The Tongmyong Hotel
The Tongmyong Hotel: Introduction
Wonsan's main tourist hotel is the Tongmyong Hotel. This 1990s-built 42-room is a comon place to stay and has been undergoing on and off refurbishment for years now.
It is a pleasant enough place with an excellent seaside location plus the usual sprinkling of kitsch fixtures and facilities that you would expect to find in a North Korean hotel outside of Pyongyang.
The Tongmyong Hotel: Location
Right by the seaside on the east coast of Korea, looking out across the bay towards the Kalma Peninsula which is currently undergoing extensive redevelopment into a new tourist zone, complete with a brand new airport.
Over this side of the bay in Wonsan, a pretty fisherman-lined causeway leads from just outside the hotel to Jangdok Islet.
Guides are sometimes happy to walk from here to dinner and other sites in Wonsan- the city centre area is quite compact.
The Tongmyong Hotel: Exterior
The hotel is quite typical for an early-90s provincial Korean hotel- strong on the functionalism and concrete brutalism, a little less so on the more delicate aesthetics.
Tongmyong Hotel main building is a circular tower offering sea views from most rooms.
The Tongmyong Hotel: Interior
The rooms of the hotel run around the outside of the building, with an inward-facing balcony on each floor.
The lobby is a large circular area in the middle of the building, with adjoining bar, coffee shop, and bookstore.
The rooms are fairly basic but generally comfortable; superior rooms have comfier beds plus a lounge area with sofas.
The newer bathrooms are plastic, functional and forgettable- for a pampering and proper scrub, head down to the sauna and pool area.
The Tongmyong Hotel: Visiting Tips
- Ask for a room with a sea view- you are on the east coast, and the sunrise can be spectacular.
- The bookshop is well-stocked and a good place to ask for old harder-to-find Korean titles.
- Enquire on the current electricity status when checking in- outages are common, and if you are on a higher floor and only staying one night you might consider leaving your main suitcase on the bus rather than hiking it up many flights of stairs.
- A morning walk along the causeway to the lighthouse is a nice idea if you have time and prearrange with your guides- it’s a nice chance to see Koreans relaxing, check the morning catch with the fishermen, and take in a view back over the city with the residential blocks leading up into the hills.
- In summer, the hotel can usually rustle up an outdoor seafood barbecue, which makes for a memorable alternative to indoor restaurant dining.
- The hotel has a good sauna and a unique heated indoor seawater pool.
- The second-floor bar has recently been refurbished and has a sort of French wine cave de dégustation feel to it. Walls are lined with dusty corked bottles of wine (pro tip- check first for freshness…some have been open a while) and it has a low lighting classical music charm to it.
- The restaurant and dining hall is found beyond the second-floor bar, with pleasant views over the sea.
- The fourth floor has table tennis and another bar. You can challenge the lady who works there to a game- she will play (for a small fee- that makes her a professional, right?) and easily beat you. Whilst wearing heels, of course.
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