Aloft Seoul Myeongdong

Prologue

Modern, vibrant and social – Aloft Hotels promises the bold design and forward-looking technology of its sister W Hotels brand, but at a more competitive price point. Since its inception in 2005, it has injected a wave of energy to the select-service accommodation segment with its colourful, trendy hotels in over 130 locations worldwide, from cultural Montreal to cosmopolitan Seoul. For our recent travels there we chose to stay at the new Aloft Seoul Myeongdong, the brand’s latest opening and its second property in the South Korean capital.

 

Location / Accessibility

The Aloft Seoul Myeongdong is conveniently positioned on a main throughfare in Seoul’s Myeongdong shopping and dining district, enjoying excellent connectivity with the KAL Limousine Bus from Incheon Airport stopping opposite the hotel and 4 subway stations to the rest of the city within walking distance. The area’s sprawling malls, busy streets and bustling night markets are just around the corner, while a massive underground shopping arcade connects it to the nearby Seoul City Hall and cultural attractions.

 

Arrival Experience

Stepping into the arrival lobby on the ground floor, we were greeted by the friendly doorman who guided us into the waiting elevator up to the second floor main lobby.

   

Exiting the elevator, the familiar circular reception desk was to our right and we were attended to immediately by the agent who welcomed us to the hotel, which at that time had only been open for a month. Handing over our passports, we took the opportunity to look around the space while she sorted out the formalities, finding a more subdued colour palette here compared to other Aloft properties where a television wall and LED ticker board contrasted against the cream-coloured walls and flooring, with a long bench on the other side providing seating. Check-in was quick and the pleasant agent soon handed us our keycard, wishing us a pleasant as we headed upstairs to the room.

 

Guestrooms

   

For our 2-night stay, we had booked a twin-bedded Aloft Room (the property’s lead-in accommodation category) and assigned a room on the 17th floor. Continuing the design trend from the lobby, we found the colours here to be much muted compared to other properties under the brand with grey and wood tones.

   

In contrast, the guestroom felt brighter and more vibrant with splashes of colour against a cream background making it look more spacious than it was and we found it to be a nice blend of design and functionality. Immediately ahead of us were a pair of Aloft beds complete with the brand’s signature body pillows bearing ‘his’ and ‘hers’ motifs, a wall-mounted flatscreen television and a workstation-cum-sitting area to the side framed by floor-to-ceiling windows. Having endured a less-than-restful sleep on our redeye flight into Seoul, the plush beds and comforter were very much a welcome sight and we soon fell into slumber lying in them, enjoying several hours of rest.

   

The bathroom was spacious and bright, made bigger by the large mirror framing the single sink and vanity on one side, with the water closet and shower cubicle on the other. The cream and grey colours follow the neutral tones of the rest of the room, with an orange panel providing a splash of colour. Although not the rainforest shower we prefer, we found the hand-held shower wand to provide good water pressure and temperature for a refreshing bath each time, using the bath products supplied by American skincare brand Bliss from wall-mounted dispensers in keeping to the standard for Aloft Hotels. These were complemented by generic Aloft-branded hand soap and body lotion as well as a tray of amenities including dental and shaving kits.

   

   

The workstation is great for business travellers, placed in front of the window with views of the busy street below and electrical, USB and LAN ports conveniently situated at desk-level. While pretty to look at, we thought the accompanying chair lacked comfort and was not suited for working long hours in. To the right of the desk was the small luggage shelf and padded bench where we sat watching movies on the wall-mounted 42-inch flatscreen television. The programming comprised a good mix of cable movies, sports, terrestrial Korean channels and foreign channels from China, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America to name a few. As Starwood Preferred Guest members, we were also entitled to complimentary Wi-Fi which had some of the fastest connection speeds we have seen.

   

A built-in wardrobe with the standard bathrobes and ironing board rounded up the guestroom fittings. To its right was the laptop-sized electronic safe and refreshment center stocked with 2 complimentary bottles of mineral water, instant coffee and tea. Like all Alofts, there were no minibar items placed in the small refrigerator and guests were encouraged to purchase these from vending machines at the hotel’s re:fuel grab & go area.

 

Dining

With plenty of food options just outside the hotel, we opted not to dine in-house this time at the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant Nook. Situated in the basement, this served a full buffet breakfast in the mornings and a mix of international and Korean dishes throughout the day.

The W XYZ bar was a quiet spot to enjoy drinks after a day out exploring the city and we made sure to stop by each night during our 3-night stay for a nightcap. Intended as a social space, there was an electronic table with interactive games for guests to play and a live band playing on selected evenings as part of the brand’s “Live at Aloft Hotels” music series.

   

Found adjacent to the lobby is the re:fuel grab & go area, comprising a pair of vending machines retailing snacks and beverages. There were also 2 workstations here with PCs set up for guest use.

 

Facilities

   

The re:charge gymnasium at Aloft Seoul Myeongdong was a compact yet very well-equipped space with brand new training machines from Technogym. While it lacked the space found in larger hotels, it was never crowded during our stay and we were able to get an energizing morning workout in before starting the day.

In-lieu of a laundry service and true to its select service model, guests can avail the coin-operated laundry room at prices competitive to a laundromat offsite.

 

Service / Staff

We had somewhat mixed feelings about the service at the hotel. Our stay here was good and we found the staff generally pleasant and professional in their demeanour. However, we could not help but feel they lacked the energetic buzz so closely tied to Aloft Hotels, which was perhaps due to the language barrier and the more reserved style of Korean hospitality.

 

Verdict

Overall, it’s been an excellent stay at Aloft Seoul Myeongdong. Modern, comfortable and at a great price-point, it is a fantastic option for travellers seeking an affordable, fuss-free stay in a city where room rates are generally on the high side. The location within one of Asia’s largest shopping districts and excellent transportation connectivity is also hard to beat. While we felt that the service could be more vibrant, this is not a deal breaker and we can’t wait to be back!

 

Aloft Seoul Myeongdong

56 Namdaemun-Ro,

Jung-gu, Seoul,

Korea 04535

+82 2 2084 1000

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