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Archive for August 6th, 2012

Westin Chosun Seoul: Expensive but great location and very nice room Aug 06

P1000650My wife and I stayed at the Westin Chosun in Seoul, Korea in July 2012 in connection with a vacation in Korea and decided to stay at this hotel as we wanted to splurge on the hotel stay while in Seoul and the hotel was also in a great location compared to many of the attractions in Seoul. I travel a bit for work and pleasure and I have stayed at various 4 and 5 star hotels around the world just to give you an idea about the background for this review. I have been a bit spoiled by staying at some very nice hotels in Asia and due to this I do have high expectations when I stay at nice hotel chains like Westin. We booked the hotel on the Starwood Preferred Guest site (SPG) and it was a special summer “promotions” and it was 300.000 Won (300 USD) for club level (meaning free breakfast and cocktail hour at night) and free internet.

IMG_2796To get to the hotel we took a train from the Incheon airport and it arrived at Seoul station after about 45 minutes and it was only like 4000 Korean Won (about 4 USD) and from there it was only about 5 minutes to the hotel and it was only about 3000 Won (about 3 USD). We got room 1904 and check in was pretty fast as we had booked the room on the SPG site. The room is very nice when entering – as usual the room was in light colors with a wooden floor to start with and then a carpet. There was a wardrobe to start with that contained robes, slippers, a safe, ironing board and iron.

IMG_2797The main piece in the room was the king size bed and as often in Asia, it was huge! On the right side of the bed there was a control panel to adjust lighting in the room, air con etc. The air-con was very quiet which is excellent! The bed was quite comfortable but I don’t really like the layer of sheets options – there are also a number of pillows to choose from if you are picky when it comes to that. There was also a small sofa with a small table (that could also be used as a stool) and a desk with a chair. The plugs were a mixture of Korean and European sockets so I could actually plug in my Norwegian plugs in some sockets.

IMG_2800The flat screen TV was a bit on the small side if you ask me but it had the common English channels and a number of Korean channels. Westin have integrated a bit of stuff into the TV system (wake up calls, messages etc) and it makes it a bit slow. The fridge had some great options when it comes to drinks – I think it is the first time I have seen that a hotel offers both a half bottle of Champagne (Veuve Clicquot)and a half a bottle of Cognac! There was also a Nespresso machine for making your own espresso Smile

IMG_2808The bathroom was pretty small and it was tiled in rather ugly tiles – but it was at least functional. The bathtub also featured a shower option with a glass panel to avoid splashing all over the floor and it did actually work out as intended. There were a few amenities on club level (shampoo, lotion, toothbrush, comb, shower cap etc) but in general I’m not a big fan of the products they use. Normally I don’t mention the sink itself but this time I have to as it was quite modern with the glass bench around it – it was not very practical as the soap holder would slide off the sink and end up on the floor. I normally don’t mention the toilet either but this time the toilet was high tech compared to what I’m used to. In some areas in Asia they have toilet seats that contain warm water for cleaning yourself and even a drier to dry up your private parts. But the best feature is probably the seat warming function! But the ventilation in the bathroom is not very good but luckily there is heating in the bathroom mirror to avoid that it steams up.

P1000496We had breakfast both upstairs in the lounge (on the 20th floor) and on Aria on the lower lobby level. As usual it is quieter upstairs and the view is great but the selection of food is not as extensive as in the main breakfast restaurant. I e.g. seemed to stir up quite a fuzz when I asked to get an omelet made. The hotel was not very good when it comes to healthy cereal option but you have a selection of bread, fruit, bacon/egg/sausages and there are a couple of coffee machines if you need your fix in the morning. In the main breakfast area they had stations focusing on bread, hot food, egg station etc so you have a more extensive selection. From 6 to 8 pm there were evening cocktails severed in the lounge so we could enjoy a drink while watching the sun set over Seoul – they have wine, whiskey, vodka, brandy etc. They also had some food but don’t eat too much – remember to taste the Korean cuisine while you are in Seoul ;-)

On the third level there is a swimming pool and one floor down you will find a large gym with lots of treadmills, stationary bikes and all the stuff that you expect to find in a good gym. And with large windows you also get a bit of a view while working out.

The location of the hotel is very good at least when looking at the main attractions of Seoul. You don’t have to walk far to get to the City Hall metro station and you can easily walk to many of the main attractions. There are a number of restaurants, bars etc nearby but Seoul is a huge city so you can find that all over the place.

P1000649But everything is not perfect with the hotel of course. First of all: the lifts are extremely slow and maybe it is not enough with 4 lifts when you have 20 floors. When we were there they were doing maintenance with one lift and hence there were only 3 lift operational and they seem to work on two different systems! I’m also surprised by the reservation system. We decided to stay a few days extra and they said they it was not possible to get the same rate as before. I can understand this but I think the right phrase is “we don’t want to give you the same rate”. When we started talking to the reservation desk they said that they could offer us a rate of 360.000 Won but instead of king size bed we would get twin bed. But when we checked online it was possible to get a king size bed…so we showed this to the reservation desk and they were like “Ok, then it is possible”. We then decided to extend and they booked it but then after 5 minutes they were like “Oh…you are two people in the room? The rate will then be 360.000 + 50.000 for an extra person”…this is after we had talked to them for quite a while when booking the room. When we checked online we could still get it for 360.000 for two people so I showed this to the reservation team and asked them if I really had to book it online in front of their eyes compared to just getting them to do it and the answer was “Yes”….this is too weird if you ask me.

Being a 5 star hotel the services are expensive. We had a breakfast at the lower lobby floor one day at the Vecchia e Nuovo when we woke up late and two sandwiches and two coffee was like 70.000 Won (about 70 USD) and it was not worth it at all.

Conclusion
IMG_2809The Westin Chosun is a very good hotel – the room was large enough, there are amenities and services and on club level you can enjoy breakfast and evening cocktails on the 20th floor with a view. But Westin has a tendency to annoy me a bit – no free internet in general, not really offering any perks when you have a gold card on SPG (like when I stayed at Westin in Madrid earlier this year) and this time there was the incident of having to book a room online in front of the staff in the hotel to get a lower rate. So I’m still going to stick to Traders/Shangri-La if I have a chance!

But all in all…if you are willing to cough up the money then Westin Chosun does offer a nice room in a very central location in Seoul !

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

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