There are a wide range of accommodations in South Korea, from very inexpensive minbak (guesthouses) and love motels to luxury hotels, condos, and pensions.
When you're booking a room, make sure to specify that you want a Western-style room, if you want a bed. Korean ondol-style rooms don't have beds, but include blankets for you to sleep on the floor, which is usually heated during cold weather. If you stay in one, make sure you don't leave any electronics or anything plastic on the floor.
Outside of high-end hotels, most accommodations require you to take off your shoes at the front-entry area before entering the room. Bathrooms in lower-priced accommodations usually don't have shower curtains -- water flows down a drain in the floor.
South Korea has an extensive hostel network (about 70 locations throughout the country). Contact the Korea Youth Hostels Association, Room 408, Jeokseon, Hyundai Building 80, Jeokseon-dong, Jongro-gu, Seoul 110-756 (tel. 02/725-3031; fax 02/725-3113; www.kyha.or.kr), for additional information and membership requirements. Most hostels are open 24 hours and have dormitory-style shared rooms. Prices range from about W5,000 to W25,000 for a bed.
Motels for Lovers
In back alleys, on side streets, and along country roads lie discreet love motels, aimed primarily at those who are married and having extramarital affairs, and at young couples desperate for some privacy (most Koreans live at home until they get married). Many have obvious names like Hotel Venus, but others can be more obscure. A sure sign of one is the curtains that cover the parking area (to avoid having anyone recognize your car, they'll even give you a placard to cover your license plate) and the dimly lit lobby (usually red, but sometimes with colored lights).
But despite these slightly sleazy trappings, many of these places are just fine for tourists, particularly those on a budget. They are inexpensive, ranging from W30,000 to W50,000, depending on the day of the week. For a little extra, you can often get an in-room Jacuzzi or sauna. All of them supply toothbrushes, shampoo, lotions, and even condoms. Some of them have round beds with extras like mood lighting, vibrating options, and strategically placed mirrors. And most provide Internet access and in-room movies. If you don't mind the connotations, they're often clean and safe places to stay. It's also an experience you won't soon forget! I've made note of a few I can safely recommend throughout the book.