Tried & Tested

Hotel review: Shilla Stay Gwanghwamun

1 Jun 2023 by Hannah Brandler
Shilla Stay Gwanghwamun


Shilla Stay is an upscale business hotel brand from The Shilla Hotels & Resorts, a Korean group (named after the ancient Shilla Dynasty) which is a subsidiary of Samsung and member of Leading Hotels of the World.

The Shilla Hotels & Resorts operates two premium hotels in Seoul and Jeju under The Shilla brand, while its Shilla Stay brand launched in 2013 to attract business guests. There are now 12 properties under the brand, with the Gwanghwamun outpost (named after the nearby gate of the Gyeongbokgung Palace) open since 2015.

Where is it?

In Seoul’s downtown Jongno-gu district, surrounded by historic attractions such as the Gyeongbokgung Palace, the South Korean president’s former residence, and Buddhist temple Jogyesa. It is also close to financial, media and government buildings, and under ten minutes’ walk from subway stations Jonggak (Line 1) and Gwanghwamun (Line 5).

What’s it like?

The unassuming 19-floor building fits into the high-rise surroundings. A sleek and darkly decorated hallway leads to a bank of lifts for the eighth-floor lobby – floors 2-7 are reserved for offices.

The open-plan lobby features smart and minimalist interiors by Italian designer Piero Lissoni, characterised by clean lines and dark furnishings while exposed filament lighting and a modern fireplace brighten up the space.

The hotel’s facilities are all located on the eighth floor, with a small reception desk, a café/restaurant and a stylish lounge area as well as a communal co-working table that is popular with digital nomads.

Check-in takes place after 3pm, with check-out by noon (with an express option to drop off your keys if you have pre-paid).

Shilla Stay Gwanghwamun


The 338 rooms are located on floors 9-19, with keycard access required in the lift, and come in four categories (standard, deluxe, premier deluxe and grand). The first three measure 24 sqm, with the latter at just under 48 sqm.

My premier deluxe room on the 18th floor was small but had everything I needed for a short stay. It is well-designed for work, with a built-in wardrobe as you enter and then a window-facing desk, sofa (in premier deluxe and above) and double bed in the main space. While I didn’t spend much time in the room, it was well-suited for the moments when I needed to work or sleep – the blackout curtains and comfy bed helped
ease my jet lag symptoms.

High-speed wifi is offered throughout the property, and there are well-located UK and European plug sockets in the room.

Amenities include a 40-inch LED TV, a minibar (though no contents), complimentary coffee and tea bags, two complimentary bottles of water per night, a safe, iron and ironing board, and two bathrobes and slippers. The bathrooms include a Toto toilet, large refillable bottles of beautifully scented toiletries, along with an excellent rain shower. A sliding door from the main space hides the glass wall to the bathroom, which is an interesting albeit unnecessary touch.

The downside is that the room gets very hot and you can’t control the air conditioning – the receptionist told me that the hotel had central heating and I could open the window to cool the room, but the streets below are noisy at night.

Shilla Stay Gwanghwamun

Food and drink

The hotel has a large restaurant on the eighth floor which offers a buffet for breakfast (6.30-9.30am on weekdays, 7-10am on weekends) and lunch (11.30am-2pm; 12-2.30pm). Breakfast comes at an additional £14. The adjoining bar is open every evening from 6pm-11pm.


Four meeting rooms range from 23 sqm to 85 sqm on the eighth floor.


There is a fitness centre on the eighth floor.


An ideal and well-located stay in Seoul, with all the necessary amenities required for work needs.


  • Best for Business travellers in need of a comfortable stay and workspace
  • Don’t miss Exploring the local historic attractions and stylish cafés
  • Price Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in July started from 154,000 KRW (£92) for a Premier Deluxe room
  • Contact 71 Sambong-ro, Jongno-gu; +82-2-6060-9000;
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