Four Seasons Seoul, a stunning 29-storey locale forged in glass and steel, doesn’t seem out of place in central Gwanghwamun neighbourhood.
Amidst towering office buildings and shorter constructions packed with food and retail options, the five-star hotel almost echoes the historic main gate of Gyeongbokgung and the statues of King Sejong and General Yi Sun-sin that sit just steps away.
After all, the design in and of itself has been rooted in Korean heritage — think old-world elegance and splendour fashioned with a modern facade. In the welcome area, for instance, guests are greeted with floating double-toned panels that harken back to traditional silk screens, creating a layered visual effect that amplifies the space. This carries through to the rooms as well. The textured wallpaper was inspired by a Korean cotton weaving technique, Saetgollai, complete with displays of vases and wooden jewellery boxes. It’s clear that the hotel’s design keeps in mind the essence of what Seoul is: a city that moves forward with the times while still retaining the cultural legacy of its past.
We spent our nights at the spacious Corner Premium Room, a 56-sqm space that overlooked the bustling city and the famed N Seoul Tower. Here, floor-to-ceiling windows wrap around the entire length of the well-appointed room, which includes the main bathroom, which was dressed entirely with elegant white Italian marble, complete with separate showers and commodes and a double vanity. Nightfall was spent in the deep-soak tub, unwinding with the TV screen that’s built into the mirrored wall between the sinks.
It’s safe to say your usual creature comforts were available too, only with more thoughtful touches. A flat-inch LCD TV with Chromecast for in-room video streaming, a Nespresso coffee machine and capsules, including a tasteful ceramic tea set and some locale-specific ginseng tea. Just like all Four Seasons properties, holidaymakers are also privy to a customisable Four Seasons Bed during their stay, complete with a choice of plush, signature or firm mattress topper.
Guests who aren’t satisfied with a trip to Gyeongbokgung in the day (pro tip: rent a hanbok from any of the shops nearby and head into the palace for free) can always book the Palace-View Executive Suite. The bird’s eye view of the palace in the day and night from the room provides a truly unparalleled perspective of the popular attraction.
There’s no lack of dining options outside the hotel (our favourite ones nearby are Book Chon Organic Myeongin Red Bean Filled Buns for their old-school red bean buns and the bagels and coffee at FourB Gwanghwamun), but you’d want to book a couple of dining options here at Four Seasons Seoul nonetheless. Those hankering for a taste of home can find themselves at Yu Yuan, the property’s very own Chinese restaurant.
The Andre Fu-designed locale is inspired by the glitz and glamour of 1920s Shanghai, dressed in sophisticated shoes of green. Here, the Peking Duck and crispy pork belly are made to textbook example standards, and the Dim Sum Set is a delicious, fuss-free medley of dishes that centre around the chef’s own take on perennial favourites.
You can head to Four Seasons Seoul’s Italian restaurant Boccalino and the Japanese fusion joint, Akira Back, too, but if you’re too busy trying to explore The Story of King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sunshin exhibition halls nearby, then the solution is clear: simply end your day with a nightcap at Charles H. The glamorous, intimate space is a must-visit for any bibulous guest — it hasn’t been awarded the Best Bar in Korea in 2019 and 2021 for nothing, after all. Signature cocktails to enjoy include Ms Frida, an original cocktail concocted with Blanco tequila, grapefruit, lavender cordial, bergamot and tonic.
When we weren’t making laps at the mosaic-tiled indoor pool, or practising our swings at the indoor golf range, we found ourselves at the Korean spa. The thoughtful staff at the spa reception kindly walked us through most of our experience, save for the bit where we had to get down to our birthday suit and head inside. Yes, not a single piece of cloth was spared.
The spa, which was separated according to gender, was an eye-opening episode for sure, as you’ll find other (equally naked) women just casually walking around the facilities. Yet, the indifference of the other guests here made us significantly more comfortable as we soaked ourselves in the hot and cold tubs.
For the full experience, however, book a full body scrub and a massage. We won’t go into the specifics, but let’s just say that when they talk about a full-body exfoliation, they really do mean it. There’s no doubt that apprehension took over for the first couple of minutes, but after some reassuring from the kind and professional elderly Korean scrub master, we managed to leave the spa steamed, kneaded, silky smooth, and thoroughly relaxed and rejuvenated.
Yet, the most memorable parts of our stay wasn’t about the stunning designs, the food or even the spa — it was the impeccable service we were greeted with in every aspect. From the endearing “Welcome to Four Seasons Seoul Joce” on one of our window panels, to the ever-helpful doormen and the meticulous housekeeping staff, you know you’re in good hands here.