If you are lucky enough to stay in a hotel for five months, you will get to know a property. You are twice as lucky if that hotel is Lotte Hotel Seoul.
I count myself as doubly lucky. Last year on business I stayed nearly half a year at the Lotte, Seoul’s premier downtown venue.The hotel won Condé Nast Traveler’s award for Best Foreign Business Hotel in 2015.
Awards aside, I chose the after carefully researching the premier five-star hotels in the city. Recently I stayed there again with baby. Both times I made the right choice for value, convenience and the sleek spaciousness of the hotel room.
The Lotte Hotel is the best option in Seoul for business and leisure travelers.
Check out my room:
Yes, that is Korean silk hanging from the ceiling. Remote controlled drapes and curtains so you can choose whether you want to see Seoul’s famous mountains–I usually chose “yes” to see those peaks, many of which you can walk to–right from the hotel!-to climb.
Room tip #1: North facing rooms have views of Seoul’s northern peaks, including Dobongsan, Bugaksan, Inwansang, and, on a good day, Dobonsan. South facing rooms have more light, with views of Namsan, downtown Seoul’s southern mountain. Cool, huh?
The Lotte has the some of the most spacious hotel rooms in Seoul. Room enough to fit the 1950’s style deluxe wooden cribs for baby, complete with its own set of Lotte linens for baby. Not too bad for being in the center of one of the world’s most populous cities.
Must-Read room tip if staying at the Lotte
Room Tip #2: The Main Building has more recently renovated “modern style” rooms, while the New Wing’s rooms are larger, with more traditional hotel furnishings. The Main Building offers three different styles of rooms, done in white/beige, brown and multi-colored palettes. I prefer the cleanness of the “white/beige” palette
Which leads me to another reason I love this hotel…
Location Location Location
If you are interested in hiking in Seoul–and there is a lot of it–the Lotte makes you well placed to bag the city center’s peaks, which average around 300 meters. Inwangsan, the city’s northwest mountain, is a three hour hike door-to-door from your hotel room. That doesn’t include the après-hike barbecue. Bugaksan, Seoul’s northern peak at 342 meters, lies slightly closer, although don’t forget your passport or an ID. The area is still considered a military zone, as it is here in 1968 where North Korea staged an attack on Korea’s Blue House. The great news is that you can hike up Bugaksan and follow the ramparts of Seoul’s Fortress Wall down to the historic neighborhood of Samcheong…
But I digress…
Yes, the location is that great.
Many companies have their offices in the center district, Jung-gu, as well as many Embassies, which are located here or a short drive away in Hannam.
From the Lotte, one can walk to ALL of Seoul’s five palaces. Of those, Deoksugung is less than 300 meters away. Gyeongbukdong, considered Seoul’s central palace, is a 15 minute walk.
Myeongdong, the best place to buy Korea’s famous cosmetics, as well as good for people watching, street shopping and street food, is located across the street view an underground walkway. There are a lot of great places to eat here, although I highly recommend Myeondong Gyoja, a dumpling place with a few outlets in the area.
If you have a K-pop fix, head to Lotte Young Plaza, also connected to Lotte Department Store. In the basement you will find K-pop star paraphernalia which you can often finein Myeongdong’s underground shopping plaza, connected to Lotte Young.
If you need to go further afield, Eujiro-1-ga metro station lies in the basement of the Lotte Department Store, connected to the hotel.
The Lotte Department Store deserves a stroll and can be fun for a rainy day: Duty-free is located on the top floor, where you can purchase many of Korea’s famous cosmetics. With your passport you can purchase and take home some items. Others you will need to pick up at the airport upon your departure, a simple process at your departure that should take less than 20 minutes.
The kids’ section is located on the 7th floor. This is need-to-know information if you need to go to a nursery, or need space for the kids to play. (See also my map on breastfeeding lounges around Korea)
If you are from a country that does not have a lot of nursing lounges, check this one out to see how great Korean babies have it. The changing tables have soft cushions for baby to rest on while you change her diaper. There is a nap room, a scale, a set of high chairs, and a private nursing room with soft music, Tartine et Chocolat nursing pillows, and a privacy curtain.
This way to the nursery…
There are nurseries in nearly all Korean malls and department stores. I know, how civilized?! One more reason why Korea is great for traveling with babies.
There are adorable Korean baby brands at the Lotte, including Minkmui, as well as European brands, such as Le Petit Bateau (a personal favorite), Tartine et Chocolat and Ettoi. This is a good-but pricey-place to buy the hip-seat baby carriers popular in Korea with older babies and toddlers. I have seen ladies wear these in leather pants with their 1.5 year old. I will do this, that is, if I look good in leather pants when my baby is that old.
The basement of the Lotte has a premium supermarket to buy sushi and other Korean and Japanese dishes. There are several great restaurants and coffee shops in the basement. Some of the restaurants will allow you to sit down at a table and order. For others, you will need to order from attendants located in the center of the seating area. This may seem daunting, but the menus are in English and the service is speedy. I LOVE Korean convenience.
For coffee, I recommend Paul Bassett for the iced lattes in the “coffee corner” of the basement. The Fauchon cafe has great teas, and right now offers a 20% discount between 11:30-12:00.
Aside from food, you can stock up on baby items here, like diapers, rash cream, wipes, and any other baby product you will need. There is stroller rental at the Department Store, although you can obtain one for several days from the Bell Captain on the 1st floor of the Lotte Lobby.
Did I mention the fun salesladies showcasing Korean products:
But back to the hotel.
Club Lounge cocktails can be a meal
The club lounges in the main building and new wing offer evening appetizers, cocktails, beer and wine that can make-up a meal. Americans–this is not reheated hot pockets and tortilla chips–think shrimp, fried chicken pieces, and often, fresh vegetables.
There is also room service, which features staples from around the world, like nasi goreng, pad thai, pizza and bibimbab. Having ordered room service more than 30 times, I highly recommend the club sandwich, caesar salad, and all of the Korean dishes. The pizza is not bad if you craze it. It is nothing to rave about, but can satisfy cravings.
For restaurants, I can’t recommend enough Momoyama for authentic Japanese food, served with a view of the mountains. It is pricey, but great for a special occasion. Also, Pierre Gagnaire, a Michelin-starred French restaurant. The bar, Pierre’s, serves excellent champagne cocktails, also available in the Lobby but without the great view of the city, with Seoul’s Fortress Wall lit up at night behind its buildings.
Lotte’s marketers have called La Seine an “upscale buffet.” They mean it. I have been to a number of high-end buffets in Las Vegas, the Philippines, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and this place reigns over all. I am a big fan of sashimi and there is a sushi corner where chefs will cut different parts of bluefin tuna off of the fish. The swordfish and salmon are also quite yummy.
Do you have more questions about the Lotte? Want to know where to stay in Seoul? Let me know in the comments! And subscribe to updates so you don’t miss a post.
See below for more helpful and inspiring info on where to go in Seoul: