Although we've never stayed in a room at Hotel Homers we lived in the apartment building next door for many months and used the facilities at the hotel almost daily. Overall our experience was superb and we would recommend anybody visiting Busan to check out the Gwangan Beach area instead of the overrated Haeundae Beach.
First of all, Hotel Homers is in an excellent location directly across the street from Gwangan Beach, with exceptional views of the Gwangan Grand Bridge, which is illuminated at night with lights that change colors every few minutes. The Gwangan Beach area is interesting, not as overly touristy and crowded as Haeundae even at the August peak, and has lots to offer the adventurous traveler. Loads of crab and raw fish restaurants if that's something you like, but they are not cheap.
The public facilities at Hotel Homers include a gym, a Korean mineral resting room, male and female 24 hour "saunas" (bathing, shower, saunas, plunge pools, massage, haircuts, more), banquet rooms, a Chinese restaurant, a lobby restaurant and beer garden patio, and baked goods and pastries for sale. Parking is available in a garage below the hotel.
If you haven't yet had a chance to try public baths in Korea, the Homer's saunas are a great place to start. According to the hotel's website, hotel guests can use the gym, resting rooms, and saunas for 4,000 Won days and 7,000 Won evenings (about $4.41 and $7.71 at current rates). Open 24 hours. We used to pay for a monthly membership at 140,000 Won, definitely overpriced but this was the gym/sauna closest to us.
In the saunas you pay or show your card at the front desk (ladies 4th floor, men 6th floor), pick up a t-shirt, shorts, and locker key, then go to your locker to change. If you just want to bathe and shower, undress and walk nude (everybody walks around naked, so try to get used to this. It's no big deal) into the pool and shower area. Here you'll find three pools, one cold, one hot but comfortable, and one very hot pool. All are deep enough to submerge to your neck sitting up. Shower up and settle in for a relaxing dip overlooking the beach.
After your bath you can take a hot or cold shower, hit the sauna, or arrange for a massage or haircut, all of which are available in the men's area (similar on ladies floor). There are lots of towels around but in Korea most saunas and hotels offer towels about the size of a hand towel, so just use several to dry off. There are toilet facilities and a well-stocked vanity area with hair dryers and toiletries.
The gym is clean, with newish equipment, but not designed for the power weightlifter. Treadmills, minimal free weights, bicycles, an aerobics/yoga room, universal machines, even a pool table if you want to shoot a game. You might find it odd that there are shoe cupboards here but in Korea you leave your outdoor shoes in a locker and use your gym or other house shoes indoors. This is on the 3rd floor.
The mineral resting room (5th floor) offers a place where men, women, and children can relax. We never used the rooms but we did note that there is also a restaurant here that serves basic Korean fare: soups, rice rolls, etc. Overall, except for the smoking area in the stairwell outside the resting room, the facilities at Hotel Homers are clean, modern, a good value, and in a great location in Busan.
That said, if you haven't yet been to Busan keep in mind that the nearest subway stop is about 500 meters away, so it's a bit of a hike, especially in hot and muggy August. (Green line, Gwangali stop) But, as in most big Korean cities taxis are extremely ubiguitous, cheap, and one comes along every couple of seconds. Cab drivers will take you for short trips without complaint, though almost none speak any English.
As another reviewer pointed out there is a Java City coffee place next door, in addition to a Haagen Dazs ice cream shop and convenience store (across the street from yet another convenience store. They're extremely numerous in Busan). Baskin Robbins and Starbucks are a short stroll down the street but we would encourage you to try the numerous small Korean places for the best food and local experience. Fish markets, traditional outdoor markets, restaurants, shopping, amusement parks are all within walking distance.
Finally, Busan, and Korea in general, is an extremely safe place for travelers. Crime does exist but it is very rare and it is not uncommon for families to be out walking the beach late and into the early hours. Parts of Gwangali are seedy and rundown, but that's what makes it charming and interesting. Altogether, if you want a somewhat pricey but western-style hotel in a great location, with great facilities on-site, we'd heartily recommend Hotel Homers.
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- Also Known As:
- Homers Hotel, Hotel Busan
- Homers Hotel Busan