Thursday, Oct. 09, 2008

Park Hyatt

This sleek, newish, 24-story glass tower, set south of the Han River near the COEX convention and shopping center, caters to Seoul's nouveaux riches and visiting business travelers. The sleek, minimalist interiors — in both the common areas and the 185 rooms — are airy and punctuated by Korean antiques. The guest rooms, with their floor-to-ceiling windows, polished wood floors and headboards, and baths and shower stalls made from rough-cut granite, have a sort of Frank Lloyd Wright–meets–Zen master aesthetic; all have luxurious extras like Bang & Olufsen stereos, Aesop toiletries, and Egyptian cotton linens. The hotel's fitness center is one of the best in the city, with an indoor pool and treadmills overlooking the city skyline; the spa has plunge pools, steam rooms, and iron-handed masseuses. There are three on-site lounges; our pick is the Timber House, decorated like a traditional Korean hanok (house); stop in for sake and soju cocktails, fresh sashimi, and (on many nights) live jazz performers.

Insider Tip: If you don't have much time for sightseeing, consider taking advantage of the hotel's "Culture at the Park" package; it provides a guided whirlwind tour of Seoul's palaces, markets, and art district.

Room to Book: The Diplomatic Suite. Why? The gas fireplace adds a flickery-flame ambience the others rooms don't have. The Presidential Suite has one also, but its size may be overkill for most travelers.