our biggest gripe with the rooms were the thin walls. Or perhaps we just had noisy neighbours. If you stay in a room close to the common areas (reception, outdoor lounge, kitchen), be prepared to put up with some noise, usually late at night or early in the morning. I wasn’t that bothered by it, but I would be if I were a light sleeper and had my slumber interrupted.
Namsan 2 had a few wireless networks we could connect to, and we always got a strong signal regardless of which room we were in. That’s pretty awesome, considering it’s free! They also leave a PC on all the time in the kitchen, free for guests to use.
The bread, spreads, coffee and tea were well-stocked, and you could help yourself to them at any time of the day, not just in the morning. Cup ramyeon was also provided.
Kitchen & Laundry
I think we would’ve had reservations about cooking in the kitchen if the stove wasn’t clean. But it was always clean and never grimy. Either everyone cleaned up after themselves well or the cleaning ajumma did a great job. My favourite thing about the kitchen? The always-on hot and cold water dispenser. It’s so nice to be able to get hot or cold water anytime, the way we can in our own home.
We never used the washing machine at Namsan 2; it was only available for guests’ use between 6:00 to 10:00 PM, and we were almost never back by that time. (I know some cheated and used the washer outside of that timeframe, ha.) Even if we were back early, it seemed that there was always someone using the washer. I once went into the kitchen after midnight and found someone doing laundry. If you can spare the effort of lugging your laundry to and fro Namsan 3, it’s also possible to do your laundry there.
Namsan 2 had a few outdoor sitting areas where you could hang out, sometimes even with the staff if you feel like being sociable. There’s even one right outside our 3-person on the 2nd floor. We usually ate on the floor in our rooms though; it was too cold to hang around outside. In the warmer months, I suppose it would be nice to make use of the outdoor space!
Overall, I felt that Namsan 2’s facilities were exactly as advertised, and contributed much to making the place feel like home.
Depending on which staff members were on duty, Namsan’s customer service ranged from poor to very good. One of the staff members mixed up our room check-out when I was away on an overnight trip to Sokcho, resulting in my siblings “losing” their room for awhile. Fortunately, it was resolved fairly swiftly and they got the room back.
Other than that incident, we had no complaints on their service. We were mostly independent travellers; we had everything we needed and didn’t require much help from the staff. But they were happy to oblige when we needed their help in storing our (loads of) luggage while we were in Jeju overnight – at no extra charge!
Things to Note
- Namsan 2’s reception is closed from 2:00 to 7:00 AM. Best to make sure you have everything you need before then! If you’re checking out during their closing hours, they have a box for you to leave your room key in.
- If you leave your luggage at the guesthouse after you check out, the staff will put your luggage at the common area outside the reception, and will only bring it in when they close for the night. If you’re uncomfortable with this, lock your bags securely. Valuable items can be handed over to the staff who’ll store it in the office for you. (Fortunately for us, we didn’t lose a single thing despite leaving behind some stuff in shopping bags.)
Namsan 2’s fantastic location is its greatest advantage, in my opinion. The building is tucked away in a quiet yet relatively safe street, yet only 5 minutes away is the busy Myeongdong shopping street. Namsan Park (and the cable car station) is a short walk uphill from the guesthouse’s entrance. Namdaemun Market is one subway stop away (Hoehyeon station). At least three convenience stores line the street from the subway exit (Myeongdong station exit 3) to Namsan 2, making it so easy to grab late-night snacks after a full day of exploring and shopping.
I could go on and on, but suffice to say, the location is perfect for tourists, and is one of the main reasons why I’m returning for a second stay in April 2012. 😉