The Best Jjimjilbangs in Seoul, South Korea, and Where to Stay Nearby
Enjoy a peace-inducing stay at Solaria Nishitetsu after visiting the nearby LK Spa | Courtesy of Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Seoul / Expedia
For a holiday to soothe the soul, South Korea’s buzzy capital offers a surprisingly serene side. When the frenetic energy of Seoul becomes a bit much, there’s only one thing for it: jjimjilbang.
Best described to the uninitiated as Korean-style bathhouses decked out with hot tubs, saunas and massage tables, jjimjilbangs are the place to unwind, sweat out impurities and get yourself feeling zen again in South Korea. Here, we’ve rounded up the finest jjimjilbang in Seoul – along with the best hotels nearby. Even better, they’re all bookable with Culture Trip.
Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Seoul
© Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Seoul / Expedia
The Solaria Nishitetsu is the perfect place for a chill-out following a visit to a traditional jjimjilbang, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, slick contemporary bathrooms and calming creamy hues. As for the best spa spots nearby? Look no further than LK Spa, the biggest bathhouse near the main shopping district of Myeongdong. Here the hot springs are infused with tonics such as ginseng and jasmine, while sauna rooms range from a mild 50C to a super-steamy 100C.
The Grand Hotel Myeongdong
© The Grand Hotel Myeongdong / Expedia
Here’s another prime stay near the impressive LK Spa. This glam, modern hotel is set in the heart of Myeongdong – a shopper’s paradise, with its cut-price beauty products, footwear boutiques and restaurants. If you want maximum space, book into the Grand Family Suite with its golden-hued striped wallpaper before kicking back in your bathrobe after raiding the Temple Spa toiletries. When the weather’s good, the rooftop garden is a dreamy spot for sipping a meditative morning tea before you head to the bathhouse.
© Aloft Seoul Myeongdong / Expedia
There’s a lot to love about a stay at Aloft Seoul Myeongdong. Its crisp rooms, with understated pops of colour; its multitude of eating and drinking holes, such as W XYZ Bar, where you can kick back to live DJ sets; and its location, near shops and restaurants, and popular jjimjilbang Hwanggeum Sauna. Spend an afternoon at the latter getting your skin kneaded with a chocolate-scented massage and you’ll emerge feeling fresh as a daisy.
© Hotel28 Myeongdong / Expedia
Looking for a hotel with a real luxurious touch? This boutiquey stay, an easy hop from Hwanggeum Sauna, ticks the boxes with its plush furnishings (some from Hermès), moody lighting and a gallery of film industry memorabilia. Book into the jjimjilbang for an anti-aging collagen facial and lymphatic massage, then retreat to Hotel28 to continue the pampering. We’re talking elegant plates at the in-house bistro, leisurely reading sessions in the library or bottles of fizz via room service.
Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel
© Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel / Expedia
You haven’t pampered in Seoul until you’ve visited Dragon Hill – a luxury jjimjilbang complex, the largest in the city, complete with a top roster of facilities: traditional charcoal kiln, ice room, outdoor bath and pine-scented sauna included. And IP Boutique Hotel is an equally indulgent place to base yourself for a visit. Between the fun pop art murals, restaurant dishing up crowd-pleasing noodles and the underground nightclub, this hotel, just like Dragon Hill, is all about celebrating the good life.
© Hamilton Hotel / Expedia
Hamilton Hotel – another stay within striking distance of the superb Dragon Hill Spa & Resort – lets you carry on the jjimjilbang vibe long after you’ve left the bath house’s embrace, with its sun-drenched outdoor swimming pool, sauna and sulphur soaking baths. Follow up your session with a blow-out feast in the grill restaurant: tranches of seared steak dished up with fresh green salad. Then, crash in a comfy bedroom before getting up and doing it all over again the next day.
© Hotel Entra Gangnam / Expedia
Hotel Entra is a no-brainer for expense-account travellers, sitting just a hop from some of Seoul’s most stylish restaurants and shops in the swanky Gangnam district. It’s also a winner for ladies-who-spa: within walking distance from Spa Lei, a refined women-only jjimjilbang that combines Art Nouveau architecture with Eastern European-style treatments and traditional Korean flavour. Enjoy a morning soak in Spa Lei’s open-air bath, licked by sunlight, then return to the hotel for a late lunch of ribbony pasta and plummy red wine.
Courtesy of Swiss Grand Hotel / Expedia
Some travellers book into the Swiss Grand Hotel for its multi-bedroom apartments kitted out with kitchens and laundry facilities and sleeping from three to eight people. Others come for the spa-style facilities, which include a pool and sauna – not to mention close proximity to Supsok Hanbang Land, a traditional jjimjilbang where you can experience bathhouse culture with the locals. There’s no better place to sweat out the sins from the night before – especially if you’ve been on the beers and fried chicken in nearby Hongdae, Seoul’s electric nightlife district.
This is an updated rewrite of an article originally by Mimsie Ladner.
These recommendations were updated on September 22, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.