SEOUL DRAGON CITY
Industry is a hallmark of modern Korea, and Seoul’s districts are alive with specialist workshops and stores supplying lighting, electronics and engineering services. Seobu T&D Corporation – the developer behind Seoul’s latest major hotel project – has its roots in a such commercial area, Yongsan, that is also home to plush neighbourhoods and upscale hotels. It is also where Seoul Dragon City opened in autumn 2017 as Korea’s largest hotel, with a combined 1,700 guest rooms spread across four brands.
The “hotelplex” is also a major project for Accor, which has its Novotel Hotel, Novotel Suites, Grand Mercure and Ibis Styles in Dragon City.
For special events, the cluster boasts Sky Kingdom, with four levels of themed venues housed in a bridgeway that links two of the towers, and includes the Sky Beach, which features decking, BBQ facilities and a DJ booth.
The hotelplex is 3km from Seoul Station, from where high-speed trains can reach Pyeongchang in 90 minutes. Even closer, however, are Yongsan and Sinyongsan stations, which connect to the rest of the city, and the iPark Mall – with Shilla Duty Free and Lotte Cinema – accessible by a covered walkway.
Headquarters of Korea’s corporate titans are grouped around avenues on either side of Yeouido Park and within sight of the National Assembly building where the republic’s lawmakers preside.
Amid the chaebols and multinationals stands the 480-guest room Conrad Seoul with three floors of event space including the grand ballroom, which at 941 sqm can accommodate up to 1,200 people. With 47 corner suites, including a presidential suite facing the LG headquarters, the international corporate community tends to feel at home here with Deloitte, Hewlett Packard, AIG, IBM and more in the neighbourhood. Alongside corporate comforts, the Conrad Seoul encourages travellers to strike out of their comfort zone with a choice of itineraries that last one, two or up to five hours and are “off the beaten track for our guests”.
FOUR SEASONS SEOUL
Gwanghwamun is where old- and new-town Seoul meet, a hub that takes in the palace, the “K-wave cool” alleys and streets, and – for those seeking a plush retreat – Four Seasons Seoul.
Hidden in the basement, a speakeasystyle bar offers xan intriguing post-meeting or incentive retreat for small groups. The lounge bar is kitted out in sympathetic detail to conjure the style of a US Prohibition-era hideaway, but more Great Gatsby than Al Capone. Overall, however, the venue is a homage to Charles H Baker Jr (1895-1897), who wrote the Gentleman’s Companion series of books, now undergoing a renaissance as mixologists collect his classic cocktail recipes.
JW MARRIOTT DONGDAEMUM SQUARE
Dongdaemun is Seoul’s design, garment and fashion quarter all rolled into one, with the gate that gives the area its name standing proud outside the JW Marriott. This contrasts with the uber-modern Dongdaemun Design Plaza, a venue for fashion shows and design-related events. When US President Donald Trump was in town the hotel provided the base for some of his entourage. If they weren’t too busy they could avail themselves of the hotel’s indoor pool, the setting for a number of Korean TV drama scenes, which are almost as soap operatic as the White House itself!