THE PLAZA Seoul

Prologue

First opened in 1976 as the Seoul Plaza Hotel and extensively refurbished in 2010 by Italian designer Guido Ciompi, THE PLAZA Seoul ranks as one of the finest business hotels in the South Korean capital. Part of Marriott International’s luxury lifestyle Autograph Collection since 2016, we check-in to this stylish hotel for an overnight stay during a recent layover in the city.

 

Location / Accessibility

THE PLAZA Seoul enjoys an enviable location in the heart of the city’s government and business district, counting some of South Korea’s largest conglomerates and the country’s cultural gems Deoksugung and Gyeongbokgung as its neighbours. Below the hotel, the Seoul Metro’s Line 1 and Line 2 provide connectivity to other parts of the city and nearby Seoul Station, where the Arex airport train and intercity Korail services depart from. The hotel is also a stop for the KAL Limousine bus to and from Seoul’s Incheon and Gimpo airports.

 

Arrival Experience

Coming from Seoul Station after arriving from Busan, we walked into the hotel’s ground floor lobby, a space that felt sterile with the use of black and white marble across such a large open area. At 4pm in the afternoon, it was not particularly busy and we were directed to the reception desk on our left for check-in. The agent attending to us was not particularly friendly and we thought the entire service interaction was largely transactional and rather forgettable – not the first impression we were expecting for a brand that prides itself on properties that exude unique personalities. Nonetheless, the entire process took less than 10 minutes and we were soon headed upstairs to our room for the night.

 

Guestrooms

We were assigned room 1156, a Deluxe room on the 11th floor. The dark tones of the hallway were immediately contrasted by the bright shade of pink and white inside the room, a colour choice that continues to puzzle us.

   

At 30 square meters, this was one of the smaller hotel rooms we have stayed in. Thankfully, the rectangular shape rendered most of the space usable and this was dominated by the Queen-sized bed positioned in the middle facing the window. We liked this layout as it allowed views of Seoul Plaza and Gwanghwamun from the comfort of the sheets and the natural light streaming in the next morning as the electric blinds slowly opened at the touch of a button on the convenient bedside control unit.

   

Tucked in a corner behind the bed is the compact, white-tiled bathroom, featuring a ‘smart’ toilet commonly found in this part of the world and a glass shower stall (separated by a curtain for privacy) overlooking the sleeping area. Using the overhead rainforest head (with a handheld shower wand also available), we ended up having us one of the best showers on the trip. Water pressure was excellent, temperature easily-adjustable and the amenities were from British luxury brand Molten Brown.

   

   

Having the workdesk by the window meant a bright working space illuminated by natural light and we appreciated the convenient connectivity panel at the side, with ample electrical and USB outlets. On the left sat the flatscreen television with one of the more impressive channel selections we have seen in recent times, although the complimentary internet meant we were able to catch up on shows on Netflix instead.

   

   

The hotel’s minibar was stocked with no less than 6 different types of beer and a multitude of snacks. Above it, the refreshment center had the usual bottled water, instant coffee and tea, the more interesting being the Korean roasted malt tea (Boricha). Space being limited around the guestroom, the wardrobe and pull-out laptop-sized electronic safe was tucked between the refreshment center and the main door, which doubled as a mirror.

 

Dining

Having an early start to the day ahead of our tour to the Korean Demilitarized Zone, we opted for an American breakfast via in-room dining. The entire tray was promptly delivered at 5am sharp as we specified the night before. We thoroughly enjoyed our selection of fried eggs, pork sausages and potato hash, served with buttered toast and preserves together with a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice and hot coffee in the comfort of the room as the city slowly brightened up outside.

Had we opted to dine downstairs, a buffet breakfast is served at the all-day dining restaurant The Seven Square, named for the seven streets that converge onto the city center.

   

   

   

THE PLAZA Seoul offers a further five food & beverage venues for guests, including Italian restaurant Tuscany, modern Chinese cuisine at Taoyuen and the Japanese fine dining restaurant Murasaki. Occupying the first floor and a basement level, The Lounge is a unique dual-concept venue with the latter a stylish bar serving signature cocktails and a selection of single malt whiskies and an upper tea lounge offering luxury teas, coffees and fine desserts. France’s Eric Kayser artisan boulanger serves as a convenient grab & go deli for baked goods, sandwiches and tarts.

 

Facilities

With eight different venues offering over 2,000 square meters of event space combined, the hotel can cater to a range of functions ranging from intimate meetings to lavish wedding celebrations. In a somewhat unique arrangement for city hotels, most of THE PLAZA Seoul’s recreation facilities are sited in an annex building behind the main hotel block. While it means a longer walk to access the gymnasium or heated swimming pool (and even a golf simulator!), we find this much better for the privacy of house guests as both the Fitness Club and The Belle Spa are open to the public via membership schemes.

 

Service / Staff

We had mixed feelings about the service at THE PLAZA Seoul. While the staff were polite and went about their tasks professionally, it was all rather transactional and our interactions did not feel particularly memorable which was regrettable given Koreans have a reputation for warm hospitality.

 

Verdict

As a business hotel in one of Asia’s booming economic capitals, THE PLAZA Seoul checks the right boxes in offering an excellent location and solid hard product at a reasonable price point. Unfortunately, it is let down by an equally business-like service culture that in our opinion makes the difference between a good and a great stay. While we would return to stay here when in Seoul, we probably would not go out of our way to do so as the city offers many other alternatives in the same category.

 

THE PLAZA Seoul

119 Sogong-Ro,

Jung-gu, Seoul,

Korea 04525

+82 2 771 2200

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