Where to stay in Seoul after a long day of traveling and sightseeing.
It’s 5’Oclock, and you’re beginning to feel lethargic. Your Shopping bags are tearing your biceps and your feet are about to explode. It’s been a whole day of shopping and all you want to do is go home, put the kettle on and slump into your chair. Exhaustion clouds your thoughts. You ask yourself, ‘Where can I stay in Seoul? ‘
Thankfully, Korea is dense. You’re never too far away from a good place to crash. From the party hostels in Hongdae to the grandiose executive rooms in the Shilla; you can find it all in South Korea’s capital.
Choosing the best place to stay is difficult, but detrimental to having a great trip.
Even though Seoul has a world-class public transportation system, it can still take up to 45 minutes to go from neighborhoods like Insadong in the North, to the glamorous districts like Gangnam in the South.
It can get confusing, and a little bit of help won’t go a miss. Well, help is on your way if you read on as I’ve made a little neighborhood guide.
I’ve included some of Seoul’s best hotels, Air BnB’s and hostels to stay in around Seoul’s most popular neighborhoods. This guide will give you some ideas where you might want to go, places to stay; essentially giving you some peace of mind.
- Where to stay in Seoul after a long day of traveling and sightseeing.
- Seoul Neighborhoods
- Myeongdong Seoul
- Insadong Seoul
- Hongdae Seoul
- Gangnam Seoul
- Itaewon Seoul
- Jamsil Seoul
- The bottom line
What’s Myeongdong known for?
Myeongdong is very central and therefore an excellent choice if you want to explore Seoul’s attractions. Famous for being a shopping paradise; notably, its high streets, they hum with activity. Myeongdong also has some great street food like hotteok and greranppang.
You will also find the most well-known fashion and cosmetic retailers here including Zara, H&M and Nature republic. You can find some fantastic deals on clothes too. Surprisingly, I found items at a discounted price in a lot of the shops. This summer, in the Adidas store, I got a small shoulder bag for half price.
If you’re into skincare, you’ve hit the jackpot coming to Myeongdong.
You will find everything you ever wanted.
Need some Korean Moisturiser for your dry skin, or some thermal UV defense moisturizer to protect you from the Korean sun-you can find it here. Myeongdong is well known for its abundance of skincare shops.
Should I stay in Myeongdong?
The hustle and bustle of the area can make it a tad stressful. You are constantly on the move trying to avoid people, and by the end of the day, you will be holding onto a dozen or two fliers. The neighborhood is focused on tourists, so you will find the area noisy.
If you’re a shopaholic stay here.
*Myeongdong is a lot easier as a starting point to move around Seoul. It’s a good spot for travelers of all ages I would say.
Where to stay in Myeongdong?
The western Chosun hotel:
Polished rooms, with luxury interior and city views. The Chosun is a great choice if you want to be in the center while bathing in luxury. The facilities here are exceptional and some of the best you will find in Seoul. They include, five top of the range restaurants, a fitness suite, sauna, and an indoor pool.
Lotte is a fabulous five-star hotel located in the heart of Seoul. It’s renowned for its impeccable service and convenient location. You can make use of its spa, fitness center and swimming pool.
Small House Big Door:
A very unique, and minimalist style hotel. It’s small but efficient. Great location, with clean decor while also having some pretty aesthetics.
Positioned in a great location next to Myeongdong station Exit 9. The L7 Myeongdong hotel is of decent quality for what you pay.
*Check their floating bar on top, it has some beautiful views with some great cocktails
Philstay Myeongdong Station:
For a budget stay, this is a great option. The location is ideal; taking only a 2-minute walk to exit 7- Myeongdong Station. This hostel which has some superb reviews seems to book up quickly, so if you want to stay here, book in advance.
It’s clean and comfortable, easy to check-in and out, and has some very helpful staff.
Blue Boat Hostel:
This hostel which is situated near Myeongdong Cathedral is really close to the main high-street in Myeongdong. It’s generally more quiet, and peaceful compared to some other hostels that can be found nearby. A continental breakfast is provided daily,
What’s Insadong known for?
Insadong is known for its traditional architecture like its wooden teahouses and boutique shops that sell folk crafts and antique furniture.
It’s a popular neighborhood that attracts tourists wanting to experience traditional Korea.
Feel like dressing up as King Sejong?
Well in Insadong you can!
There are plenty of Korean traditional clothes rental shops where you can rent a Hanbok for a couple of hours to truly emerge yourself.
The Hanok Village is a stone’s throw away, which houses some beautiful traditional houses for you to see.
Insadong is totally the opposite of what you will find in Myeongdong. The food is generally more traditional and the atmosphere, which is still crowded with tourists, feels more relaxed.
Unlike Myeongdong, you won’t be pelted with face-mask fliers every 2 minutes. In Insadong you can leisurely stroll around and walk down the many alleyways that house trinket shops selling handmade crafts.
*For a traditional tea-house experience check out the Tteuran. Keep your eyes peeled for this tea-house because you can easily miss it.
Should I stay in Insadong?
This is a place to buy your souvenirs before you go home.
Insadong has a main street with shops, cafes and small alleyways running off.
It’s a perfect place to find some traditional gifts to take back home with you.
The nightlife here is not what you will find in Itaewon or Gangnam; it’s basically nonexistent. If you want to visit a lively place at night, like Gangnam which is south of the Han River, it’s going to take you some time.
From Insadong to Gangnam it’s going to take you around 50 minutes by subway. Keep this in mind when you’re planning your trip.
There’s also fewer accommodations to choose from in Insadong, so book in advance as the hotels fill up quickly.
Where to stay in Insadong?
Orakai Insadong Suits
Luxury Self-catering apartments with spacious rooms and fantastic amenities. Centrally located, with a gym and a heated indoor pool. A perfect place to stay while exploring Seoul.
Within walking distance to Insadong. Summerset Palace offers soundproof and spacious apartments, that are well equipped for couples and families. With large En-Suites and City views, this hotel is not one to be looked over. Summerset Palace also has a large fitness suite, and a rooftop pool- great for the summer!
Bibimbap Hanok Guesthouse
This is a fabulous option if you want to stay in a traditional Korean house. A Korean breakfast is served daily and you have the chance to experience living like a traditional Korean during your stay.
Top Hotel & Residence Insadong
Small rooms, but in a great location with plenty to see and do. It’s nothing fancy but has everything you need.
K-Guesthouse Insadong 2 Myeongdong
An accommodating and friendly guesthouse.
Within a two-minute walk to the bus stop and metro station, K guesthouse is located in the center of Myeongdong shopping street.
It’s also within walking distance to Namdaemun Market and Namsan Seoul Tower.
What’s Hongdae like?
Hongdae has a wicked nightlife.
This area, which is home to Honkik University, is famous for its bars, restaurants, and shops. You can find more or less everything here!
During the day, the main street is packed with tourists, students, and locals. Most, if not all, are fixated on the K-pop dance performances that line the street. Sometimes they are hard to see because the circles are so big! If you’re small like me, bring a stool!
Hongdae has plenty of trendsetting shops and great restaurants but it can feel overly crowded in some spots. Nevertheless, it has lots of fun things to do.
Bring your Discover Seoul Pass for discounted rates and free admissions to places like the Trick Eye Museum and the Nanta show.
Hapjeong is also a cool place to check out. Lined with some heavenly restaurants and inviting cafes you can stuff your face with some mouth-watering cakes all day long.
You can walk to Hapjeong from Hongdae, which takes about 15 minutes. It’s just one subway stopover.
Should I stay in Hongdae?
Hongdae has a younger crowd, which is geared to the University students studying at Honkik University.
If you want to drink and party comes to Hongdae.
If that’s not what you after, it’s probably better finding a hotel elsewhere and riding the subway in during the day time.
I think it’s a good location to stay in Seoul if you traveling alone or with a group of friends. If you’re older and partying isn’t your style, then Hongdae will start to drain your energy quickly.
Nevertheless, there are many accommodation options including hostels, Airbnb’s, and hotels compared to some other neighborhoods
Where to stay in Hongdae?
RYSE, Autograph Collection Marriott
A luxury 5-star hotel that doesn’t disappoint. Stylish and spacious, with good ambiance and great service.
Hanso Presidential Suite Hanok Hotel
The Hanso Suite, which can sleep up to six people is great if you want to have your own place in the middle of Hongade. You get a lot for your money. Including comfortable rooms with private balconies, a Nespresso machine with coffee capsules and probably the most important-a lovely condominium in a great location.
Holiday Inn Express Seoul Hongdae
Superb location situated outside exit 4 and 5 of Honkik University station. Clean, with multilingual staff on hand to help you out.
Fantastic location, right in the center of Hongdae. A Contemporary modern Hostel, with clean rooms and a decent breakfast.
Lazy fox hostel
I’ve stayed here a few times and had a great time. It’s an awesome place to meet other people and enjoy Hongdae’s nightlife.
Lee Kang Ga Guesthouse
Although a 15-minute walk to hongdae’s main street might become annoying for some, this guest house is extremely welcoming. It has some beautiful interior design which is sure to make you feel at home.
*The rooftop has some great views of the neighborhood as well.
Whats Gangnam is known for?
Gangnam, which means south of the river is Seoul’s richest neighborhood.
If you want to see Ferraris, glitz, and glamour, then stay around here.
The Gangnam neighborhoods, particularly Cheongdam and Apgujeong are home to the wealthiest people in Korea. Looking for a spot of plastic surgery? Just head on over to Gangnam, where you will be spoiled for choice at one of its 500 high-end clinics.
The Gangnam neighborhood has seen its house prices skyrocket more than ten times in 30 years. So you can imagine what the scene is like-rich and affluent. If you’re lucky, you might spot one of the many Korean celebrities that live here.
The area is clean and is filled with contemporary cafes and shops albeit expensive and busy. Gangnam is also famous for its big and flashy nightlife. The clubs have a stricter dress code, and the price of drinks is way above the average price that you would pay elsewhere.
Should I stay in Gangnam?
Expect to pay a lot of money in Gangnam.
If splashing the cash is more your style, go for it and have fun!
The cafe’s food and bars are all more expensive than what you find elsewhere in Seoul. It’s also south of the River, so if you are wanting to see more of the attractions which are in the North, staying here might be a hindrance.
Gangnam is deceptively big. You want to make sure you’re in the liveliest area if you’re staying here.
Where to stay in Gangnam?
Novotel Ambassador Seoul Gangnam
Novotel has a lot of facilities for you to enjoy. It houses an indoor, dome heated pool, alongside a golf practice facility for you to fine-tune your swing. This hotel is one of Seoul’s finest.
Le Meridien Seoul
Stylish quarters in a 5-star hotel. This hotel offers a dining and jazz bar, as well as a spa and indoor pool.
Hotel Peyto Samseong
A modern and clean hotel in a prime location next to COEX.
Has great excellent transport links to get to the airport and around Seoul.
Seoul Riviera Hotel
Slightly old interior, but like Peyto Samseong, this hotel is in a great location to move around Seoul.
Stay Hotel Gangnam
A no thrills hotel with access to the green/ 2 metro line (Yeoksam station) the direct airport bus- 6020 is also close by.
What’s Itaewon Known for?
Itaewon is one of my favorite places to visit in Seoul.
It has a great selection of bars and restaurants that cater to everyone.
Itaewon is more multi-cultural than the other neighborhoods in Seoul. This was due to the American Army base being stationed here for 13 years.
It’s now moved, but the bars and restaurants are still cater to ex-pats and tourists. If you’re a food lover and like to have a few drinks too, then I recommend Itaewon.
It has some cool eating spots like the plant café and Coreanos Kitchen, along with a variety of middle eastern restaurants. Itaewon is also near Namsan tower and Museums like the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art.
With your Discover Seoul pass you can get free access to these places too.
Should I stay in Itaewon?
Itaewon is more of a drinking and eating spot than a sightseeing neighborhood. It also doesn’t have as many luxury hotels as you find elsewhere in Seoul.
If I was choosing a place to stay I would go for an Air BnB.
The nightlife is more western, with pubs like Sam Ryan’s showing the football at weekends. It can get noisy and a bit rowdy on the weekends, but it’s not something to worry about. I think it’s a good place to stay if you’re traveling with a group of friends and like enjoying social events.
You will have a heck of a Saturday night if that’s what you’re after.
Where to stay in Itaewon?
*If I was staying in Itaewon with my friends, I would choose an Air BnB
Grand Hytt Hotel
A 5-star hotel that reflects luxury. It has an Ice skating rink in the winter, swimming pools and even a free schedule city bus that will take you around the city. The Grand Hyatt Hotel has everything you need when you visit Seoul.
Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel
In a great location to enjoy the nightlife. This hotel isn’t the same luxury as you would get from the Hyatt, but with its boutique decor, you will find yourself pleasantly pleased with its homely feel.
This elegant apartment is a beautiful place to stay. The rooftop is idyllic, and the three rooms are spacious and comfy. Just take a look at the pictures! The scenery looks amazing.
Super-Cute Double Room
Located behind the Hamilton hotel, this super cute double room seems really relaxed and cozy. Michelle, who is a super host is committed to giving you the best time in Itaewon.
SP@ Itaewon Guesthouse
Strategically located, this guesthouse is just enough to rest and recharge until you’re ready to hit the Itaewon strip up again.
The reviews are great for Amazon Guesthouse. Many people are delighted with the cleanliness of the hostel. More so, you are really close to the nightlife and cafes if you choose to stay here.
What’s Jamsil known for?
Jamsil is great for families.
If you love shopping, you’re also in luck because it has one of the biggest malls in Korea: Lotte World Mall
There’s a lot to do here!
What more could you ask for?
Should I stay in Jamsil?
Jamsil is one of the more expensive neighborhoods in Seoul to stay.
The accommodations around Jamsil seem on the pricey end. Nevertheless, you are pretty central, and the location is good to explore the surrounding areas in the daytime like Hongdae. If you are coming as a couple, or on your own, you might not want to stay here. Maybe Itaewon or Hongdae might suit you better.
Where to stay in Jamsil?
Located between floors 76 and 101 of Lotte Tower, you are guaranteed a city view from every room! The Signiel hotel offers Michelin style restaurants along with spas, pools and exceptional service.
Lotte Hotel World
A great hotel to choose if you want to spend time at Lotte world! The hotel houses an indoor golf range and some fantastic restaurants. It also offers a free shuttle bus to Itaewon and the surrounding areas.
Lake Tourist Hotel
A great family hotel
Lake Tourist is only a 13-minute walk to subway line 2. Useful to explore the surrounding areas like Hapjeong and Hongdae.
Guests at Lake Tourist can relax in their therapeutic sauna and admire the lakeside views the hotel has to offer.
Delight Hotel Jamsil
Located 800 m from Lotte World Tower and & Lotte World Mall, Delight hotel provides a budget-mid range accommodation to suit your needs.
It houses a decent restaurant, free bikes, and a bar. This is not luxury, but the money you save can be spent on the shopping sprees and activities you choose to do in Seoul.
The bottom line
The public transportation system in Seoul is world-class.
It’s cheap, reliable and foreigner-friendly. Therefore, wherever you decide to stay, you can easily get around without having to worry too much.
Overall, your choice of accommodation depends on what type of holiday you’re looking for.
If you’re coming with a family, you probably don’t want to be Itaewon or Hongdae. However, a group of young backpackers looking for a good time; well these places might just be up your street. Wherever you stay, you’re going to have a great time in Seoul!
Have a wonderful time and let me know how you get on.