The plan for my Seoul hotel reviews was to visit one budget, one mid-priced, and one luxury property.
I spent the first night at the budget (though by no means austere) Aloft Seoul Myeongdong, and for the second, I headed to the luxury of the brand new Sofitel Ambassador Seoul. You won’t find a lot of reviews for this hotel because it opened in October 2021, so it’s a relatively unknown quantity even to locals.
Thanks to an Accor Suite Night Upgrade, I was able to book a Prestige Suite for the price of a lead-in room, paying just ~S$340 for 70 sqm of real estate with club access and breakfast.
I wasn’t about to argue with that, even if it meant crossing over to the other side of Seoul…
|🏨 tl;dr: Sofitel Ambassador Seoul|
|It may not have the best location, but the brand new Sofitel Ambassador Seoul is already setting the standard for luxury hotels.|
|The Good||The Bad|
The Sofitel Ambassador Seoul is located in the Jamsil area. My knowledge of Seoul’s geography isn’t very good, but even I know that’s a little out of the way. You’re about 50 minutes from Myeongdong and 1 hour 50 minutes from the airport by public transport. On the plus side, you’re close to Lotte World and a few big shopping malls.
As you might expect for a Sofitel, interiors are luxuriously styled and furnished, with polished marble floors and statement piece chandeliers (with the Signiel Seoul just a stone’s throw away, they really have to pull out all the stops).
I was greeted at the door and offered assistance with my luggage. A cheerful English-speaking associate greeted me by name (I guess there weren’t a lot of Singaporeans checking in that day) and escorted me to the check-in area.
Most guests will check-in at level 6, but since I booked a suite, I was invited to check-in at the lounge on level 32. I’ll share more photos in a dedicated section below, but simply put, it’s as stunning as the rest of the hotel.
During check-in, I was asked to present the results of my on-arrival PCR test. The staff mentioned I was the first Singaporean guest they had so far, and were excited that Korea was slowly reopening to the world.
I was also given two welcome drink coupons, which could be redeemed for any of the following items. Sadly, champagne wasn’t on the list.
My booking was for a Prestige Suite, described by the hotel as follows:
Each Prestige Suite is a singularly impressive space made up of several distinct components. A living room with inspiring Seokchon Lake views that stretch from floor to elegantly molded ceiling. A bedroom fit for royalty, with a sleep menu to ensure heavenly nights in your king-sized Sofitel MyBed. And along a separate hallway, a bathroom to write home about, complete with a standalone soaking tub and walk-in shower.
The door opens to a T-shaped passageway, with the guest bathroom on the left and the living room further down.
The guest bathroom came fully equipped with a heated bidet seat and marble countertops.
The living room was tastefully decorated with a baby blue couch and a purple armchair, arranged perpendicularly around a coffee table. Panels on the wall slid back to reveal a 55-inch LCD TV.
My room had a great view of the Seokchon lake, which is a popular jogging option for guests staying at the hotel. The weather was generally hazy during my visit, but I managed to get this shot on a clearer morning.
Rounding out the room was a mini-bar topped with three bottles of complimentary water and a Nespresso capsule machine.
The fridge had a small selection of soft drinks, beers and alcohol, as well as complimentary Dilmah teas and Nespresso capsules.
On the coffee table were some welcome fruits and chocolates, as well as two bottles of Perrier.
The bedroom and living room are separated via a sliding panel in the wall (remember, Prestige Suites basically occupy the footprint of two regular rooms).
The king-sized Sofitel MyBed was firm, with silky smooth sheets and plush pillows. A pillow menu is available if none of the default options work for you.
Both bedsides had their own set of master switches, curtain controls, two USB Type-A ports and a universal power outlet.
On one bedside was a GiGA Genie, kind of like Korea’s answer to Google Home. This device accepts voice commands, and can do things like adjust the lighting, play music and summon the concierge.
While the suite doesn’t have a work desk as such, a circular table in the corner of the bedroom served the same purpose. The chair wasn’t the best for prolonged seating, but stuffing a pillow between your back and the backrest worked wonders.
The Sofitel Ambassador Seoul’s Wi-Fi network clocked in at 175 Mbps down and 133 Mbps up. I could easily play 4K Netflix without any buffering or stuttering, and it made mincemeat of video calls.
Just outside the bathroom area is a walk-in wardrobe, with bathrobes, slippers, an ironing board, and a digital safe.
The master bathroom was decked out in marble and warm lighting, although there’s surprisingly only enough room for a single vanity.
The highlight is no doubt the luxurious freestanding tub, which allows for lying at either end. It’s just a shame they didn’t have a bath pillow.
If you need a quicker rinse, step into the shower area. Shower amenities were by Diptyque’s Philosykos range, which are also in use at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore. They were provided in bulk-sized bottles.
Just like the guest bathroom, the master bathroom featured an American Standard heated bidet seat, controlled by a series of wall-mounted buttons.
The Prestige Suite was every bit as impressive as I hoped it’d be, and still had a bit of new room smell. I can imagine this being quite the upgrade for Platinum/Diamond members, especially those travelling with family.
The Sofitel Ambassador Seoul’s club lounge is located on level 32, and open from 7 a.m to 10 p.m daily. Access is granted to ALL Platinum and Diamond members, as well as club room and suites guests.
Like the rest of the hotel, it’s a joy to behold. It looks like something straight out of a posh private club, with seating for perhaps 60-70 people.
The lounge also has its own bar area and wine fridge, from which the evening cocktails are served.
A separate meeting room is available for those who need a bit of quiet, and each club level guest gets one hour of complimentary access per day.
The lounge serves the following meal presentation daily:
- Breakfast: 7 a.m to 10 a.m (only available on selected days)
- All Day Snack: 12 p.m to 5 p.m
- Afternoon Tea: 2 p.m to 4 p.m
- Evening Cocktail: 5.30 p.m to 7.30 p.m
Afternoon tea is nothing to shout about. I was hoping for a three-tiered set with scones and frilly pastries, but the selection was merely a self-serve layout of tidbits, fruits, and two kinds of cakes.
The true highlight is the evening cocktail, an event you absolutely can’t miss.
Here’s a runthrough of the food spread during cocktail hours. There’s certainly enough on offer for it to be a dinner replacement, and I thought the bulgogi brioche and spicy chicken quiche were particularly inspired.
In addition to the buffet, three hot items were served by the staff to each table: a potato soup, a risotto and some braised pork belly.
In terms of drinks, a wide range of liquors, soft drinks and wines were on display, including champagne.
The champagne was the highlight for me- a very lovely Champagne Barons de Rothschild. Apparently, Koreans love champagne as much as I do, because every time a new bottle was brought out, it was quickly seized on and emptied. The staff did a good job replenishing it though.
For those who fancied something else, a bartender was on duty to whip up various concoctions.
I’d certainly rate this as one of the best club lounge experiences I’ve enjoyed at any hotel worldwide. The quality of food and drinks was very high, and the staff handled the crowds amicably. It didn’t hurt that they also served some very lovely Korean melon at the buffet- fruit aficionados will know this doesn’t come cheap!
The Sofitel Ambassador Seoul’s swimming pool is located on the 16th floor, with floor-to-ceiling windows giving a great view of the neighbouring buildings and lake.
It’s open from 6 a.m to 10 p.m daily, and closed on the first Monday of every month for maintenance. Do note that you’ll require a swimming cap to visit the pool. I didn’t have one, but neither did the gentlemen in the queue ahead of me. They wanted him to buy one from the hotel, but he made such a scene they loaned him one for free. And since he got one, well…
The pool is 25-metres long and rectangular-shaped, making it great for lap swimming.
In the evenings the LED lights embedded in the ceiling are switched on, creating the illusion you’re swimming under the stars. It’s beautiful stuff.
The pool isn’t heated, but for those who fear the cold, the wading area (0.6m) has warmer water.
If you want something even hotter, head outside to the jacuzzi. The water here is maintained at a toasty 40°C, and in the mornings, you can see the steam rising off the surface. The design of the area does a good job of blocking wind, but if you find it too chilly, just go deeper into the water!
The Sofitel Ambassador Seoul’s gym is located on the 16th floor and open from 6 a.m to 10 p.m daily. Inside you’ll find spanking new TechnoGym equipment, with integrated entertainment devices for the treadmills, elliptical machines and stairmasters.
Numerous weight stations and strength training machines are also available.
Guests can help themselves to towels or cold water from the fridge.
As you’d expect from a hotel of this calibre, there’s an onsite spa on the 16th floor called Sofitel Spa by Beauté BR. It operates from 10 a.m to 10 p.m daily, and uses products from French luxury spa brand Biologique Recherche.
A 60-minute body massage starts from KRW200,000 (~S$232), and the full menu can be found here.
While I didn’t go for a treatment, I managed to peek into both the single and couple treatment rooms. I didn’t think they were anything special, especially the couples room which seemed oddly oversized, like it was repurposed from something else.
All treatment rooms have their own toilets and showers attached.
Breakfast is served at Fait Maison from 6.30 a.m to 10.30 a.m daily. It costs 60,000 KRW (S$69) per adult and 30,000 KRW (S$35) per child if not included with your rate.
If you’re dining on a Sunday morning in particular, you’ll need to choose from one of three seatings:
- 6.30 a.m to 7.45 a.m
- 8 a.m to 9.15 a.m
- 9.30 a.m to 10.45 a.m
As far as spreads go, Fait Maison offered one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.
The “Chef’s Cuisine” station had all the hot items you’d expect from a breakfast buffet, and then some. Crispy (and soft) bacon, roasted tomatoes, grilled mushrooms, pumpkin soup, ham hock, sausage snails, tandoori chicken, bulgogi…this would have been a sufficient spread in and of itself.
Next to that was “Patisserie”, with yoghurt, baked goods, pancakes and waffles.
The Patisserie led into the cold item area, with cut fruits, salad, cold cuts and parfaits.
Closer to the entrance were cured meats, cereals and juices. If you didn’t see a juice you liked, the staff would make it for you.
Finally, on the far end of the restaurant you’ll find “The Oven” and “French Stove”.
This is where you can request any of the prepared-to-order signature breakfast items. The egg station will also whip up omelettes and any other egg dishes you wish.
I tried the Parisian eggs benedict…
…abalone egg custard…
…and the Mediterranean ratatouille.
All three were excellent, though my personal favourite would be the abalone egg custard, basically a silky smooth chawanmushi loaded with abalone.
If there’s one nitpick, it’s the lack of a sparkling wine option at breakfast. I mean, if you can’t do champagne, at least a French cremant might have rounded out the experience.
Most new hotels take a while to find their feet, but the way the Sofitel Ambassador Seoul was run, you’d be forgiven for thinking it were already an old hand. It certainly exceeded my expectations and then some, and it’s definitely a hotel worth checking out if you don’t mind its somewhat out of the way location.