Scintillating Seoul is as traditional as it’s technology- and fashion-forward. It’s impossible to not be swept up by the Hallyu that is Seoul. Hallyu refers to the ‘wave’ of South Korean culture, and the capital city is living testament to that. Seoul is the mashup of dazzling skylines and great outdoors with ancient sights, all to a very catchy K-Pop beat. Night markets, sprawling urban parks, and underground malls – the city has it all. In fact, just walking down the street feels like being part of a K-Pop video! The best hotels in Seoul, Korea, are also part of the famous Hallyu. Quaint guesthouses, boutique hotels, luxurious outposts of international brands; Seoul has it all.
Straddling the Han River, on-the-go Seoul certainly gives you a lot to think about. With the city pulsating nonstop 24/7, you need to place to decompress after being out and about all day – and night! After all, navigating this city of contrasts is no mean feat. So, here are the 11 best hotels in Seoul, South Korea.
Where to Stay in Seoul
Are you deciding where you want to stay in Seoul? Basically, the city has three main areas or sections – Gangnam, Central Seoul, and Gangbuk. “Gang” is the Korean word for river, “Nam” means south, and “Buk” stands for the north. So, Gangnam is essentially the area south of the Han River, while Gangbuk is north of it. Gangbuk has some of the city’s most popular areas like Itaewon, Hongdae, and Myeong-dong. Shopaholics and foodies will love the bustling bylanes of Myeong-dong. Hongdae is where all things stylish and indie are, along with lots of Korean restaurants and bars.
On the other hand, party-people will love the nightlife of “Western Town” Itaewon. Insadong in Central Seoul is the beating heart of the city and is home to all cultural and historic sites. So, it’s an area that culture buffs will absolutely love. Finally, we come to Gangnam, which is world-famous thanks to South Korean singer Psy. It’s one of the best examples of Hallyu and has the city’s best shopping, dining, and entertainment spots. Also, even though Seoul is a sprawling city, it’s transport system can get you anywhere quickly. In fact, Seoul’s subway system is one of the 10 Most Extensive Metro Systems In The World.
Hotel The Shilla Seoul
The Shilla is the grande dame of luxury hotels in Seoul, South Korea. The hotel is named after the ancient Shilla Dynasty, which was a golden era in Korean history. Located in a quiet region next to the lush Jangchungdan Park, it’s a respite from the congested city areas.
If the Far East had a penchant for gilded opulence, then the hotel doesn’t show it. In fact, it’s interiors are all eggshell wallpapers and sliding rice-paper window shades. The third-floor Urban Island is a favorite with affluent locals and guests alike. The place features an outdoor pool, which is a rarity in Seoul, and a stunning rooftop garden. The jewel in Shilla’s crown is, unarguably, the Guerlain Spa. Do explore the Yeong Bin Gwan, which looks like a 14th-century Korean palace. Apart from five restaurants, the hotel also has a quiet luxury mall in the basement. Finally, a massive leafy sculpture-filled garden completes the urban haven.
Revel in the luxury of The Shilla’s rooms, which have plush beds and high-tech mod-cons. They’re also the ultimate in chic comfort with marble bathrooms and one-of-a-kind bars. Additionally, many of them have views of Seoul city or the gorgeous Namsan Mountain. Plus, the fancy Shilla Suite has these very views from the comfort of a bathtub!
Kimchee Gangnam Guesthouse
Indulge in Gangnam style on a budget at the Kimchee Gangnam Guesthouse. Lying in a posh old apartment, the six-story hostel is a rare budget gem in Gangnam.
The well-maintained hostel has a mix of spacious and modern mixed dorms. The private rooms, although boxy, are a great bargain for privacy in the heart of the ritzy area. What’s more, the private rooms even have minibars, which is rare for a hostel. The beds are comfortable, the bathrooms are immaculate, and the staff is very friendly.
That said, the hostel has lots of spaces for socializing. The shared kitchen, like other hostels, is a great place to whip up cheap meals. The center of all action is the funky basement cafeteria, which is full of vintage furniture. The shared lounge and a games room are perfect for breaking the ice with fellow travelers. The tour desk staff helps out with local tours and travel tips to explore the neighborhood. Furthermore, a complimentary breakfast is also part of the price.
The spectacular five-star Signiel Seoul has a laundry list of laurels. Firstly, it’s South Korea’s tallest hotel. The hotel sits atop the Lotte World Tower, which itself is the world’s sixth-tallest building. Bar 81 on the 81st floor is home to Korea’s largest champagne selection. Above all, the Royal Suite on its 100th floor is the most expensive hotel room in not just Seoul, but South Korea!
The sky-high sanctuary offers exceptional views of the city and the lush Bukhansan National Park. The 76th-floor lobby has massive windows at every turn, lending a sense of calm. Steal some time at the library-inspired lounge, which is only for guests. Moreover, it serves snacks and drinks all day long. Aside from Bar 81, there are two other restaurants with Michelin-star credentials too. In fact, the hotel has two exclusive coffee blends, Signiel 123 and the bitter Signiel 79. The famed Evian Spa is one of the loftiest places for relaxation in the country. What’s more, the emerald-tiled indoor pool that overlooks the Han River is the epitome of calm. Eventually, arrive and leave in style in an expansive, and expensive, Rolls-Royce.
If the above left you impressed, wait till you reach the rooms. Sip on the unique brew of Royal Tea immediately after you’re escorted to your room. Live in the lap of luxury with the plush bedding, high-tech mod-cons, and spa-like bathrooms. If you’re looking for a more traditional setup, then choose the river-facing Korean Suite. Wake up to the sunrise in the east-side rooms. Or, you could choose the west-side ones to watch the spectacular Seoul sunsets over the Han River. In fact, Room 82 on every floor offers the most perfect views of Seoul.
Bunk Guest House
The quirky little Bunk Guest House lies in what is the “Seoul” of the city – Hongdae. The red-brick-facade building is close to both the subway and train stations. Thus, it’s the perfect budget base for exploring the Top 10 Things To Do in Seoul.
You can choose from both female-only and mixed dorms at Bunk Guest House, or go in for the private rooms. The most luxurious room is the aptly-named penthouse, ‘Sky Pent.’ Spacious dorm rooms have ensuite shared bathrooms and individual storage lockers.
During the high season, the hostel seems to spring to life with parties taking place almost every day. For a small price, you can dig into a delicious Korean barbeque. It also comes with unlimited beer and the local, rice-based alcohol soju. A communal kitchen is great for whipping up quick and cheap meals. The roof terrace is undoubtedly its best and liveliest corner. Besides, there’s a cozy patio and a chilled-out pub/lounge where you can catch up with fellow travelers. Moreover, a steam room and hot tub are ideal for relaxation and quite unheard of in hostels. Finally, the room prices also include a hearty breakfast of toast, spreads, and eggs. Moreover, the owner arranges local tours, rents out bicycles, and hands out free city maps too.
Four Seasons Hotel Seoul
Four Seasons Hotel Seoul is like an ancient Korean palace with 21st-century comforts. The swanky Central Seoul stay is one of the most luxurious hotels in Korea.
The showstopper in the striking lobby is the imposing circular fireplace. It features a bronze map of Korea and its rivers, villages, and mountains. Yet another eye-catching feature is the 3D Korean ship made from hundreds of ivory-colored buttons. Moreover, each floor has floor-to-ceiling windows providing exceptional views of Seoul. Heading a flourish of wellness amenities is the huge indoor pool and a heated vitality pool. The massive fitness center has exhilarating views that inspire you to work out. Moreover, there’s also a traditional Korean sauna for unwinding and relaxing. Last but not least, its seven restaurants and bars are the most offered by any single hotel in Korea. Don’t miss having a nightcap at the speakeasy-like bar in the basement.
What’s rare about the rooms is that all have customizable beds and “smart,” high-tech mod-cons. Another common feature is Italian-marble bathrooms with soaking tubs overlooking the city. If you’re looking for something special, then choose the massive Sejong Two-Bedroom Suite. Its standout feature is the striking wraparound corner windows.
Zaza Backpackers Hostel
Zaza Backpackers Hostel is amongst the best hostels in the guesthouse cluster along the hill to Namsan Park. It’s not only close to Myeong-dong’s vibrant shopping arena but a host of transport options.
The hostel lies in a contemporary structure with lots of modern design touches. The place is singular in its offerings since it doesn’t have dorms. Rather, there are many rooms that sleep up to two, three, or four people. Moreover, every room has washing machines and small kitchenettes. So, they’re units rather than just rooms and are perfect for long-term travelers. What’s more, Zaza has digital locks on its doors, so you don’t have to worry about misplacing keys all the time.
A cozy and homey lobby with communal computers welcomes you to Zaza. Although the continental breakfast is simple, it’s hearty and has treats like jam and peanut butter. The hostel hands out free maps and has them even drawn on its walls. A well-equipped shared kitchen/lounge completes the excellent offerings.
The trendy Hotel Cappucino in Gangnam is like a hip hotel in a happening neighborhood in New York. The vintage hotel is one of the best boutique hotels to stay in Seoul, South Korea.
This stylish 18-story hotel channels a modern-industrial vibe and has many Instagrammable spots. Think pressed-tin ceilings, exposed pipes, reclaimed wood, and floor-to-ceiling windows with gorgeous views. What’s more, it even has its own social platform where you can take part in “feel-good partnerships”. The lobby is like a design palace, with an interesting wall filled with world clocks. The hotel is big on charity too. For instance, KRW 500 (USD 0.5) is added to your hotel fee and donated to charity if you ride in the “angel” elevator. Similarly, a part of the proceeds from the on-site restaurant’s “angel menu” goes to water.org. The continental buffet breakfast is an excellent way to start your day. A rooftop bar is a great place to have a sundowner while catching gorgeous views of Seoul.
Many of the hotel’s rooms are single occupancy and are, thus, very popular with solo travelers. Despite that, all rooms are modern-minimalist with eco-friendly bath products, comfy beds, and sweeping views of the city.
Budget travelers will love the upscale-affordable Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon. The red-brick structure is a landmark and lies right next to the Itaewon metro station. The neighborhood is chock-full of international restaurants and a lively nightlife. Since high-end budget places are hard to come by in South Korea, this is easily one of the best hotels in Seoul.
What makes the Hamilton hotel so excellent for its price is its host of amenities. For a small fee, you can unwind at the seasonal rooftop pool and sauna. In hot summer months, it’s a blessing after a long day of exploring Seoul. A complimentary gym is great for working off all those extra holiday calories. Dine on Korean and Western dishes at both on-site restaurants. Apart from free parking, the hotel’s tour desk even arranges for day trips and tours too.
Rooms at the hotel are simply furnished but spacious. In fact, you can eat breakfast in the comfort of your room. Additionally, all of them have minibars, spotless ensuite bathrooms, and comfortable standard mod-cons.
Business meets serious pleasure at the Grand Hyatt, one of the most luxurious hotels in Seoul, South Korea. It’s set amidst 18 acres of lush landscaped gardens in Mount Namsan.
The place is unarguably the epitome of indulgence in the city. The design reflects the cultural and geographical heritage of Mount Namsan. Natural elements like stone, granite, and wood meld with principles of Feng Shui. On the other hand, Korean art and vibrant flora fill the common areas. The six giant waterfall paintings in the singular lobby will immediately enamor you. Apart from five restaurants, you can even enjoy a poolside barbeque in the summer. Wellness facilities abound, with a decadent spa leading the charge. Other than that, the Club Olympus is the beating heart of the hotel. It not only has two squash courts but also a sun deck, gym, and an indoor swimming pool. Additionally, a massive pool on the grounds becomes a skating rink in the winter. Finally, the property has lots of pristine shaded areas with hidden loungers to unwind in peace.
All rooms and suites have plush textiles, natural wood furnishings, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Smart mod-cons and lavish king beds and bathrooms make staying here luxurious. What’s more, all command magnificent views of either Mount Namsan or the Han River.
Time Travelers Relax
Trendy art and paintings put you in relaxation mode at Time Travelers Relax. This eccentric Hongdae hostel is a serene sanctuary in the middle of Seoul’s party district. This is one of the few Seoul hostels to have shared rooms. You can choose from four and eight-bed mixed dorms as well as single/double/triple-bed rooms.
However, life at this cozy hostel begins the moment you step out of your room. The hostel brims with Scandi-chic decor and has lashings of sunlight everywhere. A relaxing common room is crammed with Bohemian artwork, succulents, and tons of books. A shared kitchen is well-equipped for cooking quick meals. Moreover, its sister hostel nearby hosts social events where Relax guests are welcome. Finally, the neighborhood has lots of pubs, bars, and restaurants. It’s the ideal place for digging into Korean food to your heart’s content.
Park Hyatt Seoul
If you’re looking for ultimate luxury in Korea, there’s no hotel better than the Park Hyatt Seoul. The five-star oasis lies in a sleek tower smack dab in the middle of Seoul’s snazzy Gangnam neighborhood.
The hotel beautifully melds high-tech Korean innovation with classical style. Natural materials like granite, maple wood, and oak and water features shine in the natural light. The enormous lobby is a welcoming haven with abstract art and cushy leather chairs. Priceless Korean curios and artifacts make an appearance all over the hotel. Apart from the 24th-floor indoor pool with panoramic vistas, the hotel also has the exclusive Park Club. Aside from a gym and fitness studio, it also has a spa and a health-focused bar. To top it all, Park Hyatt offers three tempting dining experiences.
Spacious rooms and suites here are flush with resplendent textiles, art, and antiques. If you’re tech-savvy, you’ll love smart design highlights and the high-tech mod-cons. Moreover, the large spa-like bathrooms with deep baths are a relaxation spot in their own right. Finally, floor-to-ceiling windows offer mesmerizing views of Seoul.
Recommended Restaurants / Bars / Food Tours in Seoul:
- Full-Day Culinary Tour of Seoul: If you’re a serious foodie, do not miss this 9-hour tour. It has everything from a seafood lunch to a Korean barbeque dinner!
- Myeongdong Kyoja: This Myedong-dong restaurant is more than 50 years old. It’s known for its classic Korean dishes.
Recommended Activities In Seoul:
- Seoul – Old Town Contemporary History Walking Tour: Seoul’s Old Town has many ancient structures from its rich, historic past. See them all on this walking tour of the old part of town.
- Seoul – Han River Premium Lunch or Dinner Buffet Cruise: Cruise along the Han River and relish a variety of dishes across 30 different cuisines.