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Seoul is bustling metropolis where you can find anything and everything from mountain hikes to the largest underground shopping mall in Asia. There’s a thrill at every turn as you engulf yourself in what the world has termed Hallyu (the Korean Wave). It’s a city that has a restaurant and cosmetics shop serving at every corner and everyone looks like they came straight out of a K-pop music video.
And of course, there’s no shortage of luxury hotels that dot the cityscape. Watch the Han River go by, stay on the outskirts, or place yourself right in the thick of it all. No matter where you stay you’re sure to have a dynamic vacation. Here are the best luxury hotels in Seoul.
1. The Shilla
Photo from Leading Hotels of the World
Part of the Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) Group, The Shilla shines and surely lives up to its intention of being ‘the hotel that represents Korea’. Much like Seoul itself, it blends modernity and tradition seamlessly as well as East and West. The Shilla is slap bang in the center of Seoul, but on the edge of the Jangchungdan Park, so you can blend your shopping at infamous Myeong-dong with spectacular views of Namsan Mountain.
Once inside you’ll breathe a sigh of relief as you experience a spacious lobby in the midst of a crowded city. The interior was completely refurbished recently so it still feels new and fresh. The bedrooms are a blend of wood paneling and expensive upholstery with all the little finishings fit for a luxe stay. And the service is typical Korean, always busy and quick but in a meticulously trained pampering way. You’ll love the USB ports in the bedside drawer and the massive beds in the Executive Grand Deluxe rooms. There are also 6 restaurants to choose from and the renowned Guerlain Spa in the nine-hectare property. So go on and indulge.
2. Four Seasons
Image from the Four Seasons
A stone’s throw away from Gwanghwamun station, the gateway to Gyeongbok Palace complex and statue of King Sejong the Great, a stay at the Four Seasons will see you in the midst of busy salarymen grabbing their morning coffees. But worry not, the outside hustle and bustle is worlds away once you enter the magnificent and spacious property.
With white Italian marble bathrooms and carpeted interiors, the rooms feel regal and more suited for Venice than Asia. All the amenities are checked, like requesting your turndown service time via iPad. The service is intuitive and attentive without being overly robotic like many other Korean hotels. The vitality pool is opulent, the sauna is panoramic and the screen golf is luxurious. You can also choose from seven restaurants and bars to indulge your taste buds, including a wine bar, something lacking in Seoul.
3. Intercontinental COEX
Image from Intercontinental Hotels
Situated in the World Trade Center, 350m from the largest underground shopping mall in Asia, the Intercontinental COEX is as lavish as they come. You’ll be staying in central Gangnam, the prosperous district that gained popularity through Psy’s catchy tune. The Sky Lounge restaurant has one of the best skyline views of Seoul and if you’re feeling peckish, the Brasserie has a delicious all day buffet.
The rooms are covered in a natural green carpeting, giving it a lovely garden feel. You should choose a room facing the temple for a gorgeous morning view. And The service is sophisticated with muted elegance, especially at Asian Live, a 5 in 1 concept restaurant that includes fare from 5 Asian countries. It also has 17 private dining rooms if you’re in the mood for some private luxury. It is worth mentioning that COEX is probably the best place to stay if you are on business or have a convention at COEX as the hotel is connected to the underground shopping complex, where you can also shop to your heart’s content or eat till your tummy is satisfied.
4. GLAD Hotel
Image from GLAD Hotels
Before the enormous Lotte World Tower (123 storeys) was constructed, the 63 SQUARE (63 storeys) on Yeouido island, Seoul’s main finance and investment banking district, was the tallest in Seoul. Very close by is where you’ll find the very unique GLAD Hotel. Set apart from its glass tower neighbours, the brick-faced GLAD is something fresh and new in a district that is termed the Manhattan of Seoul.
But just because it has a relatively an-fashioned façade it does not mean it lacks modernity. You’ll find high-speed wifi that is synonymous with Seoul along with hypo-allergenic and memory foam bedding in each room. All rooms provide a very different experience, from industrial to minimalist and everything in between. Be sure to visit the Mark T whiskey bar, inspired by the infamous tippler Mark Twain.
5. Park Hyatt
Image from Park Hyatt
If you’re looking for some timeless elegance, then Park Hyatt Seoul should be your top pick. The minimalist interiors could be something out of an Ikea catalog, albeit much classier. The floor to ceiling glass windows stand as a testament to Japanese architectural firm Super Potato’s sleek and post-modernist design.
Walking into the hotel suite’s bathroom, you may be mistaken that you were in a spa with its gorgeous stone cut walls. If you’re tired of soaking in your own grand bath, you can spend even more grooming time in the Park Club spa and fitness center. Forgot your gym clothes at home? No worries, the Park Hyatt provides everything, including a personal trainer. After your personalised workout, lounge in the infinity pool with a gorgeous view of Seoul. As the Park Hyatt is also located in trendy Gangnam, you’ll be right in the center of the action.
6. The Conrad
Image from Conrad Seoul
The massive property of the Conrad with 434 rooms is, like GLAD, situated on Yeouido island along the mighty Han River. The area is a mix of financial prowess (being close to the Stock Exchange) and nature (with proximity to running trails in Yeouido Park along the Han River). On arrival, you’re welcomed by a spectacular spiral staircase in the center of high ceiling, polished marble countertops and golden hues.
The Conrad has a glossy corporate feel and fits meltingly into its surrounding financial district. The rooms are calming, with a blend of muted Rothko-esque tones and mixed materials from carpeting to marble to leather. After pampering yourself at the spa you can have trim at the Toni & Guy Hair Salon. In fact, why not go all out with a complete make-over and extend your indulgence with a mani and pedi. It does not have to be mentioned that service is fantastic. Or jump in the 25m lap pool for a bit of exercise. The choice is yours.
7. Grand Hyatt
Image from Grand Hyatt Seoul
The Grand Hyatt, apart from being a luxurious hotel, is also a popular place for expats to have a classy cocktail, so you can mingle with people from all walks of life at the popularly frequented JJ Mahogany’s. The hotel is located atop a hill in the always vibing and expat heavy Itaewon and Haebongchon districts. The space has a modern-kitsch feel with a dash of elegance and is catered for tourism.
With its hilltop location you are rewarded with panoramic views of the city and Namsan. It also affords quick access to the Namsan nature preserve if you want to go for a run or take a quick stroll. Talking about fitness, the Grand Hyatt also comes with 3 tennis courts, 2 squash courts, a fitness center and saunas. Take advantage of the free city shuttle bus and the indoor and outdoor pools. Going in winter? Even better. This is when the outdoor pool transforms into an ice rink!
8. JW Marriott Hotel Seoul / JW Marriott Dongdaemun Seoul Square
Image from JW Marriott
Another Gangnam district staple, the monolithic JW Marriott Hotel Seoul stands out as a massive rectangular block atop the luxurious Shinsegae Department store. If you’re not fussed with taking the subway or bus, its centrally located at Express Bus Terminal on lines 3, 7 and 9. It’s also the active traveler’s dream, boasting a climbing wall, scuba diving pool, squash court and screen golf. You could also mistake the enormous lap pool for an Olympic training facility.
If you are planning on working with your stay, you’ll find several boardrooms and meeting rooms. There are several restaurants to whet your appetite ranging from Western to Asian cuisine. Service is staple Korean professionalism. And for sightseeing, it is a 20-minute walk to the fantastic Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain, the world’s longest bridge fountain.
Image from JW Marriott
The JW Marriott Dongdaemun Seoul Square is also a fantastic choice if you want to be closer to the action as it is more centrally located. You’ll be in walking distance from the popular Dongdaemun shopping complex and Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Subway Station with subway lines 2 & 4 & 5. It is much smaller than its Gangnam counterpart, but a luxe stay no less. You’ll also have quick access to the beautiful Cheonggyecheon river. Waking up to a view of Dongdaemun gate in winter will blow you away.
9. Lotte Hotel Seoul / Lotte World Hotel
If you like the Lotte conglomerate, you’re spoilt for choice. This massive enterprise named after Goethe’s Charlotte in the Sorrows of Young Werther has two locations in Seoul. The first, Lotte Hotel Seoul, is extremely centrally located in Jung-gu, which is a short distance from heritage attraction Gyeongbok Palace and the impressive Dongdaemun Market. There are 7 restaurants to choose from, as well as a spa, indoor pool and health club.
The second location in Jamsil is part of the Lotte World complex which features a Disney-esque theme park and golden hued department store. They have also completed a much more glitzy department store across the road at the bottom of the ever imposing 123 Building. So you can shop till you drop, duty-free, and then shop some more!
The first option would be more for the business traveler or couple’s getaway. The second would definitely be for a luxurious family getaway as some of the rooms are decked with caricatures of the Lotte World franchise, basically if Mickey and Minnie Mouse were raccoons. The service at both are typical Korean professional.
10. W Seoul – Walkerhill
Image from W Seoul – Walkerhill
The W Hotel franchise is for the hipper audience. Boasting trendy finishes like pod chairs and highly stylised interiors and proto-modern rooms. Think Blade Runner meets A Clockwork Orange. It is not your classic luxury chic, but rather has a playful touch. Is is the furthest luxe option from the city center, which can be both comforting and distant depending on what you plan to do in Seoul.
We absolutely love it for its Han River night views where you can also go strolling at any time of the day as Korea is very safe. But just because you’re away from the city center, doesn’t mean you’ll have to suffer in silence. The 10,000 square foot WooBar in the spacious Living Room includes interactive art displays, a spaceships-like DJ booth and an 18-metre shining white bar. It’s trendy spot for the Seoul socialites too. The scheme is all grey, white, rouge and party with an attentive, warm and friendly staff. And if the location scares you, there is a free shuttle bus into town.