The best places to stay in four price ranges: budget ($), moderate ($$), expensive ($$$), and luxury ($$$$)


Inn Daewon
This is Seoul’s cheapest city-center accommodation. Near-legendary bunkhouse with 20 beds in dorms and private rooms; patronized by generations of backpackers. Located downtown in a tiny alley behind the Sejong Cultural Center. 26 Tangju-dong, Gwanghwamun; tel. 82 2 735 7891.

Seoul Guest House
“We strongly suggest foreigners experience a traditional house.”—Simon Hong, director, Seoul Global Center. Seven traditional rooms set around a courtyard; beds are mattresses spread on the floor, paper lanterns hang from the eaves, and there is high-speed Internet access. Just north of Insadong, close to palaces and reasonably convenient to downtown. 135-1 Gyedong; tel. 82 2 745 0057.

Temple Stay
Stay in a Buddhist temple; six in Seoul offer visitor lodging. It’s cheap, and guests can participate in meditation, martial arts, or the tea ceremony depending upon the temple. Beware, though: Everyone wakes before dawn for meditation, drinking is prohibited, and sexes are segregated. Tel. 82 2 732 9925.


Best Western New Seoul Hotel
“In almost the dead center of the city, yet is on a small side street, thus minimizing traffic noise.”—Anthony Galloway, operator, Expat Advisory. 145 rooms, all well equipped, free Internet, and popular (and affordable) Italian restaurant. 29-1 Tyaepeong-No 1-ga; tel. 82 2 735 8822.

Koreana Hotel
“Great central location [in the heart of downtown] makes this an excellent choice.”—Anthony Galloway. This large hotel, with its 344 rooms and popular sauna is a city landmark at the Gwanghwamun Intersection. 61-1 Tyaepeong-No 1-ga; tel. 82 2 730 9911.

Hamilton Hotel
In the center of Itaewon, Seoul’s foreign quarter; 155 rooms. Near restaurants, pubs, and nightlife; also close to downtown. Outdoor roof pool packed in summer. 119-25 Itaewon; tel. 82 2 794 0171.


JW Marriott
“The largest guest rooms in Seoul.”—Anthony Galloway. Excellent location with fine dining and shopping, as well as subway within walking distance. Modern health spa and terrific river views in half of its 497 rooms. 19-3 Banpo-dong, Seocho-gu; tel. 82 2 6282 6262.

Grand InterContinental
“Very big rooms, ideal for business visitors south of the river, with attached exhibition center and underground shopping mall.”—Mickey Choi, CEO, Wine 21. Built into the COEX mall/exhibition center, THE south of the river location. If you can’t get one of the 535 rooms, try the COEX InterContinental at the other end of the mall. 159-8 Samseong-dong; tel. 82 2 555 5656.

Westin Chosun
“The oldest hotel, right in the city center.”—Mickey Choi. Original colonial-era structure was demolished in the 1960s, but this landmark maintains some of the ambience of its predecessor, which hosted Marilyn Monroe, Bob Hope, Muhammad Ali, and invading North Korean and Chinese troops. Flagship Ninth Gate restaurant and many of its 453 rooms overlook the historic Temple of Heaven. 87 Sogong-dong; tel. 82 2 771 0500.

Grand Hyatt
“For Western visitors, the Hyatt has, for years, been the iconic hotel in Seoul.”—Michael Breen, author, The Koreans. Set on the landmark Mount Namsan, the hotel's 601 rooms and, in summer, the outdoor pool, offer magnificent city views, and it's close to Itaewon. 747-7 Hannam 2-dong; tel. 82 2 797 1234.


W Hotel
Famous lobby lounge with capsule seats, and bar and river views, is a popular party destination for the in-crowd. The 254 rooms have audio-visual, spa, or “scent” themes. Edge-of-town location. 21 Gwangjang-dong; tel. 82 2 465 2222.

Park Hyatt
This super-luxury boutique hotel is Seoul’s most modern, offering tremendous, minimalist design in lobby, rooms, and spa. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the 185 rooms offer excellent views over humming southern Seoul. 995-14 Daechi 3-dong; tel. 82 2 2016 1234.


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