Grand Am­bas­sador Seoul associated with Pullman

Business Traveller (Asia-Pacific) - - TRIED & TESTED - Craig Bright

BACK­GROUND Grand Am­bas­sador Seoul is one of the South Korean cap­i­tal’s most en­dur­ing prop­er­ties. First opened in October 1955, it’s un­der­gone plenty of changes over the years, en­ter­ing into a fran­chise part­ner­ship with Accorhotels un­der its Sof­i­tel brand in 1989, fol­lowed by a re­brand to its cur­rent name in 2009.

WHERE IS IT? About five min­utes from Dong­guk Univer­sity sub­way sta­tion in Jung-gu, on the north side of the Han River. The shop­ping and en­ter­tain­ment dis­tricts of Myeong­dong and Itae­won are just a few sub­way stops away. In­cheon air­port is an hour and three-quar­ters away by train, or around 50 min­utes by car/taxi.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Con­tem­po­rary but with el­e­ments of a by­gone era, the Grand Am­bas­sador has for the large part aged well with mod­ern con­ve­niences and fa­cil­i­ties. Vis­i­tors used to the sleek de­sign of newly built prop­er­ties may find cer­tain mi­nor as­pects of the ho­tel slightly dated, but var­i­ous Pullman touches (par­tic­u­larly on the de­sign and tech­nol­ogy sides) en­sure it re­mains con­ve­nient for the mod­ern busi­ness trav­eller.

ROOM FA­CIL­I­TIES There are 413 rooms and suites, rang­ing from the 30 sqm Su­pe­rior room to the 114 sqm Pres­i­den­tial suite (there are even three-bed Su­pe­rior rooms and a tra­di­tional Korean On­dol room). I was in a Deluxe room, which at 35 sqm had am­ple space. The light beige dé­cor with dark-wood fur­ni­ture was bright and con­tem­po­rary, and the sleek glass desk and leather chair were very com­fort­able to use.

Ap­pre­ci­ated ameni­ties in­clude: a cof­fee maker (with two com­pli­men­tary cap­sules per day); a “mo­bile charg­ing sta­tion” with three ca­bles for hand­held de­vices; and fast, com­pli­men­tary wifi. An­other con­ve­nience is the desk-side power board, which of­fers sock­ets for multiple plug types. That said, these aren’t uni­ver­sal sock­ets, so you’ll prob­a­bly need an adapter.

The bath­room of­fers a mod­ern smart toi­let, but the shower within the bath­tub (with a fab­ric cur­tain) seemed a bit old-fash­ioned for this level of ho­tel. The shower did have a rain­fall func­tion, but the added space of­fered by a shower cu­bi­cle is al­ways prefer­able. Shower prod­ucts were from CO Bigelow, and there were a num­ber of bath­room ameni­ties, but strangely there was no free den­tal kit – it was listed on the mini­bar for 6,000 won (US$5) for two tooth­brushes and 2,000 won (US$2) for tooth­paste.

RESTAU­RANTS AND BARS The King’s is the ho­tel’s main in­ter­na­tional buf­fet restau­rant, renowned for its seafood of­fer­ings but also strong on Korean sta­ples like bul­gogi beef. Tucked away be­hind the el­e­va­tors is Café de Chef, of­fer­ing a mixed menu (pre­sented on hand­held tablet de­vices) of French and Korean cui­sine – worth a visit if you’re look­ing for a con­ve­nient but good-qual­ity meal. The ho­tel also houses Can­tonese/Sichuanese restau­rant Hong Bo Gak, Ja­panese eatery Sushi Hyo, a lobby lounge and deli, and ho­tel bar La Vinoteca.

MEET­ING FA­CIL­I­TIES Grand Am­bas­sador Seoul’s Ex­ec­u­tive Club Lounge is lo­cated on the 16th floor, with ac­cess avail­able to Ex­ec­u­tive room and suite guests (floors 14-18), who get two hours’ com­pli­men­tary use of the board­room, plus break­fast, sec­re­tar­ial ser­vices, and happy hour from 6-8pm on week­days and 5-7pm on week­ends. The ho­tel has 15 func­tion rooms (renovated 3-4 years ago) with the largest ca­ter­ing for up to 700 people. The 19th floor ban­quet­ing fa­cil­i­ties also re­ceived a ren­o­va­tion last year.

LEISURE FA­CIL­I­TIES The most no­table leisure op­tion is the in­door golf driv­ing range, with ten tee boxes and a putting green. It’s a popular venue, but it didn’t seem too over­crowded. The in­door golf is lo­cated on the base­ment lev­els along­side the gym, three-lane in­door pool (with Jacuzzi), aer­o­bic stu­dio and a sauna area of­fer­ing dry, Korean and fog sauna op­tions. The sec­ond base­ment level houses the ho­tel spa.

VER­DICT One of the city’s older prop­er­ties, the Grand Am­bas­sador Seoul has adeptly kept pace with newer coun­ter­parts in the city. While some mi­nor de­tails do date the ho­tel, it is still an ex­cel­lent op­tion for those with busi­ness in the vicin­ity or if you want to stay close to the city’s most popular spots.

A no­table leisure op­tion is the in­door golf driv­ing range, with ten tee boxes and a putting green

PRICE In­ter­net rates for a Deluxe room with break­fast in mid-June start from 253,000 won (US$228) in­clud­ing tax and sur­charges

CON­TACT 287 Dongho-ro, Jung-gu, 04618 Seoul; tel +82 2 2270 3111; pull­man­ho­

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