One of my favourite things about Seoul is its abundance of animal cafes. A part of the culture for years, more recently opened cafes have branched out from the traditional cat and dog themes to more unusual pets like raccoons, owls, and beyond. However, I have deliberately avoided these more ‘exotic’ cafes for fear of poor animal welfare – plus, a friend took her dad to the raccoon cafe and he was bitten, subsequently requiring stitches and several hospital check-ups. Of course, dogs and cats can be similarly mistreated, but due to their domesticity, I don’t really have any problems with their being kept in cafes – provided they are well looked after. And generally speaking, the animals in the cat and dog cafes I’ve visited have been treated like kings.
In addition to their daily meals, every animal cafe I’ve visited sells a range of tasty (but healthy) treats that customers can buy in unlimited numbers and tempt the animal residents with – usually, given Korea’s obsession with documentation and social media, in exchange for a selfie or two (or fifty). Sadly, many cafes house animals that will only really spend time with you if you have food to share, which is where 구름 뜬 하늘 (Cloud With Sky) differs.
Recently opened on one of the quieter backstreets of Hongdae and named after its two biggest dogs, Cloud and Sky, the cafe has fewer animals than some of its competitors in the area, with six permanent residents and already plenty of regular visitors and guests (they also offer a ‘doggy day care’ facility). The cafe space is very generous, though, and larger than some other cafes I’ve visited – where far more dogs have been crammed in.
The dogs here are all very young, with the oldest being only two, which means they have an almost boundless supply of puppy energy and are pretty likely to want to play with you. This, combined with the lovely owners (who clearly adore their animals) and the fact that this is still a fairly new establishment, makes for the friendliest dogs around. They’ll play with you, sit with you, and fall asleep on you without the need for any food-based bribery – though snacks are for sale if you wish to give them a treat. These might also help you get the perfect photos, which is certainly the reason most Korean customers purchase them. However, both times I visited the cafe, one of the owners was kind enough to give me a handful of snacks for free.
There are also some tasty beverages and treats for humans on offer at the cafe, including a generously-priced bingsu containing more types of fruit than any I’ve had elsewhere, as well as cakes, pretzels, and more. Be sure to keep an eye on your food, though – the dogs will be straight in there otherwise.
As with many businesses in Seoul, the cafe has a very active Instagram account, posting almost unbearably adorable photos of their pups throughout the day. They also share pictures of customers interacting with the dogs, and if you visit, it’s likely you’ll find a cute photo of yourself posted after your trip. The caption of the first photo below (of my friends and I) made me laugh rather hard – it roughly translates to, ‘the reason I painstakingly clean the floor every morning…for foreigners who lie down on the floor with the dogs!’
내가 아침마다 공들여서 바닥청소를 하는이유~ 가게 오는 외국손님들은 애들이랑 일단 눕고 본다~😅😅 우리애들 이뻐라해줘서 Thank you!! #구름이 #하늘이 #바다 #달이 #땅이 #말라뮤트 #올드잉글리쉬쉽독 #골든두들 #푸들 #애견호텔 #아메리칸코카스파니엘 #대형견 #반려동물 #반려견 #dog #malamute #AlaskanMalamute #OldEnglishSheepdog #홍대 #BorderCollie #애견호텔 #개스타그램 #강아지 #puppy #애견목욕 #애견카페 #구름뜬하늘 #홍대 #홍대입구 #서교동 #홍대카페 #서교동339-5
A photo posted by 애견카페 구름뜬하늘!! (@youngsoo0319) on
Overall, I can’t recommend Cloud With Sky enough. Its wonderful, welcoming atmosphere really sets it apart from other animal cafes I’ve been to, but sadly, it only opened a little while before I left Seoul, meaning that I was limited to just a couple of visits. However, it will most certainly be on my list of places to return to when I’m next in the city. I would really encourage you to support this new business, its kind owners, and their adorable dogs; you won’t be disappointed.
Directions & Info
Closest subway: 홍대입구 Hongik University
Open: 11am~10pm; closes at 11pm on Saturdays and Sundays
Entrance is free, but you must buy food or a drink. You’re looking at a minimum spend of around ₩7,000, which is pretty standard for an animal cafe.
Note: the cafe is in the same building as the Real Escape Challenge (리얼 이스케이프 첼린지), perhaps the best escape challenge I undertook in Seoul. I would recommend visiting both if you can! (But please bear in mind that you should try and book the escape challenge in advance)