Four Seasons’ first foray into Korea, this 317-room hotel opened on October 1, 2015, filling an entire 29-storey, new-build tower.
WHERE IS IT?
Just off the main boulevard that runs from City Hall north to Gyeongbokgung Palace, at the western end of the CBD, it is diagonally opposite Cheonggye Plaza. Gwanghwamun station (line 5) is on the doorstep.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
A tall, angular building, there are four entrances all leading to a stylishly modern lobby area in predominantly dark grey. Staff are plentiful, polite, friendly and forthcoming; there is a sense that whatever your need, someone will be there to attend to it. On the accommodation floors the décor becomes noticeably lighter, first in the corridors and continuing in the rooms. Four Seasons has steered clear of an ornate, traditional Korean style to differentiate itself from its competitors (though Korean themes and accents are certainly present).
Categories range from Deluxe, Premier and Club rooms to Studio and Executive suites, and three larger signature suites including the top-floor Presidential suite. My Premier King room was spacious (48 sqm), with creamy wood veneers, a light-grey carpet, sofa and headboard, and beige, textured wall coverings. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow light to flood in, while the whole effect is stylishly offset by use of dark wood for the bedside tables, shelving (holding Korean ceramics and books), work desk and the cabinet (containing the safe) beneath the 55-inch, wall-mounted TV.
In the large bathroom suite grey-flecked white marble dominates, with a deep-soak bathtub next to a sliding screen that opens up to the living area, a walk-in shower with bench, and an automated Korean-style toilet behind a heavy frosted-glass door. A TV screen is built in to the mirrored wall and Lorenzo Villoresi Firenze bath products are supplied. A plethora of wardrobe space, comprehensive minibar section and Nespresso machine all add to the opulence – this is a very nice space to be in, oozing luxury at every turn.
A Launchport tablet by the bedside gives instant access to information and hotel services, and there are electrical outlets spread throughout the room – my one small complaint was that the recessed panel by the work desk, containing two sockets, was too cramped to fit either of my charging plugs… though USB ports catered to my iPhone needs and more sockets under the table (needing adapters) solved the problem.
BARS AND RESTAURANTS
On the 12th floor is the Japanese restaurant Kioku, spread over three levels with a sushi bar, sake bar and main dining area downstairs. The Chinese restaurant Yu Yuan (11/F) has a 1920s Shanghai theme but serves Cantonese cuisine as well as signature Peking duck. The second-floor Italian eatery Boccalino serves Milanese cuisine, and is also where breakfast is served for guests (6am-10am). International buffets are available in the Market Kitchen (lower level), while the lobby-level Maru all-day café rounds off the dining options. Boccalino and Kioku both have bars, but the hotel’s real drinking secret is Charles H – a hidden cocktail and champagne bar (accessed on the lower level through an unmarked door) that is lavishly styled like a Shanghai speakeasy (open 6pm-3am).
Seven function rooms include a grand ballroom, the 28th-floor Executive Club Lounge is a plush haven for suite and Club room guests, with fantastic views of the city. Executive Club services include use of the boardroom and all the usual F&B, concierge and room benefits.
A huge fitness room (815 sqm) and beautiful indoor pool are on the eighth floor, and on the tenth is the Four Seasons Spa, with seven treatment rooms and a nail bar. Of particular note are the wonderful Korean sauna (9/F), and a golf driving range simulator (10/F) boasting five 3D screens.
This is a classy establishment, with superlative service, top-quality rooms and excellent facilities all round. It is at the top end of the price spectrum so premium quality is expected, but when a luxury hotel like this opens in a city, its competitors must up their game or lose out.
- PRICE Internet rates fora Premier King room in mid-August start from 439,450 won (US$383) per night including taxes and surcharges.
- CONTACT 97 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 03183; tel +82 2 6388 5000; fourseasons.com/seoul