Amidst trendy cafes, upscale plastic surgery clinics, and skincare shops, is Le Méridien Seoul hotel—sophisticated, posh, and the new kid on the moneyed Gangnam block. Following a multi-million dollar transformation, the property took over the old Ritz Carlton Hotel and since it opened very recently on 1 September 2017, many a greying and confused local taxi drivers still refer to it as “Rit-zee Karlton”.
Unlike Le Méridien hotels of the yesteryear where the design ethos was a bit confused, the new Le Méridien Seoul has smarten up its act by drawing from its Parisian brand DNA. As a result, the hotel is opulent with a hint of French sophistication and old world glamour. You don’t just see it in the geometric grid patterns in the atrium reminiscent of Le Bon Marche departmental stores in Paris, you also hear it in the French Bossa Nova band Novelle Vague soundtrack that’s played everywhere, including in the lifts.
The traditional lobby space is now reinvented into the brand’s signature Le Méridien Hub, a social gathering space. Here you can find Latitude 37, a café by day and cocktail bar by night. I savoured Korean-inspired eclairs with imbued with flavours of black sesame and injeolmi (Korean rice cake). Across the world’s Le Méridien properties, you’ll find bespoke eclairs that are a delectable nod to the brand’s European heritage, but customised with unexpected flavours that are inspired by each hotel’s destination. In the evening, the Le Méridien Hubis completely transformed into a sexy bar channeling the Mad Men era aperitif hour.
What’s unique about Le Méridien Seoul are the 13 pieces of large scale artwork interspersed throughout the property. In the lobby, near the reception is Kim Hee Kyung’s “Bloom”, a blue flower piece made from traditional Korean Hanji paper. Right at the entrance, in the Maple Garden is Yang Min Ha’s “Gather + Build”, a Star Trek-ish light installation.
The new Le Méridien branding is all about “Destination Unlock”. With your key card, guests will not only be able to unlock their room doors, they will also be able to access a cultural piece of the city. In the case of Le Méridien Seoul, guests can use their room keys as a ticket to gain free entry to the M Contemporary art museum on the first floor of the hotel. The art centre comprises of a LED media façade, 1157 sq m exhibition space, and a private gallery displaying works from new media artists.
On the 12th level, you’ll find the Le Méridien Seoul Club Lounge that offer food and drinks up to five times a day, so you can swing by anytime for a quick perk-me-up. Other facilities include a fitness centre, indoor pool on Level 5 as well as Darphin Spa for tired travelers to rejuvenate themselves.
There are 336 rooms and over 40% are suites available in seven categories: Le Méridien Classic, Balcony Deluxe, Family Deluxe, Le Méridien Club, Studio Suites, Junior Suites, Balcony Suites, Executive Suites, Royal Suites, and Presidential Suites. Rooms and suites are designed by David Collins in a mid-century European style with colour palette of teal, bottle green, and eucalyptus trimmings. Referencing Korean heritage are lavender and cream leather screens in a pojagi pattern. In the bathrooms are marble tubs, bronze finishings and Malin + Goetz amenities.
The hotel also has 122 two-bay rooms, which are double the size of standard rooms. These have larger bathrooms and a separate seating area for a more residential/ apartment-like feel. For those who are after captivating views, Le Méridien Seoul is the only hotel property in the city offering suites and deluxe rooms with private balconies where you can host intimate gatherings and sundowners in the summer.
Rise and shine to a breakfast for champions at the hotel’s all day dining restaurant Chef’s Palette. The breakfast buffet offers a wide spread that includes everything from traditional Korean porridge with side dishes, Chinese style dim sum, an assortment of cheeses and French style pastries, different types of milk including a delicious banana almond milk, green juices for health conscious yuppies, plus an egg station turning out kimchi omelettes. Other must-tries: “Bulgogi” brioche and a panjeon pancake style tartine.
One of the key restaurants on the premises is ELEMENTS, a swanky number headed by celebrity Korean chef Edward Kwon. The main focus of the restaurant is Kwon’s diverse Asian cuisine and re-interpretation of Korean classics. A dish of scallop carpaccio in chilled citrusy soya sauce is served in a misty cloud of cold smoke to represent the sky element, while another dish of perfectly barbecued gabi prime beef steak with charred onion and crispy garlic is symbolic of the fire element. Additionally, the restaurant offers a sushi counter seating as well as two private dining rooms where Korean beef (‘hanwoo’) is cooked ‘Korean-BBQ style’ in front of guests by a personal chef.
With Korean elements woven into the fabric of the property, the new Le Méridien Seoul really gives guests a sense of the destination. “Travellers really want to feel like they’ve been somewhere, even if they never leave the hotel, ” says George Fleck, Vice President of Brand Marketing & Management of Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts.
120 Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 06124, Korea. Tel: +82 (2) 3451 8000
In The Neighborhood
- Shake Shack Gangnam is literally just a 5-minute walk (yay!) from the Le Méridien Seoul. 452 Gangnam-daero, Yeoksam 1(il)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Nearby attractions also include Jamsil Baseball Stadium where baseball fans can catch a game or two. 05500 25, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul, Korea (Seoul Sports Complex) . Tel: +82 (2) 2202 3834
- Amidst the bustling city, find serenity in the beautiful Bongeunsa Temple, which is located just around the corner from the hotel. 531, Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. Tel: +82 2 1330