9 Cafes Making A Statement in Hongdae
I’ve been doing a lot of cafe hopping lately likely due to the humidity and heat that has embraced Korea this summer. All I want to do is find a cool place to hang out, eat some sweet treats and chat it up with friends. Luckily I live near the Hongdae/Hapjeong/Sangsu area which has no shortage of cool, cute, boutique,rustic, and modern cafes. There’s literally something for everyone. Here are some of my favorites over the past month or so of being out and about in the area.
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1. Ban Bossy Boutique (밴보시부티크)
Ban Bossy Boutique is an oasis of teal and pink that is hidden away on the third floor of a building down an alley that definitely needs to be hunted out if not for the colors, then definitely for the gorgeously decorated Plank&Gilt desserts. The sign outside is simple black and white so you’d have no idea that it will lead you to this beautiful interior painted in aesthetically appealing colors for any afternoon dessert stop with gal pals. The lemonades are served with ice cubes frozen around flowers and the cupcakes are served with frosting so delicate you’d think the flowers atop them were real. Just to be on the up and up here though, they are prettier than they taste. The cupcakes were a bit dry for me. This third floor cafe is a must find if you want to find that oasis in the middle of the madness that is Hongdae and take tons of Instagram-friendly photos though.
Address: 서울특별시 마포구 서교동 408-17 3층
2. Thanks Nature Cafe
Since my little one is now extremely interested in animals and can say the sounds for basically all of them including the elephant and zebra, I have a new found interest in taking her places where she can cozy up with the furry and hairy beasts. Luckily for us, Thanks Nature Cafe also known as the sheep cafe is literally right down the street from us so we meandered on over to see how the little one would react to real live sheep. There is always something interesting and quirky to find in Hongdae. Thanks Nature Cafe has been in the area for quite awhile and is the first animal cafe with something other than cats and dogs that I know of. Visit it and then head out to some of the other fun and cool things to do in Hongdae. There was baahing, laughter and poking mostly. What more could we ask for? The cafe is set down a flight of steps. The steps lead to an area that has been cordoned off where two sheep make their home. The sheep are Maengu, or if you’re like my little one and just learned the word mango then his name will sound more like Mango probably, and Jjangu. Maengu is the bigger one and seems to be the go-getter of the pair confidently walking right over to introduce himself and see what sundries we had for him to chew on. The smaller one is Jjangu and once he got an eyeful of the little one traipsing into the pen, he skedaddled to the safety of his smaller pen which has a sign that asks that people don’t enter. I think it’s their safe place and respecting that is always a good thing. They are basically outside except that they are covered by the floor above so they are protected from inclement weather. The sheep are friendly and the staff in the cafe is ever watchful and will come and sweep away the poo pellets and put sawdust on the pee so that no one is getting dirty. There is a bench around the pen area that people can sit on to hang around the sheep for some time if they like as well or if you want a different vantage point like our little one, then the bench is the place to go. We visited on a weekday afternoon and there was only one other couple of girls there taking their time drinking coffee and occasionally going to take a gander at the sheep. This meant we had the sheep to ourselves and our ever giddy child for most of our time there and that was great. The sheep seem to be well taken care of and are used to the poking and prodding of little ones. The cafe, where there are food and drinks, is housed inside separated from the sheep by a glass wall so no food or drink can be contaminated. There aren’t any high-chairs for smaller children, but who is going to bring their child and spend a bunch of time in the cafe anyway? The fun is out with those baahing maniacs obviously. We ordered some drinks and this fruit lovers waffle to take a break between the sheep fun. It wasn’t amazing, the blueberries and strawberries clearly the frozen sort that had just been thawed, but we didn’t go for the food anyway. It wasn’t terrible though to be sure, it was all devoured in a good ten minutes or less.
Address: 서울시 마포구 서교동 486 B1F
3. Bold Coffee (볼드커피)
If this isn’t a statement, I don’t know what is! Seriously though, Bold Coffee looks like any normal coffee shop when you enter on the first floor and place your order. It isn’t until walking down into the basement that you see why this cafe is so cool. Aside from the bold Bold painted on the wall that is obviously photo-op friendly, the basement is a cement block seating area strewn space with plants and soft mats to keep it comfortable. It’s like you’ve stepped into an old bathing house turned cafe, a style that seems to be all the rage these days. Did I dig it? I sure did.
Address: 서울특별시 마포구 합정동 376-9
4. Dessert Yeonguso (디저트연구소)
Flufffy pink, beige and brown decorations abound and set against the white tiled walls and the metal bars, the feeling is chic and comfortable at the same time. The desserts are scrumptious with the most popular being a peach look-alike that opens up to a cheesecake surprise inside. The tiramisu was topped with a candied apple and chocolate beneath the layers and both held their own in this eloquent dessert cafe. The ades were extremely satisfying in the Seoul humidity too. This is a fluffy diamond in the rough between some of the popular bars in the area.
Address: 서울 마포구 와우산로29마길 22
5. Bunny Cafe
To continue with the theme of fluffy and cute, head to Bunny Cafe. More about the bunnies and less about the drinks and treats. The cafe is the first floor of a three or four story building that is painted pink in its entirety. The Alice in Wonderland vibes are on point and the “garden” area is inviting for pics while you wait your turn to sit with the actual bunnies and enjoy some quiet time. Remember to be quiet around these fickle beings and only feed them what is provided by the staff.
Address:마포구 서교동 347-3
There are a ton of cool places to go and things to see in Hongdae so don’t miss out. Visit some cafes or head to the area for a very delicious brunch with friends.
Want something to do AFTER you’ve finished at the cafe and you’re looking to wander around Hongdae? Here are some awesome options while you’re in the area:
- Have you ever wanted to make your own neon light? You can in Hongdae! Check out this awesome experience.
- Check out the Virtual Reality Arcade inside of L7 Lotte Hotel. It’s fun for all ages. Get your tickets with Klook for discounted rates.
- Did you know you can go fishing in Hongdae? You sure can. Check out this very unique experience.
- See the Nanta Show at the Hongdae theater. Get your tickets online for a great discount with Klook.
- Escape rooms are awesome and there’s one in Hongdae too. Head there with some friends or your kids and have fun trying to BREAK OUT!
- Join a handmade ring making workshop at Hongdae Rings Village. You can design and make your own ring.
- Ever want to experience K-pop photoshoot with K-beauty makeup and hair styling? You can in Hongdae.
- Head to the Trickeye 3D Museum. Get your tickets online before you go for a discount.
(NO LONGER OPEN) Nitt sits down a side alley and is easy to miss when walking around the Hapjeong area, but the billowing cabana like curtains inside and out along with the inviting pink and green color scheme make this stop feel like you’re sitting in a wicker and rattan 70s era vacation stop. This stop is good for an afternoon ade or coffee and dessert or head there in the evening for some beer and wine. The lighting makes it the perfect place to drink in a relaxing dark lit atmosphere before you head out to get riotous.
Address: 서울특별시 마포구 합정동 412-27 1층
7. Anthracite (앤트러사이트)
Set in an old shoe factory, this Anthracite in Hapjeong is, in my opinion, a bit more appealing than the other in Itaewon. This Anthracite is dark and moody with all of the mismatched appeal it could muster. The ceilings are high, the coffee and desserts delicious and there are plenty of places to sit and hide away to get work done or have a serious conversation. This factory turned cafe is giant so if you want a spot you’ll be almost assured to find seating in, then head here.
Address: 서울특별시 마포구 합정동 357-6
8. Dinga Cake House (딩가케이크)
This quirky little shop is out of the main drag area of Hongdae/Hapjeong in the Yeonnam-dong area so unless you’re headed there, you’d likely never find this place where cakes are trying to look like hamburgers and hot dogs but taste of carrot cake and tiramisu. From outside to in, the vibe is 50s mother in the kitchen whipping up delicious treats for her good little children. Everything is freshly baked and decorated and they often sell out by evening so be sure to stop in early to get a specific item the likes of Earl Grey, Red Velvet, Chocolate and Carrot cakes if that’s what you’re after. The cakes were just decorated beautifully, but they tasted amazing as well. I was digging the buttercream action.
Address: 서울 마포구 동교로29길 68
9. Bean Brothers (빈브라더스)
Bean Brothers is another warehouse turned cafe style spot that is making their own kind of statements like “We are nothing without brotherhood.” That’s definitely something I wouldn’t mind reminding people of now and again. High ceilings like any good warehouse cafe should have and good coffee invite you into this substantial space perfect for a little convo on the go. This is one of Ian of Vineworks fave meet up spots so if you spot him inside, say hi!
Address: 서울특별시 마포구 합정동 368-3
Are these just not enough? There are even more cafes to check out in Hongdae and here are some MORE you can be on the lookout for while you’re there. If you want something to eat, then look no further than this Brunch List With All of the Must Eats In The Vicinity!
Cafe hunting is one of my favorite things to do. You definitely don’t have to go to the same cafe twice in Seoul. What’s the best cafe you’ve found around?
Want to stay in this area with great cafes, restaurants and a night life of live music and art? Stay in the Hongdae district. This district is known for live music venues, restaurants and art. One place that you should check out is L7 Hotel. It’s easy to get to from the subway and has all of the amenities you would want in a chic stay. Lotte Hotel is renowned for its quality services and friendly staff, and L7 Hongdae lives up to expectations.