Towering skyscrapers and Asian pop culture sit alongside Buddhist temples and the Gyeongbokgung Palace in the South Korean capital of Seoul.
Seoul is a city old meets new; where contemporary artists meet local bazaars and high-tech subways run beneath 600-year-old royal palaces. Whether you’re admiring the fascinating history of the Bukchon Hanok Village or perusing street stalls for local bites, Culture Trip shares the best boutique hotels to stay at.
In the hilltop Bukchon Hanok Village of Seoul (known for traditional Korean hanok homes), Bonum1957 offers rooms that feel like small, private houses. Terraces, along with little gardens between rooms, add to the sense of private space. The high ceilings, large bathrooms and creative takes on wooden panelling and floor tiles make this a comfortable and stylish base for exploring Seoul.
If you’re a fan of minimalist design and quirky furnishings, you’ll be chuffed with Small House Big Door in Myeongdong. Situated near Lotte Department Store, this 25-room hotel comes with a ground-floor café, a sunken art installation gallery space, and simple, elegant rooms on the upper floors. Enjoy the complimentary espresso each morning before you hit the city.
The Makers Hotel, in the Jongno District, offers a chic haven in a lively area home to temples, the Dongmyo Flea Market and the street-food stalls of the Gwangjang market. Exposed brick walls, plush Chesterfield armchairs and wood tables give off an old-world vibe, somewhat reminiscent of a European cigar lounge. The small but comfortable rooms tend to be more modern than the common areas, with a fresh, clean-lined design.
The Myeongdong shopping district is home to the cinematic Hotel 28. Retro cameras in the foyer, portraits of South Korean film stars on the walls, sleek modern rooms, plus a small cinema and bijou Korean cinema museum define this boutique retreat. For a special night, stay in the Director’s Room, curated by South Korean film great (and the hotel owner) Yeonggyun Shin. It comes complete with a sink-into-me freestanding tub, Nespresso coffee machine and Hermès furnishings.
If you want to be on the south bank of the Han River, book Hotel Loft, near the Dangsan metro station. It features a free parking garage for folks with rented cars, plus a variety of rooms, from smaller deluxe accommodations to a penthouse suite with a barbecue. Some even come with a jacuzzi. The on-site Brix Restaurant serves Western cuisine, including Italian fare, a wine “buffet” and cuts of juicy steak.
Win Art House was designed by J. Shim with a subtle use of Korean décor elements. Each room presents a unique aesthetic appeal with soft tones and modern furnishings, plus air-con and high-speed WiFi comes as standard. The lodge also features a spacious rooftop garden where organic vegetables are grown. The cuisine at the hotel’s restaurant is globally inspired and enjoyed by both locals and visitors.
Designed by one of Korea’s most famous architects, Kim Swoo Geun, the Banyan Tree weaves together earthy decor with urban glamour. Over 90% of the rooms have their own private plunge pool with views across the city skyline. Admire local handicrafts in the art gallery or drop into the spa for a full-body massage. There’s also an onsite ice skating rink during the winter months, plus a golf driving range, as well as basketball and tennis courts.
Browse more affordable options for staying in the South Korean capital by seeing the best cheap hotels in Seoul, bookable with Culture Trip.
This is an updated version of an article originally written by Naintara Gurung.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.