After a long flight from Johannesburg (18+ hours) and a two-hour trip by shuttle from Incheon International Airport, I finally arrived at the Shilla Seoul Hotel. From the moment I arrived, I could see this was THE luxury hotel in Seoul.
My first impressions of THE luxury hotel in Seoul
As we drove up to the hotel, we passed through a Korean-style gate. It was stunning and exactly what I was hoping to see during my short visit to Seoul!
Pointsmen guided us to park in front of the hotel. My first glances revealed a well-organised machine. The Shill Seoul Hotel was a hive of activity and much larger than I expected.
As we parked, someone whisked my bag away with the promise of it being taken to my room when I go up. I was too tired to ask questions – I just wanted to have a lovely hot shower and hit my bed.
Checking-in at the Shilla Hotel
My check-in was quick and efficient. Or so it appeared….
Unfortunately, as soon as I arrived in my room, reception phoned to inform me that my credit card had been declined and I should quickly bring another one. Another one?! I only have one credit card, and I had made the arrangements with my bank before I left South Africa. At that moment I could have kicked myself for never getting a second credit card, which was something I had been considering for a while and specifically for this reason.
I immediately phoned my bank in South Africa, only to be told that the problem was not on their side. They suggested trying the card again, but using the pin instead of just swiping.
I went downstairs to the reception. Someone else was working. I explained the situation, and she informed me they had tried my card again and it had worked perfectly fine. I was not impressed! Why did they not let me know??? Surely, it was the least one could expect from such a luxury hotel in Seoul!
Glad that the problem was sorted out, I went back to my room.
A luxury hotel in Seoul: the rooms in the Shilla Seoul
Relieved that I could now focus on relaxing a bit and having my long-desired shower, I studied my room. I had to admit; it was a lovely room with everything I needed.
The bed was comfortable and soft with many pillows. There was a small sitting area in front of a rather large flat-screen TV. A remote controlled the blinds at the windows. From my room, I had a lovely view of the fountain in front of the hotel, and the conference rooms opposite the hotel I had seen as we drove up to the hotel. I loved the Korean-style buildings.
I was also ecstatic to discover a kettle and a bar fridge with complimentary milk – soy milk – not my favourite, but better than nothing. The hotel also gave me 2 complimentary bottles of water each day, which I appreciated given how expensive everything in Seoul is.
The bathroom really was something else. Not only did it contain a large bath and shower, but the toilet was a masterpiece. I kid you not; I have never seen another toilet like it!
Firstly, the seats were warmed up. Secondly, on the wall next to the toilet, there was a control panel covering everything from water sprays to cleaning. It was impressive! I had heard about such toilets before but did not think I would ever experience it. I took a few pictures and sent it to friends and family – everyone could not stop talking about the toilet! For days I had to answer questions about it!
After showering, I made myself a lovely cup of tea (with soy milk), and relaxed on the couch. I did not think there would be any English entertainment on the TV, but I ended up watching CIS and Law and Order.
The bed was perfect, and I had a good night’s rest.
The location of the Shilla – a luxury hotel in Seoul
The Shilla Seoul is located near Seoul’s city centre and borders the Jangchung-dong. The hotel is on a hill; there was a lovely view of the Namsan mountains from some rooms.
In the hotel’s basement is an exclusive shopping centre, called the Shilla Arcade. If this is not your cup of tea, there is also the Shilla Duty-Free shopping mall – 5 minutes from the hotel.
The hotel offers a shuttle to various destinations in Seoul, which I thought was helpful.
There are also bus stops located just outside the hotel grounds, making it easy to explore Seoul. There were a few take-out places near the bus stops, which was convenient if you didn’t want to eat in the hotel. I tried one but will report on that later.
The hotel offers a spa, restaurants and also a gym.
Service at the Shilla as a luxury hotel in Seoul
In the following few days, I approached the reception staff several times with questions regarding the area, sights to see and also the conference I was attending. I was surprised and disappointed that the staff had no problem telling me they did not know something and to find it out for myself from someone else. I was not used to this. Usually, when I stay in such hotel, the staff would assist or accommodate me. I was disappointed with the service for such a luxury hotel in Seoul.
Some staff spoke English poorly. My questions seemed to confuse them.
I have to give credit where it is due, though. On my last day, I was standing outside waiting for my shuttle to pick me up for my journey to the airport. My shuttle never showed. As I was getting worried and anxious about getting to the airport on time, the concierge offered me his phone to find out when my shuttle would arrive. There was no answer on the number I had. He then arranged alternative transport for me to the airport. This was not the service I expected from such a luxury hotel in Seoul.
Staying at the Shilla Hotel Seoul is a typical luxury hotel experience. I think the rooms and facilities were perfect. The staff could be friendlier and more helpful.