Impressive hotel renovations and exciting upcoming festivals are
attracting interest in South Korea’s capital city. Seoul is a city
of neighborhoods, some busy with fashion, nightlife and the arts,
while others are busy with business.
Before booking a hotel, it’s best to ask clients which neighborhood
they are most interested in. Below, are hotels throughout Seoul
that offer something new.
In the business district, the Amiga Hotel is no more. The hotel now
dons the impressive moniker Imperial Palace Hotel, and has some
major improvements to go along with the name change. After $68
million in renovations, the hotel which was formerly a destination
for domestic Korean visitors, is now ready for world travelers. A
vast new lobby and a new convention center recently opened along
with five new restaurants and a shopping arcade. After the remodel,
the hotel has 430 suites, including a presidential suite.
To add to its notoriety, the Imperial Palace is also home to the
largest indoor golf range and an outdoor swimming pool area
reminiscent of a European public garden. As a special perk, female
guests are given free valet parking service.
Famous for style and nightlife, the Apgujung-dong and Chungdam-dong
districts are accessible when clients stay at the newly
refurbished, 23-story Renaissance Seoul. The Marriot-owned property
on the south side of the Han River has undergone a major
transformation of its lobby, along with the addition of three new
restaurant concepts. For example, the property’s Italian
restaurant, Toscana, started featuring a fixed-price business lunch
A highlight of the 493-room hotel is the glass-ceilinged Club
Horizon, which offers fine dining and live music every evening.
The Sheraton Grande Walker Hill has improved its already impressive
duty-free shop by installing escalators on every floor. With an
onsite casino, Korea’s largest, clients are offered a variety of
entertainment: win it, spend it and sleep it off. The hotel also
offers plenty of space. The 597 rooms are set on 139 wooded acres
with views of Acha Mountain and the Han River.
One of the hotel’s oldest attractions continues to be its most
popular. Since it opened nearly four decades ago, the Walker Hill
show held in the 720-seat Gayagum Theater Hall, gives many visitors
their first glimpse into Korea’s ancient heritage. During the show,
a dance troupe performs a mix of folk songs, ancient musical
instruments and intricate traditional dances.
Along with the new hotel options, Seoul also offers visitors many
ways to experience Korean culture.
During September and October, the Seoul Performing Arts Festival
features Korean and foreign artists, several dance and musical
performances, plays and more at various venues around town.
A particular highlight is a dance show called H2-2005; Break
Dancers Keen on Philosophy performed by Brazil’s The Grupo de Rua
de Noteroi. Another show sure to grab clients’ attention is the
Twin Houses: Five Puppets, Their Fantastic Visit performed by
Belgium’s Mossoux-Bonte Company.
In November and December, the popular Changing of the Guard takes
place at Seoul’s Gyeongbokgung Palace, Gwanghwamun, in front of
Heungnemun Gate. Royal guards, dressed in Joseon Dynasty garb,
re-enact a ceremony that has taken place since 1469. This is
ongoing event pleases crowds with the display of guards’ uniforms,
weapons and accessories as well as the guards’ strict marching
Finally, through the end of November, clients can take in a
Traditional Korean Wedding re-enactment at the Naminsa Performance
Hall on the outskirts of Seoul. The popular festival takes place
four times a week and is easily reachable via subway. No
reservation is required to watch the free, 1½-hour ceremony, but
foreigners are also welcome to participate if they apply two weeks
Re-enactments start with a matchmaking process and continue to the
final task, when the groom proceeds to the bride’s house. On
weekends observers can watch the groom riding a horse while the
bride ride a palanquin. Other highlights include the exchange of
chests containing marriage gifts; the Jeonallye ritual, in which
the groom bows to a wooden goose; the Gyobaerye, in which the bride
and groom exchange their first ceremonial bows; and the always
welcome Hapgeullye, in which the bride and groom are united through
exchanging ceremonial liquor.
Seoul is a blend of cultural tradition and modern-day pizzazz, and
with a few upgrades, the city is now fresher and livelier than
The Imperial Palace
Seoul Culture & Tourism
Seoul Performing Arts Festival
Sheraton Grande Walker Hill