Review: Park Hyatt Seoul

Introduction
Star Alliance First Class Lounge Los Angeles Airport LAX
Star Alliance Business Class Lounge Los Angeles Airport LAX
Asiana First Class A380 Los Angeles to Seoul Incheon
Park Hyatt Seoul
How Etihad Handled My 14 Hour Flight Delay
Grand Hyatt Incheon Airport
Korean Air Business Class Lounge Seoul Incheon Airport ICN
Etihad Airways First Class A340 Seoul Incheon to Abu Dhabi
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US Airways Business Class A330 London Heathrow to Charlotte


People often leave comments at the end of my posts saying “I want five minutes of my life back.” Let me save you five minutes with a one sentence summary. The Park Hyatt Seoul is perfect.

You’ve been warned…

Incheon Airport is a long distance from the city, so upon arrival I headed to the bus counter, where I booked a bus that would drop me off at the Park Hyatt. The wait was about 20 minutes, and from there it was a roughly 75 minute drive.

As far as I’m concerned this hotel perfectly embodies everything which is the Park Hyatt brand, and that starts with the exterior. The hotel is housed in an all glass building — very elegant and understated. Perhaps the helipad on top isn’t understated, though. šŸ˜‰

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Park Hyatt Seoul exterior

The entrance to the hotel is sort of hidden. There’s no grand driveway or anything, but rather just a small entryway on the ground floor, with a small bell desk.

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Park Hyatt Seoul entrance

On the ground floor I was greeted by a bellman, and then escorted up to the 24th floor lobby. The hotel has two sets of elevators — one set takes you between the ground floor, restaurant, and lobby, while the other set takes you between the lobby and the guests rooms (all of which are located below the lobby, which is the top floor of the building).

Upon exiting the elevator I was introduced to a front desk associate, who quickly processed my check-in. I hadn’t stayed at the hotel in four years, and I love how they acknowledged that. Once I handed the associate my credit card and passport and he looked up my reservation, he said “Mr. Schlappig, welcome back. Since you haven’t been our guest in four years, let me remind you of some of the features of the hotel.”

Not only that, but the hotel still had my newspaper preference on file from four years ago — “Is the Wall Street Journal still your newspaper preference?”

I know it’s a small touch, but it really impressed me.

The friendly associate also reminded me of all the benefits I’d receive as a Diamond member, including:

  • An upgrade to a deluxe room
  • Daily full breakfast in Cornerstone Restaurant
  • A welcome amenity (I chose the 1,000 points)
  • 4PM check-out

As I explained in the intro of the trip report, I was staying for two nights — I used an annual free night certificate from the Chase Hyatt Visa Card for one night, and 15,000 Gold Passport points for the other night (Points + Cash wasn’t available).

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Park Hyatt Seoul lobby

The associate asked if he could escort me to my room, though I said I was fine on my own. He instead just walked me to the elevator, and pointed out The Lounge, which is the hotel’s bar. It feels very much like a living room, and has gorgeous views of the surrounding city.

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Park Hyatt Seoul The Lounge

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Park Hyatt Seoul The Lounge

I took the elevator down two levels to the 21st floor, where my room was located. I was assigned room 2103, the first room on the left as soon as I got out of the elevator.

I love the hallways in this hotel — they’re simple and elegant, which I guess nicely describes the hotel as a whole.

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Park Hyatt Seoul hallway

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Park Hyatt Seoul room entrance

While the Park Hyatt has quite a few floors, as you can see based on the floorplan, each floor has fewer than a dozen rooms. There are only a total of 185 rooms in the hotel.

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Park Hyatt Seoul floorplan

I know it’s not everyone’s style, but I love the decor in the rooms. It’s so “neat” and understated. For a non-suite the room was quite large. It featured a king size bed, with a lounge chair by the window and then a small living area closer to the room entrance.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King room

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King room

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King room

The living area featured a small circular dining table with two chairs. Usually I’d be a bit miffed by the lack of a desk in the room, though the dining table was a great place to work from.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King room

Behind the dining table was a Nespresso machine, and below that was the minibar.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King room Nespresso machine

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King room minibar

In the far corner of the room was a comfortable chair facing the TV, which was on a stand. There’s a glass partition near the window which looks at the shower and bathtub, though there are blinds which can be drawn for privacy (thank goodness).

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King room

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King room

Then to the right of the TV is a fairly large closet. Keeping with the simplistic design of the room, you can’t even tell there’s a closet unless unless you know to look there, because it blends into the wall so well.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King room closet

Next to the closet was the hallway, which lead to the bathroom.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King room hallway to bathroom

Bathrooms are consistently a highlight of Park Hyatts, and this property is no exception. The bathroom features an amazing shower “area,” with a walk-in rainforest shower and soaking tub.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King bathroom

Actually, I don’t even think it’s fair to call it a rainforest shower. It’s more of a car wash shower based on the number of directions from which water sprays.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King shower

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King shower

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King bathtub

There’s also a sink and Japanese toilet.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King sink

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King toilet

Toiletries in the bathroom are Aesop branded, which I now realize I left off my list of favorite hotel toiletries. Yeah, Aesop is pretty darn tough to beat.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King Aesop toiletries

In addition to the standard toiletries, there was a box with just about any cosmetic item you could have possibly left at home.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King amenities

The Park Hyatt isn’t in the most exciting part of Seoul — I guess the immediate area is sort of the equivalent of the financial district — though the views are awesome. It’s tough to describe, but there’s something electric about the skyline views at night.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King room view

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Deluxe King room view

The Park Deluxe rooms here are perfect. Traveling alone I’m not sure I’d even use a Diamond Suite Upgrade Award here, since the standard room is more than sufficient.

In terms of the hotel’s other facilities, there’s a gorgeous spa located on the 23rd floor. Now, Seoul is outrageously expensive so I didn’t get a spa treatment here, though this is also where the gym and pool are located, which registered guests can use for free.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Club Spa entrance

The pool is located up a level from the spa, so in order to get there you walk past a handful of treatment rooms and the juice bar.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Club Spa

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Club Spa

And then you walk up a set of stairs.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Club Spa stairs

In addition to bathrooms, I find that pools are often also a highlight of Park Hyatts, and this hotel is no exception. The pool here is gorgeous.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Club Spa swimming pool

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Club Spa swimming pool

The pool does look gorgeous at night, though, all light up.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Club Spa swimming pool

There are two things to note, though:

  • The pool isn’t necessarily designed for swimming. I tried to do laps, and based on the amount of water I displaced from the pool onto the “deck” you’d think they were trying to capture a walrus.
  • What’s incredibly awkward and borderline hilarious is that the glass shield to the side of the pool looks directly at the lobby bar. Like, immediately on the other side of the glass shield are people sitting in suits having cocktails. A-W-K-W-A-R-D.

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Park Hyatt Seoul view of the pool from the lobby bar

The 24/7 gym is immediately across from the pool. It’s on the small side, though has modern equipment and a trainer on hand during business hours.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Park Club gym

In terms of food, Cornerstone Restaurant on the 2nd floor serves breakfast daily from 6:30AM till 10:30AM, and due to jetlag I was there both mornings right as they opened.

The restaurant is nicely designed, though since it’s only on the 2nd floor, views are lacking somewhat.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant

The first morning it was explained to me that I could order anything off the menu as a Diamond member. The second morning they didn’t even ask for my room number, and even remembered my name.

The restaurant has a pretty simple breakfast menu — everyone gets the buffet, and then you can order a main course to go along with it. The main courses are on the small side, but that works for me, given that there’s a huge buffet to nosh from.

The breakfast menu read as follows:

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It’s worth keeping in mind that when it comes to Asian breakfast buffets, there is a bit of a difference between North Asian and Southeast Asian buffets (and of course differences within those regions as well). The mega-breakfast buffets with endless choices are usually in South Asia, while in North Asia the buffets tend to be a bit smaller.

And that was definitely true here. The buffet wasn’t massive, which I’m happy with, since everything was of incredible quality.

There was a huge continental selection, consisting of cereal, fruit, yogurt, granola, pastries, croissants, muffins, toast, cold cuts, salmon, etc.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast buffet

Then there was a selection of hot Western options, like hash browns, eggs, bacon, ham, etc.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast buffet

And then they had a great Korean breakfast selection as well, along with some dim sum.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast buffet

To drink I had orange juice and a non-fat cappuccino, both of which were excellent.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast

The first morning I ordered bulgogi off the menu, which was very good.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast

The next morning I just had an egg white scramble, which was served with salmon.

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Park Hyatt Seoul Cornerstone Restaurant breakfast

Breakfast was fantastic all around — the service, food, and environment were top notch.

On the last evening I ended up having a late lunch in The Lounge, located just off the lobby. I asked the server to bring me her favorite Korean dish, which she did. I wasn’t sure what I loved more — the dish, or that I was served a massive plate of vegetation on ice as a starter.

This also turned out to be a really amusing meal, as I listened to someone quit at the table next to me.

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Park Hyatt The Lounge lunch

Anyway, the hotel itself is gorgeous, and the food was excellent as well. But the service was equally impressive. Just a few examples:

  • Every time I would walk towards the elevator in the lobby, one of the front desk associates would quickly run to the elevator and push the button for me.
  • I was having problems with my air conditioning the second day, so I called the front desk. They apologized profusely and said they’d send someone from maintenance. Not only did they send someone from maintenance, but the front office manager came with him to introduce himself and apologize.
  • Due to jetlag I woke up really early and ordered a pot of coffee from room service. I love when room service doesn’t make you sign a bill, but rather just charges it automatically, which is what they do here.
  • As I mentioned above, the second morning they remembered my room number at breakfast.
  • While the bus from the airport drops off at the hotel, it doesn’t pick up there. The bus terminal is only five minutes away, and the Park Hyatt will pay for a taxi to take you there.

It’s the little touches that add up…

Park Hyatt Seoul Bottom Line

This is a fantastic hotel — I’d argue the best Category 4 Hyatt property out there. Just about everything about this hotel is awesome. My one complaint is that I don’t love the location for sightseeing. Fortunately public transportation in Seoul is reasonably accessible and easy to use, so I do think it’s worth going out of your way stay here.

If you’ve stayed at the Park Hyatt Seoul, what was your experience?

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Comments

  1. I’m curious how/why you think Seoul is such an expensive city? I’m sure the spa at a Park Hyatt will be pricey anywhere but generally I’ve found Seoul to be relatively cheap (at least when compared to other Tokyo, Singapore or any European Capital).

    We’ve had some phenomenal dinners at nice restaurants for less than $50 a head, bars running $3-4 a beer and i’ve found a taxi will get you pretty much anywhere for less than $10. It’s not Bangkok or Hanoi but it beats NYC or Seattle.

  2. Was in Seoul recently on the UA BOS-ICN in F deal and was tempted to stay here but stayed at the Westin Chosun instead. It doesn’t live up to the service levels of this, and the room was cookie cutter and not as large, but we found the area more preferable to be a tourist in. Did not find the city at all expensive, I think that is partially not being in COEX area but also perhaps that was since we came from Tokyo. In particular by the end of the trip we were kicking ourselves for taking public transport on short trips as cabs were so inexpensive (usually $5ish) and we could easily pay on T-money.

    In fact the location issue was a similar issue I had with the Park Hyatt Tokyo (on Chase signup bonus free nights). The hotel itself was near perfection, but its not an area I wanted to be in as a tourist. We also stayed at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo, using cash and points plus a Diamond Suite Award and found the location much preferable to the Park Hyatt, although the service clearly was not as personalized. DSA confirmed into Grand Executive Suite (not their base suite) and the room was great.

  3. Alex, seoul is the 2nd most expensive city in the World.
    Only things you would find cheap are local restaurants and drinks.

  4. Thanks for the great review! We have a points and cash reservation for a week in June and are really looking forward to it. As others have noted the location isn’t as tourist oriented, but it sounded so nice we decided to go for it.

  5. Because I wanted a suite, I couldn’t use my free night cert, which I’ll use at the GH Incheon later in the trip. I just used the 50% extra points option.

    Funny, I didn’t mind the Asiana F decor, but this decor bugs me. Reminds me of my mom’s furniture. Hopefully it will be more wonderful when I’m actually there.

    I didn’t realize Seoul was going be so expensive; how much would breakfast be (I’m just a GP Plat)?

  6. Have you tried the bath tub? It looks pretty horrible to me. I love to get in, read a book for an hour or more and relax. But the tub in the picture seems too square, can’t really see a comfortable position in it.

  7. Far cry from Hyatt on the Bund, which I just came back from. Service crap and room small (I had their entry level room, so I guess it’s fair). Views were phenomenal. Unfortunately Hong Kong Airline News is kinda slow with trip reporting so I can’t publish the trip report until November.

  8. @ JMR — It’s not the most comfortable bathtub in the world, but it was plenty large and I actually found it fairly comfortable.

  9. Looking forward to staying here! Did you take the KAL bus or Seoulbus? I read that the Seoulbus is less expensive.

  10. Had an amazing stay here, but the fact that I always had to take an elevator up to the 23 or 24 before heading back down became an inconvenience, other than that, agreed with your assessment.

  11. The bathroom looks nice but the room furniture looks a little Ikea-ish in a 60’s blond wood kind of way.
    Compared to most of the Hilton and Hyatt Place I usually stay in, this is VERY nice

  12. (you really should add an editing feature to the reply section)…..

    By the way, for those of us without Hyatt Diamond, how much would a breakfast cost?
    I know at the Park Hyatt Vendome it was 69 euros; I ended up at a nice coffee shop close by

  13. @Rami – From the menu pic that Ben posted, looks like the breakfast buffet is 45,000 won, which is ~$45 USD.

  14. I’ll be staying there on the 3rd week of Nov and plan to take the bus as well. Do you happen to remember how much the bus fare from airport to the hotel.? Any train from the airport to the city central like the one in KL?

  15. @Mike – who knew? I’ve always found ways to have a lot of fun for very little $$ in Seoul, but then again usually stay in a quiet 3* in MeyongDong when i’m in Seoul that runs ~$100 a night. Still freaking love that city.

  16. Thanks for very detailed posting. I am a Seoul native, currently visiting my parents in Seoul. So I wanted to give my parents a nice hotel-stay as a present, and not surprisingly they chose Westin Chosun (SPG) over Park Hyatt Seoul (but they quite liked Park Hyatt Busan though thanks to ocean view). Personally I myself would have chosen Park Hyatt, but the elderly people like my parents def. prefer traditional reputation & elegance and sort of authentic Korean restaurants in a nearby area. And I agree with one of the above repliers that “a little Ikea-ish in a 60ā€™s blond wood kind” is not very appealing to me either.

  17. correct me if i’m wrong but the “vegetation on ice” are for wrapping your meat and rice, i.e., “ssam”, no?

  18. @ Tiara — I forgot how much it was exactly, I think maybe $20. There is also an express train, but it doesn’t let off close to the hotel, so it’s still a ways from there. I usually do the bus since it’s just a lot more convenient.

  19. @ pavel — Nope, it was intended as a starter while I waited for the main course. It came with a peanut dipping sauce.

  20. Thanks for the review – I might check it out during my next trip. However, my absolute favourite hotel in Seoul is the Shilla. Go try it next time!! Stayed there for two weeks in March, loved every minute I could spend in my suite. And the Gym is fantastic. Right now, I am staying at the Park Hyatt Toronto for roughly two weeks – VERY disappointed, though location is nice (apparently, the rooms in the newer tower are better, but sadly, the hotel is completely booked and I can’t change my room.

  21. I like the PH in Seoul a lot too. I’ve also stayed at the PH in Busan, which recently opened a year or two ago. It’s funny how this PH Seoul has the Aesop amenities while the PH Busan had the Le Babo Amenities when I stayed there April of this year. Any speculations as to why two PH in the same country have different amenities? If you ever stay in Korea long enough, you should take the KTX down to Busan and try out the PH Busan. The PH Busan is inconveniently located in a stale part of the city away from anything, but it does have a nice view of the gwangan bridge. Definitely check it out.

    I do agree with you on the part the PH seoul is not located near any sight seeing, but it is located near gangnam(yeah from that gangnam style song) and apujeong where there are decent places to eat and go out.

  22. Hi Ben, thanks for the review. So do you think PH Seoul is better than PH Tokyo? Also I think the vegetation on your lunch set was meant to be wrapped around the meat. But wow, what an amazing presentation!

  23. @ katyalw — Hmmm, she told me the veggies were for me to “enjoy while you wait.”

    Park Hyatt Seoul and Park Hyatt Tokyo are both spectacular. Tokyo might just have a slight edge for how iconic it is.

  24. Good review but how did you not mention it’s the Gangnam district…with your love for pop music I figured that’d be the first thing you’d note.

    I think reason the front desk manager came down to your room when you had a problem is because he/she speaks english and the maintenance man likely doesn’t. i had the same thing happen when the motor controlling my blinds ceased to function, ended up with three guys to fix it. A maintenance guy, another maintenance guy to hold the ladder, and a Front Desk manager to translate and apologize.

    As for breakfast, it was my experience that you could order as much of the made to order stuff as you wanted as a Diamond, or maybe it was just me because I’m twice the size of the average Korean.

  25. Last time I stayed here, the concierge printed out leaflets of places I wanted to visit with maps, opening hours and directions. Once on a cold night, the doorman actually escorted me to a nice Korean BBQ establishment located past the alleyway to the back after getting the recommendation from the concierge. One of the best service I have encountered in a hotel!

  26. @ Lucky — definitely better than a typical category 4 hotel! šŸ™‚

    @ Brian — for our stay in Tokyo we also picked GHT over PHT because of the location; had to postpone it until April 2015 though. Will try for GHT again unless I can somehow get better rates for PHT.

  27. lucky,
    i stayed at this place 2 days ago for 2 nights and all i can say is wow. i chose this place based on your recommendation and i wished i stayed all 5 nights here. other 3, i was at grand hyatt.
    PH seoul definitely deserves the new category upgrade exceeding that of GH seoul.
    for one thing, PH’s deluxe king is more spacious than GH executive suite with its 15ft. ceiling.
    the doormen were dashing to open the door and press the elevator button.
    PH seoul takes my breath away!

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