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Review: Park Hyatt Seoul

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It comes as no surprise that you will always be pampered at a Park Hyatt property. Indeed, that that is to be assumed in a luxury hotel chain. The question then becomes whether price, location, and amenities make a Park Hyatt property the best choice in a city with many fine hotel options. While Seoul offers a variety of top-notch hotel choices, the location, service level, amenities, and price make a strong case for choosing the Park Hyatt in Seoul.

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The hotel is conveniently located right outside the Samseong Metro Station and with a bus station a few blocks away is quite easy to get to from Gimpo and Incheon Airports. As it was my first time in Seoul, I was not exactly sure where I was going, but managed to come up from the train station right in front of the hotel.

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Like the Park Hyatt hotels in Shanghai and Beijing, the lobby was on the top level, which offered an impressive view of the Seoul skyline. We arrived just after noon and found the 24th floor check-in desk deserted. An agent shortly appeared from the backroom, welcomed us to the hotel, and checked us in. After check-in was complete, she escorted us to the room and gave us a brief tour of the room.

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The room was ultra-modern and quite appealing. Floor to ceiling windows offered abundant natural light and a great view of the busy intersection nine stories below. While I have been inside hundreds of hotel rooms around the world, I had never quite seen a room like this one—light oak wood floors, steel beams, and a bathroom inlaid with rock—a lot of rock. No doors for the bathroom or a partition for the shower, but the sleekness and simple elegance of the design thoroughly impressed me.

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I later learned that the rock in the rooms and the rock found throughout the hotel was all mined from Japan and China then crafted under the direction of the Park Hyatt.

The room had a large bed (two single beds are also available in a standard or deluxe room), round table with chairs, and a large oak divider, that housed shelves and a television on one side and a sink and mirror on the other side. The bathroom featured an enormous granite bathtub as well as a rain shower.

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There was also a DVD player along with an extensive complimentary DVD library available at the front desk. I did not make use of it, but just call your concierge or stop by the front desk and you can get the movie of your choice. I suppose the hotel’s growing library of DVDs explains why there is not a list of available titles in each room, but a list next to the DVD player would have been appreciated.

The 24th floor lobby included a check-in area, pool, fitness center, and lounge (with expansive views of the city) all in essentially the same place. Again, that was a bit different, but I liked the concept. The pool and fitness center were wonderful and I hear the pool is even more spectacular when you go swimming at night.

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The fitness center and pool are part of the Park Club and contain stairs leading down to a high-end spa where you can enjoy a wide variety of treatments. Not far from the Club is the Timber House restaurant, a Japanese/Korean restaurant styled as a traditional Korean house. It includes a Sushi/Sake/Soju bar , whiskey bar, and cocktail bar, with plenty of plush seats in a lounge-like atmosphere as well as a seating area more like a dining room.

Down on the ground floor is Cornerstone Restaurant, with a more western menu featuring an open kitchen serving up fish and meats. Cornerstone is also where breakfast is served and I must say this was the highlight of my stay. If you have read my other Park Hyatt reviews, you know how much I love breakfast buffets, and the Hyatt did not disappoint—on the contrary, it surpassed all previous venues.

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My plan is to stay at every Park Hyatt in the world over the next couple years, and I have enjoyed some exquisite breakfasts at many properties over the last year, but the Park Hyatt Seoul had the best breakfast buffet I have ever enjoyed at a Hyatt property. First, the buffet featured a variety of freshly squeezed juices including orange juice to die for, and even included made-to-order smoothies, which I have never seen outside Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal. There’s nothing like a freshly made berry smoothie to start of the day.

And that was just the beverages—the eggs, waffles, and Bircher muesli were also delicious. Even the bacon and sausage was cooked perfectly. Omelets and scrambled eggs are available from the buffet, but you can also order an omelet with the ingredients of your choice and as I usually do, ordered an omelet with everything in it. Simply delicious…Add fresh fruit, breads and pastries to the menu and you’ve got enough food to keep you going all day.

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The other component that made the Cornerstone experience outstanding was the amazing service from the staff. Everyone was friendly and attentive, particularly one of the chefs (pictured below) who made my smoothie and went out of her way to ensure my uncle and I were comfortable.

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I scheduled an appointment with the Marketing Manager for a tour of the hotel after breakfast. I wanted to get a peek at the suites and some of the other rooms for this report. During the tour, I was shown the Presidential Suite and one of two Diplomatic Suites—two stunning rooms.  I will simply leave at this—if you are in the mood for splurging for a suite, this is the property to do it at. I plan on returning to Seoul in early January and hope to try one myself (though traveling alone, I will not be forking out for the Presidential Suite!).

There was a bit of controversy in my recent review of the Park Hyatt Tokyo, so I want to make something clear in this one: while I did request a tour of the hotel on the last day of my stay, there was no red carpet treatment or free meals—just a standard room. I was Joe Nobody and unless the hotel was crafty enough to Google me before arriving and find my blog, I was treated like an honored guest simply because of my Hyatt status and because this was a hotel bearing the Park Hyatt name.

Believe me, it took an incredible breakfast for me to claim that I have never had a better breakfast at a Park Hyatt property. It was that good. When travels take you to Seoul, look no further than the Park Hyatt Seoul for personalized service and an innovative yet comfortable room with state-of-the-art amenities.

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Comments

#1
Dan August 8, 2011 at 07:40 pm

Just to clarify for this traveler who hasn't slept in a Hyatt in years, what all was included in the room rate, what was comped as a Hyatt elite, and what did you have to pay for out of pocket?

I, too, love such breakfast buffets, but I love them decidedly less so when they are $50usd pp.

#2
Matthew August 8, 2011 at 08:04 pm

@Dan: Fair question.

Hyatt Diamonds receive two free breakfasts (a good rate at ~$26p/p here) while Hyatt Diamonds and Platinums receive free internet (~$14/day if I recall correctly). Everyone has to pay for items from the minibar. Everything else is included, including pool and fitness center access (not spa treatments, which are pricey).

This breakfast was well-worth the price--I would honestly have paid $50 out of pocket for it--I didn't have eat again until evening.

#3
David August 8, 2011 at 08:14 pm

How was it compared to the Westin CHosun Seoul, especially the location?

#4
Matthew August 8, 2011 at 08:19 pm

@David: I had planned to do a separate post comparing the two properties and not make this one a comparison of the two, but there is no denying the Westin Chosun is in a better location. Having said that, I would choose the Park Hyatt over the Westin if I was coming back to Seoul for only one night (I plan to be back in town for two nights in January and spend the first night at the Westin or the Lotte because of my early morning DMZ tour, then the second night at the Park Hyatt). The Westin is a great hotel that I also highly recommend, but I found the service more personal, room more spacious and well-designed, and of course the breakfast better at the Park Hyatt.

But don't think the Park Hyatt is in a bad location--while not as central for touristic things and shopping, as I mentioned above it is ideally located for getting to/from either airport in Seoul. The bus station down the street and train station right in front of the hotel are very handy.

#5
David August 9, 2011 at 12:01 am

Yes, we are visiting Seoul for the first time next Feb for 5 nights, and it appears for a first-time visitor, the Westin is the best bet. I have SPG Plat and Hyatt Diamond status...so that isn't a huge issue.

However, it feels like I can accumulate 80K SPG pts for 2 rooms faster than I can accumulate 150K Hyatt GP pts.

Thanks for the reviews though.

#6
Darren August 9, 2011 at 12:51 am

Incredible property. Thanks for the review.

#7
Matthew August 9, 2011 at 03:23 am

@David: I would consider splitting up your stay. Five nights is a lot of time in Seoul and a dinner at the Timber House or Cornerstone after a day at the Park Club would be quite refreshing.

I do hope you will check out the DMZ/Panmunjon while you are there. I'll be going a month before you and will report back here how the process went.

@Darren: Thanks!

#8
Brad August 9, 2011 at 08:59 am

Matthew, another excellent review of a Park Hyatt. I'm so hoping the PH Sydney re-opens in time for my trip there in November, as I have a Suite night remaining to redeem from my Hyatt card. In any case, I have to explore more of these properties, they look truly amazing. I've still only stayed at the PH Washington DC.

#9
Howard August 9, 2011 at 10:45 am

I just checked out of the property last night and actually had an underwhelming experience. Check in was efficient but didn't feel welcomed, no escort to the room offered, badly scratched floor in the room, stained carpet, and sloppy housekeeping (e.g. used bathrobe left hanging on the hook). Breakfast food was good but I found service lackluster - no offer of coffee refill and it took the staff more than 5 minutes to bring salt/pepper shakers. The only unfailingly impressive part of the hotel was the staff on the entrance floor - always courteous and warm. Quite a big letdown overall.

#10
Matthew August 9, 2011 at 05:41 pm

Wow Howard, I didn't even remark on the cleanliness of my room (or bathrobe) but it was very clean and the ladies were very, very attentive at the restaurant. I am also really surprised that you were not escorted to your room--that seems to be a Park Hyatt staple (I was escorted to my room at the Park Hyatt in Buenos Aires before I had any Hyatt status). I hope you have reached out to the hotel.

#11
Howard August 9, 2011 at 08:50 pm

@Matthew I was quite surprised by the lack of room escort too. Have received the service at all other Park Hyatt hotels I have been to (well, except for the PH Toronto which should be a Regency at best IMHO). It wasn't even that busy at the time - only one other couple was checking in at the same time. As for letting the hotel know, I've actually filled in the comment card in room but forgot to hand it to the front desk when checking out. I'm now waiting for the online survey they always send to express my dissatisfaction.

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