From Mountains to Beaches – Park Hyatt Seoul

Arriving at Gimpo, I took the airport limousine bus to Gangnam, as that is the best bus to take that will take me all the way to the COEX mall and I was told I could walk over to the Park Hyatt from there. Apparently if you do take this airport bus, it is best to drop off at COEX and take the taxi from COEX to Park Hyatt, as the bell desk will take care of the taxi fare for you. However, I forgot about this and instead dropped off along COEX and walked over through the underground passage way. It wasn’t too much of a hassle since I just had a rollerboard and a duffel bag. However, the icy conditions on the pathway and the snow does make things a bit tricky.

Park Hyatt Seoul

Upon arrival at the Park Hyatt Seoul, the bell boy assisted me with the luggage and directed me to the lobby which is located on the 23rd floor. Prior to this, I had used one of the suite upgrade vouchers courtesy of the Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond membership to upgrade my room to a suite. However upon reaching the hotel, where I wanted to take a rest after the flight and head out for lunch, the front desk had to have an IT system breakdown and thus they could not process me for check-in. To mitigate the problem, they directed guests to the small lounge on the side where they provides beverages and cookies until they rectify the problem. It must have been a 40-50 minute wait before the backlog of guests were processed and it was my turn to be checked-in. I wondered what would have happened if someone was in a hurry to check-out.

Reception Area
Lobby Lounge

Anyway the front desk agent acknowledged my suite upgrade and apologized profusely for the delay and their system breakdown. I was escorted to the suite on the 13th floor initially, and from the floor plan, each floor has 2 suites, one on the middle section and another at the end of the corridor. Both suites have different floor plans due to the irregular shape of the building. The first suite I was provided had a rectangular shape with a larger bedroom and triangular shaped living area. The living room had a very comfortable couch and I loved the simple wood and earth tones in the decor as well as the huge windows providing an amazing view over the traffic intersection. I enquired the front desk for a suite on the higher floors and they came back to me indicating that they do have another suite on the 15th floor. This time it was the corner suite which is squarish in layout, with a larger living room but smaller bedroom. While I like this layout better for lounging, it should be noted that there is a recliner and massage chair on the first suite I was provided with. The corner suites however provides more views due to its corner location. The layout of the bathroom is more or less similar and the space is separated by a wardrobe that opens on both sides from the bedroom and the bathroom. What was fascinating about the bathroom was its huge tub and shower area which is in a separate glass-enclosed cubicle with curtains that drop at the touch of a button. This shower cubicle also opens out to the views of the COEX Mall. Inside the room, Aesop amenities are provided and they were amazingly nice to use. With the turndown service where they replenished amenities, I was able to get extra bottles for my travels in Japan!

Living Room with View of Gangnam
Suite Bedroom
Suite Bathroom

What separates the Park Hyatt Seoul to any other hotel I have stayed in was the level of service provided by the hotel. Just how many times have people ventured into an unknown city and not knowing where to find good food outside the restaurant. The front desk and concierge was so helpful in this regards by printing out restaurant choices on a slip of paper with directions, type of dishes served and the opening hours. In one instance when I wanted Korean BBQ, the bell boy on duty on the ground floor even personally escorted me on a 5 minute walk in freezing cold weather to the restaurant via the alleyway. I’ve never met a bunch of hotel staff that are as ready to please as this, even in resorts like the Ayana or Conrad Bali. Even for a Park Hyatt (comparing it to Melbourne and Shanghai), this is by far the best in terms of service.

Seoul COEX View from Room
Corner Suite Living Room

Another example of how the hotel trains its staff well is how consistent they are during my 3 days of stay with them. On my last day, I asked for a taxi to bring me to the Leeum Museum of Art and the concierge did the same thing in printing out the leaflet of the museum along with directions and opening hours and when I boarded the taxi, they made sure the driver knew the location and handed me a card with the license plate of the taxi. This was not new since the St Regis in Singapore does that as well, but they do not do it consistently and at the Park Hyatt Seoul over my 3 days with them, the staff were the best amongst any hospitality establishment.

In addition to the service was how the Park Hyatt Seoul felt more like a residence especially with the large suite, since there are 3 jars of snacks inside the suites. One jar contained chocolate coated coffee candies which was great to snack on during my walkabout in Seoul. Another jar contained classic Korean rice snacks which comes in 3 flavours and they were interesting but I found some of them too sweet. The last jar contained the sweetest snack which is caramel filled chocolate with sea salt. Housekeeping will replenish these jars daily so it is akin to having a complimentary snack bar while staying here. The welcome amenity consisted of a bottle of Soju, fruits and a box of cookies which was fantastic!

Welcome Amenity

I was provided breakfast at the second floor of the hotel in the Italian restaurant called Cornerstone. While the breakfast wasn’t the best I had in Korea, I would say it is pretty good in quality. There was an ample mix of Korean and western breakfast choices as well as made to order dishes. They were even able to create customized smoothies depending on the availability of their fruits that day. Even though it can get quite busy at times, the staff were willing to accommodate and extend the breakfast duration slightly, though it can be noisy around 11am as the staff prepares for the changeover from breakfast to lunch.

Bar Counter during Breakfast

During my stay in the Park Hyatt, I did use their gym which is located on the top most floor with an amazing view while one is on the treadmill. In addition, they have a nice soaking tub similar to an onsen in the changing rooms with relaxing loungers. There is also an indoor swimming pool just one floor below. However the drawback is that the swimming pool is on the same floor as the lobby and the small lounge and with the clear windows, there is a lack of privacy while swimming especially in the periods where there is crowds checking in and out. The small size of the hotel also means the pool is pretty small and there was not much restaurants in the hotel itself. Other than that the hotel is located in a pretty nice location with direct access to a subway and the COEX mall just opposite. The location in Gangnam is also great to explore this neighbourhood, which was cast into the spotlight by the viral hit ‘Gangnam Style’.

Indoor Swimming Pool

This stay further solidifies the standing of the Park Hyatt chain in my opinion, and I have to say they made the Hyatt Diamond status well worth it! Thus far all the 3 stays at Park Hyatt have ranked amongst the most memorable hotel stays I had and this stay at Park Hyatt Seoul is probably the best hotel stay in 2012.

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