Dispatches from the Field: Urban Love Hotels in Seoul

Today we bring you the latest in a series called Dispatches from the Field, a feature where we ask Flavorwire friends and family living abroad to share thoughts and images from their travels. This installment showcases Seoul, South Korea, through the lens of Eric Reeder, (a repeat contributor!) a recent transplant from San Francisco and an architectural design professor at Konkuk University.

Check out his second Flavorwire dispatch — which explores the titillating world of love hotels — after the jump and be sure to leave any questions for Reeder in the comments.

“I recently wrote about experiencing Seoul’s underground shopping network. It only seems appropriate to continue a theme on Seoul’s more hidden side. Plenty has been written about the “love” hotels of both Japan and Korea. But you may not know that Korea has hundreds (if not thousands!) of these conjugal accommodations everywhere from major urban areas to countryside hideouts. One does not have to travel far in most parts of the country to find budget accommodations for some, and pay-per-hour pleasure rooms for others.

“What intrigues me most is the presence of these monolithic forms in the city. In Seoul, the love hotel can be sought out in just about every neighborhood. Of course there are areas and urban districts that seem to be predominately passionate, so to speak. Often they are inconspicuously sited on city streets with flamboyant signs and theme-drenched colors. At night many hotels undergo a complete transformation, seductively lit and invariably shuttered with small punched window openings. Entries and car parks are screened with slatted plastic drapes, discreetly shielding patrons for that anytime interlude. These places are unmistakably visible in their presence and yet secretive in what happens behind the facade. It’s a fine line between secluded privacy and sensational advertisement.

“Before you formulate a mental picture that love hotels are seedy and dirty, think again. Seeking out these budget accommodations on a number of occasions has led me to some of the most comfortably clean rooms (for the price) I have ever found anywhere. Budget conscious travelers can rest easy with all of the sexy trimmings included. Getting past the kitschy, sometimes thematic garb is the hard part.”

For more from Reeder, visit his architecture blog, Condencity, here.

Related post: Dispatches from the Field: Underground Shopping in Seoul