Saturday, December 17, 2011

Westin Chosun Seoul

The Westin Chosun Seoul, a Starwood Category 4 (now 5) hotel, was the selected lodging for five of my seven nights in Seoul.  The stay was redeemed using 40,000 SPG points, a fantastic deal considering a single night could easily go for $300 USD.  The Millenium Hilton Seoul had also been considered but the location had been less optimal.  From the exterior, the Westin Chosun was relatively nondescript building and was a little difficult to locate initially since we had arrived via the City Hall subway station.

The nearest subway is the City Hall station exit 6 which takes you to the opposite side of the City Hall open area.  On the day I arrived, there was a large open air market taking place and performances in front of City Hall which greatly added to the atmosphere. Surprisingly, Seoul's air quality was far better than I had expected for a large Asian metropolis, with fresh winds bring clear air into the city. Anyways, back to finding the hotel, after exiting exit 6 of the metro, head in the direction of the President's Hotel for a little bit before turning right to leave the grounds of City Hall. The Westin Chosun is unexpectedly on the left as shown in the picture above. At this point, you'll be wondering how to cross the street. The two options are either to keep crossing the streets and make a big loop around to get to the other side or to take the underground passages which is a bit easier.  Obviously, once you're underground, asking for help from the locals will certainly help =)  Once you pop back up above ground, you'll encounter the Westin sign leading to the entrance.

The lobby was sparkling and immaculately clean (reminded me of Viennese museums) and the welcoming hotel staff pointed me to the concierge and check-in desk towards the right.  As an SPG Gold member, I asked for upgrade availability but unfortunately none was available. The only availability was for a room with a view of City Hall on the Starwood Preferred Guest floor. Here are a couple of pictures of the room itself.

This was rather fun as this was the first washroom I encountered in an Asian hotel (I know, I haven't been to Japan yet) with the fancy buttons.  If you ever end up using one of these, let me know how it goes because I really can't quite get used to it. ^_^

The other strange thing I find about some hotel bathrooms, particularly in Europe, and I guess now Seoul, is the fact that their shower pane only goes halfway.  So if the user just happened to be using the hand-held showerhead near the back of the shower, wouldn't be water spray everywhere?  Just a random thought =)

One of the most interesting points about this hotel was that they offered a variety of pillows upon request.  Just for kicks, I requested the royal pillow, this was what got sent up:

Essentially, it was a very nicely embroidered and decorated sandbag.  If I was a king using one of these royal pillows, I'm pretty sure I would have had bad neck pains =)  The view from the window was quite nice, facing directly to the Hwangudan (altar where the Emperor would make sacrifices to heaven)

A closer look at the Hwangudan, based on the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

With a Starbucks just next door, grabbing some coffee or snacks was rather convenient.

Location-wise, the Westin Chosun is well situated.  As mentioned earlier, the Westin Chosun is a short 5 minute walk from the City Hall grounds.

On the other end, if you exit the Westin Chosun from the lower level, and keep walking straight for 3 minutes, you will head straight into the busy shopping area of Myeong Dong.

In terms of facilites, the pool is quite large but was unfortunately under maintenance while I was there.  The Westin Workout gym was quite large and spacious with numerous exercise machines lined up at the windows.

Overall, the stay at the Westin was quite pleasant.  In fact, they even had a nurse on-site whom they sent up when I asked for some bandaids for a finger cut.  She was an older, stern-looking lady with an armful of supplies so it was somewhat awkward to let her know it was just a minor cut when she had come all the way up.  Aside from that incident, the stay at the Westin worked out rather nicely, allowing for some restful and relaxing nights.

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