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Handpicked Hotel & Collections, Sangdo-dong

This 10-storey hotel stands on the site of owner and general manager Sean Kim’s former family home. He had lofty dreams for the property, which included revitalising the sleepy neighbourhood in which he grew up. That’s why the basement restaurant and café, Ballroom, welcomes walk-ins, blurring the line between hotel guests and residents.

Kim’s brief for Korean architecture firm L’eau Design was inspired by The Wythe in Brooklyn and the Claska Hotel in Tokyo. Handpicked’s version of Claska’s design shop stocks “Made in Korea” labels such as Firemarkers, Cosmic Mansion and Green Bliss. 

120 Sangdo-ro, Dongjak-gu 
+82 (0)2 2229 5499 
handpicked.kr
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The Shilla, Jangchung-dong

Completed in 1979, The Shilla underwent a refurbishment a few years back that cut the number of suites to 464 in order to increase their size, comfort and opulence. California-based interior designer Peter Remedios has made the rooms luxurious but unfussy, with understated Bottega Veneta furnishings. If you want a private sauna, opt for either the Shilla or Presidential suites. 

The first thing that you’ll see on arrival is the grand hanok-style, two-storey banquet hall, Yeong Bin Gwan, built by the South Korean government to host foreign dignitaries. Elsewhere, next to the state-of-the-art gym and Guerlain spa you’ll find heated indoor and outdoor pools lined with cabanas. 

249 Dongho-ro, Jung-gu
+82 (0)2 2233 3131
shilla.net/seoul  
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Rakkojae Seoul, Samcheong-dong 

Centred around a verdant inner courtyard, Rakkojae is a far cry from the busy streets of downtown Seoul. It’s made up of four hanok (traditional houses) that are more than 130 years old and were restored in 2003 by master carpenter Chung Young Jin. As you would expect in Korean lodgings such as these, the beds consist of futons and yo (mattresses) on the floor. Every house has its own cypress-wood tub and there’s a communal yellow-mud sauna heated by firewood and scented with mugwort. Don’t worry, there are also modern touches: electric lights and gas heating.

49-23 Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu 
+82 (0)2 742 3410 
rkj.co.kr

Images: Jun Michael Park

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