A new café craze is sweeping Seoul, South Korea – one of the world’s most overworked cities – ‘stress cafés’. These have been popping up throughout the city and create a sense of home for customers. Decorated with cosy furniture, the cafés give off lazy-day vibes and often offer magazines, games, television and rest areas resembling bedrooms. Shim Story, public convenience lounge, is one particular example, providing individual rooms and massage chairs for customers to relax or take a nap. Use of the rooms is charged per hour and include a choice of a beverage. The cafés provide a place to rest and offer relief to the sleep-deprived population. Similar ‘stress’ and ‘healing’ cafés have been open across the country since around three years ago, however, the trend is now rapidly expanding. Across the various cafés open, customers can enjoy anything from calming aromas and oxygen generators to hammocks.
The idea for most of these cafés grew from cafes of the 1930s – dabangs, offering a quiet place for conversation, reading, coffee and music. Not much in terms of regular café food and beverage offerings, ‘stress cafés’ are more about the ambience and creating a relaxing and calm environment.