With a wealth of vibrant neighborhoods and an eclectic, one-of-a-kind nightlife scene that extends the city’s four corners, deciding on where to stay in Seoul during your next visit can be a hard choice. Do you choose Myeondong for the shopping, or do you go with something across the river in Gangnam for the people-watching, dining and entertaining? Do you go for that traditional Hanok guesthouse, or a Hanok-styled room in a chic yet quaint boutique hotel?
Below, we’ve created a simple and convenient Seoul neighborhood breakdown. In addition, we’ve also compiled a list of some of the best accommodations in the area, from one-of-a-kind guesthouses to top-rated hotels and traditional Hanoks. Concerning where to stay in Seoul during your next trip, we’ve got you covered!
Where to stay in Seoul – Myeongdong
In Myeongdong, the name of the game is shopping. It is no wonder the district hosts some of Seoul’s most happening shops and arcades; including the shopping street that bares the same name. In addition, Dongdaemoon, a twin shopping mecca located nearby offers unique retail experiences all its own. Don’t forget to check out its expansive department stores and the Zaha Hadid designed cultural center.
As one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations, Myeongdong is Seoul’s central entertainment district and a beating hub of activity. This popular neighborhood is also considered the nucleus for travelers from across the globe. As such, the area is spoilt for hostel and hotel options. If you’re wondering where to stay in Seoul, Myeongdong is a great place to start.
Where to stay in Seoul – Myeongdong Guesthouse: J-Honor Guesthouse
J-Honor Guesthouse is the top-rated guesthouse in the area. With comfortable interiors as well as attention to service which compares to an exclusive hotel, J-Honor Guesthouse is the place where stay in Seoul. If you want to experience the sights and get a good night’s sleep, J-Honor Guesthouse is a sure bet. Do it all without breaking the bank as well. Finally, continental breakfast is also included!
Where to stay in Seoul – Myeongdong Hotel: Aloft Seoul Myeongdong
Aloft Seoul Myeongdong is a stylish digs from where to explore this lively district. Immaculate, sophisticated and comfortable, are but just a few words to describe this superb location. During your stay, be sure to pay a visit to the hotel’s futuristic WXYZ bar; even if you’re just getting a virgin piña colada. The sophisticated, ultra-modern setting, will make you feel like you’re sipping a cocktail inside a spaceship traveling through the outer reaches of the solar system (then again, that might just be the cocktail’s doing).
Best Areas in Seoul – Gangnam District
The name Gangnam might evoke visions of a curious dance sequence known the world over, but the name also refers to Seoul’s most affluent and influential district. Gangnam is the stylish hub of Seoul’s most chic individuals. This internationally renowned district is also home to some of South Korea’s most entrepreneurial minds, as it is home to some of the world’s most recognizable brands. As a business traveler, Gangnam is the place to stay in Seoul.
But Gangnam isn’t all work and no play. The district is full of entertainment options; from art galleries, to luxury shops to futuristic high-tech showrooms where you can experience the technologies shaping our future. Both business and leisure travelers visit Coex and Garosugil for shopping, dining and entertainment. Last but not least, Banpo Hanriver Park and the scenic water fountain across the Bampo Bridge on the north side of the district make for spectacular views at night, especially on warm summer evenings.
Where to stay in Seoul – Gangnam Guest House: Ryu Guest House Gangnam
Simple comfort with modern touches in a relaxed and homey environment, make Ryu Guest House Gangnam a great selection when choosing your accommodation in Seoul. Popular with couples who also love the location, Ryu Guest House is the top-rated guesthouse in Gangnam district. The guesthouse is designed to make you feel right at home (and it succeeds).
Where to stay in Seoul – Gangnam Hotel: L7 Gangnam by LOTTE
Careful attention to detail and design lend L7 Gangnam a well-deserved sense of easy luxury that is fresh and inviting. Achieved with sensible awareness, meticulous color and texture selections from couches to throw pillows (and everything in between), L7 Gangnam is perfect for individuals who don’t want style to interfere with their enjoyment. Boasting floor-to-ceiling windows with city views of Gangnam and across Seoul, this is a great location to get started on the cultural options Gangnam has to offer.
Where to stay in Seoul – Hongdae
Popular among young students, Hongdae is Seoul’s university town inside a city. This laid-back district is filled with bars, restaurants and unique shops. The neighbourhood takes its name from the Hongil Daehakyo, Hongik University, Seoul’s top fine arts university. As an art college town, Hongdae is the center for a vibrant urban arts and indie music scene, as well as an intellectual center filled with new and innovative ideas. Some of South Korea’s most popular bands got their start in the many bars and show houses located in this district.
Hongdae’s popular Yeontral Park, including Yeonnamdong and ‘Central Park’, are great areas for strolling, window shopping and people watching. The neighborhood also has an extensive selection of quality guesthouses that often serve as the most popular accommodation type for savvy, hip students. Hongdae is the ideal place to stay in Seoul for open-minded, young travelers wishing to meet like-minded individuals. Hongdae is also a great staging area for those wishing to make travel plans in and out of the city, with Incheon and Gimpo airports located just a short train ride away.
Where to stay in Seoul – Hongdae Guest House: UWA Guesthouse
As the top-rated guesthouse in Hongdae, as well as one of the top-rated accommodations in Seoul, UWA Guesthouse is a charming and inviting home away from home. A fun and welcoming atmosphere is enhanced by attentive staff that greet and answer any questions guests may have. This guesthouse is popular among young students and female travelers, but it’s also great for anyone looking to strike up a conversation or for those who want to explore the neighborhood with new friends. This location books up fast, but don’t fret, Hongdae is home to a host of spectacular guesthouses with similarly friendly atmospheres.
Where to stay in Seoul – Hongdae Hotel: RYSE, Autograph Collection by Marriott
Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, Hangdoe’s RYSE hotel is innovative in its design, as well as being full of rich decorative textures that please and soothe the senses. Marriott’s Autograph Collection is a selection of some of the world’s most unique hotels, all with their own unique character, attention to detail, architecture and singular backstories. Once selected, the hotel undergoes the Marriott treatment; with a little TLC and quite a bit of investment, as well as the enlistment of local cutting-edge designers.
As such, RYSE is much more than a hotel, it is an experience in design that has been carefully curated for the guest’s enjoyment. Enjoy and relish in the rich tapestry of artistic thinking and the bohemian vibe that mirrors the neighborhood’s flair. The hotel also serves as the meeting place for the people who run the neighborhood’s many independent music venues, design studios, art galleries and eclectic nightlife.
Best Areas in Seoul – Jongno
Jongno is Seoul’s traditional heart—the place where you can experience Korean culture from the Joseon area up to today. The district is also a business and commercial hub filled with bustling activity. Traditionally, the country was and still is ruled from this area. Popular sites include Gyeongbokgung Royal Palace and its changing of the guards, as well as Samcheongdong and Insadong’s popular eateries. Jongno is also a good neighborhood to quickly experience some of Seoul’s traditional landmarks including the Bigak Pavilion at Sejongo, Bosingak Belfry, Pagoda (or Tapgol) Park, as well as the Jongmyo Royal Ancestral Shrine, and finally the massive Dongdaemun or Great East Gate at Dongdaemun.
A visit to the striking and eclectic Jongno Tower is a good way to get some perspective on the district’s breadth and depth. As Seoul’s central location, Jongno is home to skyscrapers as well as traditional Korean villages and guesthouses known as Hanoks. Due to the distinct nature of the district’s many characters and faces, we will describe these distinct neighborhoods separately further down.
Where to stay in Seoul – Jongno Guest House: Sleepy Panda
The Sleepy Panda is a small but accessible guesthouse/hotel that is conveniently located. Sleepy Panda is a great location to experience all that Jongno has to offer in a modern and stylish setting. Located within the hub of Insadong’s nighttime eateries and entertainment opportunities, Sleepy Panda is a great spot to get situated and enjoy some of the city’s food and entertainment options.
Where to stay in Seoul – Jongno Hotel: Tong Tong Petit Hotel
Enjoying excellent reviews from guests as the top-rated new hotel in the neighborhood (and in all of Seoul for that matter), Tong Tong Petit Hotel is a sort of loft hotel complete with bunkbeds. A strikingly framed, balanced interior and lobby lend this petit hotel an air of luxury that is distinct and welcoming. Effortlessly chic yet still comfortable, Tong Tong Petit Hotel is the perfect reprieve to Jongono’s hectic pace. This fashionable hotel-meets-guesthouse is an affordable option, similar to a boutique hotel stay with a more practical approach that caters to the tastes and sensibilities of stylish female travelers, or stylish individuals in general for that matter!
Where to stay in Seoul – Bukchon
Bukchon is the quintessential place to stay in Seoul if you want to experience a slice of old Korean heritage. This means the traditional Hanok village and picturesque houses that endlessly charm visitors. Even if just strolling past the hilly streets of Bukchon Hanok Village, a stay in a Hanok is worth a visit. Bukchon Village is located on a small hill between the palaces of Gyeongbok and Changdeok, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
While most of Seoul has experienced a boom and a facelift that would be unrecognizable to the face it once wore a mere 100 years ago; Bukchon Village has been restored to preserve the aesthetics of a 600-year-old urban village, just as it has stood in this very neighborhood for centuries.
Where to stay in Seoul – Bukchon Guest House/Hanok: Bukchonae
Carefully restored by the hands of master craftsmen, Bukchonae is essentially a work of living history and art. Elegant and refined indoor and outdoor spaces induce a sense of meditation crafted through centuries of cultural development. This unique attention to detail and timeless style make this the perfect only-in-Seoul accommodation. Located in close proximity to Jonhmyo Shrine, Bukchone is the top-rated Hanok guesthouse in the city, and a great way to experience local culture and heritage. Bukchonae also won’t break the bank, and even includes both Korean and American style breakfasts.
Where to stay in Seoul – Bukchon Guest House/ Hanok: Bukchonmaru Hanok Guesthouse
If you’re looking to stay in Bukchon, then you’re likely looking for the traditional Hanok experience—look no further than Bukchonmaru Hanok Guesthouse. Enjoy a friendly, calm and inviting setting that feels more like a home away from home rather than just a guesthouse. In addition, the Bukchonmaru Hanok even features its own bar and hang-out terrace which capture inspiring city views at night. You can rent traditional clothes for a small fee, and indulge in authentic Korean breakfast dishes all made by the jovial guesthouse hostess, Mrs. Joonachim!
Where to stay in Seoul – Seochon
Technically also located within Jongno district, Seochon is a neighborhood with a spirit of its own. This is the heart of old Seoul’s intellectuals, poets, and writers. In fact, the neighborhood is often referred to and referenced in Korean literature. The district has a mystical side too, as it is considered to be the center of Korean shamanism and geomancy (divination using numbers and sequences). This is due to the neighborhood’s western location, sitting next to Inwangsan mountain, a spiritual and royal mountain filled with mystic symbolism (which you can also climb!). The name ‘Seochon’ comes from this very location, as the name means Western or West Village, as in West of Mt. Inwangsan.
Old book stores, great cafés, and innumerable teahouses dot the Seochon Main Road. Being the traditional center of Korean literature, the district seems to run at its own pace, removed from the hustle and bustle that pervades all of modern Seoul (even those quaint Hanok villages that seem to chug along with a modern spirit). Seochon is also home to the National Palace Museum of Korea, the quintessential collection of Joseon Dynasty era art and artifacts.
Where to stay in Seoul – Seochon Hanok: Supia Guesthouse
A traditional Hanok-style guesthouse with an exceptional and rare appreciation for Korean culture. Everything is dedicated to preserving and maintaining a traditional way of life. Thus, you can expect tea drinking, centuries old Korean-style board games and attention to detail in every aspect of design. Guest rooms are minimally decorated, refined, and simple. A design philosophy that showcases Hanok’s architectural elements as the central focus. Supia is also equipped with all the comforts of a luxury hotel and is rated as the top stay in Seochon; simply unmissable and one of our top picks!
Where to stay in Seoul – Seochon Guesthouse: Hide & Seek Guesthouse
Smart and simple, a stay at Hide & Seek Guesthouse grants guests a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Welcoming world explorers from around the globe, this is the place to stay in Seoul if you’re looking for a bit of everything. Style and comfort? Check! One-on-one attention and care? Check! Inviting atmosphere? Double Check!
The guesthouse serves as a calm refuge that is perfect for relaxation, as well as planning a day out on the town. This is the top-rated pick for individuals who know how to travel and love new adventures. The guesthouse is decorated in a simple, modern, yet un-intrusive style that is unassuming but bold—no stress, no mess. Hide & Seek Guesthouse is great for individuals who love to travel, love to explore, love to cook, and love their sleep.
This is just a taste of the rich history encapsulated in Seoul’s many neighborhoods, districts and villages. In a city of over 20 million people, finding that perfect spot within the four corners of Seoul may prove to be a lofty task –there’s just simply too much to enjoy. Other neighborhoods to check out include Itaewon for its international scene, as well as Incheon City closer to the city’s international airport for its futuristic utopian vision of city life.
When planning your next trip, knowing exactly what kind of trip you’re interested in will help narrow down the options in order to find the perfect neighbourhood, hostel, hotel, guesthouse or Hanok, and ensure your next Seoul excursion be full of fun and adventure!
After you found your ideal hotel, feel free to check out this blog to discover the best things to do in Seoul.