Fodor's Expert Review Imperial Palace Hotel
248-7 Nonhyeon-dong, Seoul, Seoul,, 135-011, South Korea See on Map
The Imperial Palace pulls off a lot of contrasting feats: it’s stately and whimsical, ornamented with Eastern and Western décor, with classic features and modern technology. The hotel is situated in the heart of Gangnam, easily accessible to shopping, restaurants, and historic sites. The staff are multi-lingual and attentive, and the facilities are vast and varied with everything from a driving range to a grand ballroom to shopping.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Ran out of time for grooming? There's a barbershop beside the spa.
A room in the Imperial Palace appears to be decorated for a Teddy Roosevelt-type: all dark wood and marble accents with plush lounge. Baroque and yet comfortable, the room has standard control panel technology (curtains, lights, temperature, remote) beside the king-size bed. There is plenty of storage space—an extraordinary amount, in case you’re staying long-term.
It may take a minute to find your in-room safe (it’s hidden in a drawer in a bedside table).
The bathroom is partitioned into three smaller spaces: a vanity with toiletries provided by Green & Spring, a Japanese-style toilet in a separate WC, and a full-size bath and separate shower. Hairdryer, bathrobe, and slippers are provided.
The Imperial Palace’s pièce de résistance is its lobby—a baroque, ornate room full of antiques, modern art, marble, chandeliers, chaise lounges, all with enough space to host a royal ball. A spin around this room is a great way to spend time.
The outdoor pool is open seasonally and a little on the smaller side, but if you want a winter workout, hit the gorgeous indoor lap lanes.
Traditional Korean spa amenities like different temperature pools, sauna, steam room, private showers and extensive vanity space. Massages and spa treatments available by appointment.
A surprisingly extensive gym with an indoor lap pool, yoga room, and every machine a jock could want. Hit the squash court or the rock climbing wall to mix up your routine. On another floor is a golf driving range, and on another is an outdoor pool (better for lounging than exercise, seasonal availability).
The breakfast buffet is truly worth waking up for. Everything from traditional Korean dishes (fish, kimchi, and rice) to Western-style eggs, bacon, and pancakes. A toque blanche chef awaits any particular style of eggs you prefer to order, and a variety of salads, fruits, and fixing are available to round off your morning. Other dining options include the Chinese and Japanese Restaurants, each serving their titular cuisine, and a café serves your favorite French pastries alongside tea or champagne all day.
The Imperial Palace is conveniently located in trendy Gangnam district (of Psy’s “Gangnam Style” distinction), with a two-minute walk to a subway stop and plenty of bus and cab transit flying by. Parking is free for guests.
Walk north to Gangnam’s famous shopping and mercantile district and you’ll find a wild range of eats and drinks. For Korean Style barbecue with table grills, try Two Plus BBQ (10-minute walk), or if you’re feeling fancy, try Gaon (10-minute walk) for three-Michelin-star Korean cuisine (and it’s not your only option—there are 12 Michelin-starred restaurants in Gangnam alone).
Walk west to Rooftop KLOUD (10-minute walk), which features fancy cocktails and the best view of Gangnam in the city. Past that is Slow Brew Pub (15-minute walk), a craft brew pub perfect for a pint. Around the corner from that is Sideway Wine if you prefer a glass of vino.
WHY WE LIKE IT
The Imperial Palace is a classic establishment in Seoul. Staying here is a royal, grand experience, but with a funky flair—there’s nothing stuffy or boring about this hotel. With its convenient location and its extensive facilities, the Imperial Palace has everything a visitor to Seoul could want—the comforts of a luxury property with the access of central lodgings. It’s no wonder their slogan is “the best of everything.”
As an above-and-beyond guaranteed good-time, The Imperial Palace claims membership to Preferred Hotel & Resorts, a exclusive luxury hotel group that holds independent hotels to its independent gold standard (individual membership to the group has its perks: the Imperial Palace Seoul allows travelers to access exclusive member rates and earn reward points through the Preferred Hotels & Resorts I Prefer Hotel Rewards program).