THE PLAZA Seoul sits right smack in the CBD of the Korean capital and walking distance to Myeong Dong. To qualify to be a hotel in the Autograph Collection, the hotel has to have some sort of uniqueness in itself and exudes its own personality and spirit. What that means, I leave it up to your imagination. Personally I think it’s Marriott’s take to rope in more cool looking establishments to soften their stiff Americanised corporate image in view of competition from the boutique hotels and the ultra cool. Like they say, no two hotels in the Autograph Collection are the same. We shall see how THE PLAZA Seoul fares.
Getting to the hotel from the Incheon Airport is not difficult as it sits right on top of the City Hall Station. From the airport you could take the AREX direct to the Seoul Station and then transfer on the subway dark blue line to get to City Hall Station. This travel mode should take 1.5 hours while a taxi should take about 45 min to 1 hour, depending on the traffic. It costs me about S$50 for the taxi ride.
Once I arrived at the hotel, the porter asked me for my name and he ushered me to the lift rather than to the check-in reception at the main lobby. It was then I realised that I could be getting a room upgrade and club lounge access. True enough, when we reached the 18th floor, the club lounge was there and a pleasant looking lady staff took over and proceeded to check me
out in. Such is the benefit of a Marriott Rewards Gold Elite member. Depending on availability, there will be a room upgrade to your existing booking. For this business trip, I was booked on the Deluxe guest room so the upgrade will put me up on the Premier Suite, which is the next higher. Other perks like guaranteed late checkouts and lounge access/free breakfast are part and parcel of the Gold status.
I checked in after 5pm on a Monday and the club lounge was empty except for one guest boozing away on his laptop. Check in was a breeze and I took a few pictures of the club lounge before heading to the room.
My abode was on the 20th floor. Let the pictures will tell you a thousand words.
So far the room seems ok, apart from the eerie-looking red coloured wardrobe. The living area is good size for up to 2 persons to sit comfortably on the couch to watch tv. The bedroom is small but neat enough and does not feel claustrophobic.
The toilet is bright lit and is just ok, with a separate shower and bathtub. Nothing to shout. Then my eyes shifted to the shower amenities…
Before we goo-gaa over these, let me just say these Hermes smell pretty normal with a citrus overtone. I don’t feel/smell a million bucks after using them.
Before heading out for dinner, I make a quick visit to the in-house gym. Now this is a gym that is located in another building next to the main hotel. To get there, you have to cross a small road behind the hotel and get to the building next door. The gym is located on the 16th floor. This is one of the best hotel gyms I have ever been into and it beats many of those membership ones. The equipment here are new, the space is big and even comes with a golf driving range. Some equipment are weird looking but soon I realised their benefits. On the 17th floor is the main gym area while the 16th floor houses the reception desk and men’s sauna and grooming room. The ladies’ area is on the 15th. And finally the swimming pool and aerobic studio is on the 18th. 4 floors of fitness and well-being. Wonderful!
The saunas and shower facilities were good. The swimming pool was warm and has a lifeguard present. By far this is the best fitness centre I have been too, especially for a hotel’s. I reckon that this is also a member’s gym based on the type of visitors and the locker rooms. If you don’t have your gym attire, you can loan the in-house pink t-shirt and blue shorts (that’s the reason why you see the gym visitors in the same attire). No sports shoes? No problem. You can loan that too.
The next morning I decided to visit two breakfast areas for the sake of writing this article. The first one was on The Seven Square located on the 2nd floor. This was the common area for paid buffet breakfast, and this breakfast was part of the rate which I had paid. The spread was good and some of the items were uniquely Korean in the form of kimchi and cold noodles.
It was about 9:30am by the time I finished and it is coming to the end of breakfast service. I made a rush to the club lounge to have a look what is up there. The spread there is probably 30% of what the main buffet breakfast offered. But since this is offered free of charge to Gold Elite members, there is nothing to complain about.
THE PLAZA Seoul suits the business traveler as well as the holiday maker. Roughly US$200 for a room is not a bad rate given its location and the service. For me, I like the service from the staff who are ever so friendly and the fantastic fitness centre that I can spend the whole day in. Travel safe and well, everyone!