Guesthouse COOOOL: A Grown-Up Hostel on Haeundae Beach

Once a hostel fanatic, I’ve found myself disliking them more and more as I get older. I’m no longer up for the late night partying I once enjoyed in my younger days, and I much more prefer a clean, comfortable and private space to grimy communal ones. Of course, because I travel frequently, I do appreciate a good deal, but budget accommodations that don’t compromise these aforementioned qualities aren’t so easy to find.

So, I was extremely happy to discover Guesthouse COOOOL on my latest visit to Busan. Situated just a block from the famous Haeundae Beach and a short five minute walk from the subway station, it is one of the more centrally located hostels in the southern coastal city. The neighborhood is packed with fantastic restaurants, bars and even a traditional market. The location was a selling point for me, as I was participating in the Sea Life Aquarium Shark Dive, located smack dab on the beach.

When walking into COOOOL, one immediately gets a sense that the guesthouse is a place of tranquility. Unlike most hostels, COOOOL is roomy and decorated with modern furnishings, making it feel more grown-up and refined. Yet, at the same time, an open kitchen and a spacious living room complete with comfy leather couches and a big screen TV, give it a homey atmosphere. The spaces themselves seem to invite guests to mingle over a glass of wine or to relax in solitude with a good book.

The guest rooms, which are sex-segregated, are just as nice. I stayed in an eight bed dorm room which was stylish but simple, and equipped with both ondol (floor) heating and air conditioning — a must-have in the summer heat. The bunk beds and linens were clean and each bed was equipped with a power outlet. Each also had a very large locker and an additional open space to hang clothes, which is super convenient for travelers staying a few days or more. It would have been great to have a personal light, as other guests continuously turned on the main light throughout the night, so hopefully COOOOL will incorporate this into the room plan in the future. Another problem with the rooms is that the walls are paper thin and there’s no “lights out” policy, so it’s a good idea to bring along a pair of earplugs.

The bathrooms were also sex-segregated, so I didn’t see what the men’s looked like. However, the woman’s was fantastic. A separate powder room contains plenty of spaces to keep one’s belongings while showering, as well as all the amenities a girl might need during her travels. Hair dryers, brushes, facial creams and a number of cosmetics were available for use, and fresh towels were consistently replaced, which is not the norm in most budget accommodations. The shower room is communal in true jjimjilbang style, which might be off-putting to more modest guests, but it didn’t bother me.

One of the main selling points of COOOOL is the excellent hospitality and service offered by the owner, Chris. She was absolutely wonderful from the moment I arrived to the time I departed. Although her English is limited, she went out of her way to recommend restaurants, made sure I had an umbrella when it started raining and gave me coffee coupons when I mentioned I was going to a cafe. Her tomato, egg and cheese sandwich and freshly ground hand-drip coffee, which is included in the price of the room, were also stellar… one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had at a guesthouse.

It’s obvious that Chris, a former interior decorator, has not only worked hard on the aesthetics of the hostel, but has ensured that every need of each guest is anticipated and taken care of. Free maps, communal laptops, free WiFi and even a BBQ pit have been provided to ensure everyone has a pleasant, memorable and cool stay.

More Information: Guesthouse COOOOL
Address: 626-2 4F, Woodong haeundae-gu Busan, South Korea
Phone: 010-7357-6001
Price: Basic 8 Bed Dorm ₩40,000 (weekdays); ₩45,000 (weekends)
Reservations: HostelWorld Booking ; Airbnb Booking (If it’s your first time using Airbnb you can get $25 off by clicking here!)
How to Get There: From Exit 5 of Haeundae Station, walk straight for about 200 meters. Take a right at the Y-intersection at Baskin Robbins. Walk straight for 40 meters and you will see the CU convenience store. Take the road on the right just before it. Guesthouse COOOOL will be on your left, just next to Hotel 2NE1.

Although this post was sponsored by Guesthouse COOOL, the opinions are, of course, my own.

Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.