Koreatown Hotels in Full Demand until November

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Tourists are checking in at Garden Suite Hotel in Koreatown. Even in fall, hotels in Koreatown are often full with tourists who flock into Los Angeles. Sang Jin Kim
Tourists are checking in at Garden Suite Hotel in Koreatown. Even in fall, hotels in Koreatown are often full with tourists who flock into Los Angeles. Sang Jin Ki

Fall is usually not a popular time for hotels across the country, but Los Angeles Koreatown is proving to become an exception. Koreatown hotels use different marketing strategies and pricing criteria for rooms, but their popularity has been surprisingly high.

The hotels in the neighborhood say that rooms are fully booked on every weekend (from Friday to Monday) until the end of November. For vacant rooms during the week from Tuesday to Thursday, the hotels are now offering 10 to 15 percent discounts to attract even more customers.

Airbnb, an online marketplace for short term rentals and vacation homes, is also commonly used in L.A., but hotels are still far from replaced. Most importantly, South Koreans who visit L.A. have shown tendency to prefer traditional hotels over Airbnb.

For main Koreatown hotels, namely Oxford Palace, Garden Suite and JJ Grand Hotel, South Korean tourists make their reservations year-round. Some even say that the concept of a “slow season” for Koreatown hotels are simply non-existent.

“Just like most of the other hotels did, we had to increase our room prices by about 4 percent since May due to the rise of minimum wage,” said Oxford Palace manager Joanne Lee. “But 90 percent of our rooms are always reserved. Tourists who want to visit downtown and Hollywood often prefer our hotel [due to locational convenience].”

Aventura Hotel, which opened last year in September in Koreatown, is also becoming steadily popular beyond the Korean community for its boutique style. It also does not offer any food services to prevent sanitary issues and has established itself as a “business hotel” by providing office spaces for customers alongside a gym.

“About 80 to 90 percent of our customers are non-Koreans as we never really created a Korean-specific marketing strategy targeting Korean people,” said Aventura president Clyde Kim. “But because we’re located in Koreatown, we’re starting to see increasing number of Korean customers who make reservations online.”

Garden Suite Hotel has recently gone through a remodeling construction to make itself more appealing to customers.

“Reservations have been going up since reconstruction,” said Garten Suite Hotel manager Sean Kim. “Tourists from Korea also make up a big part of our customer base.”

Additional perks provided by Koreatown hotels are discounts for admission at shows and performances at Wiltern Theater and Nokia Theater. In fact, Oxford Palace Hotel specifically target customers who plan on attending an event at the Wiltern Theater.

A reason for part of the recent rise in customers at Koreatown hotels have been triggered by those who have not been satisfied with short term homes listed on Airbnb.

“I used Airbnb last spring and stayed at a family home in Koreatown to save some money,” said one customer who recently stayed at JJ Grand Hotel, only identified by his last name Lee. “It was too uncomfortable as we had to share the home with foreigners. I chose to stay at a hotel this time since the price isn’t that much higher when I’m traveling with a friend.”

On average, rate for rooms at main Koreatown hotels range from $110 to $140 per night on weekdays and $140 to $160 on weekends.

By Brian Choi