Psy put Gangnam on the map, but there’s more to the South Korean capital than its swish shopping district and K-pop stars. Vast markets, brimming with steamed rice cakes and mung-bean pancakes, neon-clad karaoke booths (noreabang) and ornate royal palaces are all part of the intoxicating mix. Book into one of these apartment hotels and you’ll have the freedom, flexibility and choice of location to experience the highlights of Seoul exactly as you’d like.
Across the river from upmarket restaurant and shopping district Gangnam, Gwangjin is sleepier but well-connected to Seoul’s must-see sights. And these flashy executive apartments are decked out like your dream city pad, with hardwood floors, luxurious throws and panoramic views out to Seoul’s jumble of high-rises. The building’s packed with facilities, including a swimming pool, multiple restaurants and even a karaoke room, so there’s zero pressure to head out after a long day touring palaces and museums.
The Coex centre hosts some of Seoul’s best shopping, including the palatial Hyundai Department Store, and one of its unmissable sights – SM Town, the K-pop museum. It can get crowded, however, so thankfully Oakwood is a slick, cool oasis away from the crush. Units range from studios right up to four-bedroom apartments, with services for solo business travellers and families alike, including childcare and dry cleaning. Handiest of all is the grocery delivery service, so you can go straight from pampering bathtub soak to dinner with no need to food shop.
Expect all the benefits of a hotel – 24-hour front desk, concierge, pool and gym – at these family-friendly apartments. The Insa-dong location is ideal, a short walk from the city’s historic highlights: Changdeokgung Palace, the picturesque old houses of Bukchon Hanok Village and the restaurant-stuffed alleyways of Ikseon-dong. In contrast to the traditional atmosphere of the neighbourhood, Orakai is brilliantly modern, with shiny white kitchen units, headboards wired with reading lamps and big windows looking out over the city.
Here in well-connected Dongdaemun, you’re striking distance from the popular wholesale fashion market of the same name. This quirky apartment fuses a shabby-chic, homely vibe with a cutesy Korean aesthetic particularly suited to families. Little ones will go wild for the throw pillows printed with cartoon faces and brightly patterned duvets. Meanwhile, parents will appreciate the stylish interiors, godsend washing machine and easy-to-book airport transfers.
Whether you’re staying for a few days or a few months, these apartments – conveniently close to sightseer’s must Changgyeonggung Palace – have all you need. It’s not just the cool open-plan kitchens or exotic potted plants that make it a winner; amenities including concierge and housekeeping add extra points, as do the elements of chic urban design, including spiral staircases that swirl into loft spaces where monochrome fabrics meet flashes of animal print.
Crisp white sheets, warm woods and – from a very special penthouse apartment – views over Seoul’s glittering skyline await at Fraser Place. This smart, classically styled getaway in central Jung-gu is a good fit for both holidaymakers and business travellers, with its raft of on-site extras including swimming pool, children’s playroom and snooker tables. Shopping district Myeong-dong – with its stores stuffed with beauty supplies, Korean snacks and shoes – is a hop to the east, so you’re moments from full-on Seoul immersion.
A garden terrace, a restaurant turning out breakfasts and even a medi-beauty centre are standard at Ever8 – a collection of apartments within walking distance of popular restaurant and karaoke district Hongdae. Solo travellers who might feel engulfed by oversized apartments will love it – the mood is cosy, but with all the vital amenities (washing machines, cook tops). It suits families just as well, though, with larger spaces sleeping up to four – so business travel doesn’t have to mean solo travel.
Styled after a sweeping-eaved hanok (traditional Korean house), with timber frames, this six-bedroom pad near Gyeongbokgung Palace oozes old-world atmosphere. The beamed ceilings, sliding paper doors and traditional wooden furniture might have come straight out of a historic K-drama. But look closer and you’ll find it’s been kitted out with modern essentials including hanging ceiling lights, heaters and a computer workstation. The fabulous kitchen with barstools just might make this the coolest hanok in Seoul.
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