Seoul offers a lot of unique and popular neighborhoods (it is called "dong" in Korean) such as Hannam-dong, Insa-dong, Samcheong-dong, Myeong-dong, and recently one neighborhood called Ikseon-dong, is gaining attention from locals and tourists. Despite being one of the oldest neighborhoods in the center of Seoul, it only started to become a popular district after a lot of restaurants, cafes, and handicraft shops opened the business in this area. Even though most of the businesses are modern bars and western restaurants, they still maintain the Korean traditional village (called "hanok" in Korean) architecture for all of the restaurants and shops.
One of the recently opened cafes is Hotel Seine Cafe which is located less than 10 minutes from Jongno-3-ga subway station. Just like its name implies, the cafe is built in a building with 4 floors and the whole interior was designed just like a European-style hotel. It is said that this cafe was actually a real hotel that was built in 1979 and is an art space that retains its original architectural style. As Ikseon-dong is so famous recently, people have to queue for most of the restaurants and cafes especially on weekend, this cafe was also packed with people when I came here on a Sunday and I had to wait for about 10 minutes and the cafe is not available for reservation.
1st Floor: Lobby
You can place your order on the first floor and the "hotel" staffs will serve you. Right next to the counter is the bakery that offers various kinds of cakes and Canelé (a small French pastry flavored with rum and vanilla with a soft and tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust).
The cake costs around KRW 8,000 and the Canelé costs around KRW 2,500 for each and KRW 12,000 for one set (6 pieces). The coffee costs around KRW 5,000-6,000 and the non coffee, ade, and ice blended cost around KRW 6,000-7,000, and the beer costs around 8,000 per bottle. The drinks and the dessert are more expensive than most cafes but I guess because we also need to pay for the well-designed place.
2nd Floor: Cake Factory
They bake their own desserts on the second floor where people can also enjoy their drinks while looking at the chefs baking the cake. The 2nd floor design is more like a hotel lobby with a lot of seats and there is also one spot that is designed like a bedroom.
3rd Floor: Art Salon
Each floor has similar architecture with different atmosphere. 3rd floor is more cozy and artsy, and it offers a living-room like atmosphere.
4th Floor: Full Moon Rooftop Lounge
This floor is also part of the cafe and you can enjoy your drink and dessert on this floor. I guess they named it rooftop lounge because it is the highest floor and there is a balcony where you can see the whole Ikseon-dong district.
My friend and I ordered Strawberry Cake which costs KRW 8,000, Hot Budapest Mocha Cappuccino KRW 6,300, and Hot Royal Milk Tea KRW 6,800. Sadly the drinks were so so, nothing much special, and the cake was not as good as we expected. Overall I love the interior and the atmosphere of the cafe, I think it is a good place to spend the time with family and friends, and it is definitely a good place for photography, but it will be much better if they serve better drinks and desserts ^^
Hotel Seine Cafe 호텔 세느장
> Address: 28-5 Donhwamun-ro 11-gil, Nakwon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul 서울 종로구 돈화문로11길 28-5
(click here for map)
> Phone: 02-745-4664
> Operating Hours: Mon~Sun 12.00~10.00 PM
By subway: From Jongno-3-ga station (subway line 5), exit no. 6, walk down the street until you see the second junction, turn right, the cafe is located at the back alley