My wife and I stayed at the Westin Chosun in July 2012 in connection with our vacation in Korea. We wanted to splurge on the hotel stay while in Seoul and the hotel aslo seemed centrally located in connection with many of the attractions in Seoul. I travel a bit for work and pleasure and I have stayed at various 4 and 5 star hotels around the world - just to give you an idea about the background for this review. I have been a bit spoiled by staying at some very nice hotels in Asia and due to this I do have high expectations when I stay at nice hotel chains like Westin. We booked the hotel on the Starwood Preferred Guest site (SPG) and it was a special summer promotion for 300.000 Won (300 USD) for club level (meaning free breakfast, snacks during the day and cocktail hour at night), no charge for an additional guest and free in-room internet.
To get to the hotel we took a train from Incheon airport to Seoul station – a 45 minute ride for 8000 KRW (about 8 USD). From there the 5 minute taxi ride to the hotel cost another 3000 KRW (about 3 USD). Staff were helpful and took our luggage from the taxi. We checked in on the lobby level – which was fast and pain free and we got room 1904. We made our way up with our own luggage – usually staff would assist (no tipping necessary in Korea) and entered a very pleasant, spacious room. Keeping with Westin’s standards - light colors, with a wooden floor upon entry, tiled bathroom and and then a carpeting for the rest of the room. There was a wardrobe near the entrance that contained robes, slippers, a safe, ironing board, fire safety equipment and iron.
The main piece in the room was the king size bed and as often in Asia, it was huge! On the right side of the bed there was a control panel to adjust lighting in the room, air con etc. The air-con was very quiet which is excellent! The bed was quite comfortable (Westin promotes a so called Heavenly Bed) but I don’t really like the layer of sheets options – there was also a menu with a number of pillows to choose from - if you are picky when it comes to that. There was also a small sofa with a small table (that could also be used as a stool) and a desk with a chair. The plugs were a mixture of Korean and European sockets so I could actually plug in my Norwegian plugs in some sockets.
The flat screen TV was a bit on the small side, if you ask me but it had the usual English channels and a number of Korean channels. Westin have integrated a bit of stuff into the TV system (wake up calls, messages etc) and it makes it a bit slow. The fridge had some great options when it comes to drinks – I think it is the first time I have seen that a hotel offers both a half bottle of Champagne (Veuve Clicquot)and a half a bottle of Cognac! There was also a Nespresso machine for making your own espresso The allowance being 2 complimentary capsules a day. We also received complimentary bottles of water which were regularly replenished – even after turn down.
The bathroom was pretty small and it was tiled in rather ugly tiles - but it was at functional at least. The bathtub also featured a shower option with a glass panel to avoid splashing all over the floor and it did actually work as intended. There were a few amenities on club level (shampoo, lotion, toothbrush, comb, shower cap etc) but in general I’m not a big fan of the products they use. Normally I don’t mention the sink itself but this time I have to as it was quite modern with the glass bench around it – it was not very practical as the soap holder would slide off the sink and end up on the floor. I normally don’t mention the toilet either but this time the toilet was high tech compared to what I’m used to. In some areas in Asia they have toilet seats that contain warm water/drier bidet option. But the best feature is probably the seat warming function! The ventilation in the bathroom is not very good but luckily there is heating in the bathroom mirror to avoid it steaming up.
We tried breakfast both upstairs in the lounge (on the 20th floor) and on Aria in the lower lobby level. As usual it is quieter upstairs and the view is great but the selection of food is not as extensive as in the main breakfast restaurant. I seemed to stir up quite a fuss when I asked for an omelet in the lounge breakfast area. The hotel’s healthy cereal options were obviously lacking – 90% was sugar coated. There is a selection of bread, fruit, bacon/egg/sausages and there are a couple of coffee machines if you need your fix in the morning. In the main breakfast area they had stations focusing on bread, hot food, egg station etc so you have a much more extensive selection. From 6 to 8 pm there were evening cocktails severed in the lounge so we could enjoy a drink while watching the sun set over Seoul – they have wine, whiskey, vodka, brandy etc. They also had some food but don’t eat too much – remember to taste the Korean cuisine while you are in Seoul ;-)
On the third level there is a swimming pool and one floor down you will find a large gym with lots of treadmills, stationary bikes, mats, a yoga studio, etc – surprisingly well equipped for a hotel gym. And with large windows you also get a bit of a view while working out. The treadmills also feature TV channel options and music channels so remember to bring your iPod/ear phones. Towels are freely available and staff are on hand and helpful – even wiping down machines after use. The have room temperature and refrigerated mini-water bottles - even cooled wet face cloths for those that go all out. Remember to take your room key with to use the gym facilities. There’s a shower, sauna and bathroom too in the changing rooms.
The location of the hotel is very good at least when looking at the main attractions of Seoul. You don’t have to walk far to get to the City Hall metro station and you can easily walk to many of the main attractions. There are a number of restaurants, bars etc nearby but Seoul is a huge city so you can find that all over the place. This is also one of the oldest hotels in Korea and was built near the remains of the Jeosun dynasty’s palace. The view from our room was right down to the Wongudan Altar. We were also able to use the concierge services on a number of occasions – to make dinner and guided tour reservations.
But everything is not perfect with the hotel of course. First of all: the lifts are extremely slow and maybe it is not enough with 4 lifts when you have 20 floors. When we were there they were doing maintenance with one lift and hence there were only 3 lift operational and they seem to work on two different systems! There was a note in the lobby apologizing for the lifts. There were even times when you would enter the lift and an automated voice would apologise for keeping us waiting.
I’m also surprised by the reservation system. We decided to stay a few days extra and they said they it was not possible to get the same rate as before. I can understand this but I think the right phrase is “we don’t want to give you the same rate”. When we started talking to the reservation desk they said that they could offer us a rate of 360.000 Won but instead of king size bed we would get twin bed. But when we checked online it was possible to get a king size bed…so we showed this to the reservation desk and they were like “Ok, then it is possible”. We then decided to extend and they booked it but then after 5 minutes they were like “Oh…you are two people in the room? The rate will then be 360.000 + 50.000 for an extra person”…this is after we had talked to them for quite a while when booking the room. When we checked online we could still get it for 360.000 for two people so I showed this to the reservation team and asked them if I really had to book it online in front of their eyes compared to just getting them to do it and the answer was “Yes”….this is too weird if you ask me.
Being a 5 star hotel the services are expensive. We had a breakfast at the lower lobby floor one day at the Vecchia e Nuovo restaurant when we woke up late and two sandwiches and two coffee was like 70.000 Won (about 70 USD) and it was not worth it at all.
The Westin Chosun is an excellent hotel – the room was large enough, there are amenities and services and on club level you can enjoy breakfast and evening cocktails on the 20th floor with a view. Staff were friendly and accommodating – in most instances. But Westin has a tendency to annoy me a bit – no free internet in general, not really offering any perks when you have a gold card on SPG (like when I stayed at Westin in Madrid earlier this year) and this time there was the incident of having to book a room online in front of the staff in the hotel to get a lower rate. So I’m still going to stick to Traders/Shangri-La if I have a chance!
But all in all…if you are willing to cough up the money then Westin Chosun does offer a nice room in a very central location in Seoul !
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Situated in the heart of Seoul's main business and shopping district, the Westin Chosun Seoul is within easy walking distance of major embassies, banks, commercial and government offices, as well as national museums, historic palaces and local markets. 462 Spacious rooms, including 40suites, are exceptionally furnished with every modern amenity. Advanced features include Westin's signature Heavenly Bed, anti-allergy carpet, premium espresso coffee machine, LED TV with Internet, oversized beds, individually controlled air-conditioning, refrigerator, mini bar, in-room electronic safe, full-size writing desk with office task chair, and voice mail. • Institutional Investor - World's Top 100 Hotels (4 consecutive years) • Asiamoney - Best Hotel in Seoul (3 consecutive years) • Travel +Leisure - World's Best 500 Hotels • Conde Nast Travel - Best Hotel in Seoul • Smart Travel Asia - Asia' Top 25 Business Hotels (5 consecutive years) ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- The Westin Chosun Seoul Hotel Seoul
- Westin Chosun Hotel Seoul
- Westin Seoul
- Seoul Westin