UPDATE: The Hongik Hello Kitty Cafe has moved! Click here for a post about the new cafe!
I guess most people are meant to grow out of their childhood obsessions as they age into adulthood. Before coming to Korea, I tried to make myself more ‘grown up’: got my dip-dye locks cut into a boring bob, bought professional black and white clothes: long, shapeless skirts and baggy cardigans, and gave away most of my brightly-colored clothes and make-up *sob*. Thankfully, I quickly realized that it’s generally acceptable for fully grown women to wear bright and bold outfits and accessories plastered with cartoon characters here. And even though Hello Kitty is Japanese, she’s just as popular here as she is in Japan. Sooo, lucky for me, there are two cafes in Seoul completely dedicated to all things pretty, pink, and Kitty!
The most popular Hello Kitty Cafe is in Hongdae; we first visited it last year around Chuseok, and though I was impressed with the abundance of bright pink Kitty-ness, it was sweltering, packed with tourists, and consequently reeked of B.O…not exactly the best first impression! (Click here to read that post!)
Despite its cotton candy pink exterior and oddly-shaped architecture, the Hongdae Hello Kitty Cafe is actually pretty easy to miss, cuz it’s located up a random little alley off of the main shopping street. (Check out the bottom of this post for detailed directions.)
You’ll be greeted by an array of Kitty-shaped cakes, waffles, and other confectionery delights upon entering the cafe. They have a pretty wide assortment of drinks on offer, too, ranging from milkshakes to smoothies to lattes and cappuccinos with chocolate Kitty-shaped silhouettes sprinkled on top.
Of course none of these treats are vegan-friendly, so we settled for pretty pink lemonades instead!
I wish I could say I loved spending time here, because so much care was put into the design and embellishments (check out the plush armchairs and sofas topped with kitty ears and bows!), but the standards of cleanliness and maintenance here really let it down. Decals were peeling off of the walls, the floors and surfaces were super grimy, and there was trash laying about everywhere. And the place wasn’t even that busy this time.
Maybe I’m just too much of a clean freak nowadays, so PUHLEEZE don’t miss out on this place cuz of me. It is definitely a must-do in Seoul if you’re remotely into cute stuff.
There are so many cute little details in this cafe, too, like these little display cases.
Cute embellishments along the stairs.
My favorite features are these huge Kitty-shaped cutouts. Shame about all the poop scribbled all over the walls, though!
A couple additional thoughts about the Hongdae Hello Kitty Cafe: there are two floors, but I’d strongly recommend heading to the upstairs seating. It’s a bit dim and cramped downstairs, upstairs is much brighter and a bit more spacious. Also, the staff speak English, so no worries if you can’t speak Korean!
The second Hello Kitty Cafe in Seoul is located in Sinchon, just a subway stop away from Hongdae. (Check out the bottom of this post for directions!)
Whereas Hongdae has a kind of glitzy, glam vibe, the Sinchon cafe is done up like a shabby chic country house.
I don’t really care for the decor here…it feels kind of like a Kitty-themed nursing home. But, it is WAY less crowded, hot, and stinky than the Hongdae location.
There were about four other people here when we visited, on a Sunday afternoon.
Like the Hongdae location, this cafe also has two floors, and an outdoor seating area.
This place certainly wasn’t immaculate, but it was cleaner and a bit tidier looking than the Hongdae cafe. This cafe also seems to enforce a pretty strict ‘no graffiti’ policy.
Some Kitty merch for sale. Too bad there’s no price tag on the armchairs (not that I could afford them!)
Directions to the Hongdae Hello Kitty Cafe:
Hongik University Station, Exit 9. Walk straight, turn left at TGIFriday’s and cross the street. Walk straight up the street and turn right at a small Tony Moly cosmetics store. Walk on the left side of the street, and turn left at a Watson’s drugstore. By now you should see some banners for a (real) cat cafe (right next to the Kitty Cafe – how convenient?!) and the Kitty Cafe in all its pink glory will be towering right in front of you!
Directions to the Sinchon Hello Kitty Cafe:
Sinchon Station, Exit 3. Walk straight. Turn right at a Nature Republic cosmetics store on the corner. Keep walking straight – you’ll see an Artbox across the street (just mentioning it in case you wanna stock up on some more cute necessities…) Turn right at a bright pink Naughty Cat accessories shop (another prime place to stock up on cute stuff, just sayin’…) and walk up the street. The Hello Kitty Cafe will be on your right.
Peace, love, ‘n’ pink stuff!