Tag Archives: itaewon

No Naps Allowed – Hamilton Hotel Pool in Itaewon

Just last week I was swimming under a waterfall on the island of Jeju and last night I contemplated turning the heat on in my apartment. The weather in Korea at the moment reminds me of the transition from summer to fall back home in New England. The change is quick and if you don’t take the time to look around and enjoy the last bit of summer it will be time for scarves and boots before you know it. Toward the end of August I found my ultimate summer escape in Seoul. I was always intrigued by the loud techno beats booming from the rooftop swimming pool at the Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon, but I had yet to bring my bathing suit, towel and sunscreen with me to Seoul. Each time I exited the subway across from the hotel entrance this past summer I told myself I must plan a day to enjoy this infamous pool. Summer flew by and after some internet research I learned that the pool was closing after the first weekend in September, so I went to bed early and set my alarm on the last Saturday in August and ventured into Seoul the next morning to spend the day poolside.

My friends and I arrived in Itaewon a little after 11am and the pool party was already going strong. The pool was packed with swimmers and sunbathers positioned around the pool making it difficult to walk from one side of the deck to the other. I had imagined a day of lounging on a chair reading my book and listening to music from my headphones but these plans were immediately squashed. This was a pool party and one of the last of the summer so people were making the most of the day. We stored out bags in a locker, grabbed drinks and made our way to the pool. There was no room to lounge on the deck so we spent most of the day floating around the pool.

A DJ in the corner pumped out dance music and the pool guests danced, drank and swam away the day. I was impressed by the Korean women who easily maneuvered their way around the pool in skimpy swim suits and super high heels while many of the men continuously applied tanning oil to their buff bodies and strutted by each other making sure to flex and convey how much time they spent each week at the gym. The pool atmosphere was one I had yet to experience in Korea and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the entertaining show that was the pool party until the sun began to set and we were ushered out of the pool facility by the hotel cleaning staff.

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I only made it to the Hamilton Hotel Pool once this summer and I regret this statistic. The pool provided a great escape from the summer heat and humidity and it was easy to get to in Itaewon. If you are in Seoul next summer I recommend checking it out, but don’t bring a book or expect to take a nap poolside. There will be dancing and loud music and you will love it. Just consider yourself warned.

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Directions: At Itaewon Station (line 6) walk out Exit 3 and you will find the Hamilton Hotel directly to your right. The pool is on the 5th floor.

The pool is open from 10am-6pm most days during the summer. Arrive early if you want to rent a chair and secure a spot on the pool deck. You can also rent towels and lockers. The pool is closed on rainy days.

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Hummus Heaven at High Street Market

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“You look like you could use an almond milk coffee smoothie with real mint chocolate bits,” the man behind the counter caught me off-guard as I stood at the entrance of the store wide-eyed and drooling. “I can make it for you now and you can enjoy it while you shop.” I nodded, unable to verbalize my gratitude. “Did he just read my mind?” I thought. Maybe he did, or maybe he just saw me for the sucker that I am, regardless, the drink was beyond amazing and I couldn’t help but make a few annoying slurping sounds with my straw as I managed to enjoy each bit of the almond milk deliciousness as I browsed all that High Street Market had to offer.

I spy Nutella!

High Street Market is located in Itaewon in Seoul and had been on my list of places to visit for a few months now. According to the store’s website, The idea of High Street Market was conceived in late 2010 when a few foreign guys doing local import business decided to create a place where people could find the foods they missed back home, all under one roof.

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I knew I would most likely go shopping crazy when I visited, so I had to time my visit when I could manage to carry a few heavy bags from the store directly to the subway and home with no interruptions. I easily convinced my friend to accompany me for the trek into Seoul one Saturday, and I awoke the morning of our shopping trip itching to get my hands on a few precious foreign food items I have been craving: almond milk (duh, it’s awesome!) and hummus (the main staple of my diet at home).

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The store is easy to find, you take the Seoul Subway Line 6 to the Itaewon Station and use Exit 2. At Exit 2 you simply walk about 5 minutes until you see the IP Boutique Hotel on your left and High Street Market is right next to it on the 2nd floor. The address is 2F, 737-24, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea. High Street Market is also all about staying connected, you can find them on Facebook and Twitter.

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I managed to find what I was looking for and more. Two equally amazing varieties of hummus were being sampled along with crispy baguettes at the deli counter and two kinds of almond milk were for sale. There was some serious mind reading going on! I also found, among others, cooking spray, ingredients to make my own hummus, cookies for my students and fellow teachers, ranch dressing, Nutella!, Nature Valley breakfast bars and some locally made vegan treats from a Seoul favorite, Alien’s Day Out. The staff were extremely friendly and spoke English and they gladly recommended products and answered my foodie questions. High Street Market is known for their fabulous selections of meats, cheeses, breads, wines and beer, but they also have a comfortable corner of the store that serves as a cozy cafe sitting area. I could go on, but I am getting hungry…get yourself to High Street Market and I apologize in advance for buying all the hummus (I think I managed to snag 5 tubs!).

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