I never thought that I would be writing a post about an American mattress company on my Korea travel website. Yet here I am. Simmons hails from Wisconsin and has been around since 1870. I had never heard of it before coming to its Korean factory, situated an hour outside of Seoul in the countryside town of Icheon. Although it might sound like an odd place to spend your Sunday, with its fantastically curated display rooms, small museum and stunning coffee shop, Simmons Mattress Lab (시몬스 테라스) makes for a unique and educational visit.
Simmons in Korea
Simmons had its 70th anniversary in 1941, so that alone tells you the reputation of this incredibly established company. With its long history, Simmons has established itself as somewhat of an essential luxury mattress brand. Known for its incredibly plushy Beautysleep collection, Hollywood’s A-listers and celebrities around the world stepped up to endorse the brand.
Then came Korea. A population now known for its dedication to all things glamorous, Koreans became a prime target for the company’s marketing. While many Koreans earn an average income, you won’t be hard-pressed to find those who spend it on designer goods. Cue Simmons Mattress Lab and you’ve got yourself a booming overseas market.
Simmons Mattress Lab is so successful in Korea that it can be found in nearly every department store and shopping mall. And while they could continue to import the beds from America, demand was too high and the Incheon factory made its debut. While you can’t tour the actual factory, you can view its towering exterior from the nearby Mattress Lab & Cafe.
One of the first buildings you’ll enter in the complex is the Mattress Lab. Comprised of three floors, this will take you on a journey of the production process, comfort testing and display rooms.
The ground floor displays a Simmons mattress undergoing testing. It’s taken about 100,000 rolls and is still standing strong. The attached room has 10 different mattresses open for testing. You’d better believe I belly-flopped onto every single one. Don’t mind any side-eye given from the lab coat assistants. They may look like a science teacher from your elementary school educational videos (aka Bill Nye), but they’re simply faithful overseers of these insanely priced mattresses.
Making your way up to the second floor (I suggest you take the elevator – it’s adorable), you’ll find yourself in the display room. Designed in an open-floor plan, there are more lab assistants to show you around the 20-or-so bed sets. These are the real show stoppers. Rattan frames lined with fabric costing well over $5,000 are paired with exquisite silk sheets. You can pay in monthly installments or in full. And while I wish that I was rich enough to afford these stunning beds, part of me understands the ridiculousness of it all. This is the Gucci bag of beds: you pay for the name, not necessarily heavenly quality. Don’t get me wrong – these beds are the real deal, but with one tag showing a 5-digit number, it’s hard to believe any mattress will ever be worth that much.
The space is also curated with some adorable features such as bright yellow landry machines and Tide-esque detergent boxes branding the name ‘Simmons’. Peer out to the backyard where a lonely ping-pong table awaits a player under long vines. It’s certainly a gorgeous place to escape the Korean summer heat.
The basement floor welcomes you into a time machine with its retro wallpapers and a sliced-open bed for structural viewing. They’re certainly earning of the ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhs’ of young couples considering them for their first marriage bed. You may not think you’re interested in the science of sleep now, but I gaurantee you’ll have a great time in the Mattress Lab.
Ikovox Coffee Shop
Due to COVID-19, Ikovox Coffee Shop was somewhat quiet during our trip. I imagine on a normal day without a global pandemic, this place would be pretty packed. There are two floors, although we could only enter one due to safety restrictions.
Ikovox Coffee Shop overlooks the courtyard of the compound through tall windows. Enjoy the lush greenery that decorates the center of the coffee shop on the second floor, or visit the bottom floor for a more cozy vibe void of couples and friends snapping pics. With its long wooden tables and low fold-out chairs, the cafe almost feels like a minimalist take on indoor camping. The long bar offers a sink for washing your hands and a delicious menu at a reasonable price. We were unable to sit do to take-out only rules, but we look forward to going back in the future.
Not looking to spend the day indoors? Make sure to note the two outdoor seating areas perfectly designed for social distancing. One is set up with fluffy lawn chairs, hammocks, and sprawling umbrellas to keep the sunburn away. Although the chairs have seen better days, this cozy nook is a great place for large groups and dog owners coming for a breezy afternoon.
Just across the pebble path lies a more secluded seating area tucked away in the bushes. The brightly painted tables echo an art gallery vibe, with plenty of greenery to keep the sun at bay. Perfect for smaller groups and those looking to chat more privately.
It’s hard to picture the atmosphere of a mattress studio-slash-cafe. I would define it as sophsiticated chic. The compound is made up for four grey buildings that could be misleading if you didn’t know the elegance that awaited you inside.
One building I failed to mention is the souvenier shop, which hosts a knick-knack store in one corner and a retro arcade in the other. Due to COVID-19, we had to put our name on a waiting list that would take over an hour. No thank you. If you’re really into retro games and don’t have the heart to stick it out until your trip back to Seoul, then I strongly encourage you to wait. Let us know how it was in the comments below! It certainly did look pretty, and if I make my way back there post-COVID, I’ll be sure to update this post.
Icheon makes a great day trip for many reasons such as its pottery village or traditional rice dishes. If you find yourself nearby, I strongly suggest heading to Simmons Mattress Lab for a fun day of sprawling onto beds and beautiful interior design photoshoots. It’s a wonderful place for all kinds of groups: couples, families and friends, and dogs (!). And really, what’s better than a place with dogs?
Hungry for more cafes like this? Check out Stamp Coffee and Cafe Skon located in the heart of Seoul.
America should take some pointers on how to turn the ordinary – buying a mattress – into the extraordinary!