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On my recent, one-night trip through Seoul on my way back to the US, it did not take me long to decide to spend that night at the Park Hyatt Seoul. I had heard and read many things about this hotel and I was eager to try it out for myself.
Park Hyatt Seoul
One of the knocks that people had against the Park Hyatt Seoul was its location. It is not a bad location at all, it is just that it is not the best suited location for the tourist who wants to be in the thick of it. It is located in the Gangnam financial district so is best located for those in Seoul on business. However, given the public transportation system, I feel it is still in a decent place for the tourist. Besides, given what it offers, I think it would be the perfect place to retreat to at the end of a long day of touring. Not only that, being the top offering by Hyatt in Seoul and being a place that you can use your annual free night (from holding the Hyatt credit card), this makes is a great value.
The hotel is about 3 miles from the 1988 Seoul Olympic park which I found to be in excellent condition. There are great running surfaces all around the hotel and towards the park. One word of caution – make sure you pay attention to the the signs of when you can walk! 🙂
The hotel is located across and down the street from the City Airport terminal (which is really not the airport but the place where the buses pick up from). There was a metro stop right outside the front door which can take you to any of the other places of interest.
As far as getting there, the Korean Airlines Limo bus (KAL) 6107 takes you right from Seoul Incheon airport to the hotel, although the stop is right across the street. It costs $16 each way and you can purchase tickets to the hotel right out side of entrance number 11 at the airport and the bus pickup is right there. It costs the same for the return from City Airport and you can purchase the ticket directly from Hyatt. They will also provide a car to take you down the road to the airport terminal. To get their from the airport, walk outside doors 4A or 11A to buy your ticket and catch your bus. There are many people out there that will help to make sure you are in the right line. The KAL bus departs every 30 minutes, so you should not have long to wait.
Travel Tip: One little tip to help you – the City Airport terminal across the street from the Hyatt services a multitude of airlines. When you are ready to leave, you can actually have the Hyatt staff drive you over there (and purchase your ticket from them) and check-in for your flight right there. Not only that, but they will take any checked bags you have and they will put you through immigration and passport control right there! That’s right, you can actually leave South Korea before you ever hit your exit point. Of course, after that point, you will be in a special zone until the bus takes you to the airport, but then you do not have to wait in any line at the airport to clear passport control. A very nice, convenient way to leave South Korea!
To check-in, you take the elevator to the 24th floor of the hotel. It seems a little strange but you get used to it. Once at the 24th floor, you will find the check-in desks directly in front of you as you get off of the elevator. I had reserved the room as a Points & Cash reservation and used one of my Diamond Suite upgrade certificates. When I gave them my name, they thanked me for being a Diamond member and informed me of my options for check-in (welcome amenity or 1,000 points) as well as telling me of the breakfast situation (free for Diamond members). They were extremely polite and was on my way to the room in short order.
The interesting part of reaching the guest rooms is that you cannot reach them from the lobby. The guest rooms are located on floors 4 – 22 and the only elevators that go to those floors are located on floor 24 (the registration area) and floor 23 (the fitness center/spa). I normally just used the elevators from the 23rd floor. Just remember that you cannot reach the groundfloor in one elevator motion, you must change elevators on the 23rd or 24th floor.
The hallways were laid out in a very modern, yet Asian, design. I loved the way that the doors blended in with the wall, due to the design and wood use. It was a longer walk to my room (last one on that floor) but it was enjoyable as I walked past floor to ceiling windows that overlooked Seoul (I was on floor 12).
The room I was in was their Park King Suite. Right inside is the sitting area/living room with a large LCD TV, table and chairs, coffee table, couch, and desk. The lighting system was all controlled by electronic panels concentrated at the door and next to the bed in the bedroom. The curtains and blackout shades were down but pushing a button raised both on the windows throughout the room. Here in the room, they again used floor-to-ceiling windows that provided a fantastic view of the city.
One of the cool things about the room was how the bed was situated. The foot of the bed was only a few feet from the windows so you got a great view at night as you lay in bed. The bed itself was very comfortable, as were the pillows. There were reading lights that were located in the headboard as well as small lamps on each end table at both sides of the bed.
One of my favorite parts about the room was the bathroom (I know, sounds strange!). They had a large soaking tub in the same partitioned-off area as the rainforest-styled shower. From the tub, you could also see out the windows. There was a glass partition between the tub area and the bedroom, but there were shades that could be lowered to give privacy. In the case that you do not care about privacy, the TV that is in the bedroom can be turned to provide visual coverage for the person in the bath. My one gripe about that was that it was hard to hear in the bathroom. There were volume buttons for the TV in the sink area but either they did not work or the audio was very low. It wasn’t a huge deal, but would have been nice to have working. I was wondering if there were embedded speakers that were not working properly or something. Since I was only there for the night (and not in the tub all that long!), I decided it was not that big of a deal.
In the area just before the shower room, there were double sinks and a full mirror. Just before that, on the left (as you enter the area from the living room) was the toilet room. The seat was heated, which was somewhat nice! The toilet room itself is small, but I like that it was separate from the rest of the bathroom. That can be very useful if traveling with others.
All in all, the room was very spacious and elegantly designed. The floor-to-ceiling windows were a great touch and allowed me to enjoy the immediate sights of this awesome city. I am sure the basic room would have been great as well, but since I had some suite upgrades to burn (and was trying to meet my Hyatt Diamond Challenge), I decided to try out the suite.
One final note was the nice touch of the snacks and goodies they left in the room in three containers – some Korean cookies and other tasty snacks.
I wanted to get out to enjoy my run outside, so I did not use the fitness center for my run. I did not want to leave the hotel without checking it out, however. The fitness center is located on the 23rd floor with floor-to-ceiling windows that give an incredible view of the city. It would have been really nice to run on one of the treadmills with that view!
They had 5 treadmills and several weight machines. In addition, there were several free weights as well. There was a staff member that was there and provided me with a towel and water, even though I was only there to look around.
As a Hyatt Diamond, I received complimentary breakfast and was really looking forward to trying it out. I am normally not a breakfast person, but who can say no to a great breakfast that is free? 🙂 I did, however, make sure I hit the streets to get a good, hard run in first. I did not want to have to run after that breakfast for sure!
The breakfast was in their Cornerstone restaurant which is located on the second floor. I ordered some American-styled breakfast food (pancakes, vegetable omelet) so I could see how well they did with that – who am I kidding, I just love that kind of breakfast food! 🙂 I also went to the long buffet counters to sample the wide variety of fruits, yogurts, and Asian options as well. I do not really know what everything I tried was, but I know that it was all excellent!
One of the things that really stood out to me was how fast the service was – I received my pancakes and custom omelet in under 3 minutes! And that was in a very busy restaurant! That type of service was very appreciated and something that definitely stood out.
I cannot remember the exact bill, but I think the price was around the $50 mark. Obviously, I did not have to pay that (came off the bill automatically) nor would I have eaten there if I had not received the breakfast for free. It is not that the breakfast would not have been worth it, but I would never pay that much for a breakfast or lunch. Obviously, the hotel was full of business guests so they were able to expense it.
I did not eat any other meals at the hotel, but if they were anything like the breakfast, I can tell you that the food should be incredible!
The Park Hyatt Seoul is a Category 4. That is very special for one big reason – the annual free night certificate received by Hyatt credit card holders is good for hotel categories up to category 4. That means that you can use that certificate to stay here!
If you stay there on points, it will require 15,000 points for a night or 7,500 points and $100 for a Points+Cash reservation. To pay with cash, the room rates are over $400 for the Park King. The suite I stayed in was going for $600, so I got some really good value out of my reservation!
Not counting the suite upgrade, I received a value of 4.8 cents per point (I used the Points+Cash reservation)! That is an incredible value! If I had used the full 15,000 points to pay for the room, I would have seen a lower value of 3 cents per point – still very strong.
I really enjoyed my brief stay here. It was a fabulous hotel and the staff was absolutely fantastic. I would stay here again in a heart beat and found the size of the suite to be perfect for my whole family if we ever were to visit together.
Though the limits of being in a business district might be different for some visitors, if you head over the bridge and go towards the Olympic Park, you will find many restaurants and stores. There are some malls and plenty to offer. The nearest ones are about a one mile walk away and not too bad at all.
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