Busan is South Korea’s second largest city, situated on the south eastern tip of the Korean Peninsula and is noted for its beaches, mountains and temples. We had taken the Korail high speed train direct from Seoul arriving into Busan in 2 hours and 45 minutes. We were then pleasantly surprised to find that the Arban Hotel was just a short metro transfer of six stops from the main Busan Station.
The hotel is then a five minute walk from Seomyeon Station, an interchange station connecting to two lines. Exit 7 from the metro station is the nearest and most convenient to the hotel, saving a lot of unnecessary walking above ground. The Arban Hotel is located in a vibrant area of the city surrounded by many shops and restaurants but as the hotel occupies the upper floors of a tall building it is perfectly quiet.
Arrival and check-in:
Entrance to the hotel lobby is via lifts in the entrance vestibule as the lobby and reception desks are located on the 13th floor. The front desk staff were very welcoming and polite, wearing badges indicating the languages they spoke. Staff are able to converse in English, Japanese, Chinese and of course Korean which is very helpful for overseas visitors. Check-in is actually available at any time of day subject to the room being available which is something other hotels should consider doing. We were offered a city map and it was suggested that we contact the desk should we have any more questions regarding our stay or about places to visit.
Out spacious room was located on the 10th floor along an attractively decorated corridor. We had arranged to stay for five nights and on opening our door, we knew we would be happy as the room had everything we needed and more for an enjoyable stay.
A huge, super-king size bed complete with premium quality bedding faced a 55″ television on which we found numerous English speaking channels. The windows provided far reaching views across the city centre as well as flooding the room with natural light.
The wardrobe and cupboards featured sensor lighting when opened which was useful and came equipped with the usual thick cotton towelling robes and slippers found in high end hotels. The bathroom was equipped with a jacuzzi, large walk-in shower and a Japanese style electronic WC with numerous settings. Fortunately, a card affixed to the wall translated these options into English as when we have used these toilets before we have had to take pot luck when pressing the buttons to find out what actions they performed. The glass wall separating the bathroom from the sleeping area had a blind which could be utilised as needed.
In addition to a powerful hairdryer, luxurious South Korean toiletries including bubbles for our jacuzzi were provided. A large fridge had plenty of space for our fresh milk, cold drinks and chocolate supplies and came equipped with complimentary bottled water which was replenished daily. Sitting on top of the fridge was a hospitality tray with plentiful supplies of coffee and black, green and fruit teas. A note informed us that a microwave could be borrowed at no extra cost but as we didn’t need to use one, I am unable to comment on this service.
A large buffet breakfast selection is available at an extra charge in the rooftop restaurant on the 13th floor each morning. It took me a couple of days to remember to press the up button for the lift to take us there, as it’s so unusual to eat breakfast on a higher floor than you are sleeping on.
The breakfast room had floor to ceiling windows leading out onto the attractive rooftop garden. A series of stainless steel domed lids revealed a wide selection of hot Asian dishes from noodles to dumplings and delicious bao buns. There were also cold meats, salad, fresh fruit, croissants and a toaster providing enough variety to keep those who prefer Western dishes happy.
Although it’s not possible to dine outdoors, one can still take a stroll in the rooftop garden to enjoy the lovely views. The buffet area, like everywhere else in South Korea, was spotlessly clean and we noticed the chef frequently bringing out more food so I’m sure there would still be a full selection if you popped in late.
The rooftop breakfast room acts as a bar in the evenings, being a delightful spot to sip a drink whilst watching the sun set. Despite the hotel not having its own restaurant, there are dozens of lovely places to dine in Seomyeon that are on the doorstep. On the ground floor of the building there is a 24 hour cafe which offers a discount to hotel guests.
Out and About:
Gamcheon Cultural Village
Nestled into a steep hillside, this former dilapidated slum neighbourhood was transformed into a creative community in 2009 when its tightly packed flat roofed houses were painted in pastel shades and murals starting appearing on outside walls. Small arts and crafts shops have since opened and its worth spending a few hours exploring the village’s maze of narrow, winding lanes.
Oryukdo Skywalk and the Igidae Coastal Walk
This horseshoe shaped glass walkway juts out over a 35 metre high cliff where one can watch the strong waves below crash into the rocky coastline. After taking a walk along the Skywalk, cross the road and follow the 4.5 km Igidae Coastal Walk around the peninsula. We enjoyed the breathtaking views and stunning scenery along the way but I suggest only taking this walk if you are quite fit as the trail is quite challenging in places with some rock scrambles and many flights of steps both up and down as you make your walk along the coast.
A very pleasant and easy 4km looped trail in the southern part of Yeongdo-gu. As well as rugged coastal views, one can visit a lighthouse, observatory and temple along the route. For those unable or not wishing to walk very far, a land train operates a regular service along the main route making stops at several points of interest.
This is the most popular beach in South Korea with visitors flocking here during the warmer, summer months. It‘s located in the eastern part of the city and after viewing its large, sweeping bay, we followed a path in a westerly direction towards Dongbaekseom Island. This small island is connected by a wooden footbridge and from there we enjoyed some good views of Haeundae.
These gardens offer free admission and contain over 600 varieties of plants. There’s also a large glass house with lush vegetation, tropical and desert plants which are all clearly labelled.
Busan is a shopper’s paradise with both the Seomyeon and Nampo districts having bustling centres. Shops are open until late in the evenings and we found it fun to go window shopping, strolling along traffic free roads illuminated by a myriad of neon lights.
Street food stalls serve up a delicious selection of affordable snacks which we were often tempted to sample. I recommend trying Hotteok which are Korean style sweet pancakes and made to order. There’s always a queue but the chewy texture and crunchy filling had us returning for more.
No visit to South Korea should take place without spending an evening at a local restaurant. With a cooker in the centre of each table and a chef/server lending a helping hand it’s the perfect way to round off a day of sightseeing and tastes delicious accompanied with a couple of beers.
This independently owned hotel makes a perfect base when visiting Busan as it is located in the centre of bustling Seomyeon and conveniently situated for visiting Busan’s many attractions and places of interest. We liked everything about the hotel from our beautifully appointed room to the vast array of Asian breakfast delicacies. Prices at the hotel compare favourably with large, well known chains and I would have no hesitation in recommending the Arban Hotel as we would definitely stay there again next time we have an opportunity to visit Busan.
Details: Arban Hotel, 32 Jungang-daero, 691 neon-gil, Busanjim-Gu, 47287 Busan, South Korea
We were guests of The Arban Hotel and as always all views and opinions are entirely my own.
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