A few weeks ago I went on my very first staycation, as I was invited by Incheon Tourism Office to come and enjoy the city of Incheon. While I have explored much of Korea over my 9 years of living here, I have to confess, the only time I have visited the city of Incheon is to go to the airport, despite the fact it’s only an hour away from Seoul. The biggest lure of the inclusive trip for me was the VIP ticket to the World Club Dome music festival. I do enjoy a good rave, but have had such a busy summer I haven’t been to a single festival this year. So when I was offered a chance to go, I quickly agreed, and packed up my unicorn horn and headed off to dance the night away to Armin Van Buren
As part of our package we were granted a stay at the Central Park Hotel, in Songdo. The hotel is conveniently located right by the park and we were afforded the most beautiful views from our room on the 11th floor. The room itself was really nice, I never expected such luxury. It was a very overdone gold gilded affair, very Liberace but anyone who knows me will tell you that is exactly my style. The best thing in the room was the fabulous king-sized bed in the center of the room. The sheets were silly soft Egyptian cotton and really high quality I had the most wonderful nights sleep upon them. The bathroom was glorious too, with the a rainfall shower and huge Jacuzzi claw foot bathtub. The room came with all the amenities you’d expect including a fridge which we were able to fill without own goodies and lovely white cotton robes. I hadn’t imagined I would get up for breakfast after such a hard nights partying at the World Club Dome, but I awoke ravenous and managed to drag my ass out of the bed for something to eat. The dining room down on the lobby floor was rather large and put on a rather good spread for breakfast. Coffee, fresh fruits and juices, pastries and a variety of western breakfast and dinner dishes. However if you aren’t staying it is probably not with the 20,000 if it isn’t included in the room rate.
After checking out of the hotel at midday, we sauntered off to have a go on the Incheon City Bus Tour. The tour starts Incheon Station and goes all the way to Songdo Central Park, with seven different stops along the way including China Town, Wolmi Culture Street, and Incheon City Museum. The bus cost 5,000 won for a one day ticket allowing you to jump on and off as often as you please. The first bus starts at 9:30am, and the last bus leaves at 5:20pm. If you manage to visit every stop and collect a stamp at each, you can even exchange it for a free prize.
After a busy trip exploring all that Incheon had to offer, we were desperate need of lunch, so after receiving a recommendation form a local friend we headed to Burger 101. It was just opposite the hotel on the other side of the park. I’ve written at length about burger options in Seoul, but I had no idea of the scene that was happening in Songdo. This was just what I needed to cure my creeping hangover. The Roasted Cheeseroom (10,500) was a 7oz beef burger topped with roasted cheddar, red onion, bacon and slathered in horseradish mayo. I was very happy when I saw the mound of horseradish mayo on this one but it did make it very hard to eat. We also ordered the BBQ Onionroom (10,000), a 5oz burger topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, onion rings and BBQ sauce. This one was also a delight,as I love any burger with onion rings on it. We also upgraded each of the burgers to include a soda and fries for an extra 5,000 each. The burgers were good, and while I wouldn’t travel all the way there for another, it was a great option while in Songdo. When we explored the area more we also stumbled across another swathe of Korean and foreign restaurants which all looked promising so you aren’t likely to go hungry in Songdo.
We ended our trip with a fabulous five course course dinner at the Panoramic 65 restaurant at the Oakwood Premier Hotel. There is a special lift in the hotel to take you all the way up to the 65th floor, it is so high up our ears popped. The weather was a touch on the cloudy side in the early evening so the view was rather misty once we arrived, but as soon as it got dark we could see the sparkling lights of the city below. We sat down in the very extravagant high ceilinged dining room, which was wrapped in floor to ceiling windows. We were recommended to try Set B, a 6 course menu which cost 75,000 per person. We stared our evening with Carpaccio Di manzo, which consisted of thinly slice Raw Beef with Black Olive Pesto, Parmesan Cheese, Cherry Tomato
and Arugula. Our second course was a rich and creamy celeriac and clam chowder. It paired perfectly with the freshly baked bread. After the soup came the salad course, we were instructed to choose our own dressing, I went for the light and zingy lemon, whilst my beloved choose the balsamic. Once our plates were cleared we were presented with a magical foggy bowl of watermelon graita to cleanse our palates before moving on to the main course of chargrilled rib-eye. The melt in the mouth steak was served with vegetables, mashed potato and Madeira sauce. It was great. We finished up with coffee and a tiramisu. All in all a lovely meal, and quite affordable compared to other hotels. If you have a special occasion it is the ideal place to celebrate.
Overall I was surprised there was so much to do in Incheon, and we didn’t even take full of advantage of everything to see. I’ll certainly be going back, there are some lovely hotels and it’s the perfect city getaway or another option if you have a layover at Incheon airport and don’t want to come all the way into Seoul.