TESTED BY Freddy Sherman
HOW MANY ROOMS? 317 guestrooms including 43 suites
PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS Central location, luxurious and stylish accommodations and Four Seasons service
PRICE Rates on the Four Seasons website for a Premier Room are $333 per night with an advance purchase discount.
CONTACT Saemunan-ro Jongno-gu, Seoul 03183; tel. +82 (2) 6388-5000, fourseasons.com
VERDICT:The Four Seasons Hotel Seoul succeeds in providing a stylish oasis from the energy of the city while still keeping guests connected to it. Four Seasons service combines with luxurious accommodations, plentiful on-site dining options and some serious amenities to deliver a true five-star guest experience.
BACKGROUND: This is the first Four Seasons in Korea, so it opened to much fanfare in mid-2015 in a city hungry for brand-name luxury. Centrally located in Seoul’s historic core, Gwanghwamun, the high-rise hotel is the first in the area and provides a much more local experience than a stay in one of the luxury hotels in the glitzy Gangnam neighborhood.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? As a new Four Seasons, the property exemplifies all the brand standards the luxury chain seeks to impart. This starts with a luxurious environment with a sense of local style, in this case featuring over 160 pieces of artwork by Seoul artists. Another Four Seasons brand standard is the guestroom as a sanctuary, a place to escape the city and the day.
The Gwanghwamun location is perfect for business travelers, as the area is awash with multi-national corporate offices. Other areas of the city are a short taxi or subway ride away. The Four Seasons is also steps away from the city’s vibrant Cheonggyecheon Creek, a seven-mile-long stretch of restored green space, jogging paths and flowing water running through the city.
ROOMS:My Premier Room had one wall of windows giving me a spectacular view of Seoul. The Premier Rooms are bright, spacious (about 500 square feet), and geared towards business and longer-stay guests. Design is contemporary with an Asian influence, seen especially in the artwork on the walls and on the shelves; my room was adorned with some beautiful vases and several small, ornate boxes.
This Premier Room spa-like bathroom featured an enormous, deep soaking tub, a large, separate shower with a giant, ceiling-mounted rain shower head and a high-tech Daelim Bath Smartlet toilet that provided an invigorating range of cleansing and comfort functions.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS: The hotel has seven different dining options, from the 28th floor Executive Club lounge to Charles H, the hidden speakeasy in the basement. I had a delicious dinner at Boccalino, an authentic Milanese trattoria complete with a stone pizza oven. Kioku features Japanese cuisine and a Tokyo-style sushi bar and Yu Yuan delivers Cantonese specialties in an room reminiscent of Shanghai in the 20’s. Almost the entire lower level is filled with The Market Kitchen and The Market Larder, a combination buffet restaurant, gourmet food and wine shop and upscale take-away.
MEETINGS AND FITNESS FACILITIES: As part of the Seoul MICE Alliance, the Four Seasons participates in the city’s MICE activities as a host venue, with just under 24,000 square feet of meeting space in two expansive ballrooms and six function rooms.
A large 24-hour gym and spa offer more views of the city with floor-to-ceiling windows, and golf lovers will never want to leave the on-site, indoor, computerized driving range and golf simulator. Five giant 3-D screens display almost every championship course around the world and TrackMan virtual golf simulator technology tracks your every shot. Clubs are provided and there’s also a putting green.
The spa features a Korean-style sauna experience with multiple pools and whirlpools of different temperatures, along with dry and wet saunas.