The mesmerizing mix of old and new present throughout South Korea’s capital is even reflected inside one of its newest hotels: Four Seasons Hotel Seoul.
Ruins peek through the glass floor of the bottom-floor restaurant while stunning contemporary design weaves in Korean tradition. The hotel is designed as a lifestyle space for locals, which means guests in residence have access to unique amenities not present in many luxury hotels including a gourmet market, an unusually high number of restaurants for a hotel of this size, a speakeasy and an indoor golf simulator, just to name a few.
And, then there is Seoul itself. I checked in during the last week of November, aiming to mostly came to do some Christmas shopping, as my friends in Hong Kong frequent the city on weekends to fill suitcases. Seoul is also lined by beautiful mountains, dotted with colorful palaces, full of the most amazing street food and a place I can’t wait to return to.
Speaking of the holidays, decor throughout was no less than stunning partially due to a unique collaboration with Cartier. Guests could enjoy Cartier-inspired cocktails and cakes in addition to purchasing a gorgeous Cartier ornament with proceeds donated to Sisters of Mary, a charity focused on children in need. A holiday concierge could help coordinate dining reservations and other seasonal activities.
Multiple Christmas trees and stunning holiday displays were tastefully sprinkled throughout the hotel… perhaps another reason for you to consider holiday shopping in Seoul.
Four Seasons Hotel Seoul’s Ideal Location
This luxury hotel is located in Guanghwamun, considered the heart of the city, about 45 minutes from Incheon International Airpot (ICN). I arranged an airport transfer through the concierge in advance of my stay which was seamlessly executed.
I took a taxi only once during my Seoul vacation, due to shopping bags. Otherwise, I walked to, from and in between a myriad of attractions, many of which I could see from my hotel room:
- Guanghwamun Square
- Gyeongbokgung Palace
- Changgyeonggung Palace
- Changdeokgung Palace
- Insadong (I loved it here.)
- Bukchon Hanok Village
- Cheonggyecheon Stream
- Myeongdong Shopping Area
For me, the location could not have been more convenient. In fact, it is ideal.
You know a room is top notch when it’s hard to pull yourself out of it. Floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides of my corner room showcased the gorgeous mountains that closely surround the city, Guanghwamun Square below the hotel and Gyeongbokgung Palace.
It was late when my flight from Dallas landed in Seoul and I managed to take a few photos before settling in. Having eaten an assortment of Korean favorites on the plane and in preparation for a street food tour the following day, I opted for a light dinner with a view while I unpacked.
The in-room iPad serves as a hub of hotel information, weather, in-room dining and then some which compliments the Four Seasons app. Tea coffee and snacks were replenished daily and blinds were electric. A powder room with Japanese-style toilet was near the entry. I loved the art, books, vases and other thoughtful decor throughout.
A Full-Service Spa with Local Flair
One of the most quintessential Korean experiences is a visit to a sauna and you can do this in Four Seasons style. There are separate saunas for men and women in addition to multiple relaxation zones and other lovely amenities. A wide range of spa services are available for booking (I suggest you book in advance as the spa is popular).
I also particularly loved the extensive selection of nail colors and nail art options at the Nail Bar.
There is also a barbershop for men and a spa shop for necessities and gifts to take home with you.
A Great Indoor Pool with Juice Bar
Adjacent to the massive fitness center is a set of lovely indoor pools including a 3-lane lap pool, heated vitality pool, a kids’ plunge pool and a sauna overlooking all three. I highly recommend a tip here after a long haul flight or to soothe feet tired from a long day of sightseeing.
Always Eat Breakfast at a Four Seasons
My favorite meal of the day at a Four Seasons is usually breakfast and The Marketplace Kitchen did not disappoint. Deciding between fresh bibimbap, dim sum, noodles, sushi, omelettes, baked goods, salads and a variety of other cuisines was a tough-yet-delightful challenge.
Chefs cook live right in front of you, but be sure to notice the ruins peeking through the glass floors. These were discovered during the hotel’s construction and a decision was made to showcase Korean history by leaving them in tact.
Needless to say, I ate here everyday. The Market Larder next door is unlike anything I’ve seen in a luxury hotel. It’s home to quick and fresh meals, hand-selected gourmet grocery items and a carefully-curated selection of wine.
Bottles ranged from inexpensive all the way up to Krug with multiple styles and regions represented. How nice that you could grab a bottle or half-bottle to take to your room?
Japanese, Cantonese, Macarons and More
Maru: I unwound at Maru, which means “living room” in Korean at the end of most nights. I absolutely loved the decor and felt comfortable there editing photos on my laptop over salads and bulgogi.
Confections by Four Seasons: This little grab-and-go pastry shop with specialty coffees and teas would be a great help if my daughter was with me.
Yu Yuan: Specializing in Cantonese cuisine with other Chinese regional fare represented, Yu Yuan’s specialty is Peking duck and they have imported an authentic oven for it.
Boccalino and Boccalino Wine Bar: Also popular with locals, these two well-lit spaces compliment each other well. You can order a set of wine flights at the wine bar to start or finish a meal of classic Italian fare prepared in an open kitchen.
Kioku: This multi-level Japanese restaurant has private dining rooms, a sushi bar and serves a wide range of favorites. Check out Chef Sawada’s Fugu Menu… he is Michelin-starred for a reason.
Charles H: Find the hidden door and gain entry to Charles H, Four Seasons Hotel Seoul’s speakeasy for a night of old-fashioned and craft cocktails that embody the famous writer’s worldwide search for the perfect drink.
Flower Boxes by Nicolai Bergmann
I stopped dead in my tracks upon my first sighting of a Nicolai Bergmann Flower Box, his innovation that is nothing short of extraordinary. They are incredibly popular in Tokyo, where he is based, and I was told that the preserved flower version would last from 3 – 5 years.
The Bottom Line
This is a hotel for girlfriend getaways, family vacations and business trips. I regretted not bringing my daughter as this is exactly the type of Four Seasons that she loves.
As is standard with most Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, I found the service to be excellent from time of booking through check-out.
Four Seasons Hotel Seoul is one of the resorts I can book for you with agent-exclusive amenities that will enhance and add value to your stay. Please send me your dates and I’ll tell you what’s on offer.
I will absolutely stay here again. No question.
Have you stayed at Four Seasons Hotel Seoul?
*I received a media rate for my stay which did not impact my opinion. I’m writing this post because it’s an incredible hotel.