Travel + Leisure Luxury Awards Asia Pacific 2023 reveals our readers’ picks of the best hotels, pools, spas and even general managers in South Korea. Come back for the marvelous culture, stay for the fantastic food.
AS THE SOUTH KOREAN GOVERNMENT eases covid policies, it has set a target of receiving 30 million annual tourists by 2027, nearly double pre-pandemic numbers. To achieve this, it is funneling large sums into tourism promotion efforts like naming 2023 a Visit Korea year, adding a private jet terminal at Incheon Airport, and expanding non-visa entry to regional airports.
While wellness (hello, fancy cosmetics!) and popular culture (sing it with me: Imma light it up like dynamite, whoa oh oh) continue to be big draws for visitors, the past couple years have seen increased interest in outdoor and leisure activities as well, making scenic wonderlands like Jeju popular destinations. Stalwart luxury hotels there like The Shilla Jeju and Lotte Jeju made our awards list in several categories.
In the category of Best Beach or Upcountry Hotels in South Korea, it was Park Roche Resort & Wellness in the mountains of Jeongseon, however, that took the top prize. Aside from its location in a national park, the big draw for this property is its abundant wellness programs and facilities, including indoor and outdoor spas, meditation and yoga rooms, farm and cooking experiences, and creative fitness classes.
The award for Best City Hotel went to Four Seasons Seoul in Gwanghwamun, whose commanding views and chic Andre Fu Studio interior design continue to win fans. The spa appears on our winners’ list as well, at No. 4, although this writer is even more fond of their speakeasy cocktail bar Charles H.
Long-time favorite Grand Hyatt Seoul also fared well, snagging both the Best Spa and hotly contested Best Pool slots (No. 2 there going to sister property Grand Hyatt Jeju). The spa’s several on-trend gold-based treatments have been particularly popular. And what’s not to love about a city-center pool with Han River views?
Best General Manager in South Korea goes to long-time Seoul hand Brian Harris, who manages to provide a memorable personal touch despite overseeing a bustling 550-room property – the Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas in Gangnam.
If you are looking for an excuse to jet off to South Korea now that you’ve perused our awards, good news: summer festival season is just about to kick off and all your favorites are back on and restriction-free this year, including the hilarious Boryeong Mud Festival!
Best Beach + Upcountry Hotels in South Korea
Best City Hotels in South Korea
5. Conrad Seoul
8. Josun Palace
Best Hotel Pools in South Korea
10. Seamarq Hotel
Best Hotel Spas in South Korea
2. Conrad Seoul
Best Hotel General Managers in South Korea
1. Brian Harris, Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas
2. Mark Meaney, Conrad Seoul
3. Alex Lee, JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul
4. Silvio Rogenberger, JW Marriott Hotel Seoul
5. Alejandro Bernabe, Four Seasons Seoul Hotel
Lede Image Courtesy of Four Seasons.