All Economy Around the World? Umm…No. A Review of Grand Hilton Seoul
Y ou had to ruin it — didn’t you, Hilton?
I had readers of The Gate believing that my entire unintentional trip around the world would be all economy all the way — and boy, have I had some stories to tell with more on the way in store…
…but nooooooo…you just had to have a sale of 50 percent off of the regular room rates in South Korea last month for 72 hours which was too enticing for me to ignore — so I purchased a room for two nights.
After walking around acres and acres of the grounds of palaces built centuries ago — they will be featured in future articles written by me with plenty of photographs — for much of the gorgeous day in the hot sun, your air-conditioned executive lounge on the 11th floor at the Grand Hilton Seoul quenched a huge thirst with an assortment of juices, soft drinks and water. Those little sweet treats did not exactly worsen things either…
…and when it was time to bring out the items around meal time, those shrimp wrapped in bacon really hit the spot — as well as the pasta, rolls, carrots, cucumbers and other items you offered. There were also sandwiches, miniature Quiche Lorraines, assorted cheeses and crackers, and other items.
After eating traditional Korean dishes such as bulgogi, kimchi, bibimbap and noodles — all of which I enjoyed — it was nice to have these treats on which to munch. Your staff was quite pleased when I said gomapseumnida to them for the way they treated me — and I had been in the spacious executive lounge far longer than I had been in the room as I wrote this article.
I hope that readers of The Gate will forgive me. Sure, I could have chosen lodging from a competitor. True, I could have stayed in a hostel. Yes, I did stay one night in an authentic traditional hanok…
…but I still have elite level status with you, Hilton. You have spoiled me for the most part for years. I have always enjoyed having elite level status with you. How can I refuse?
I am only human, after all.
Darn you, Hilton…
Grand Hilton Seoul
Okay — now that I got that out of my system, it is time to move on to the actual review of the hotel.
Two of the four nights in which I stayed in Seoul — as part of an unintentional trip around the world where I visited Hungary, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, South Korea, China, and the Philippines before returning to the United States — was at the Grand Hilton Seoul hotel property.
I had already been in Seoul for two days; so I simply took the subway to get to the hotel property. Exit 4 from the Hongje station on Line 3 — which is the orange train — is the closest to the hotel; but you will still have to walk approximately 20 minutes to the hotel, which is perched up on a hill near the Naebu Expressway. Part of the walk will be underneath and alongside the elevated highway; but it is not a bad walk at all.
The hotel property is not exactly in the most convenient or central location; so keep that in mind if you intend to do some sightseeing in Seoul. Allow yourself some travel time — depending on where you want to go. You can be in downtown Seoul in fewer than 30 minutes by subway.
If you are arriving from Incheon International Airport, you can take the 6005 airport limousine bus to the hotel property for 15,000 South Korean won, which is less than twelve dollars. The route is an express route with several stops along the way; and the bus station is located at a simple small shelter at the bottom of the hill adjacent to the driveway entrance to the hotel. I used the airport limousine bus to return to the airport. Leave yourself at least an hour of transportation time. You can also take a taxi cab for 60,000 South Korean won if you are willing to pay almost 47 dollars; but note that traffic can be horrendous during rush hours and tolerable at other times.
Because the reservation I booked was for a King Executive room, access to the executive lounge was included; and that meant that I was to check in at the manned desk located just outside of the executive lounge instead of at the counter in the lobby. Members of the staff were pleasant to me and would do whatever they can in response to any of my requests.
After I was checked in, I then walked down the hallway to my room.
At approximately 388 square feet in area, the King Executive room was large, stylish and clean — albeit rather dark, which did not bother me. There was a sliding door comprised of decorative glass which separated the bathroom area from the main part of the room.
The bed was quite comfortable, as I slept well.
A modern lamp illuminated the large desk with a telephone and a calendar.
Below the calendar was a door which opened, revealing a hidden panel with two universal electrical outlets, an Ethernet connection, a USB connection, an HDMI connection, and more.
There was a control panel with a touch screen conveniently located next to the bed where you can control the lights, climate, music, privacy option, wake up to an alarm — as well as have access to other options.
There was a nice sitting area with a couch, a chair and a lamp…
…and awaiting me on the coffee table was a plate of fresh fruit with a card welcoming me to the hotel property.
There was also a box containing six assorted — and very tasty — chocolates which did not last for the duration of my stay.
I never did use the large flat screen television in the room; nor did I use the area with the minibar, coffee station, wine and glasses. There were two complimentary bottles of water available; but I had access to as many cold bottles of water as I wanted in the executive lounge.
The closet was an average closet, equipped with an iron and ironing board, bathrobes, slippers and other items and features.
Views From the Room
I also enjoyed the views from the room. I liked relaxing while watching the world go by…
…as Naebu Expressway was clogged with traffic heading towards the east.
This is the view facing northeast from my hotel room.
I like how everything is nestled in the mountains and hills surrounding the hotel property.
This view is looking to the west from my room.
It is common for buildings of the same apartment complex to be numbered — as well as have the name of the complex and a graphical element emblazoned on them.
The light of the sunset reflects off of the apartment buildings and surrounding landscape.
Everything was awash with a pinkish orange hue due to the sunset over Seoul on this particular evening.
Naebu Expressway at sunset — still clogged with traffic heading eastbound.
Naebu Expressway at night.
Aside from the spacious shower stall and a nice assortment of amenities housed in a cubbyhole near the sink, the bathroom was nothing special. The photograph on the right shows a closer view of the aforementioned area with the minibar, coffee station, wine and glasses near the entrance to the bathroom.
It was clean and had everything I needed.
The toilet had a control panel; but it was inoperable.
No matter which buttons I pressed, nothing worked. No big deal.
I did not dine at any of the restaurants on site at this hotel property; but I did have access to the executive lounge, which is nicely furnished and open all day long.
The executive lounge includes a business center.
Breakfast is in the morning and is comprised of hot and cold items.
Snacks during the day include small pastries, crackers and fruit.
There are enough offerings at dinner time to comprise a meal — such as shrimp wrapped in bacon, pasta, rolls, carrots, cucumbers, sandwiches, miniature Quiche Lorraines, assorted cheeses and crackers, and other items.
Beverages — such as assorted juices, soft drinks and bottled water — are available throughout the day.
There were times where I was all alone in this executive lounge — and it was peaceful and quiet.
The executive lounge had the same views as those from my room; and it was decorated in a stylish manner.
Self parking appears to be free of charge — I did not rent a vehicle while I was in South Korea — but having it valet parked will cost you 15,000 South Korean won per day. This is a view from my room of the driveway to the entrance of the hotel property as well as parking.
If you are into keeping fit, there are plenty of ways to keep yourself active — including but not limited to a fitness room, a swimming pool, a jogging track, and basketball. This is the view from my room of the top of the indoor swimming pool, which I did not use…
…and here is the same view of that swimming pool at night.
Pets are not permitted at this hotel property.
The total of 139,150.00 South Korean won — which included a special room rate of 115,000.00 South Korean won due to a “flash” sale in which the rate cannot be cancelled or refunded plus a tax of 21 percent — is equivalent to approximately $108.00.
Although I would recommend staying at this hotel property at its regular room rate of between 180,000 and 220,000 South Korean won — not including the tax of 21 percent — I highly recommend it at the room rate of 115,000 South Korean won. There are viable alternative lodging options at less expensive rates to consider than the typical rates at this hotel property, though — such as staying in an authentic traditional hanok, for example.
353 Yeonhui-ro, Seodaemun-gu
Seoul, South Korea 120710
All photographs ©2014 by Brian Cohen.