March 03, 2021 13:18
The coronavirus epidemic has prompted growing numbers of people to move into hotels because rooms are now so cheap that they make long stays easily affordable.
The sharp drop in foreign visitors has forced hotels in the downtown shopping district of Myeong-dong, trendy Hongik University area and affluent Gangnam to advertise long-stay packages. And a growing number of people in their 20s and 30s who are bored at home in lockdown have snapped them up, both for the service and a change of scene.
One 31-year-old office worker moved into a three-star hotel in central Seoul last week just a 10-minute walk from his office. The monthly cost is W660,000 or just W20,000 a night (US$1=W1,125). He said he wants to save time from his usual two-hour round-trip commute from Seongnam south of Seoul and use the hotel's gym for free.
"The hotel room has no kitchenette, but I can heat up something to eat in a microwave in the basement or have food delivered," he said. The hotel also has a coin-operated laundry room. "It's really hard to find homes for jeonse [or Korean-style deposit lease], so I wanted to move into a hotel for a month since that does not require a large, lump-sum deposit."
An affordable hotel room costs between W450,000 to W650,000 a month, rising to W700,000 to W2 million for more upscale places. According to the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, the average cost of motels in Seoul is W42,692 a night, so a hotel room costing around W600,000 a month is roughly half the price.
Moon Jung-ho (47), who runs a guest house in Myeong-dong, has been taking guests only on a monthly basis since last June. Moon rents out 21 rooms for W450,000 to W600,000 a month.
A growing number of websites have popped up pitching such long-term stays. Kim Byung-joo who runs the website, www.livinginhotel.com, said 40 hotels have signed up in just four months after he launched his business.
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