Hotel has low-priced rooms in high-rent neighborhood
Hotel Capri sits on some of the most expensive property in the capital on Garosu-gil, a two-lane street connecting Apgujeong-dong and Sinsa-dong in southern Seoul. Frequented by art, film and fashion industry professionals, often seen sipping wine in bars at night, the area has been compared to the East Village in New York City. The sleek skin-colored marble structure hides behind stalks of bamboo. From the outside, Hotel Capri exudes a sophisticated atmosphere and seems to fit right into the culturally rich atmosphere of the fashion boutiques, art galleries, chic cafes and bars surrounding it. However, a search for the entrance reveals that the hotel still follows the old Korean custom of hiding hotel entrances for the privacy of guests. If you are able to get past the somewhat hideous entrance covered with plastic curtains, there is a simple and tidy lobby and the interior, which resembles any respectable boutique hotel, will resolve any initial doubts about the quality of the establishment.
The hotel is only five stories high and has about 50 rooms in total. The hallways maintain the clean and fresh image that greets guests in the lobby, with floors covered in earthy Mexican tiles and guest room doors of lightly-stained wood paneling. My initial impression of the room was, “Oh no, this is another 1980s-style Korean motel room.” However, stepping further in, I was relieved to find the rooms were designed with “less is more” in mind, giving the room a contemporary ambience. Thanks to its large flatscreen TV mounted on the wall, the room has enough space for a queen-size bed, a small refrigerator and a two-seat sofa, and still space to place your luggage. My only complaint is that the sofa can only be arranged to face the bed, making it difficult to comfortably watch TV. There is only one small window, about 2 feet by 4 feet, in the corner, which allows only a tiny bit of natural light to peep in. To remedy that problem, there are two small lamps attached to a wall-mounted mirror in front of the bed. The bed linen appears bright and fresh, but that didn’t fool me ―the cheap quality and worn-out feeling of the sheets jumped right out at me ―as did the stiffness of the mattress. The walls also told the truth of the aging hotel, as they were covered in a grubby residue.
The bathroom, located on the right of the entrance to the guest room, is quite spacious compared to the overall size of the room. There is one small sink and a mirror, but there are no vanity or toiletry products, making it nearly impossible to comfortably get ready or even wash your face in the bathroom. Next to the sink are a shower booth and a triangular jacuzzi bath with seats molded to fit the body. The shower seems to be a better choice for those actually interested in using the bathroom for its conventional functionality: bathing. But for guests looking to unwind and relax in a hot bath, the jacuzzi seems to be the better way to go.
Internet access is not available inside the hotel, but that should not be a worry because a clean cyber cafe is just a minute’s walk away. The hotel does not have any on-site dining options, but that is because the neighborhood surrounding Hotel Capri is full of posh cafes, theaters and shops that represent the elite styles and tastes of Seoul.
Hyundai Department Store, one of Seoul’s premier shopping stores, is only a five-minute drive from Hotel Capri. The high-end fashion and party district is also only a 10-minute drive away, as is Itaewon, Seoul’s foreign neighborhood, and the downtown area.
Hotel Capri is good value for travelers looking to spend under $70 on a hotel room. For a good price, you still get decent accommodation in a quiet and safe environment located in one of Seoul’s most convenient places.
As long as you don’t expect the same level of service and superiority that you will find at five-star hotels, Hotel Capri should not disappoint.
Tel: (02) 542-9954
Address: 535-12 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu.
Room rate: 60,000 won; 70,000 won for a rooftop room with outdoor jacuzzi.
Bathroom: Sink, mirror, shower booth and jacuzzi.
Check-in time: Anytime; an extra charge will be added for daytime use of rooftop rooms.
Check-out time: Noon.
Transportation: Sinsa subway station, line No. 3, exit 8.
by Brett Stewart