Korean culture has some charming subcultures, one of which is very similar to something us USAers might call “hipster” or less kindly, “hippies”. This isn’t just limited to younger generations, though, and the owners, builders and managers of the Fish Tree Guesthouse in Jeju are a perfect example of that. This older couple decided to build and open their own hostel and coffee shop, of which the coffee shop is still under construction. Because they’ve aimed to do everything from scratch, the guesthouse is roomy, designed down to the very bones and feels like a home, complete with a wall full of books. Indeed it is a home, as the owners live there too.
Let’s talk about that homey feel: a wall dedicated to chalkboard messages, another wall covered in (Korean) books, most of the interior “unfinished” as a design style, a kitchen full of ingredients in bottles and jars and other re-purposed and funky containers. Cushions on the ground in the computer area and an entire floor-level cave-like section next to the bookshelf, so you can properly lose yourself in a book. Spiral staircases led to the second floor and rooms and each bed in the dorm-style room had it’s own partition, like little cubicles for sleeping. The outside porch was huge and had several wooden tables and chairs that had me wanting to come back in spring, simply so I could sip coffee on the deck.
But it’s not all butterflies and rainbows, the coffee shop is still under construction and there is a pension being built next door. The parking lot is literally a bunch of gravel and there’s not a proper walkway, yet. There’s also no WiFi on the second floor, where the bedrooms are, but the first floor is more than cozy enough to spend some time in. The biggest issue you could have here is the couple’s inability to speak English; I would recommend bringing a Korean friend or knowing a few phrases yourself. It won’t impact you majorly, but the couple was beyond sweet and definitely worth getting to know, so not being able to communicate well with them would be a shame.
When I walked into the hostel, the wife was baking homemade cookies in the kitchen and immediately offered me some. (I can forgive anything with cookies, not that there was much to forgive.) For breakfast the next morning, she freely toasted bread, sliced up some Norwegian cheese that her relatives had sent her and spread homemade (of course) mandarin orange jelly on top to make a strange but yummy breakfast sandwich. And, like the sweetheart that she is, gave me more cookies. That woman really knew the way to my heart, I even forgave her for purchasing Crocs as the bathroom slippers.
Contrary to the “unfinished” look of the rest of the guesthouse, the bathroom was completely finished and clean and sparkly. It was only on the first floor though, so figure on getting used to that spiral staircase.
Overall, I had a wonderful cookie-filled experience at this guesthouse and if you’ve got even a little Korean under your belt, I’d definitely recommend you give it a whirl. If you have a Korean friend with you who’s interested in design or construction, well, you might have a difficult time dragging them away. Not that I experienced that or anything, ahem, nobody I was with spent 40 minutes looking at workshop tools or metal joints or asking about kinds of paint while walking around the building, definitely not. Nope.
If you end up visiting this guesthouse, drop me a line and let me know. I’d love to hear what you think. I hope you get cookies.
The Dirty Deetz
Name: Fish Tree Guesthouse (물고기나무 게스트하우스)
Address: Jeju Teukbyeol, Jachido, Seogwiposi, Sungsaneup, Samdalli 1037
제주특별 자치도 서귀포시 성산읍 삼달리 1037
Phone Number (Korean only): 064-783-1037
Prices: Dorm Room: 20k/night, Double Room: 50k/night (all prices in Won)
Capacity: Unless they have rooms hiding up their sleeves (possible), I saw 6 beds in the dorm-style room and 1 double/private bedroom.
More Information/Their Website (Korean only): http://blog.naver.com/fishtree72
What do you think of Fish Tree Guesthouse from the pictures? Where did you stay when you were in Jeju? What’s your favorite hostel look like?
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