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Before I got to Seoul, TPG editor Eric spent a couple nights mattress hopping around the city, and his first hotel was the W Seoul Walkerhill. Here’s his review. Other posts on my trip to South Korea include reviews of the Park Hyatt Seoul and the Grand Hyatt Seoul.
I chose to stay at the W Seoul Walkerhill because I was arriving in Seoul on a Sunday evening and figured I’d be tired and wouldn’t want to do much, so it made sense since the hotel is actually quite a distance outside the city center. Incheon is to the west of the city and Walkerhill, where the W is located, is on the north bank of the Han River on a wooded hillside. It’s about a $20 cab ride to sights in the center of town like the Seoul Tower and Gyeongbok Palace.
I took the Korean Air Limo bus from the airport for 15,000 Korean Won ($14) and it took about 90 minutes door to door. When I arrived, I was checked in immediately and escorted up to my room. I had reserved just the basic, standard room at this property, which was a Wonderful King mountain view non-smoking (you have to choose this category of room, so look out for it in the booking process!) room. The rate was 238,500 Korean Won ($220), or I could have used Cash & Points and paid 4,800 points + $90, or just 12,000 Starpoints for an award night since this is a Category 5 property. I just paid the nightly rate since Cash & Points would only have gotten me 2.7 cents per point in value, and the outright award redemption would have been just 1.83 cents per point. Not good enough to tempt me!
I was actually pleasantly surprised by the room – it was very large for a standard, at over 450 square feet, and had a little foyer entrance area, the bathroom off to the left, and a large bedroom area to it.
The bed was a W Signature king with a pillowtop mattress and feather duvet with white sheets, a red coverlet and faux-fur throw. Next to it was a Bose wave clock radio with iPod dock. The temperature control next to the bed also had light controls and a clock that told time in various cities. The room also had a round leather armchair and a floor lamp, cool recessed ceiling lighting, a large desk-drawer-minibar installation in white wood that ran the length of one wall and a 40-inch wall-mounted Samsung flatscreen. WiFi cost 22,000 Won ($20) for 24 hours, which was pretty steep.
The minibar was stocked with typically cheeky W wares like bath salts, panty hose, Asian munchies and even a collagen mask for rehydrating after a flight.
The bathroom was the real eye-catcher. Though you could draw curtains around it, the tub was enclosed in a fishbowl-like glassed-in section of the bathroom in full view of the bedroom. The bathroom also had a single sink with Bliss bath products, a shower stall and a separate WC stall, both behind frosted glass.
My view was indeed of the mountain – but mostly of the Sheraton Grande next door and a restaurant called the Pizza Hall up the hillside. I would have had to book a room one category up for views of the Han River and apartment buildings along the banks.
As I said, I got in fairly late, so the hotel’s casual restaurant up by the spa and fitness center, Tonic, was already closed. I popped by in the morning for a delicious (and expensive!) breakfast omelette. Instead, I headed down to one of the hotel’s other restaurants, Kitchen, for a quick bite. It’s something of a hybrid Asian restaurant and steakhouse and was fairly expensive, though I just got a bowl of noodles and an overpriced glass of wine and called it a night. It had great views of the river and the skyline’s twinkling lights, though.
The hotel’s other main restaurant is on the other side of the lobby behind reception, Namu, which is a high-end Japanese restaurant with a sake parlor. Even on a Sunday night, the lobby bar, which is on several stepped levels sort of like gym bleachers, was crowded and a DJ was spinning from the mirrored DJ pod in the corner. It seemed to be quite the scene.
The hotel also has a spa and extensive fitness center, though I didn’t take advantage of either during my one-night stay, as well as a cute boutique in the lobby that had a candy store section to it, which felt kind of precious.
All in all, I really liked my room, but the prices at the restaurants and the spa seemed way out of whack with other options around town and it kind of seemed like the hotel was taking advantage of its captive audience.
As opposed to the Grand Hyatt, which is right on Namsan hill near Itaewon and a close taxi ride to the city’s historical sites, the W’s location far to the east of the city was a real downside for me since it was much more expensive and time-consuming to get anywhere (not to mention getting in from the airport!). And while I personally prefer the minimalist-chic of the rooms at the Park Hyatt, the palette and amenities in the W room, as well as its size, were all more than decent. Plus, for the rate I got, which was pretty much equivalent to the Grand Hyatt and much less than the Park Hyatt rate TPG and I got for our final three nights in Seoul, the hotel was a very nice property with great rooms. All the staff I came into contact with couldn’t have been more helpful and sweet, though, and the receptionists checking me in and out were excited that I’d be earning Starpoints on my stay, which was pretty charming. Though this property had typical W design and “attitude”, it didn’t seem to take itself too seriously, and the rooms and other amenities were all very nice, so if you’ve got some Starpoints to use and a choice of where to stay in Seoul, this could be a good option for you.