After spending so much of my time in cafes around Seoul, I thought I would write a post dedicated to some of my favorite places in Hongdae* to study, write, or just relax with friends.
Blanc is tucked away on the corner of the main road between the Sinchon and Hongdae subway stations. I like eating breakfast or lunch here because the pastries are absolutely delicious and a bit different from the usual Paris Baguette fare that I’m accustomed to. The first floor has very limited seating so just head up to the spacious second floor which has decent tables for studying and enough outlets for plugging in laptops and phones for a long study or Skype sesh. The WiFi is fairly dependable, their Americano is decent, and the atmosphere is really good for studying.
Apparently I never took a photo while I was at Blanc…my bad.
Comma is a cafe run by a Korean publishing company and while its drinks are on the expensive side, the atmosphere is worth the cost. Study or chat surrounded by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with books. Books that you can borrow while you’re there. Books that you can buy if you can’t bear to leave without finishing a good story. There are areas devoted to avidly studying individuals and a large area great for meeting friends to chat. A smaller room past the counter has the best atmosphere for studying – it’s cozy and quiet, and you’ll often see people holed up there with triangle kimbap wrappers and stacks of highlighters. They mean business with their studies, and their focus helps me stay motivated, too.
Warning, though – the WiFi is not strong with this one.
Ddeoki Joah is right near where I lived for the past two months, so I frequently would buy a take-out Americano (which meant that it was both discounted AND I was given the biggest size for no extra charge) and drink it throughout the day if I had stuff to do at home. If you’re interested in special Korean treats, they make some beautiful creations out of 떡 and specialize in more than just coffee. The ground floor is only open later and is a bar, the second floor is where you order coffee or tea and can sit and chat, and the third floor is supposedly dedicated to language exchange and studying. It has a lot of seating on the third floor and even a rooftop area for smokers or anyone who wants to look out over Hongdae.
Unfortunately, there can be a lot of problems with the WiFi, but the atmosphere is really nice and the cafe’s location on one of Hongdae’s back streets makes it even more special.
Her Coffee Cup is no study cafe – and to be honest, I never have tried any of their coffee. I have, however, sampled the ridiculously delicious bingsoo served at this tiny little cafe set on another of Hongdae’s back streets, just out of sight of the hustle and bustle and tucked between several chicken or barbecue places. The serving sizes are positively gigantic and the price is quite decent for the size, averaging about 12,000 won for a delightfully tasty bingsoo that could feed a small army. Also, the music selection is A+.
I highly recommend the bingsoo that comes with an entire piece of cheesecake on top. If you want something more yummy and special than Seolbing, grab a friend or two and head here. Besides the bingsoo, the extensive menu of delicious desserts is bound to have something to win every single person over. Warning – Her Coffee Cup is so small that you may have to wait for seats! But it’s so, so worth the wait.
This is it. This is the place. Rarely have I encountered a cafe as uniquely wonderful as Noriter, and it was only last summer that I was introduced to the Edae one (which is why there’s an asterisk here – technically, I frequented the one in Edae) and this summer I discovered that there is one in Hongdae as well. The pictures above are from the Hongdae cafe.
Do you like reclining at table? This cafe divvies its space up into little areas divided by low walls or creates small wooden caves (in the case of the Hongdae cafe). The one in Edae has little steps to leave your shoes on before you enter through beaded curtains and crawl onto a nice big cushion to relax. Like living like a king? Clamber up a ladder feeling like you finally built the two-storied fort of your childhood dreams and survey your cafe kingdom.
While the surface area for laptops and notebooks is limited since each space has only one small round table about a foot off the floor, it’s still great for studying due to good WiFi, excellent music, an inspiring, creative atmosphere, and the seriously comfy cushions. Do your best not to live here, though.
퍼스트 펭귄카페 | 1st Penguin Cafe
This wonderful cafe is also a great studying location. Outlets are numerous, the WiFi is strong, and the coffee is quite good. If you need a snack or want to grab a small breakfast, you can buy a bagel and cream cheese to make those stomach rumblies go away. Penguin also has a very sweet older gentleman who is at the counter almost all the time and will occasionally dole out treats to regular customers.
The cafe sells some books and occasionally advertises k-dramas, though I’ve yet to figure out precisely what connections the cafe may have to, say, SBS. For example, I once overheard a group of PDs for SBS discussing their work at the table next to me…Say whaaaaaat? *Gus from Psych’s face* Regardless, I’ve spent many a day studying here and people-watching out the windows, and I definitely recommend it!
카페 레드빅 | Cafe Redbig
Redbig is the cafe of my life in Korea. I’ve gone here so frequently and for such long stints that I might as well live there. All the workers recognize my best friend and me, and I also recognize some of the other cafe regulars (many of them are musicians who practice in the building). Redbig wins an A+ rating for everything – atmosphere, WiFi, clean bathrooms, good music choice, and absolutely delicious coffee & tarts. Get the 더치커피. Try every single type of tart they sell. And while you’re at it, enroll in their rewards program because you’re going to start going there as often as I do every time I’m in Seoul.
Depending on the time of day and on your study habits, Redbig might not be the best place to study (go for Penguin if it’s 불금 and you need to get your 열공 on in a quiet cafe), but it’s definitely the place to find inspiration if you’re a writer or an artist. It is also great for studying earlier in the day, before Hongdae’s streets begin to swell with people as dusk comes and the nightlife stirs. Not studying? The evening atmosphere is prime for chatting with friends.
Also, if you’re a lover of music/performances, Redbig Space hosts events just below the cafe. If you don’t end up going there, Yes23 Muv concert hall is right around the corner. All in all, Redbig wins many times over in terms of location, in my opinion – it’s out of the crazy rush and crush of Hongdae’s main streets but it’s on a well-worn track between Hongdae and Hapjeong, and it’s never lacking locals who know which places in the area are really worth a visit.
Do I count as an honorary local yet?
Now go forth, my friends, to drink coffee and study hard!
읽어 주셔서 감사합니다~
지금 재생 중:
Time for an oldie but goodie (and an aptly named song for a cafe blog post) ㅎㅎ