1. The Home Seoul
While Seoul has a plenitude of hanok cafés, this new joint stands out for its simple charms. It’s located well away from the tourist circuit, but those who stumble upon it will discover a tiny garden of gently flexing bamboo set against an L-shaped building constructed with aged wood. The menu includes drip coffees, teas and refreshing fruit concoctions like strawberryade. 87 Inchon-ro 1-gil
2. Nam June Paik Memorial House
A peaceful nook in a hectic neighbourhood filled with textile workshops, this hanok once served as the home of Nam June Paik, a pioneering artist known for creating sculptures out of televisions. Today, it contains tributes from contemporary creatives as well as a set of digital panels on which visitors can view Paik’s works by turning the knobs of a vintage Samsung television. 12-1 Jong-ro 53-gil
3. Gyeongyangsik 1920
Today, virtually all of the century-old hanok lining the arrow-straight lanes of Ikseon-dong have been renovated, drawing flocks of hipsters. These include Gyeongyangsik 1920, a trendy restaurant serving up Korean comfort food, including hambak (Hamburg) steak and donkkaseu (pork cutlet). The retro furnishings – think dusty pink sofas and drapes – complement the hanok’s original woodwork perfectly. 17-30 Supyo-ro 28-gil
Though it’s just a short hop from the perennially crowded Gyeongbokgung Palace, this taproom feels like a well-kept secret. Hidden deep within a warren of alleys, the refurbished hanok features an open-air courtyard and a long bar beneath a wall panel with mother-of-pearl inlay. With its intimate atmosphere and wide array of brews – including the citrusy Slow IPA and creamy mocha stout – you’ll find it difficult to leave when the clock strikes 1am.
5. Hyehwa 1938
While the majority of Seoul’s hanok hotels are situated in Bukchon Hanok Village, newer ones are opening up in areas like Hyehwa-dong, which is known for its universities. Hyehwa 1938 is unassuming at first glance – the only signage is a small plaque near the door – but step inside the 80-year-old hanok and you’ll discover antique furniture and calligraphy panels alongside mod cons such as tiled bathrooms and Western-style beds.
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours as well as booking and seating requirements before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.
Photography by Dylan Goldby
This article was originally published in the October 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine