If there’s one district in Seoul that first-time travellers and repeat holidaymakers know, it’s Gangnam.
The area, popularised by Psy’s hit song, Gangnam Style, took the world by storm in 2012 with its catchy dance, beat and lyrics — not to mention the hilarious scenes featured in the music video. Beneath the comedic facade, however, the “Beverly Hills of Korea” is renowned for its trendy restaurants, upscale shopping malls, and vibrant nightlife. It is also here where IHG Hotels & Resorts, one of the world’s leading hospitality brands, settled on a home for the new Voco Seoul Gangnam which opened earlier in April this year.
The brand’s unstuffy and informal nature seemed like a good match for Gangnam’s energetic spirit, so we spent a couple of nights at the locale to give you a first-hand review of the place.
Read on to find out what our stay was like at Voco Seoul Gangnam:
Here, enter any one of the 151 well-appointed rooms and you’ll be pleased to find it dressed in minimalist-chic decor, and cosy wood flooring and panels, complete with finishing touches of the locale’s yellow and blue colours that add a spot of playfulness to your stay.
We were housed in the 25-sqm Deluxe Queen room, which was a snug space perfect for one or two guests. With floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the quieter area behind the hotel, our room made for a peaceful respite after a rowdy night of drinks just minutes away. Those who enjoy the company of Netflix on a 55-inch TV aren’t left out either, and they’re more than welcome to feast on the complimentary minibar, which included the usual suspects and then some – canned makgeolli (Korean rice wine).
There are small details which we found particularly useful. While our room didn’t come with a side table, it wasn’t missed — the charging point (the most important feature by the table) was found in our headboard, complete with a multi-connector charging cable. USB charging points are also available for those with multiple devices.
Sustainability is at the forefront of every brand these days, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’ve swapped out single-use bathroom amenities for large-sized ones from Antipodes, an award-winning plant-based organic skincare company across the board. They’ve taken it one step further to also include high-quality bedding made from 100% recycled materials. Trust us, you won’t even be able to tell the difference when you’ve snuggled into your duvet.
Amarillio, the hotel’s very own 85-seat restaurant is where you’d want to have breakfast in the mornings, especially since many cafes around in the nearby shopping areas open at 11am anyway. Here, expect a neat selection of Asian and Western to choose from at the buffet. Yes, that includes rice, seaweed soup, and those addictive sheets of roasted laver that you love in Korea.
Peckish guests are also free to whip up a bite for themselves at any one of the communal kitchens, located on most floors. We were a lot more inclined to head out and satiate our hunger, but we can see how useful this would be for larger groups of guests who just want to hang out over a pot of ramen, drinks, and snacks in the wee hours.
Leisure and business travellers alike will find the 24-hour self-service laundromat a particularly handy amenity as well. Simply purchase the lint sheet and soap, follow the instructions by the wall and have your clothes spun clean and dried.
Location, location, location
Voco Seoul Gangnam’s location is probably one of the hotel’s best reasons to stay here.
It’s just a stone’s throw away from Sinsa-station, which means popular tourist spots like Express Bus Terminal, famed for the Express Bus Terminal Underground Shopping Mall (Goto Mall), is just two stops away. Shopping streets like Garosu-gil are also just across the road, and Apgujeong Rodeo is a short 20 min walk (or 3 bus stops) away. Apgujeong Rodeo isn’t just known for its fashion houses and late-night drinks — celebrities are often spotted here too. For anyone who’s into Kpop, we managed to spot Jo Kwon walking down the streets, mask off and all, here.
Café Kitsuné Seoul is a 10-minute walk from the hotel. The famed Japanese-French Seoul flagship store here is flanked by towering bamboo trees by the entrance walkway that immediately transport guests to a world of zen. Here, diners can choose from a selection of coffee, tea and seasonal specials, or grab some of the coveted merchandise too. The Maison Kitsuné boutique is located on the second, third and fourth floor of the building.
23 Dosan-daero 13-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
A trip to Aland is a must for just about any tourist. The multi-label fashion wear store is home to menswear, womenswear and lifestyle products. The Garosu-gil outlet has four levels for you to browse through, including a whole floor dedicated to vintage items.
548-5 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
It’s hard to miss Front Seoul when you’re walking along the street. The two-storeyed building is designed with a modern take of classic Palladian architecture complete with beige and brown hues, as well as a flurry of pampas grass lining the exterior. Recommended items on the menu include the carbonara (available from 12pm onwards) and the nutty, flavourful Almond Cream Mocha.
29 Dosan-daero 11-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Fashion-forward travellers are no strangers to Haus Dosan. The futuristic building opened just last year, home to eyewear brand Gentle Monster, the chic cosmetic brand, Tamburins, as well as Nudake, an artisanal dessert brand that’s under the purview of Gentle Monster.
50 Apgujeong-ro 46-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea