Lonely Planet Writer

Korea's latest trend in automated love motels allow you to book and stay without ever encountering hotel staff

With windowless rooms and a box to drop off your key, you might have assumed love motels in Korea had already mastered the art of anonymity. In the past two years, however, a new type of love motel called mu-intel has emerged, and it’s intensifying the experience for (many an) illicit lovers.

The entrance to this muintel surrounded by blossom trees.
The entrance to this mu-intel is mastering the art of anonymity. Image by Hahna Yoon

Meaning “no people stays,” these automated love motels allow you to shack up without ever encountering another human being face-to-face.

The concept is so rarely discussed that even many Korean natives don’t know what they are, but a quick search for a mu-intel in Korean on local search sites show hundreds of results. (These days, a simple Google search in English will even show a handful of locations.) After booking online, you can pre-pay by credit card or wire transfer the amount in advance.

Drive-in garage at motel
You need never see a soul when you check in. Image by Hahna Yoon

Mostly located outside Seoul, the most common method to arrive at mu-intels is via car, giving them the alternate name “drive-intels.” You simply show up, call the motel and a garage door with the number of your room opens. Press a button at the door to check in and a button to check out.

Relaxing view of the in-room bathtub with a balcony beyond.
Myeongja hotel in South Korea where you can check in and out without seeing anyone Image by Hahna Yoon

With mu-intels a relatively new endeavor, it’s not difficult to find a decent, clean space for affordable prices. However, find yourself a mu-intel in a random, off-the-beaten path location and the chances of finding a spectacular modern suite with a flat-panel television, mountain views and a jacuzzi skyrocket. Case in point is The JaJa in Gongju, a city in the South Chungcheong Province where you can book a 925-square-meter, two double-bedroom suite with free Wi-Fi for $80 a night, or check out one of the many mu-intels in the area.