Updated July. 01, 2014 05:06
When I started the lodging business, most of guests were college students on a backpacking trip. But the trend has been changing since a few years ago. More and more tourists in their 30s and 40s are visiting my guest house after quitting their jobs, said Roh Taek-gyun (44), who has been running a Korean-style guest house "Food and Sleep" for 10 years in Rome, Italy. In the past, majority of the guests to Korean-style guest houses had been backpackers in their 20s looking for ways to save lodging cost. Now, tourists from older age groups are visiting the guest houses around the world.
Korean-style guest houses are essential for people traveling abroad for long term. Tens of Korean-style guest houses are thriving in major cities across the Europe. Minbakdanawa (www.minbakdanawa.com), a booking site for Korean-style B&Bs and guest houses around the world, presents a list of 700 accommodations in 100 cities. For example, the number of Korean-style B&B and guest houses in Paris, Rome and Barcelona is respectively 121, 44 and 36.
Lodging expense for one night at a Korean-style guest house is between 20 and 30 EUR (approximately, 28 thousand up to 43 thousand KRW), which is affordable price compared to a business hotel offering room rates from 70 to 100 euros (100 thousand to 140 thousand won).
Room rates of Korean-style B&Bs and guest houses vary depending on the location, but in the similar level of rates of hostels. Most of Korean-style guest houses are renovated private houses. In the dormitory, a room type shared by several persons, there are 3 or 4 bunker beds. Travelers who travel alone usually stay in this type of room. While sharing the room together, solo travelers can find a companion and obtain information on the tourist attractions.
Jeong (34), the owner of Korean-style guest house in London, the U.K., said Guests easily make friends as they drink beer and chat together in living room. Some of them continue their relationship by introducing job opportunities to each other even after they return to Korea.
Another attraction of the Korean-style guest house is provision of Korean food for breakfast or dinner. Choe (32), a company worker who traveled Edinburgh last summer, said, It was quite impressive to have Korean food such as Bulgogi, Kimchi and soy bean paste stew during the stay at the guest house.
Korean-style guest houses also accommodate many female travelers. Na Hee-yeong (35, female) who stayed at a Korean-style guest house in Paris for a long period, said Earlier this year, I quit my job at a publisher which I had been working for 10 years and went on a trip. If it were some years ago, I would have felt burdened by the idea of being a solo female traveler. But now it is not a big deal as there are many woman travelers who have enjoyed great travel alone.
The owner of Food and Sleep explained female guests account for the overwhelming majority, as the saying goes Men drink and women go abroad after quitting their jobs.
Some travelers have complaints against guest houses. Most of complaints are about different accommodation and services from the information posted on websites and on-line communities. In some countries, Korean-style guest houses are in business without any proper registration, making it hard for guests to receive any compensation for damages, if any, caused by the guest house.
Yoo, who revealed himself as 32-years-old office worker, said I booked a guest house after seeing pictures on the website before embarking on a journey to Europe last summer. But I was quite disappointed as the accommodation looked totally different from what I expected. It is not easy for travelers to distinguish advertising comments from frank impressions after using the guest house.