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What is a Seoul Officetel?

Updated on November 11, 2011

Officetel studio in Banghwa-dong, Seoul

dishwasher and microwave included
dishwasher and microwave included | Source
murphy bed - it folded for my halloween party
murphy bed - it folded for my halloween party
always kick off your shoes at the front door
always kick off your shoes at the front door

What is an Officetel?

This is a common type of apartment rental in S. Korea. It seems the word is derived from the word 'office' and 'hotel' - it is meant to be similar to a hotel in that people live there but the word office comes into play because there are offices as well (photos of the building and area are included in a slide show and below) .

My last year teaching there, I lived in an officetel. My officetel was a large building that had mixed rental units. My building was 14 stories high made up mostly of studio apartments (see photo of my apartment with those fun pink cabinets). Interspersed throughout the upper floors were a few offices. It you want to teach and remain in populated Seoul, most likely you will have an officetel. They offer many services and amentities and are usually close to mass transit.

The officetel floors are heated thanks to that lovely traditional Korean heating system known as 'ondol.'

What was so great was the first two floors - which were totally rented out to businesses. The main floor of this giant block long building were filled with restaurants, bakeries, gourmet markets, gift shops and other businesses. If it was cold, I never had to go out. Just hop on the elevator or walk down from my 6th floor apartment, or just order a meal from one of the many restaurants. They'd bring it up on a tray using real china and when I finished eating, I only had to put the tray out in the hall.

On the second floor I could even have botox done (if I wanted to). There was also a full dental office, tea room, nail salon, the rental office, a cleaners (they didn't clean on the premises - I could just drop off) also a noriebang (nor.ray.bong) - over here we would use the term karaoke instead. A noriebang is a place where you could spend an evening singing, noshing and drinking - and laughing of course.

Across the courtyard was my friend Christine who also lived in an officetel - on the 14th floor in a rather fancy loft. Of course between the two buildings we could go to Dunkin' Doughnuts or Baskin Robbins. Again there were many restaurants - and I must mention full pulbic bathrooms on the first and second floors. (S. Korea does not skimp on bathrooms. In fact every subway station in Seoul had a full female and full male bathroom).

Then across the street was another large officetel - and there Christine and I went to the gigantic two story gym up on the 9th and 10th floors. I also visited a ful service spa where I was pampered royally!

Once we found out what an officetel was we knew this is where we wanted to live - in full service buildings with a (friendly) concierge at the front door.

When you get settled in S. Korea, be sure to enjoy the amazing traditional side dish - kimchi! -(see links below for kimchi and one of my favorite foods - pa jun/Korean pancake - excellent!)

Enjoy the photos!

My neighborhood in Seoul

my officetel right near subway
my officetel right near subway
snowy view from my window
snowy view from my window
another snowy view
another snowy view
deliveries by ladder outside the building
deliveries by ladder outside the building
private homes in Seoul
private homes in Seoul
residences that are not officetels
residences that are not officetels

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