Seoul's coolest luxury hotels
The Plaza: chic, sleek luxury
After a very expensive makeover led by Italian designer Guido Ciompi, The Plaza has re-emerged onto the Seoul luxury hotel scene with a contemporary look to match the fast pace of its central Myeong-dong location.
The new design themes are “purple” and “curves.” Hence, the exquisitely furnished Japanese restaurant is called Murasaki (it means “purple” in Japanese”), while unexpected curves and angles dominate rooms, as well as in The Lounge lobby bar.
The result is luxe, dramatic and modern. Interior spaces differ from those found in other upscale hotels. While many choose neutral or warm tone colors such as white, brown, beige or black, the Plaza surprises with a shocking pink and black contrast, shouting hip, modern colors from all directions.
Pros: Great location, easy access to subway
Cons: While providing some of the most dramatic views of Seoul, the central location can lead to some noisy nights. Not for the lightest of sleepers.
23 Taepyeongno 2-ga, Jung-gu (중구 태평로 2가 23), tel. +82 2 771 2200; from US$330 a night
W Seoul-Walkerhill: style and scenery
Thanks to its striking use of color, space and design, the W has been one of the most popular Seoul luxury hotels for filming commercials, dramas and movies since its opening in 2004.
Despite its relatively remote location and the fact that other Seoul luxury hotels have surpassed its cutting-edge interiors, W Seoul-Walkerhill is still beloved by trendy travelers.
The hotel’s Woo Bar has stunning night skyline views. The hotel also takes pride in introducing creative art works from around the world, such as pieces from the Gallery of New York, Farmboy Fine Art of Canada, Etkin Fitzgerald Studio Inc. and from local artists such as Lee Jae-hyo. Rates start at USD$400 a night, rack rate.
Pros: Gorgeous views of the Han River, trendy pool parties in summer
Cons: Poor Internet access, which you actually have to pay for; isolated location with limited public transportation
175 Achaseong-gil, Gwangjin-gu (광진구 아차성길 175), tel. +82 2 465 2222; from US$400 a night
Park Hyatt Seoul: class, discretion
Understated affluence is what Park Hyatt Seoul is all about. Befitting its unofficial “six-star” status (c'mon, hotel industry, this "turn it up to eleven" ratings game has got to stop), the hotel’s attention to quality and detail has made it one of the most popular Seoul luxury hotels.
Designed by Japanese interior company Super Potato -- mostly known for its rigid, industrial strokes -- the hotel looks like a plain glass box, and has a most unassuming entrance. But on the sleek, elegant lobby on the 24th floor, guests encounter the extremely modern experience to come.
The nametag-less staff strive to bring a personalized service by recording the environment that guests prefer –- from room temperatures and locations of appliances to television volume -- so that they can arrange the same combination for your next stay.
Pros: Live jazz and soju at The Timber House basement bar
Cons: The building's appearance is so modest that a lot of cab drivers have no idea this hotel exists.
995-14, Daechi 3-dong, Gangnam-gu (강남구 대치 3동 995-14, 135-502), tel. +82 2 2016 1234; from US$330 a night