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5 best luxury hotels in Seoul
From traditional to boutique to ultra-trendy, these deluxe hotels provide near-perfect stays for the Seoul first-timer or the frequent business traveler
The Shilla’s picturesque perch atop a lofty hill, as well as the hotel’s ornate traditional Korean roofs and sweeping driveway (not to mention convenient parking) are unusual for Korean luxury hotels, especially considering its prime location in downtown Seoul.
Shilla's personality shines throughout all nine hectares of parkland and its 465 rooms, and was appreciated by guests Bill Gates and President George Bush, as well as Michael Jackson and Tom Cruise.
Celebrity weddings and the society weddings of the season are often held here, so don't be too surprised if you see hordes of paparazzi and screaming fans on weekends.
The Shilla Duty Free store, housed in a separate building next to the hotel, is also the best in Seoul, and carries the latest designs in luxury goods.
202 Jangchung-dong 2-ga, Jung-gu; +82 2 2233 3131; from US$330 a night
The Park Hyatt is all about understated, modern luxury, and makes for a perfect business trip.
The hotel's personalized service and attention to quality and detail have clinched its unofficial "six-star" status among luxury hotels in Korea, making it one of the only luxe hotels in the affluent Gangnam area (south of the Han River), which is home to booming shopping and business districts.
The distinctly masculine Timber House basement bar, which looks like a place Bruce Wayne or James Bond would come to unwind after a long day, offers some of the best cigars and live jazz in Seoul.
995-14, Daechi 3-dong, Gangnam-gu; +82 2 2016 1234; from US$330 a night
The W Hotel caused a sensation in Seoul when it opened in 2004, and its trendy and colorful design and use of space has guaranteed its continued popularity throughout the years despite its isolated location.
The hotel's Woo Bar has one of the best night skyline views in the city, and the outdoor pool park is also the hotspot of every summer, featuring exclusive parties and concerts.
175 Achaseong-gil, Gwangjin-gu, +82 2 465 2222; from US$400 a night
The Westin Chosun
Instead of featuring the sleek and shiny modern architecture that most urban hotels go for these days, the Westin Chosun is a more traditional take on the Korean luxury hotel.
Designed by architect Adam D. Tihany, the Westin's pavilion and interior designs are reminiscent of traditional Korean house ceilings and window frames.
The hotel is particularly known for its amazing food: The Ninth Gate Grill, located inside the lobby, was Korea's first French restaurant, and although it catered to a more formal crowd in the past, it has been turned into a more friendly and casual dining space in recent years.
Veccia e Nuovo, one of the most popular brunch, sandwich and pasta places in the area, is a favorite with businessmen as well as ladies who lunch.
87 Sogong-dong, Jung-gu; +82 2 771 0500; from US$420 a night
Featuring more of a boutique hotel look courtesy of the most expensive renovation in Korean luxury hotel history, The Plaza showcases dramatic modernity in its central location of City Hall.
The best choice particularly for first-time vacationers to Korea, The Plaza offers easy access to the subway and is close to all the traditional sights of the city including various palaces and museums as well as the blazing Myeong-dong shopping district.
Check out exquisite Japanese restaurant Murasaki for the best omakase in the city.
23 Taepyeongno 2-ga, Jung-gu; +82 2 771 2200; from US$330 a night