Recently there’s been an explosion of people posting pictures and a ton of hype around a new cafe in Hongdae. There’s been discussion about long lines that wrap around the already crowded streets and tons of cute pictures in Hogwarts house robes with scarves holding wands and a platform 9 3/4’s halfway through the wall like they have at Kings Cross in London.
This was the main purpose of my outing. To visit the Harry Potter cafe that had created so much of a buzz. The line wasn’t too bad, just average long for a newish cafe and before we knew it we were in. The building is quite big. There are five floors. In the basement is a pub that doesn’t open until 6:30pm and then three floors above the main floor with seating options. The main floor is where you order and can take pictures.
From the outside there’s a lot of magic that reminds one a bit of Universal Studio’s. There are windows filled with Harry Potter merchandise and around the corner is the platform 9 3/4’s spot. (with its own line) The closer you get the more you can see a wall of wand boxes like Ollivanders. I was so pumped. This was going to be my second Harry Potter themed cafe in South Korea (or third) and Hogsmede in Daegu knocked it out of the park. (so bummed it closed). I was ready for butter beer and cute pumpkin treats, Harry Potter inspired things and just a fun step into the books and of course plenty of Instagram worth photo spots, because that’s just how things are here.
The rule is you have to at least order a drink in order to stay and take pictures. So we did, we bee-lined straight for the counter and perused the menu. There was nothing Harry Potter inspired on the menu. Drinks ranged from 5,000 won (for only an espresso) to 7,500 won which was mostly everything else on the menu. I ordered a choco latte, which is essentially a hot chocolate. It was 7,500 won and while I waited we took pictures. (note I have heard that they do a limited run of butter beer, so there is a chance they were sold out when we went, it could also be something in the bar which we didn’t go to.)
We sat on the stairs and took pictures, posed with the wall of wands and then moved on and…well….
There were a lot of photo op places. But not a lot of it was Harry Potter. There were a lot of books scattered about in little nooks and corners, there were a couple other merch things as well, and I guess if you could squint you could see that they maybe were trying for different things with each floor. Like maybe the second floor was suppose to be a common room or library. Which one I don’t know.
And maybe the third floor was a dining hall?
And the top floor was one of the bedrooms?
One of our friends ended up just staying with our stuff (and drinks) on the second floor while the two of us ran off to go explore. We ended up in line on the top floor which was the other photo op area. This is where the robes were. (It looks like they move them around some times) They only had three out of the four houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin and Hufflepuff. No Ravenclaw to be found. (Update: According to a friend whose been much more recently they now have Ravenclaw robes!) We waited in line for about an hour, which in Korea for something like this and the amount of people in front of us wasn’t too bad. We even made friends with the exhausted students who hadn’t slept in days behind us. (I don’t miss finals time) When we got up to the front we donned our robes and scarves and took a couple pictures. There was a chair with a lamp that people were pretending with a wand they were turning on, a Christmas tree and some mechanical snowglobes (one in an old TV), there were suitcases so you could pretend you were on your way to school and a pair of brooms. It was fun and the only reason we stayed in line was so we wouldn’t have to do it again.
Once we were done we hurried down stairs to our waiting friend promising to buy her drinks later as thanks. Our drinks had long gone cold and weren’t bad just…not worth 7,500 won, especially since there wasn’t anything Harry Potter related. No latte art, nothing. Essentially, like Urban Space, you’re paying for the opportunity to use the space for photos.
The only thing they offer that is Harry Potter related is Harry’s pink and green birthday cake. It’s the tiniest cake you’ll have ever seen and they do sell it, but it’s 17,000 won and everyone I spoke with was intrigued by it until they saw the price.
We still had fun, but it was more or less despite the fact we felt disappointed. The cafe was hyped up and so we were expecting a Universal Studio’s-esq level of Harry Potter magic and a little less mundane. They did try but just for how hyped up it was it let us down. I however can not speak for the pub in the basement. (Which is where I assume the train is since we couldn’t find it) I am interested in returning and giving the pub a try.
The cafe is open Monday through Tuesday from 11:30 am until 10pm and on Friday through Sunday from 9:30 am until 10pm.
The pub (Hog’s Head located in the basement) is open Sunday through Thursday from 7:30 pm until 5am and Friday and Saturday at 6:30 pm till 5am.
There is also an elevator available to take up the floors rather than the stairs surrounded by portraits. (and not necessarily portraits from Harry potter, just regular portraits) So if you want to wait in line for Harry Potter inspired photos or Harry Potter adjacent photos this is the spot for you.
Some friends went recently: A Ravenclaw robe is now available and they did manage to order an elusive butterbeer. I’ll try to go back sometime in 2019 to give it a try and also the pub in the basement since I’ll be living a bit closer. I’ll give an update when I do.