Korea's Love Hotel Booking App Is Now a Billion-Dollar Business. But What Exactly Are Love Hotels?

In Korea, Love Hotels Are Now a $1 Billion Business – Here’s The Scoop on This Rising Trend

Learn about what you can expect when you visit a ‘love hotel’ in Korea.
Couple under bedsheets looking intently at each other.

Image credit: Pixabay

Where would you go for love? Perhaps an obvious answer — hotels. Yanolja, a love hotel booking app recently made headlines when it was valued at $1 billion dollars. 

Founded in 2005, the company was one of the first to advertise and offer online reservations for love hotel operators. They also offer renovation services to aid love hotels, which was once deemed sleazy, into comfortable accommodation options. 

But what exactly are “love hotels”?

Love hotels are hotels that provide small rooms for couples (and solo travelers) for a short amount of time. While rates do go by the hour, some hotels also accommodate guests for a full night’s stay. 

Due to the flexible arrangements, these hotels have a reputation for catering to prostitution (illegal in korea since 2004), extra-marital affairs and other amorous relations. 

And yet, despite the repelling image, the industry has continued to boom. These days, Love Hotels also serve budget travelers. So, if you are interested in staying at one, here are 8 facts about Korea’s Love Hotels. 

1. It’s safer than you think

Image credit: ╬ಠ益ಠ)

While it is true that love hotels have unsavory clientele, a big bulk of their consumer base comprises of young couples looking for privacy. Like many other traditional asian societies, Koreans live with their parents until marriage. Hence, such hotels provide them an outlet for intimacy. 

The hotels also pride themselves on cleanliness and have room service. Rest assured, you won’t be accosted against your will!

2. They’re surprisingly easy to find 

Love hotels can be found very easily. Take a walk around the streets and you will see motels with misspelled names. They lurk in many corners and are centrally located in the city, giving you the ease of convenience to visit many attractions. 

3. Love hotels are cheap

With many options easily available and often within walking distances of each other, the hotels keep their prices competitively low. The pricing includes amenities like towels, soap, shampoos, and you guessed it contraceptives (for some hotels, this can be purchased from reception). Many also have sound-proof walls, a luxury that I admittedly struggle to find in budget hotels. 

4. You can indulge in your themed fantasies

Besides having a quiet oasis with your lover (admittedly a fantasy for some), you can find love hotels with whole floors and rooms decorated in different themes. Soccer fanatics would appreciate the jersey hanging over their bedpost on the wall. Or, if you are into some role play, you could get a medical room, complete with doctors’ coats and ‘equipment’. Whatever your fancy is, it can be fulfilled. 

Image credit: Victoria Rose (TOP via YouTube), VICE (BOTTOM via YouTube)

5. There’s Entertainment

Just like the themed rooms, you can find rooms that are made for karaoke, furnished with big jacuzzi tubs and even hot stone spas. Some also have cinematic rooms for you to watch regular movies as well as R-rated films. 

Image credits: MsBlackoreanlady (via YouTube)

6. Automated check-ins and check-outs

Shy about facing the receptionist to book in? Many love hotels will allow you to book in and out without having to deal with a third party. Just check the rooms available on their screens, make payment by credit and enjoy your room! Yup, they’re surprisingly tech-y. 

Image credit: Karl Baron

7. Does not cater to homosexual couples 

Interestingly, these hotels do not cater to male, gay couples. But you can enter in groups of three at a higher price (depending on the hotel).

8. It originated from Japan

You might have noticed that some of the pictures above (included for illustration purposes), are from Japan. In fact, love hotels originally started in Japan during the Edo era. Illicit affairs were conducted in hotels through secret entrances built from teahouses. After all, there is nothing more exciting than something kept under wraps. 

Also read:10 Love Hotels In Tokyo For Loved Up Couples

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Alicia Chong
Alicia Chong

Besides dreaming of far-fetched locations, Alicia enjoys training herself and others on ice in figure skating.

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