Artistic collaborations at RYSE Hotel Hongdae’s boutique scene was officially on the rise when this property opened in 2018, and local crooner Zion.T helped put it in the spotlight when he staged a performance in one of their rooms to launch his new album. Artist Suites devised in collaboration with global designers – from artist Yeojoo Park’s Twilight Zone series in the multi-coloured suite 1504, decked out with neon-tinted windows, to a creative workspace complete with long tables and chalkboards by online magazine Maekan – are sure to get creative juices flowing. The hotel’s hip Side Note Club introduced guests to one of the city’s rare rooftop bars and an indoor space with a vinyl-record press and curated collection of LPs at the guest-DJ’s fingertips.
The K-pop Lover’s Guide to Seoul —
Take a break from snapping selfies with street buskers to explore some of these K-pop inspired spots in Hongdae.
Bulgogi at Baliu Sikdang A trendy, yet traditional Korean restaurant with a manageable menu perfect for both novice and experienced barbecue diners, this eatery serves up the country’s famous grilled beef, as staff ensures each slice of bulgogi is sizzled to satisfaction. Meals come with traditional sides called banchan, including kimchi and fried fish cakes, and Korean beers like Cass and Hite or a bottle of Chamisul soju for shots keep diners imbibed throughout the meal. If you’re looking to make a night of it, go ahead and get a round of each.
An all-night dance party at Henz Hongdae is becoming increasingly known for its hip hop clubs, and this spot is a must. A typical Saturday night inside the fog-heavy venue sees a crowd of local hipsters in hip hop-inspired baggy jeans and bucket hats (Henz also has a street-fashion shop in the neighbourhood). Clubgoers are treated to guest DJs and rap performances, but don’t expect anything to start before 1 a.m. – even then, you might be early to the party. Seoul clubs typically don’t close until 4-5 a.m. with everyone at Henz dancing to the beats until sunrise.
Karaoke at Su Noraebang Let off some steam quickly and cheaply in a one-person room at this popular karaoke (noraebang) spot (a one-hour session costs about five dollars). If you are with friends, channel your favourite member of BLACKPINK or EXO as you belt out K-pop hits in a spacious luxury room. 367-39 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
K-pop books at Youngpoong Bookstore Consider this your one-stop shop for all K-pop-related books (unofficial anthologies on BTS, anyone?). You can also buy songbooks with chords and notes to learn how to play top K-pop tunes on the piano. 176 Yanghwa-ro, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Doll clothes at Idolllook Dedicated K-pop fans collect dolls and plushies of their favourite idols. (If you don’t have a doll, they are readily available at the merch stores on Hongdae Street.) Once you have outfitted your doll with new clothes and accessories, pose it with new clothes and accessories, in one of Idolllook’s Instagram-ready photo booths featuring backdrops with everything from birthday party decorations to colourful bathtubs. 04051 Hongik-ro 6-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea (4th Floor)