Tokyo and Seoul: Part 5 – Hotel on a Hill: Grand Hyatt Seoul

Working within the confines of my “approved list” for hotels, the Grand Hyatt Seoul appeared to be one of the better options available to me.  My colleague from the Tokyo accompanied me to Seoul, and since he is Korean (from Seoul), he was able to confirm that the hotel was probably the best on the list.

We had arrived into Seoul Gimpo (IATA: GMP) from Tokyo Haneda (IATA: HND) in the morning, and had several meetings with investors in Seoul in the afternoon.  As the day concluded, we took a taxi to our hotel.

The hotel is situated fairly high on a hill, overlooking a large swath of the city.  It wasn’t really convenient to anything, and required a taxi to get too or from anything.  Mass transit didn’t appear to be an option for this hotel.  It did provide for panoramic views from the lobby and restaurant.

Hotel Lobby

View from Lobby

Lobby Lounge

My room was on the 15th floor.  The lift lobby on the floor was fitted out as a library.  While the books were all in locked cabinets, it added a warm feel to what is too often a sterile area in modern hotels.  The books cases, unfortunately, were all locked; there didn’t appear to be an option to borrow one.  All of the titles were in English.  I wonder if my floor was contemplated for English-speakers, and other floors might have principally local-language books.

Lift Lobby

Lift Lobby


My room was small, but well designed.

The bathroom was very contemporary.  It reminded me a lot of the WCs at the Westin in Sydney, though was a fair bit smaller.

A thoughtful detail on the WC amenities chest

We have a series of interlocking chests at home, which my wife bought in New York many years ago from a Korean merchant.  We call them the Korean Chest (singular).  While the bar cabinet was just one piece (not a series of interlocking units), it was reminiscent of the piece we have at home.

Everything in the room was in very good condition with no signs of wear.

View from my room

View from my room

The breakfast restaurant was served in the Terrace restaurant, on the same level as the lobby.  I had the buffet, which was quite good.  It was principally western, with a handful of “token” Asian offerings.  There were five or so other dining options for lunch and dinner, including Chinese and Japanese restaurants.  Their flagship restaurant appeared to be the “Paris Grill.”  I didn’t get a chance to try any of these, but I suspect based on the Terrace restaurant they’d be serviceable, at a minimum.

Terrace Restaurant

From the Terrace restaurant, you could see the ice skating rink which is next to the hotel.  I understand this is on top of where the swimming pool is in the summer.  Other than the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel, I can’t think of another hotel directly connected to an ice skating rink.  I’m sure there are a few others, but this is a pretty unusual feature; great if you are an ice skater!


My bill, including breakfast, came to about $250 for one night.  For a good hotel in a capital city of an OECD country (albeit on the outskirts), this was a pretty good price.  The cost of getting to or from the hotel by taxi, however, was other-than-trivial, and should be factored into the cost of staying at this property.  If you had to go to the city twice during the day (returning to the hotel mid-day), this could add up.  I’m fairly sure our travel costing department doesn’t factor this in when they approve hotels.

There must have been a high-level US government official either staying at, or having a meeting, at this hotel.  When we left on Friday morning, the tell-tale black armored Suburban was right in front of the front door, with several police cars in front and back and not-so-undercover American agents milling around.  The back hatch of the SUV was open when we were leaving; there was a full inner-cabin within the truck, presumably providing some protection from bombs.

While this property was perfectly fine, I’d probably elect to stay at a different hotel in the heart of the city next time.


Grand Hyatt Seoul
322, Sowol-ro, Yongsan-gu,
Seoul, South Korea 140-738
Tel: +82 2 797 1234    Fax: +82 2 798 6953