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The FT’s smooth weekend in Seoul

The health club at the W Seoul
The health club at the W Seoul

I don’t usually spend much time reading the Weekend FT’s How to Spend it magazine – most of the things in the magazine being out of my financial reach. But this weekend, in their ongoing series of “Smooth Guides” to a long luxurious weekend they finally featured Seoul.

So here’s the FT’s tips for how to spend a weekend there.

Firstly, they stayed at the W Seoul (Walkerhill). Their second choices were the Park Hyatt near the Coex Mall1 or the Grand Hyatt2

For activities, on day one the FT went to the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul Grand Park (they recommend taking the Sky Lift rather than the shuttle bus from the metro station), had a stroll in Tapgol Park and spent money in Insadong like everyone else – some paper in In Sin Dang and tea at the Beautiful Tea Museum – followed by a visit to the Insa Art Centre. To end the day they entered into a bit of a time-warp: they had a drink at the Top Cloud Bar & Grill at the top of Jongno Tower, sampling some of the daily live jazz which starts at 7:30pm; they then had a stroll along the Cheonggyecheon to the Chenggye Plaza and caught a cab to their dinner venue: Byeok Je Galbi at the Tower Palace apartment complex. Having obviously caught the last sitting and bolted their food in double-quick time, they caught a cab to Apgujeong and had some cocktails at the Once in a Blue Moon jazz club. Still not having drunk enough they then had a nightcap in the W’s lobby bar (which if it’s anything like the one in Manhattan is achingly trendy) while waiting for room service to prepare them a jacuzzi.

Knowledgeable Seoulites: based on the above itinterary, please estimate what time the journalist got to bed.

The journalist, clearly a stylish metrosexual, started day two with a ginseng facial at the Grand Hyatt, before a visit to the nearby Leeum. The rest of the day seemed to be spent with retail therapy back in Apgujeong. In the Galleria they mention Wooyoungmi – “a remarkable men’s wear label with quirky traits” – and Son Jung-wan – which “sells the most darling Hepburn-in-the-Orient cocktail dresses”. Choi Jung In’s shoe shop also features:

filled with theatrical black melting candles and the most wonderful, delicate, vibrant high heels. Acid yellow lace-threaded leather, clashing stripes, metres and metres of leather bindings that weap around the ankle… It’s all as sexy as it is unique.

GaonLunch was at Yonsama’s own restaurant, Gorilla in the Kitchen, while dinner was across the street at The Gaon – “a great contemporary take on traditional Korean dishes,” where you are recommended to have a set menu and sit back to see what the kitchen will bring. One of the features of The Gaon (right) is apparently the wacky interior design by the equally wackily named avant-garde architects Super Potato (who were also responsible for the Park Hyatt). All the shopping seems to have made the FT extra hungry, because they also seemed to have tried a second dinner at Asia Chow – where they also recommend a cocktail on the top floor.

Sounds like a thoroughly exhausting weekend.



  • Restaurants / Bars / Clubs
    • Asia Chow: 916 Building, 91-6 Nonhyun-dong, Gangnam-gu Tel 00822 517 2100 (£60)
    • Byeok Je Galbi: 467-29 Tower Palace, Dogog-dong, Gangnam-gu Tel 00822 058 3535 (£105)
    • The Gaon: 631-23 Shinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu Tel 00822 3466 8411 (£60)
    • Gorilla in the Kitchen: 650 Shinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu Tel 00822 3442 1688 (£35)
    • The Old Tea Shop: 2nd Floor, 2-2 Kwan Hun Dong, Jongro-gu Tel 00822 722 5019
    • Once in a Blue Moon: 85-1 Chungdam-dong, Gangnam-gu Tel 00822 549 5490
    • Top Cloud: 33rd Floor, Jongno Tower, 1-1 Jongno 2-ga Tel 00822 230 3000
    • The Woobar: W Seoul, 21 Gwangjang-dong, Gwangjin-gu Tel 00822 002 0333
  • Shopping
    • Choi Jung In: 648-20 Shingsa-dong, Gangnam-gu Tel 00822 512 9637
    • Beautiful Tea Museum: 193-1 Insadong, Jongro-gu Tel 00822 735 6678
    • Galleria Department Store: Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam-gu Tel 00822 3449 4114
    • Il Sin Dang: 149 Insadong, Jongro-gu, Tel 00822 733 8100
    • Kaye Su: 1st Floor, Jumyung Building, 631-36 Shinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu Tel 00822 545 0110
  1. Never been there so I can’t comment []
  2. Which is a perfectly acceptable business hotel, but quite a let down after the Hyatts in Tokyo, and also situated in the middle of precisely nowhere. I had two days there while on a business trip, was miserable there, and so swiftly moved to the far more convenient Westin Chosun, near City Hall. I like to walk everywhere, so the Grand Hyatt was no use to me. []

3 thoughts on “The FT’s smooth weekend in Seoul

  1. When will you be coming this way again? I’ll be quite happy to show you some of the quirkier bars around…

  2. That’s pretty hectic schedule I’d say. You’d have to know exactly where to go and not waste any time or get lost.

    If you only spent 5 mins in the museums you might just be able to do it I’d guess. It would be a fun challenge to try it, but now I’m Tokyo I won’t be the one to try it.

  3. Anna Fifield wrote a much more manageable itinerary for yesterday’s FT. I’ll do a post about it soon.
    What’s clear is, I’ve got a lot of bars and restaurants that I need to try out with daeguowl.

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