WHAT’S IT LIKE? Opened originally in 1979 with a new wing added in 1988, this large hotel is set back from the road, with an entrance for each of the wings but both connected by a large marble lobby. Uniformed staff in hats bow and greet each guest on arrival. In 2010, Lotte was awarded the Best Business Hotel in Seoul by Business Traveller readers.
WHERE IS IT? In central Seoul in the heart of the business district and convenient for shopping and tourism attractions including the Lotte Duty Free Shop/Department Store next door. The hotel is 65km from Incheon International Airport, which takes about an hour on the comfortable Korean Air Limousine coach, at a cost of KRW15,000 (US$14).
ROOM FACILITIES There are 755 rooms and suites in the main building and 365 in the New Wing. The Main Wing has more recently refurbished rooms with the New Wing expected to be refurbished in 2012/13.
The Main Wing has four main room types: superior, deluxe, Club Floor rooms and suites. On the 22nd floor, there is also a ladies only floor complete with its own lounge. Four different designers were involved in the refurbishment of the rooms and each has its own unique style. HBA rooms are classic in style, SOM rooms are more contemporary, Wilson and Associates rooms are more modern with sharper designs and marble decorations, and, finally, Babey Moulton guestrooms have a Korean/Oriental touch.
My Luxury Suite by HBA sported a marbled entrance lobby and a large living room with beige, cream, black and gold furnishings. This was divided into two parts, with a sumptuous living area centred on a large flat-screen TV with DVD player set into a floor-to-ceiling black and gold wall panel, and a dining area with a glass-topped dining table over which hung a chandelier. Good extras in this area included a Nespresso machine with a choice of four coffees and, on a mid-sized desk, a well-equipped stationery box. A mobile phone for making local calls is also provided with costs charged direct to your room account.
The bedroom has similar styling to the living room, and boasts an electronic control panel for the lights, air conditioning, hotel information, weather, messages and numerous other things (it was surprisingly simple to use). The beige marble bathroom is huge; the Japanese toilet has a heated seat, automatic lifting lid, flush and spray, while the bath has a TV at one end. Toiletries in the club rooms and suites are from L’Occitane (a local brand is supplied in other rooms).
RESTAURANTS AND BARS There are 10 food and beverage outlets to choose from. In the New Wing, on the 35th floor, is the French restaurant by Michelin star chef Pierre Gagnaire. The food and service is superb although you must allow plenty of time for the meal. There is also Pierre’s Bar for a drink with live music. Also in the New Wing, on the 14th floor, is the Salon de The; with a European club-like feel, it is a place of calm and relaxation over a cup of soothing tea.
In the Main Wing on the 38th floor are the stunning Korean restaurant Mugunghwa, with fantastic views over Seoul, and the Japanese restaurant Momoyama. These two restaurants have 18 private dining rooms between them and would be a superb location to entertain important clients.
On the 37th floor is the Chinese restaurant Toh Lim. All the remaining outlets are found in the lobby, including the Lounge, Delica-Hans, a bread and pastry boutique, Peninsula, an Italian restaurant, and La Seine, a buffet restaurant with live food stations and cuisine from around the world. It is not cheap for a buffet but there is a good selection and the quality of sashimi was outstanding.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The main business centre is located in the lobby of the Main Wing and is open until 2200. Business services can also be provided in the Club Lounge and in the 14th floor lobby of the New Wing. There are far too many meeting rooms to mention in turn but suffice to say that if you are looking for a boardroom for 20 or a ballroom for 1,500 – or anything in between – the Lotte will have something for you.
All rooms have wifi and it is available in varying quality across the public areas of the hotel. The charge per 24 hours is KRW20,000 (US$19).
LEISURE FACILITIES The Fitness Club is on the 4th floor of the Main Wing (entrance on the 3rd floor) and opens until 2130. It has a beautiful 14-metre swimming pool surrounded by pillars and statues bringing back memories of a Roman bath. There is also a large gym, jogging track, golf driving range, plus a barbershop and beauty salon open until 1900.
VERDICT A smart, comfortable and well-positioned hotel. Until the New Wing is refurbished, choose the Main Wing for the best rooms.
HOW MANY ROOMS 1,120 rooms and suites.
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS A variety of rooms in the Main Wing are all modern and light with new technology and comfortable beds.
PRICE Internet rates in September start from KRW350,000 (US$324) for a Superior room.
CONTACT Lotte Hotel, 1, Sogong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul 100-070, South Korea; tel +2 771 1000; www.lottehotel.com/en