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where to stay in seoul

BRIGHT LIGHTS. BIG CITY. There are few places in the world that actually do this expression justice.

Seoul is one of them.

Figuring out exactly where to stay in Seoul, on the other hand, is another beast all together.

where to stay in seoul

You’ll find the past and the future in Seoul © Heo Hun, Korea Tourism Organization

Huge, modern, and kinetic – with over 25-million striving souls drawn to the city’s endless promise, your first visit to Seoul can feel like a slap in the face.

With one foot planted solidly in a proud history, and the other reaching as far into the future as it can, it’s a heady mix of old and new that’ll leave you clamouring for more.

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In this guide

Deciding Where to Stay in Seoul

Don’t make the mistake of reducing Seoul to another Tokyo or New York. Seoul is vibrantly, uniquely her own.

It’s a place to throw on your most comfortable walking shoes, allow yourself to get lost, and dream.

girl in neon moon at lotte world adventure

Seoul is a city of dreams… and amazing photo spots.

Made up of 25 autonomous districts (구 | gu), and 424 administrative neighbourhoods ( 동 | dong), deciding on the best place to stay in Seoul can be overwhelming – to say the least.

rooftop of seoulism cafe

Visit Seoulism Cafe in Jamsil for the perfect souvenir pic of your trip to Seoul

Worry not. I’ve lived in Seoul for 12 years, and done all the work for you. Read on Seoul traveller.

Where to Stay in Seoul | Gangnam vs Gangbuk

Seoul is bisected in half – east to west – by the Hangang River. These 2 halves of the city are referred to as GANGBUK (north of the river), and GANGNAM (south of the river).

where to stay in seoul

Seoul is bisected by the mighty Han River © Song Seung-woock, Korea Travel Tourism

When you’re making the important decision of where to stay in Seoul, it’s helpful to understand that Gangnam and Gangbuk have fundamentally different characters.

Broadly speaking, Gangnam is the home of everything hyper- modern, sparkling, and futuristic in Seoul. Before the 1970s, this area basically didn’t exist, so this is where you’ll find everything K-pop, swish malls, and the tallest, glitziest buildings in Korea.

where to stay in seoul | gangnam

You can expect big city lights and skyscrapers in Gangnam © Camelpress, Korea Tourism Organization

Gangbuk, on the other hand, is the older, more traditional part of Seoul. It’s where you’ll find the main tourist sites, like Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village, as well as traditional markets and historical neighbourhoods.

changdeokgung secret garden

Historical sites like the Changdeokgung Secret Garden can be found in Gangbuk.

Once you’ve decided between Gangbuk and Gangnam, it’s time to choose EXACTLY where to stay in Seoul.

Best Areas to Stay in Seoul

Seoul is full of unique neighbourhoods, winding back alleys, and surprising architecture. It’s one reason I adore living here. There’s always something new to discover!

where to stay in seoul

Seoul is full of unique streets and neighbourhoods © Lee Bumsu, Korea Tourism Organization

However, when it comes to choosing where to stay in Seoul, remember that not every area of the city is a good base for travel. It’s a massive metropolis, and most of it is made up of residential neighbourhoods or corporate hubs with little of value to offer tourists.

In my opinion, the best neighbourhoods to stay in Seoul, on either side of the Hangang are:

Gangbuk: Myeongdong, Hongdae, and Insadong.

Gangnam: Gangnam, Jamsil, Itaewon, and Apgujeong

Olympic Park pink muhly during autumn in seoul

You can find pink muhly grass all over Korea in October.

I selected these 7 neighbourhoods to stay in Seoul, based on 12 years of living, traveling, and exploring the city, as well as their location, access to tourist sites, and convenience for travellers.

Here’s a quick guide, divided by interest to further help you narrow down your decision for where to stay in Seoul. I’ll describe each of these areas in much greater detail below, but hopefully you already feel a little more prepared to choose the perfect place to stay in Seoul.

Where to Stay in Seoul | Quick Guide by Interest

First-timers: Myeongdong or Insadong

Families: Insadong or Jamsil

History and culture lovers: Insadong

Shopping and street food: Myeongdong, Hongdae, Gangnam or Apgujeong

Nightlife and restaurants: Hongdae, Itaewon, or Gangnam

K-pop, K-beauty and all things ultra-modern: Gangnam or Apgujeong

Day trips out of Seoul: Myeongdong or Hongdae

Where to Stay in Seoul | Important Things to Consider

If you’re traveling to Korea for the first time, where you decide to stay in Seoul can make or break your trip. I don’t want to freak you out – but for first-timers, Seoul can be pretty overwhelming. It’s one of the biggest cities in the world, with a total population of 26 million people who mostly don’t speak English fluently.

Don’t panic though – I will do my best to give you all the local knowledge you need to plan the most perfect trip to Seoul possible.

where to stay in seoul

I’ve lived in Seoul for a reaaaally long time, and I still love it!


I can’t stress this enough. Where you choose to stay in Seoul is one of the most important factors determining whether you’ll have a great trip or not. Seoul is massive on a scale that’s hard to comprehend until you’re actually on the ground.

The wrong location can mean a ton of wasted time. Many a traveller has booked a budget accommodation in “Seoul,” and found themselves hours away from anything worth seeing.

view from seoul subway

The view may be nice, but you still don’t want to be on the subway for hours.

Commutes around the city really can take 2 hours or longer, and I’m pretty sure that sitting on public transit for hours on end is the last thing you want to do while on your dream trip to Korea.

Check the EXACT location of your booked hotel. Then check it again.

Duration of Your Trip

If you have 3 days or less to see Seoul, I highly recommend that you book your hotel in Seoul in the main tourist hubs of Insadong or Myeongdong. These are the best neighbourhoods in Seoul for a shorter length trip, because you can get to all the most popular tourist attractions in the city quickly and efficiently.

gyeongbokgung palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace is super close to Insadong and Myeongdong.

Agoda vs Booking

There are Korea specific hotel booking sites available, but for english speakers, Agoda and Booking are definitely some of the best options. These are the 2 booking engines I’ve primarily used to reserve almost all my accommodation and hotels in 61 different countries around the world.

If you’re booking your hotel in Seoul in advance, I’ve found that Booking is generally the better option. The prices are usually better, and the way that it calculates the price of your stay is simpler. The price you see on Booking when you search for where to stay in Seoul, is the price you pay. It’s an all-in-one price, including taxes and fees, calculated for the TOTAL length of your stay.

However, if you’re booking close to your travel date, I find that Agoda tends to have more selection, as well as some crazy last minute discount prices. Costs on Agoda are per night vs for the total stay. Be sure to factor in the extra taxes and fees that Agoda adds in AFTER you hit reserve.

Where to Stay in Seoul | Apps to Download

Downloading a few apps before you arrive in Korea is going to make it a whole lot easier to navigate around Seoul.

Download a few apps BEFORE you get on the plane to Korea.

Don’t worry if you don’t have mobile data upon arrival. There’s free wifi in a lot of areas of Seoul…even on public transit. However, if you can’t find somewhere to connect, you can just pop into a cafe or convenience store and use theirs. Trust me, no one is going to mind if you do.

However, if you prefer the security of having your own data, you can reserve wifi and SIM cards for pick up at Incheon Airport or for delivery in your home country here.

Naver Maps | Kakao Maps

Google Maps does not work in Korea. You need to download a Korean produced map app like Naver Maps or Kakao Maps. Both have service in English, and offer detailed directions by bus, car, subway, train, or bicycle to pretty much anywhere in the country.

Subway Korea (Jihachul)

If you’d like a visual representation of Korea’s subway and train lines and how they all connect and intersect with each other, Jihachul will give you that. It’s also offered in multiple languages and provides route information.

subway map of seoul

The subway network in Seoul is… extensive


Papago is a Korean made translation app that’s generally more accurate than Google Translate. It’s by no means perfect, but you’ll definitely be able to get your point across with it.

Where to Stay in Seoul | Myeongdong (Jung-gu)

Myeongdong is a centrally located area north of the Han River. It’s a mecca for shopping, with well known international brands, cosmetics shops, and huge department stores to explore. Myeongdong is also a haven for foodies, with stall after stall of Korean street food to delight in.

where to stay in seoul | myeongdong

Myeongdong is one of the most popular places to stay in Seoul © Camelpress, Korea Tourism Organization

For travellers, this neighbourhood might very well be one of the most convenient places to stay in Seoul. It’s well connected to public transport links, and access to popular tourist sites like Gyeongokgung Palace, Namsan Tower, and Namdaemun Market is a breeze.

Myeongdong is also one of the main meet-up locations for tours out of Seoul, so it’s a piece of cake to get out on day trips to top places like Nami Island or Everland if you’re staying there.

nami island in autumn

Nami Island is one of the most popular day trips from Seoul.

Things to do in Myeongdong

If you choose Myeongdong for where to stay in Seoul, be sure to:

namsan during autumn in seoul

Namsan Mountain is simply glorious in autumn.

Where to Stay in Seoul | Hotels near Myeongdong

There’s a huge selection of hotels, motels, and hostels in Myeongdong for every budget level. Hotels in Myeongdong can be a little more expensive than in other areas, like Hongdae, but it’s worth it for the benefits of convenience and location.

This area is THE place to stay in Seoul for many travellers, so it’s best to book as early as possible for the most selection and lowest rates.

incheon airport to myeongdong

Getting to Myeongdong from Incheon Airport is easy © Minseong Kim (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Luxury Hotel in Myeongdong | Lotte Hotel Seoul Executive Tower

There are a number of luxury hotels to choose from in Myeongdong, but you really can’t go wrong with the Lotte Hotel Executive Tower.

This is the recently renovated and opened arm of the original Lotte Hotel (which is located right next to the Executive Tower). You’ll find gorgeous rooms with stunning city views, and the incredible service that’s expected from the Lotte hotel group.

Aside from a stellar location, you’ll also find 6 separate restaurants on site (including the 3 Michelin starred Pierre Gagnaire), an indoor swimming pool, fitness centre, and spa.

If guaranteed luxury, comfort, and elegance are important to you when choosing where to stay in Seoul, the Lotte Hotel Executive Tower is a perfect place to book.

Mid-range Hotel in Myeongdong | Aloft Seoul Myeongdong

My mid-range hotel pick is Aloft Seoul Myeongdong. It’s close to both Myeongdong and Euljiro 1-ga subway stations, so access to the rest of Seoul is easy and convenient. It’s also walking distance to major tourist sites like Namdaemun Market, Jogyesa Temple, and Gwanghwamun Square.

In Seoul to shop? At Aloft Seoul in Myeongdong, you’ll be right next to major department stores, shopping streets, markets, and underground malls.

And when you’re all shopped out, you’ll return to excellently designed rooms, comfortable beds, fitness centre and an on-site restaurant. This is an excellent mid-range choice for where to stay in Seoul.

Budget Hotel in Myeongdong | Philstay Myeongdong

My budget hotel pick in Myeongdong is Philstay. This hotel is loved by travellers for where to stay in Seoul due to its affordable private rooms, free laundry facilities, shared kitchen, and super kind staff.

One of the best things about Philstay Myeongdong is its absolutely perfect location, smack dab in the middle of Myeongdong Station on Line 4 and Euljiro 1-ga Station on Line 2. It’s easy to get pretty much ANYWHERE in the city using these 2 subway lines.

Be sure to book this one early. This is one of the the most popular areas to stay in Seoul for budget travellers, and it’s definitely not easy to find this kind of comfort and location for under $40 in Myeongdong.

Where to Stay in Seoul | Insadong (Jongno)

Insadong is located north of the Han River in the heart of cultural Seoul. Insadong is where to stay in Seoul if you’re into traditional hanok houses, Joseon Dynasty Palaces, serene Buddhist temples, and tea rooms.

It can feel a bit touristy with a lot of souvenir shops and tour groups in this area of Seoul, but this should be expected given all the major tourist sites in the neighbourhood.

where to stay in seoul | insadong

Insadong is a traditional area of Seoul by ⓒ IR Studio, Korea Tourism Organization

However, if it’s your first visit to the city, Insadong is a perfect place to stay in Seoul because major tourist sites are so accessible. It’s also a great neighbourhood for families to stay in Seoul, as there’s very little nightlife, and the streets are quiet and peaceful after dark.

where to stay in seoul | insadong

Samcheong-dong is an atmospheric street near Insadong © Live Studio, Korea Tourism Organization

Things to do in Insadong

If you choose Insadong as the best place to stay in Seoul, here’s a few activities you shouldn’t miss.

renting a hanbok in seoul: bukchon hanok village

Bukchon Hanok Village is the perfect place to rent a Korean hanbok and take amazing pictures

Where to Stay in Seoul | Hotels near Insadong

If you’ve ever wanted to have the experience of sleeping in a hanok, Insadong is where to stay in Seoul to do it. These traditional homes dot the streets in Insadong, and provide a unique taste of Korean historical and cultural life, that shouldn’t be missed.

Luxury Hotel near Insadong | Chiwoonjung

Ever wanted to stay in the home of a former South Korean President? Well, you can do it in lavish style at Chiwoonjung, which was the home of South Korean President, Lee Myung Bak (guess he doesn’t have much use for it in jail).

Built on a hill, overlooking the gracious, curving rooftops of Bukchon Hanok Village, expect all the conveniences of modern living, set within the walls of a spectacular traditional hanok.

If your preference for where to stay in Seoul is a luxury hotel over a hanok, you can’t go wrong with the Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul. It’s conveniently located near Gwanghwamun Square, Bukchon Hanok Village and other major historical sites of interest to travellers.

Mid-range Hotel in Insadong | Orakai Insadong Suites

The Orakai Insadong Suites is an excellent self-catered option near Insadong that offers a swimming pool, kitchenette and fitness centre. Apartments are available in 1, 2, and 3 bedroom configurations, so this is a perfect place to stay in Seoul for families or groups of friends.

If hotels are your preference for where to stay in Seoul, Nine Tree Premier Hotel in Insadong has a perfect location that’s walking distance from Jogyesa Temple and Insadong-gil shopping street. There’s a 24-hour front desk, fitness centre, and buffet breakfast available for guests.

Budget Hotel in Insadong | Gongsimga Hanok Guesthouse

Staying in a hanok in Seoul is usually a pretty pricey venture, but Gongsimga Hanok Guesthouse has twin rooms steps from Insadong, and Bukchon Hanok Village, for under $100. Yeah, not really budget, but it’s as budget as you’re likely to find for a quality hanok stay in Seoul.

If that’s out of your budget, you can check out the Grid Inn Hotel. It’s close to major sites in Insadong, like Jongmyo Shrine, Gwangjang Market, and Sewoon Plaza (where K-drama Vincenzo was filmed). Rooms here are on the smallish side, but they’re clean, comfortable, and soundproofed.

Be sure to spend some time on their rooftop for a wonderful view of Namsan Mountain and the N Seoul Tower!

Where to Stay in Seoul | Hongdae (Mapo-gu)

Hongdae is where to stay in Seoul for youthful, vibrant energy, due to its location close to several universities. This area of Seoul is known for being creative and edgy, with a strong underground indie music and arts scene.

where to stay in seoul | hongdae

Hongdae is youthful and vibrant ⓒ Lee Bumsu, Korea Tourism Organization

It’s definitely one of the best places to stay in Seoul to take a stroll and experience the dynamic and restless energy of the city.

Hongdae is also one of the major pick-up points for tour companies, so if you plan to get out on day trips around Korea, staying in this part of Seoul is super convenient. You’ll also have your pick of interesting restaurants, cafes, and cool shops to check out when you stay in this neighbourhood of Seoul.

gangchon rail bike in korea

The Gangchon Rail Bike is an excellent day trip from Seoul.

Things to do in Hongdae

From trick eye museums to DIY activities, unique stores, interesting attractions, pubs, clubs, and restaurants line the streets of Hongdae.

If you choose Hongdae for where to stay in Seoul, here’s a few awesome activities to check out.

where to stay in seoul | hongdae

Yeonnam-dong is full of cool restaurants, shops, and cafes © Lee Bumsu, Korea Tourism Organization

Where to Stay in Seoul | Hotels near Hongdae

While not centrally located, Hongdae is still one of the best places to stay in Seoul. Transport to and from Incheon Airport is a breeze on the AREX train. Major tourist sites in Seoul are easily accessed via subway or bus in about 20 minutes.

Incheon International Airport seoul korea

It’s fast and easy to get from Incheon Airport to Hongdae on the AREX train © IR Studio, Korea Tourism Organization

A word of warning though: Hongdae can be quite noisy at night with revellers, buskers, and people partying, so if quiet sleep is important to you, this might not be the best choice for where to stay in Seoul.

Luxury Hotel in Hongdae | RYSE, Autograph Collection

Designed with creatives in mind, RYSE considers itself not only a hotel, but also a marketplace, gallery, and incubator. You’ll find this reflected in every area of the hotel, from the gorgeous rooms, to Tokki – their Brooklyn inspired cocktail bar.

Luxurious and modern, RYSE is the ideal place to stay in Seoul for couples and creators looking for an arty vibe, smack dab in the middle of Hongdae.

Mid-Range Hotel in Hongdae | L7 Hongdae by Lotte

L7 Hongdae is a centrally located hotel, with easy access to restaurants, clubs, and shopping. With a rooftop bar, fitness centre, and super-comfy rooms, it’s a popular place to stay in Seoul for couples.

This is also one of the few hotels in Hongdae with an outdoor pool. You’ll be very happy about this if you’re traveling to Seoul in summer. It’s hot!

Budget Hotel in Hongdae | Bunk Guesthouse

Hongdae is one of the best areas to stay in Seoul if you’re on a budget. There are a ton of high quality hostels and guesthouses in this neighbourhood to choose from. Some well-reviewed places to check out are: Hongdae Cheese Guesthouse, Twin Panda Guesthouse, and The One Hostel Hongdae.

The Bunk Guesthouse has 2 locations right next to each other, just minutes from Hongik subway station. Known for a homey feeling and excellent host, it also has affordable bunks, and a shared lounge perfect for meeting other travellers.

Where to Stay in Seoul | Gangnam

Gangnam refers broadly to the part of Seoul that’s south of the Han River. Prior to the 1970s, all you’d find in this area was muddy agricultural fields, and livestock. It’s mind-blowing to wander this neighbourhood knowing that it was developed into the most modern and planned area of Seoul in less than 40 years!

This area of Seoul is where you’ll find towering skyscrapers, high-tech marvels, dynamic business hubs, and insane nightlife.

where to stay in seoul | gangnam

Gangnam is dynamic and modern ⓒ Kim Mi-suk, Korea Tourism Organization

If luxury, shopping, nightlife, and Korean idols are your jam – Gangnam is your best bet for where to stay in Seoul. It’s home to the rich and famous, huge corporations, swish clubs, and a never ending supply of stylish cafes and restaurants from which to see and be seen.

Things to do in Gangnam

Gangnam is home to Starfield COEX Mall and the uber-instagrammable Starfield Library. If cultural attractions are a priority, a visit to Bongeunsa Temple, and the Seongjeong Royal Tombs should definitely be on your agenda.

And if you’re into all things K-beauty, you’ll find a huge concentration of luxurious spas to pamper yourself at in Gangnam.

where to stay in seoul | gangnam

Bongeunsa Temple is a world away from Starfield Coex Mall. ⓒ Kim Jiho, Korea Tourism Organization

If you choose Gangnam for where to stay in Seoul, be sure to check out these activities.

banpo bridge rainbow fountain at night

The Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain is the longest bridge fountain in the world.

Where to Stay in Seoul | Hotels near Gangnam

In Seoul, Gangnam refers to: the entire area south of the Han River, a neighbourhood, a subway stop, AND a specific district. Yeah, I know…. it’s super confusing. If this is where you plan to stay in Seoul, be sure to check the exact location of your accommodation.

where to stay in seoul | gangnam

Gangnam is the name of a street, subway station and more © IR Studio, Korea Tourism Organization

I’ll be recommending places to stay in Seoul, south of the river, that are between Gangnam and Samseong subway stations on Line 2. Staying much further east or west of these areas, takes you a bit too far away from what a tourist would consider to really be “Gangnam.”

Luxury Hotel in Gangnam | Park Hyatt Seoul

The luxurious Park Hyatt in Gangnam has spectacular views of towering skyscrapers and big city lights. Their stylish rooms have floor to ceiling windows and all the creature comforts you’d expect from a 5 star hotel in Seoul. You can also enjoy an indoor pool, top floor gym, and several excellent restaurants.

The Park Hyatt is where to stay in Seoul for a perfect location just steps from Samseong subway station on Line 2, Starfield Coex Mall, and the City Air Terminal. A quick 10 minute subway ride will get you to the dining and nightlife area around Gangnam Station.

Mid-Range Hotel in Gangnam | L7 Gangnam by Lotte

If you’re looking for a photogenic mid-range place to stay in Seoul, the L7 hotels from the reliable Lotte Hotel Group are a good option. Their L7 hotel in Gangnam is ideally located just a 5 minute walk away from Seolleung Station, with access to Line 2 and the Suin-Bundang line.

You’ll find clean and modern rooms with floor to ceiling windows and amazing night-time views of Gangnam in this hotel. Be sure to try one of their 7 signature cocktails at their floating bar on the 10th floor.

Budget Hotel in Gangnam | Seollung Hotel Star

The real estate in Gangnam is some of the most expensive in the city, so it’s a bit difficult to find truly budget accommodation to stay at in this neighbourhood of Seoul.

Usually, you’d have to make sacrifices in location for a reasonably priced hotel in Gangnam, but at the Seollung Hotel Star, you’re just a few steps from Seolleung subway station. Both Line 2 and the Suin-Bundang line intersect here, so you’d be close to all the highlights in Gangnam and near Starfield Coex Mall, as well as have easy access to Apgujeong and Seoul Forest.

Seollung Hotel Star was recently renovated in 2018, so you can expect clean rooms, 24 hour security, free wifi, and more.

If your choice for where to stay in Seoul at a lower budget must be in Gangnam, you can also check out the H Avenue Hotel – which is located right next to Yeoksam Station. It’s walking distance to Gangnam shopping street.

Where to Stay in Seoul | Jamsil (Songpa-gu)

Jamsil in Songpa-gu usually isn’t at the top of the list when considering where to stay in Seoul, since it’s a little further away from historical and cultural sites. However, there are a ton of things to do near Jamsil Station and public transport links out of this area in Seoul are excellent.

where to stay in seoul | seokchon lake, jamsil in autumn

Seokchon Lake is gorgeous in autumn. Photo © Kim Seung-rae, Korea Tourism Organization

You can easily reach Starfield Coex Mall, Bongeunsa Temple, and Gangnam Station by subway in less than 15 minutes from Jamsil.

This is a more residential neighbourhood of Seoul, so you’ll see huge apartment complexes, and Korean families out and about living their daily lives. It’s the perfect place to stay in Seoul to feel a more local vibe.

hangang park during summer in seoul

Head to Jamsil Hangang Park for some outdoor fun.

Wide, smooth roads and sidewalks, plenty of playgrounds, and the Han River nearby make this neighbourhood the ideal place to stay in Seoul for travellers with kids. There’s a reason why Korean families gravitate to this area (and real estate prices are off the hook).

*Side note: I actually live in Jamsil myself and think it’s ideal for families and young children, as long as you don’t mind a bit of travel by subway to get to sights like Gyeongbokgung Palace.

where to stay in seoul | jamsil

Olympic Park in Jamsil is worth a visit!

Things to do in Jamsil

If you’re interested in all things Lotte, Jamsil is definitely one of the best neighbourhoods to stay in Seoul.

Lotte World Adventure, Lotte World Tower Seoul Sky Observatory, Lotte World Mall, Avenuel Duty Free shops, and the Lotte World Aquarium are all located near Jamsil subway station. Nearby Seokchon Lake and the Seoul Norimadang are also worth checking out.

seokchon lake park norimadang in jamsil, seoul

You can catch a free traditional performance at the Seoul Norimadang

If you choose Jamsil as the place to stay in Seoul, here’s a few activities you definitely shouldn’t miss.

where to stay in seoul | jamsil

Watching a baseball game in Korea is a unique experience

Where to Stay in Seoul | Hotels near Jamsil

If you’re considering the Jamsil area for where to stay in Seoul, it’s best to choose a hotel as close to Jamsil subway station as possible. Subway, local, and intercity bus links out of this area are second to none, and a ton of activities are concentrated there. It’s a very convenient for travellers to base themselves on a trip to South Korea.

Luxury Hotel in Jamsil | Signiel Seoul

As far as I’m concerned, if you’re splashing out for a luxury hotel in Jamsil, there’s really only one choice to be made. Signiel Seoul occupy floors 76 to 101 of the Lotte World Tower, which is the tallest building in Korea, and the 5th tallest building in the world.

Each of the 235 rooms at Signiel Seoul has a stunning view that literally can’t be found anywhere else in the city. It also offers all the high end amenities you’d expect from an hotel of this calibre, including a champagne bar, Michelin-starred restaurant, indoor swimming pool, and incredible fitness centre.

Budget / Mid-Range Hotel in Jamsil | Hotel Pharos

The Hotel Pharos offers excellent value for money, with clean, spacious, and quiet rooms. It’s conveniently located halfway between Jamsil subway station and Coex Mall.

apartments in jamsilsaenae

Hotel Pharos is in the middle of Jamsil Station and Coex Mall, along with a million apartment buildings.

If you enjoy walking, it’s very possible to walk to both Lotte World Mall (closer) and Coex Mall (further) from this location. Jamsil Hangang Park is also just a 10 minute walk away from here.

I should know! The Hotel Pharos is located in my neighbourhood of Seoul, and I’ve done this walk multiple times with my daughter!

*To be completely honest, if your budget for where to stay in Seoul is mid-range or budget, I’d book somewhere other than Jamsil. There are not a ton of choices in this budget range in this area of Seoul. If you still want to stay close to Jamsil though – I’d look for hotels in Gangnam, near COEX Mall. There are a ton of mid-range options there.

Where to Stay in Seoul | Itaewon (Yongsan-gu)

Itaewon and nearby Haebangcheon are the expat hubs of Seoul. In these areas, you’ll find the best, most authentic foreign food restaurants and a huge mix of people from all over the world.

where to stay in seoul | itaewon

Itaewon is the expat hub of Seoul © Lee Bumsu, Korea Tourism Organization

This is where to stay in Seoul if you’re a little nervous about fully immersing yourself into Korean culture. Many people speak English and you might feel more comfortable. However, word to the wise – I find transport links out of this neighbourhood a bit lacking compared to other areas of Seoul.

Despite this, Itaewon might be the best place to stay in Seoul for Muslim travellers, due to the ease of finding halal foods and meals near the Itaewon Mosque.

where to stay in seoul | itaewon

There are a lot of halal restaurants near the Seoul mosque © Barton Fink, Korea Tourism Organization

Things to do in Itaewon

One of the best things to do in Itaewon is eat. Though it’s getting easier and easier to find authentic versions of foreign foods all over the city now, the best is still undoubtedly in this neighbourhood of Seoul.

where to stay in seoul | itaewon

If your choice for where to stay in Seoul is Itaewon, be sure to check out these activities.

where to stay in seoul | itaewon

Hanging a love lock at Namsan Tower is a Seoul tradition © Lee Bumsu, Korea Tourism Organization

Where to Stay in Seoul | Hotels near Itaewon

There aren’t a ton of places to stay in Seoul, located right in Itaewon, but there are a few quality options.

I’m not 100% sure why this is, but I’m guessing it has something to do with the fact that the US military Yongsan Garrison has occupied a huge section of real estate in Itaewon for many years. This is all set to change in the near future though, with the return of this land to Korea, and major re-development plans for the area.

where to stay in seoul | itaewon

Learn about Korea’s history at the War Memorial © Lee Bumsu, Korea Tourism Organization

Luxury Hotel in Itaewon | Mondrian Seoul & Grand Hyatt

In Itaewon, there are 2 luxury hotels to choose from for where to stay in Seoul: the Grand Hyatt and the Mondrian Seoul.

The Grand Hyatt is where Obama chose to stay on his visit to Seoul. This hotel is enduringly popular in every season with good reason. It’s beautiful in spring with cherry blossoms, has a wonderful skating rink during winter in Korea, and an outdoor swimming pool for Seoul’s very hot summer.

If you’re into design, the Mondrian is an excellent pick for where to stay in Seoul. It has some of the most gorgeously designed, modern interiors and rooms in Seoul, as well as an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre, and 24 hour front desk.

Mid-Range Hotel in Itaewon | Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel

There are a couple of decent mid-range places to stay in Seoul, in Itaewon.

The Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon is a popular option for where to stay in Seoul because it has a rooftop pool that turns into a big party on hot, summer days. It’s definitely an adults only vibe though.

However, since entrance to the Hamilton Hotel pool isn’t free (even for guests), check out the IP Boutique hotel instead. It has artistically designed rooms, a kind and responsive staff, and multiple meal options (including halal) at a very affordable price.

Budget Hotel in Itaewon | G Guesthouse Itaewon

The G Guesthouse has private rooms,and bunks available at a super affordable price. Steps from the subway station, close to the Mosque, and near a ton of cafes, restaurants, and pubs, it’s a convenient place to stay in Itaewon.

Where to Stay in Seoul | Sinsa / Apgujeong (Gangnam-gu)

Sinsa and Apgujeong are also areas of Seoul located in Gangnam-gu. However, they’re far enough away from Gangnam Metro Station with enough unique activities to warrant their own section!

where to stay in seoul | sinsa & apgujeong

Garosu-gil is perfect for shopping, restaurants and cafes © IR Studio, Korean Tourism Organization

Things to do in Sinsa / Apgujeong

Decided on Sinsa / Apgujeong for where to stay in Seoul? Be sure to:

  • Explore K-beauty by booking a luxurious facial at Sulwhasoo Spa
  • Shop till you drop on Garosu-gil shoppign street and Apgujeong Rodeo Street
  • Take pictures with the K-pop bears on K-Star Road
  • Relax in Dosan Park
  • Watch out for Korean idols by joining a Hallyu Kpop tour
  • Visit the K-Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Marvel at the exterior of the Galleria Department store
where to stay in Seoul | sinsa & apgujeong

There are a ton of K-pop bears on K-Star Road © IR Studio, Korea Tourism Organization

Where to Stay in Seoul | Hotels near Sinsa / Apgujeong

The areas of Sinsa and Apgujeong are the best choice for where to stay in Seoul if you’re into fashion or K-pop. These neighbourhoods are also the best places to stay in Seoul if you’re visiting for medical tourism or cosmetics, since most of the major skin clinics and plastic surgery centres are located here.

Luxury Hotel in Sinsa / Apgujeong | Andaz Seoul Gangnam

The Andaz Seoul Gangnam is a hotel that’s creating a lot of buzz in Seoul lately for its design and service. Located steps from Apgujeong subway station, you can relax at their gorgeous spa and wellness facilities or workout in their fantastic gym.

Mid-Range Hotel in Sinsa / Apgujeong | La Casa Hotel Seoul

Hotel La Casa Seoul is a designer boutique hotel in Seoul, with modern rooms, a fitness centre, and 2 on-site restaurants. It’s a great choice for where to stay in Seoul if you’d like to be close to a number of shopping areas, trendy restaurants, and cool cafes. It’s walking distance to Garosu-gil shopping street and Sinsa Station!

Budget Hotel in Sinsa / Apgujeong | Ryu Guest House Gangnam

Apgujeong is one of the wealthiest areas of Seoul, so true budget accommodation is few and far between.

However, if you’re set on staying in in the Sinsa / Apgujeong area, Ryu Guest House has decently priced rooms with private bathrooms, as well as a bunk style hostel dormitory room available for guests.

* For value for money though, it’s really better to consider Hongdae or Myeongdong for where to stay in Seoul. There are many, many more hostels and guesthouses type accommodations available to stay at in those neighbourhoods of Seoul.

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Where to Stay in Seoul: Essential Info and FAQs

Is it safe to stay in Seoul? For such a huge metropolis, Seoul is a very safe city to stay in. You should exercise some caution at night in rowdy areas, but I've lived here for 12 years and never run into a single problem - not even petty theft.
What are the best areas to stay in Seoul for the first time? Myeongdong or Insadong are the best areas to stay in Seoul on your first trip. These places are used to tourists from all over the world, and access to major sites is easy from these neighbourhoods in Seoul.
Which is a better place to stay in Seoul - Hongdae or Myeongdong? Myeongdong is a little more convenient location wise, but Hongdae has a more authentic, local vibe.
Where to stay in Seoul on a budget? The most budget-friendly areas to stay in Seoul, that are still in a good location for travellers and tourists are Hongdae and Myeongdong.
How many days should I stay in Seoul? You need a minimum of 72 hours or 3 days to get a taste of Seoul, see a few major sites, and participate in fun activities. However, you could literally spend months in the city and not see everything! It's huge and constantly changing.

I hope this massive guide on where to stay in Seoul has helped you narrow down your choices. What do you think is the best area to stay in Seoul?

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