After landing in Seoul and going through the arduous arrivals process (roughly two hours from start to finish), it was time to head to my hotel and isolate until the results of the on-arrival test came back.
The only form of public transport that VTL travellers can take is the AREX train (the all-stops version; the express is currently not operating), and that’s what I took down to Seoul Station. From there, I hailed a cab, and with much difficulty communicated to the driver I was heading to Aloft Seoul Myeongdong.
|🏨 tl;dr: Aloft Seoul Myeongdong
|For the rates they’re charging, it’s hard to find better value than the Aloft Seoul Myeongdong
The Aloft Seoul Myeongdong is right smack in the middle of the action, just a short walk away from the Myeongdong Shopping and Food Street (though they’re significantly more quiet these days).
I stayed here on the first night of my trip and arrived in the evening, so all the photos here were taken the morning after when the light was better.
I had some concerns about checking in, since this was the first week of the VTL scheme and I wasn’t certain whether all hotels had received the memo (there were some still asking travellers from Singapore for a “quarantine exemption certificate”, which VTL passengers don’t receive). But check-in went smoothly- I showed them the PCR sticker on my passport and they knew straight away I was travelling under a quarantine-free arrangement.
The front desk informed me that I’d need to stay in my room until a negative result was received from my on-arrival test, which I already knew.
I was also informed, in halting English, that I’d been upgraded “on a goodwill basis”. I didn’t make much of it at the time, since the typical Marriott Gold upgrade is to the lofty heights of a high floor room.
Little did I know there was something exciting in store…
Now, I’ve stayed in countless Aloft rooms over the years. I know the blueprint- the toilet is immediately to the left or right of the entrance with a vanity area and then the shower, the bedroom has a TV flanked by two tables.
So imagine my surprise when I opened the door and saw this.
Yes, the Aloft Seoul Myeongdong had upgraded this lowly Gold member, little more than pond scum in the Marriott Bonvoy hierarchy, to a Breezy Suite just one category below the Presidential Suite.
This suite had its own expansive living room, complete with sofa set and coffee table.
In the corner was a work desk, with two universal power outlets, two USB ports and a HDMi connector.
In another sign this isn’t your usual Aloft, this room had a Nespresso capsule machine and Twinings tea. The mini-fridge also held three bottles of mineral water.
If you run out of water, just step into the corridor- there’s a water and ice dispenser on every floor (or just turn on the tap; Seoul’s tap water is perfect drinkable).
The bedroom was similarly impressive, with styling more akin to a Westin than an Aloft. The king-sized bed faced a large flat-paneled TV, behind which was the bathroom, concealed by a sliding door. If not for the telltale pixelated bolsters, you’d be hard-pressed to tell where you were.
The king-sized bed may not have been all fine Egyptian linens and high thread count sheets, but it gave me a good night’s rest nonetheless.
Each bedside had lighting controls, a universal power socket and two USB ports.
While all the Alofts I’ve visited had “walk through” closets, in the sense that you walk through it en route to the bathroom, this one had a walk in closet, with all the storage space you could possibly need.
The bathroom looked like it was large enough for a double vanity, but they’d decided to use the extra space for a dressing area instead.
I’ve never seen an Aloft with a bathtub before, much less one that actually looks decent for soaking. This combination bathtub/shower area reminded me a bit of the Andaz Singapore’s setup- it’s just a shame that the Aloft brand standards give the game away (there’s no mistaking those wall-mounted pump dispensers!)
On that note, all the amenities carried prominent Aloft branding. I just found it so hard to reconcile with the otherwise impressive bathroom.
This being Korea, all hotel toilets had electric bidet seats- this one even had a warming function.
So yes, I was completely blown away by this room, which was above and beyond anything I’d come to expect from an Aloft.
The Aloft Seoul Myeongdong has no swimming pool, but it does have a gym on the third floor that opens from 5 a.m to 10 p.m daily. Due to COVID restrictions, a maximum of one (yes one) person can use the gym at a time.
That means you’ll enjoy a private workout with the TechnoGym equipment.
Breakfast is served at Nook restaurant from 7.30 a.m to 10 a.m daily.
My room rate didn’t include breakfast, and I decided against topping up KRW30,000 (S$34) for it. I think that was probably the right call, because I paid the buffet a quick visit and none of the items shouted out to me.
There’s much better breakfast in Seoul, that’s for sure (Isaac Toast!).
Given that my room rate was just KRW 66,000 (~S$76), and I paid with Marriott Bonvoy gift cards purchased at a 20% discount, I couldn’t possibly have asked for more from my stay at the Aloft Seoul Myeongdong.
The location is excellent, the service was friendly, and while I can’t comment on your odds of an upgrade, the suite was above and beyond anything I’d experienced in an Aloft property.
By the way, I did a quick check of the December rate for the suite I stayed in and it prices out at KRW200,900 (~S$230) a night, inclusive of breakfast. Given what you get, that’s actually very decent indeed, and perhaps something to consider if being in Myeongdong is your top priority.