The South Korean capital, Seoul, is a bold mixture of tradition and future-thinking, and this is reflected in its vast number of design hotels. From Gangnam to Dongdaemun, we’ve found the best hotels in Seoul so that you don’t have to – and they’re all bookable on Culture Trip.
You won’t know whether to admire your floral wallpapered ceiling and slatted walls or the dreamy foliage-filled spaces in this beautiful boutique hotel in the diverse Itaewon district, a five-minute drive from the hillside N Seoul Tower. You’d better don your best swimwear when you dive into the social-media-savvy glass-walled outdoor pool before soaking up the city sights from the viewing platform, pausing at the Altitude pool bar for tacos and fried prawns, accompanied by Med-style chill-out tunes.
This hotel in Seoul is set among the teahouses, shops and galleries of the atmospheric Insa-dong neighbourhood. Spacious and minimal rooms favour cream and pale wood across all types – some sleep up to four. Sit and do nothing, or read a book over a cup of green tea in the inviting paved courtyard. Don’t miss the Jongmyo Confucian shrine, a Unesco World Heritage Site, a 13-minute walk away.
If you’re a conscious kind of traveller, book this Gwangjin-Gu district retreat, with dreamy gardens on a forested hillside, close to the Hangang River. But if you’re a vegan then you’re in luck: green-accented Grand Vegan Suites go all out to create a fresh, vegan-friendly environment, from plant-based hanji leather, fair-trade cotton linens and vegan-friendly wine and snacks in the mini bar to the eco amenities, slippers and robes. A bevy of places to eat include spots for an organic salad but you can also tuck into pizza and cake at the Le Passage deli and delicate teas at The Pavilion.
A minute’s walk from Myeongdong subway station, you’ve no excuse for not riding around on the metro sightseeing when you stay at this sleek Seoul hotel. Modernist-style suites naturally have whitewalls with the odd pops of bright, bold shades. Check into the foot spa for a little relaxation for your feet – and your eyes, as you look across to Seoul’s Namsan mountain peak and park. You’ll flip out for the American-style breakfasts at Butter Finger Pancakes, although don’t miss the Korean dinner dishes.
Seoul hotels don’t come swankier than the RYSE. The black metal-and-glass facade of this business district hotel will please fans of contemporary architecture and design. Polished concrete floors, modular lobby loungers, lashings of teal paint and colour-matched fabrics in the rooms create a plush-but-cool vibe. Smack in the heart of the buzzy Hongdae district, you’re a four-minute walk from Trickeye Museum Seoul, the place for a selfie backdrop, lined with fantastical paintings and installations. Start each day at the San Francisco-style coffee bar with fruit tarts and freshly brewed coffee.
The Park Hyatt in Seoul is one of the top properties in Gangnam district. It’s not hard to see why this hotel deserves each of its five stars. If a heated indoor pool with a city view, top-floor spa and fitness center and three unique dining options sound good to you, the Park Hyatt Seoul is your best choice. Located only a few minutes from Samseong Subway Station, the hotel is easily accessible and close to Gangnam’s main attractions. Every room is thoughtfully designed with oak and stone to create a natural feel. Relax in your own large bathtub or under the calming rain shower.
Modern design and soft tones make the Plaza Seoul one of the best locations in the city centre. Located near City Hall, the hotel is not only easily accessible, but also close to major attractions, including palaces, temples and shopping. Guests especially enjoy the large spa and fitness area where you can get a variety of spa treatments and massages. The dining options are also very varied with anything from healthy Chinese cuisine, Mediterranean buffet options and Japanese cuisine to choose from.
Amanti Hotel hits a high note in Hongdae, a creative quarter that gets its name from Hongik University, one of South Korea’s most prestigious art schools. The hotel’s monochromatic palette and minimalist furnishings are in keeping with the area’s forward-thinking attitude and the rooftop pool has a buzzy vibe, especially around sundown. Hongdae’s many bars, restaurants and K-pop clubs are within dancing distance.
Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel is an artsy, up-to-the-minute stay in Itaewon, a liberal district in Seoul’s city centre. The lobby is filled with chrome and mirror-clad artworks and the rooms are usually monochromatic, save for a colourful mural above the bed. Running along the north bank of the Han River, Itaewon has long been popular with European expats, on display in the area’s burgeoning cafe and restaurant scene.
Small House Big Door is an ultra-minimalist design hotel right on the edge of Myeongdong, Seoul’s premier shopping district. The stripped-back interiors and monastic sense of calm are the perfect counterpart to a day spent trawling the markets, Korean cosmetic shops and street-food stalls in this neon-washed hive of commerce.
On the forested slopes of Namsam Mountain, Banyan Tree Club & Spa lays claim to some of the most verdant views in the city. Even the entry-level rooms have Zen-inducing interiors and impressive outlooks, but if you can, swing for one of the pool suites, which have stone-clad hot tubs overlooking the skyline and mountainside. Other diversions include a signature Banyan Tree Spa, three restaurants and an ice rink in winter.
Hamish Roy and Jo Fernandez contributed additional reporting to this article.
Fancy discovering even more stunning hotels in Seoul? Check out our guide to the best boutique hotels in Seoul. For more plush hotels, check out the best hotels in Myeongdongsome, or for budget-friendly options, discover the best hostels in Seoul and book now on Culture Trip.
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