It can be overwhelming trying to establish where to stay in Seoul during your Korean adventure as the city is just so vast so I have created this comprehensive guide to give you a rundown of the best neighbourhoods. The guide discusses what each Seoul neighbourhood has to offer, and who it is best suited for and then makes suggestions on where to stay in Seoul for people of all budgets and interests.
I’ve spent the best part of the last two years living in Seoul. My “day job” entails writing about Seoul hotels for Forbes and a number of other high profile magazines so I figured, what better way to put all of this random hotel knowledge to good use than by formulating a useful guide for you guys? All of the hotels mentioned, I’ve visited personally – either in an official “Travel Writer” capacity or as part of a staycation (Apartments in Seoul are expensive and tiny so it’s nice to escape to a more luxurious setting from time to time!) For each neighbourhood I’ve identified the best hotel and where applicable, have given a more budget-friendly alternative.
Where to Stay in Seoul
Bukchon Hanok Village (북촌한옥마을)
Bukchon Hanok Village is one of Seoul’s oldest neighbourhoods. The area is comprised of an intricate network of winding pathways and narrow alleys that lead up into the hills. Simply wandering around this district feels like being transported back in time. The traditional houses here are known as “hanoks” and were once the homes of Korean nobles, however they have since been renovated to act as quirky boutique stores, restaurants and guesthouses for culture loving travellers.
Recommended Hotel: Bonum 1957 Seoul
Bonum 1957 is a chic and stylish hotel that occupies a renovated hanok. The hotel has been passed down through a Korean family for generations and lovingly restored to the highest specification. The hotel offers traditional Korean accommodation if you wish to try it (i.e. sleeping on the floor) or you can opt for one of the plush western rooms if that isn’t your cup of tea (it’s comfier than it sounds!).
Rooms start from $120 a night. Check current rates and availability here.
Nearby Attractions: Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung palaces, Gwangjang traditional market, Bukchon-Ro and Samcheong-Dong shopping.
Perfect For: Culture Vultures, Families, General Travellers
Subway Stations: Anguk, Gyeongbokgung
Insadong is a quaint and picturesque historic neighbourhood that is nestled within the heart of Seoul and a perfect place to immerse yourself in traditional Korean culture. Here you can experience a traditional tea ceremony at a local tea room, try makgeolli (Korean rice wine) at a traditional brewery, or simply browse the markets for handicrafts and artisan products.
Luxury Hotel: The Courtyard by Marriott Hotel
The Courtyard by Marriott offers chic and contemporary rooms at the stylish international chain without breaking the bank. It is the perfect example of affordable luxury and rooms cost an average of $140 per night. Check current rates and availability here.
Budget Option: The Makers Hotel, Seoul
The Makers Hotel offers incredible value for money in Seoul. The modern property has been decorated lovingly with a unique and quirky style. The hotel’s theme is 18th century vintage with modern touches. Hipsters and artsy types will love this place and it is personally one of my favourite finds in Seoul. With rooms starting from $70 per night, it is great value for money considering the central location. Check current rates and availability here.
Nearby Attractions: Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung palaces, Gwangjang traditional market, Insadong shopping street.
Perfect For: Culture Vultures, Families, General Travellers
Subway Stations: Anguk, Jonggak
Namsan Park (남산공원 (서울))
When you think of a sprawling megalopolis like Seoul, national parks and green open spaces are quite possibly the last things that spring to mind. However, the Korean capital is so expansive that it contains several national parks within its grasp, the most notable of which is Namsan. Staying on the slopes of Namsan offers the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city yet still keeps you just a short walk from the heart of the action. From up here, it’s easy to forget that you are in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world.
Luxury Hotel: The Banyan Tree Hotel & Spa
The ultimate choice for those looking for a little R&R. The Banyan brand is internationally renowned for its superb quality spa treatments and facilities. The rooms at the Banyan Tree Seoul have their own relaxation pools, and the spa and pool facilities are adored by Seoul’s elite. Rooms start from $400 a night. Check current rates and availability here.
Budget Option: Hotel Mido
Hotel Mido is simple yet comfortable and incredibly conveniently located. The rooms and amenities are modern and clean and the hotel is just a short walk from Myeongdong and Namsan park making it quiet enough to avoid the chaos of the city centre without leaving you in the middle of nowhere. Check current rates and availability here.
Perfect For: Culture Vultures, Families, Business Travellers, Luxury Travellers, Those seeking a little peace and quiet.
Nearby Attractions: Namsan park hiking and nature trails, N. Seoul Tower, Myeongdong shopping street, Namdaemun/Dongdaemun markets
Subway Station: Hangangjin
PSY may have put Gangnam on the map with his peculiarly catchy tunes and horse dancing but the fact of the matter is, this is one of Seoul’s most exclusive neighbourhoods. With upscale eateries, chic cocktail bars and designer shopping, Gangnam is the place to see and be seen in Seoul.
Luxury Hotel: Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas
As you approach the tree-lined hotel front, elegantly dressed doormen in top hats and tails greet you and lead you into the lobby for your check-in. Refurbished by the Rockwell Group who have designed notable architectural buildings around the globe, the elegant decor is second to none. Check current rates and availability here.
Budget Option: The Mercure Seoul Ambassador
If you want the glitz of Gangnam and the optimal location for heading out in some of Seoul’s finest bars and nightclubs without the Gangnam price tag then the Mercure Seoul Ambassador is a great choice. At an average price of just $80 per night for a double room (excellent considering the prime location), this is the perfect place for ballin’ on a budget. Check current rates and availability here.
Perfect For: Luxury Travellers, Shopaholics, Business Travellers, Families and Night Owls
Nearby Attractions: Gangnam-Gu shopping, Bongeunsa Temple, K-Star Road. Coex, Seoul World Trade Centre
Subway Stations: Gangnam, Samseong
Apgujeong (압구정 로데오 거리)
Appropriately referred to as the “Beverly Hills of Seoul”, Apgujeong offers the ultimate luxury stay in the Korean capital. Home to the stores of leading fashion houses, stylish coffee bars and upscale art galleries, Apgujeong is the perfect place for those who enjoy the finer things in life.
Recommended Hotel: Hotel Entra
The ultra chic Hotel Entra is arguably one of the best value hotels in Seoul. With modern furnishings and floor to ceiling windows offering incredible views of the Korean capital below, it is the perfect place for a luxury Seoul stay and considering the average price of $110 a night, it is certainly value for money. Check current rates and availability here.
Budget Option: Princess Hotel
Adjacent to Apgujeong Rodeo, you really cannot get a better location than that offered by the Princess Hotel. The rooms are simple yet spacious and comfortable and at prices from $45 per night, it’s one of the most affordable choices in this exclusive Seoul neighbourhood. Check current rates and availability here.
Perfect For: Luxury travellers, Shopaholics, Fashionistas
Nearby Attractions: Apgujeong Rodeo, Cheongdam-Dong and Sinsa-Dong shopping.
Subway Stations: Apgujeong, Sinsa
Myeongdong is a mecca for shopaholics and is one of Seoul’s primary shopping districts. There is something for everyone in Myeongdong with stores ranging from high end to high street. Myeongdong is also a foodie traveller’s paradise since the area is constantly packed with street food vendors selling edible wares that range from the much loved traditional classics (tteokbokki rice cakes, sweet red bean pastries, etc) to the downright strange (inexplicably tall ice cream cones and excrement shaped waffles!)
Recommended Hotel: Lotte City Hotel
From the moment you step inside the Lotte City Hotel you are greeted with elegance. Marble floors, ornate fixtures and chandeliers await in the lobby and the style of the premises is reminiscent of a palatial home. Fortunately, the Lotte City Hotel is a four star hotel without the four star price tag with rooms starting from just $120 per night making it one of the best value for money hotels in Seoul. Check current rates and availability here.
Perfect For: Budget travellers, shopaholics, families, business travellers
Nearby Attractions: Myeongdong shopping street, Namsan, Wongudan altar
Subway Stations: Myeongdong
Garosugil (신사동 가로수길)
Encapsulated within the heart of Gangnam, Garosugil is the perfect Seoul base for fashionistas, shopaholics and trendsetters. The tree lined street known locally as “artist’s street” exudes elegance and browsing the boutique stores and chic coffee houses is certainly a pleasant way to pass an afternoon. If you’re in town for a girl’s weekend and you want to incorporate some retail therapy and/or pamper sessions into your trip, Garosugil is the perfect area to choose.
Recommended Hotel: Dormy Inn Premium Seoul
Located just a few minutes walk from the boutique stores of Garosugil, Dormy Hotel’s location is excellent. There is also a Korean spa and sauna (jimjilbang) on site for those who want a little extra R&R during their time away. With rooms that are simple yet elegant, and a continental breakfast included in the price tag, Dormy Inn is excellent value at $140 a night. Check current rates and availability here.
Perfect For: Luxury travellers, Shopaholics, Fashionistas
Nearby Attractions: Sinsa Dong, Gangnam-Gu, Apgujeong Rodeo
Subway Stations: Sinsa
Arguably one of the liveliest and quirkiest neighbourhoods in Seoul, Hongdae is the neighbourhood which surrounds the campus of Seoul’s Hongik University. This area is best known for its vibrant nightlife scene and numerous affordable yet super fun nightlife spots that are open until mid morning.
Recommended Hotel: Hotel The Designers
Where quirky style meets luxury, Hotel The Designers is a blend of chic architecture meets eccentric furnishings. At just $100 a night for a double room, it certainly offers affordable luxury. Check current rates and availability here.
Perfect For: Budget Travellers, Night Owls
Nearby Attractions: Hongdae Nightlife
Subway Stations: Hongik University
Known locally as being Seoul’s international district, Itaewon is a popular neighbourhood for expats since it offers something of a “home away from home” vibe with its streets packed with cafes, bars and restaurants serving exotic cuisines from various corners of the globe. The atmosphere here is casual, lively and friendly. For budget backpackers and young, social travellers, Itaewon makes a great base.
Recommended Hotel: The Hamilton Hotel
Right in the heart of the international action, with clean rooms and a rooftop pool to boot, The Hamilton Hotel is a steal with rooms from $70 per night. Check current rates and availability here.
Perfect For: Budget travellers, Night Owls, Families
Nearby Attractions: The Korean War Museum, N. Seoul Tower
Subway Stations: Itaewon, Noksapyeong
Yeouido Island (여의도)
Yeouido island is the epicentre of Seoul’s commercial and financial district, often referred to as the “Manhattan island of Seoul”. This area is a popular spot for admiring the Korean cherry blossom season in spring and the Yeouido Park is a great place to relax, have picnics, and enjoy a little leisure or family time. On the whole, there really isn’t an awful lot to do on Yeouido island, however business travellers may find it beneficial to stay in this area if they are working for one of the large corporations based here.
Recommended Hotel: Conrad Seoul
A prominent, towering figure in the Yeouido skyline, the Conrad Seoul is one of Seoul’s finest hotels. With dramatic high ceilings, spiral staircases, decadent chandeliers and some of the largest hotel rooms in Seoul, it is definitely worth the $170 a night price tag. Check current rates and availability here.
Perfect For: Business Travellers, Families, Those seeking a little peace and quiet, Luxury Travellers.
Nearby Attractions: Yeouido Park
Subway Stations: Yeouinaru
Please note – The prices detailed here are accurate as of the time of publication (September 2017). I will update this article every couple of months to ensure that the prices are still valid, and that these hotels are still among the best options in the land of the morning calm.
Where to Stay in Seoul: Pin it For Later!
Do you have any further questions about where to stay in Seoul? Have you stayed in any hotels that you would strongly recommend to fellow travellers? Let me know in the comments below!
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