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Guesthouse Etiquette – The Do’s & Don’ts

Guesthouse Etiquette – The Do’s & Don’ts

What’s a guesthouse stay? South Korea has over 800 guesthouses and hostels and enough tourists to fill them all! If you’re planning on visiting and staying in a guesthouse or hostel, here are some things you need to know.


Don’t come too early! If check-ins start at 2PM you should respect that. The staff clean between check-out and check-ins, which leaves them a window of two hours to scrub the entire place. You arriving early is an inconvenience for them.
Along that line, if the guesthouse has a curfew, or quiet hours, you should respect those too. There’s nothing more awful than being woken up in the middle of the night when you have an early flight the next day.

Likewise, you should always respect your check-out time. Staff are supposed to get your bed ready for the next guests, vacuum and tidy up. They won’t be able to do that if you’re out of bed yet still packing. If you usually have trouble waking up you could ask them to wake you up.

Tip! If your flight is late at night the staff will allow you to hang out at the guesthouse until you leave, as long as you check out of your bed.

Shoes off!

Most guesthouses and hostels in Asia will require you to take your shoes off. They will usually provide slippers you can wear. If you go on the rooftop or terrace, chances are there are other pairs of slippers to wear. These slippers are pretty useful as you probably don’t want to step on crumbs or on any oil spills that tend to happen in guesthouse kitchens.


Bathrooms, of course, have slippers of their own, and you’re supposed to use them. Since most bathrooms in Asia are wet bathrooms, if you want to use the toilet and someone had a shower before you, chances are your socks are getting wet.

You might not want to leave you things in the bathroom as guests might confuse it to guesthouse-provided supplies. 10 guests can really empty that one bottle of your special, medicated shampoo you brought!

Rinse the sink and the shower floor after you use them. Picking up the hair clogging the drain after you finish your shower is also something you should do.

Also, try not to take too long in the shower during peak hours – mornings and late nights. You will most likely only get one free towel so make sure you don’t forget it in the bathrooms.


Most guesthouses offer a minimal breakfast with toast, eggs and coffee. Sometimes they offer cooked rice – always comes in handy to those who are travelling on a budget! As you can imagine, mornings can get pretty hectic in a guesthouse, as all guests are trying to eat.

Try washing the pan you used for your eggs after you finished using it so other guests can use it too. Moreover, remember that cleaning up after yourself is your responsibility. Do not leave the dishes around the kitchen and lounge areas. If you’re in a terrible hurry you can at least drop them in the sink.

Every Korean household and business recycles, thus, guesthouses are not an exception. Trashcans will be labeled accordingly, but, if you can’t figure out where to throw your trash ask a staff member. They will gladly help you since recycling fines are around 300.000 KRW.


If you snore, perhaps a dorm room bed is not the best choice for you. Also, if you live in a dorm room try to keep your things as tidy as you can.

You’re inconveniencing other guests by leaving your things all over the floor. As a guesthouse staff you are generally not allowed to touch the guests’ belongings. However, they will pick them up and pile them on your bed if the mess is getting out of control.


Take advantage of your guesthouse stay by making friends from all over the world. Be polite and say hello to people. If you’re travelling by yourself you might find a travel companion or at least someone to grab a meal with. Tourists can fashion directions like no one else, so take advantage of their knowledge.

Take part in group activities! It’s best to explore Korea with (new) friends. Additionally, guesthouses usually organize events like going out for Korean Barbecue or going to karaoke.


E-mail the guesthouse you are staying at in case you arrive early. They will generally let you drop off your luggage and ask you to return during check-in time. However, if you’re lucky, they might let you relax in their lounge area. Drink tea or coffee and watch TV while the rooms get cleaned.

Be nice to staff members! Most staff members are foreign and they don’t get paid for their work there. However, being polite goes a long way and who knows, you might score some free towels!


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