Next stop: South Korea. No number of K-dramas, K-pop and Korean food can compare to physically being in the buzzing city of Seoul. And with borders reopening around the world, there is no better time to dust off your passports and book the next flight to Seoul to live out your K-drama fantasies.
Under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme, travelers from Singapore and South Korea will be able to enjoy quarantine-free trips between the two countries–provided of course, that you test negative for COVID-19. While the face masks remain on for now, it is a welcome step back towards the days of year-end vacations and last-minute weekend getaways.
What will your first activity in Seoul be? Will it be replenishing your K-Beauty products at Myeongdong? Or indulging in street food at Hongdae? It has been a while since we visited a jjimjilbang (Korean spa) for a rejuvenating experience. One thing’s for sure, you will need a place to recharge after an exciting day–here are our top picks for a truly luxurious experience.
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The Shilla Seoul
Get transported to the Silla dynasty–the dynasty that unified the three kingdoms of the Korean peninsula forming the two modern-day Koreas. The Shilla Seoul lives up to its namesake with its perfect blend of contemporary design and heritage style that dates back to its dynastic roots. A mainstay of Korean celebrities (think Song-Song wedding, Yoo Jae-suk, Moon Hee-joon and more), Seoul’s oldest luxury hotel is set on the slopes of Namsan mountain for privacy and unmatched panoramic views of the city. Don’t leave without paying a visit to Guerlain Spa–the ultimate in relaxation and rejuvenation. Combining top-of-the-line cosmetic technology from France with the grand service of the Shilla Seoul, get ready to be pampered like royalty.
The Shilla Seoul, 249 Dongho-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
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Park Hyatt Seoul
An oasis amidst a bustling metropolis. Located in the heart of Gangnam, Park Hyatt Seoul promises an escape away from the action of the city. Begin your stay with an elevator ride up to the lobby located on the 24th floor. Once there, be greeted by floor-to-ceiling windows that offer an expansive view of the Han River. Designed by Japanese firm Super Potato, expect a minimalist, naturally inspired ethos with a generous use of stone and pale oak. The nature influences don’t stop there with the hotel’s signature restaurant Cornerstone serving up authentic home-style Italian cuisine. Looking for something a bit more romantic? Make it a date at The Lounge with an exquisite Korean meal overlooking the city’s colorful streets.
Park Hyatt Seoul, 606 Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
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Soaring a cool 123 stories (555m) above the vibrant city of Seoul, Signiel Seoul gives new meaning to life among the clouds. Each of the hotel’s 235 rooms come with stellar views of the cosmopolitan city–what do you expect from a stay in the world’s fifth tallest building? Enjoy a meal at one of the hotel’s one-Michelin-starred restaurants–modern French at Stay by Yannick Alléno or new classic Korean at Bicena. A trip is not complete without checking out Bar 81–a swanky, glittering cocktail lounge home to South Korea’s largest champagne collection.
Signiel Seoul, LOTTE World Tower 76F-101F, 300 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
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Newly opened in May, Josun Palace is the latest addition to Seoul’s luxury hotel landscape. Paying homage to Chosun Hotel–Korea’s first luxury hotel built in 1914, you can expect a tasteful mix of old and new at Marriott International’s first Luxury Collection property in South Korea. Designed by visionary architect duo Emil Humbert and Christophe Poyet of Humbert & Poyet, the hotel features bold geometric lines intertwined with timeless Korean motifs that celebrate its century-long legacy in hospitality. Keeping up with its old-world charm, each of Josun Palace’s 254 rooms are decked out in Frette linens–Italy’s heritage brand with over 160 years of history. Dining options are aplenty with authentic Cantonese fine dining over at The Great Hong Yuan, or new Korean contemporary at Eatanic Garden. With both restaurants located on the top floor, treat yourself to a magnificent view fit for royalty.
Josun Palace, 231 Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Contact: +82 2-727-7200
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Mondrian Seoul Itaewon
Fans of hit K-drama series Itaewon Class would be no stranger to the streets of Itaewon. The district is popular amongst locals and tourists for its vibrant nightlife and unique international flair. At the heart of it all is the newly launched Mondrian Seoul Itaewon, Accor’s first Mondrian hotel in Asia. Designed by award-winning Singapore-based interior design specialists Asylum, the hotel’s bold and playful design captures the dynamism of its surrounding district. Keeping up with the international flavor of Itaewon, Mondrian Seoul Itaewon is home to Asia’s first Cleo restaurant–think Miami vibes and Mediterranean sharing plates with a contemporary twist.
Mondrian Seoul Itaewon, 23 Jangmun-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Contact: +82 2-2076-2000 / [email protected]
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Four Seasons Hotel Seoul
Take a break from the city and immerse yourself in Korea’s rich history at the Four Seasons Seoul. A departure from the city’s colourful streets, here the floor-to-ceiling windows open up to views of the handsome Gyeongbokgung Palace (arguably the most beautiful of all five Korean palaces), the verdant green hills of Samcheong and Bukhansan parks and the tranquil Cheonggyecheon Stream. Drawing inspiration from its royal surroundings, the jewel in the Four Seasons Seoul is no doubt its main lobby–built around a large circular fireplace with an ancient bronze map of Korea that details the country’s numerous mountains, villages and rivers. The rest of the hotel is equally stunning with the works of over 130 Korean artists featured throughout the establishment. From contemporary art and pottery pieces in the rooms and halls to the intricate three-dimensional Korean ship created out of hundreds of ivory-colored buttons by Ran Hwang, the Four Seasons Seoul has held the top spot as Seoul’s leading luxury hotel and rightfully so.
Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, 97 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Contact: +82 (2) 6388-5000
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Banyan Tree Club & Spa Seoul
The Banyan brand has carved a name for itself as the leader in rest and relaxation and that is exactly what you can expect from Banyan Tree Club & Spa Seoul. Situated on the slopes of Mount Namsam, the resort offers a respite from the fast-paced life in the urban capital. Housed in the historic 1967 Tower Hotel building by renowned architect Kim Swoo Geun (the name behind Seoul Olympic Stadium) with a modern interior by in-house design firm Architrave, the result is a luxury hotel that combines Banyan Tree’s signature warmth with famed Korean hospitality. A stay here would not be complete without a visit to the award-winning Banyan Tree Spa–the ultimate pampering experience for a rejuvenating getaway.
Banyan Tree Club & Spa Seoul, 60, JangChungdan-Ro, Jung-Gu, Seoul, South Korea
Contact: +82 2-2250-8000 / [email protected]