Park Hyatt Seoul
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with special events, the rare design hotel in South Korea proves it stays timeless
While there isn't a cloak of glamour surrounding it like its sister venue in Tokyo (the backdrop to Sofia Coppola's film "Lost in Translation"), Park Hyatt Seoul balances design and luxury in a respectful, low-key manner. From its modest height at 24 stories to its minimalist room furnishings, the hotel is a rare gem in the capital of South Korea. The international Park Hyatt brand is known for its smaller boutique hotels that guarantee elegance, intimacy and thoughtful design, and the sophisticated Seoul location especially stands the test of time as it celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, but feels as modern as ever.
Designed by Japanese firm Super Potato, the hotel has been built like a glass box, with floor-to-ceiling windows on almost every floor. Located steps away from Samsung Station (one of the most busiest subway stations in Seoul), in the heart of ultra-developed Gangnam, Park Hyatt Seoul offers breathtaking views of the city's pulsating movement.
With no more than 10 rooms per floor, the hallways of the hotel are hushed and so is their design—guest room doors seamlessly blend in with the walls. Upon entering the room (where the focal point is its use of wood) there's very much a warm, residential character not often found in hotels. The minimal furnishings are easy on the eyes and are the reason behind the hotel's timeless charm. Interestingly, the only small detail where the room reveals its true age is the bedside JBL speaker dock—it's only compatible for iPhone 4.
The attention given to the oversized "spa-inspired" bathroom—which takes up one-third of the entire room—is a reminder of how important the bathing ritual is to Korean culture. Stocked with products from Aesop, the large space has heated floors as well as heated toilet seats and a high-tech bidet. The bathroom's beautifully cut stone walls add color and a natural element. (We were told that they are fairly time-consuming to keep tidy, as moss appears from time to time; it's yet another sign of the hotel's dedication and willingness to go above and beyond for their look, and for their guests.) The question of the night is whether you'll soak in the extra deep tub with the blinds up or down, as the bathroom also has floor-to-ceiling windows.
For even more indulgence, guests have access to the Park Club spa and fitness center; the latter is furnished with up-to-date Technogym equipment and a personal trainer on hand at all times. Workout clothes—even socks and sneakers—are provided, sparing you from packing sweaty gym clothes back into your suitcase. The infinity pool, though on the smaller side, has a remarkable view and is visible from the Lounge—separated by glass walls.
Out of the three restaurants and bars in the hotel, the aforementioned Lounge—located on the 24th floor, the same as check-in (aka the "lobby in the sky")—was most comfortable, and what stood out as truly unique to Park Hyatt Seoul. Still luxe, but more casual than the other two, the Lounge's ambience transforms throughout the day as the sun rises and sets. Thanks to its walls of windows, the mood is always a reflection of what the city—and the weather—is up to that day. The menu's highlights are traditional Korean dishes such kalbi gui (grilled beef rib) and bubbling seafood stew in earthenware pots.
Their selection of teas is also noteworthy, from the medicinal hanbang offerings (bamboo leaf, oriental raisin tree, wild mulberry leaf and persimmon leaf sourced locally from Jirisan in Hadong-gun) to Korean wild tisanes like magnolia flower and buckwheat, and come served in a glass teapot. But the Lounge's cult hit among locals is their creative take on bingsu, the popular Korean shaved ice dessert. The ubiquitous summertime treat is upgraded to a work of art, incorporating ingredients such as chunks of honeycomb or fresh ricotta cheese. The prices (be prepared to pay $18 for a healthy juice) correspond with the stunning panoramic view of Gangnam.
Celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, Park Hyatt Seoul has created special events and promotions to express their gratitude to guests and the community for their support. This includes a special room package (with a complimentary three-course dinner and breakfast), spa savings and a food journey through 10 signature dishes at Cornerstone. On a charitable note, the hotel will be supporting Child Fund Korea in various ways, such as volunteer work and donations to Hansarang, the welfare foundation's special care facilities for disabled children.
View all the "Decade of Excellence"-themed offerings, from custom cocktails to a lucky bag draw, online at Park Hyatt Seoul and keep an eye out for upcoming art and cultural events.
Interior room images by Cool Hunting (excluding second image), all others courtesy of Park Hyatt Seoul