Whether you’re visiting Seoul, South Korea for a few days, a few weeks or even a few months — I highly recommend choosing Crossroad Backpackers Hostel in the Hongdae area near Hongik University.
I stayed here for 7-days during the first week of May and had an awesome experience.
Checking-in at Crossroad Backpackers
PHOTO SOURCE: BOOKING.COM
After roughly a 5-hour journey from Taipei, I landed at Incheon International Airport in the late evening. Crossroad Backpackers could not be in a better area of Seoul. I took the KTX Express (about 45 min ride) straight from the airport to Hongik University Station — which put me within a 10-minute walk to the hostel. Immediately, I noticed the charm of the area and made way to check-in.
Just a fair bit of warning about Korea everyone; Google Maps does not have proper walking directions. If you are an avid “Google Mapper” when it comes to travelling, unfortunately, Google only offers transit directions. You have to do it the hard way and either follow maps posted around the city or follow your GPS dot on Google Maps to your desired location. Sure, it’s a little more work, but it definitely allowed me to level up on my navigation skills.
I arrived at the hostel just before check-in was over (don’t worry if you have a late landing, they offer self-check-in for late arrivals.) The check-in was seamless and before I knew it, I was unpacking my bag in my room of eight bunks.
The total cost for 7-nights at Crossroad Backpackers was $105 CAD. That is crazy a value for a stay in Seoul and is partially why I love this hostel so much despite its small quirks.
PHOTO SOURCE: BOOKING.COM
If I am being totally honest, my first couple of nights sleep were pretty rough. One reason was that nobody seemed to want the AC turned on and it was hot and humid! Anytime I would flick it on, someone in the room would flick it off. This is not really an issue with the property, but it is an issue with staying in hostels in general — you are not always gonna come in agreeance with fellow guests. Luckily, after the first few days of humidity, the cooler weather drifted in and an open window provided a comfortable sleep. The second thing that made it hard to sleep was the paper thin pillow. I resorted a duffle bag filled with laundry for extra cushion, which eventually helped get those “Z’s” in. If you are staying for longer than two weeks, I highly recommend you buy a fluffy pillow — it will make the world of a difference! Other than that, I have no other complaints, even with the few quirks to start off my stay, I could not complain too much because of how cheap I got my bunk for.
For those of you who are super budget travellers, the staff put out some toast and spreads for breakfast…you can’t complain about a free breakfast now, can you?
Another small quirk was the bathroom. Although spacious, it was something I have never seen before. The shower, toilet and sink were all in a shared area. Unlike Western styled bathrooms, there was no separate tub with a curtain. Instead, there was just a shower head protruding from the wall. I’m all for culture shock and learning curves, but the issue was the bathroom was just always soaking wet.
Need to take a tinkle, Andrew?
How about brush your teeth?
Luckily, some of the staff were super prompt with cleaning the bathroom and I ended up timing my bathroom time to off-peak hours which was right after cleaning.
PHOTO SOURCE: ANDREW GEORGE|IPHONE 7
There were a few days of heavy rain which kept me primarily indoors. Luckily enough, one of the staff members (who also lives in the hostel) has their cute as hell puppy roaming around the hostel. Talk about stress relief and abolishing homesickness. I do remember his name, but it was in Korean and I don’t want to butcher it out of respect for the beautiful pup.
I did make real friends too! Luckily enough, I had a group of outgoing and energetic Filipinas in my room. They were super friendly, always asked me how I was doing and insisted on sharing travel stories. As the days came and passed, the group only got larger — a like-minded brother from Ohio, a talkative Brit and a humble Finnish girl. Not only that, but the staff were always super friendly and did not hesitate to join in on our discussions in the living room (their English is fantastic by the way!)
The Local Area
PHOTO SOURCE: ANDREW GEORGE|IPHONE 7
Hongdae is by far my favourite neighbourhood in all of Seoul. Beyond Myeongdong, Insadong and even Gangnam — Hongdae has a very unique charm to it. It is located near one of Seoul’s biggest universities — this alone garnered many benefits. During lunch, I found cheap student specials on all sorts of Korean fair. Many streets are lined with vendors selling extremely cheap, yet stylish clothing. If you are in Korea for an extended period of time, come with an empty suitcase and buy all of your clothes in hongdae…no joke!
Aside from the cheap shopping and food, the culture is just booming and vibrant. Where I found the rest of Seoul gloomy and grey in atmosphere, Hongdae was warm and energetic! The daily street performers definitely contributed to this vibe. No matter the time, young and old performers alike would set up in the centre quad and show their talent — and boy did they ever have a lot of it!
Although Hongdae is known for its clubbing and bar scene, I chose to skip out as it’s not really my cup of tea when travelling solo.
If I were ever to visit Seoul again, I would stay in Hongdae the entire time as I feel there is so much more to eat, more cafes to discover and plenty of more shopping to do!
Although someone with a high taste in accommodation may be turned away from Crossroad Backpacker’s quirks, my personal experience was fulfilling. Crossroad Backpackers gives you the opportunity to have a close-knit experience with other guests at such a good value — absolutely perfect for solo travellers! Crossroad Backpackers really shines with its awesome rooftop patio, super chill staff and its prime location in one of Seoul’s coolest neighbourhoods. Next time I’m in Seoul, Crossroad Backpackers Hongdae will be the way to go!
Use my code to book Crossroad Backpackers or any other property through booking.com and get $25 off (equivalent to one or two nights in most hostels.)