T+L Reports: Cool in Korea
In Seoul, a city notorious for its indecipherable urban layout, there's a certain comfort that comes from checking in to a hotel with a familiar feel. The pod chairs, the whatever/whenever concierges, the living-room-style lobby—such W Hotel signatures are a welcome relief from the frenetic pace of this neon-lit Tokyo-on-a-budget metropolis. Set in the Walker Hill development—home to Seoul's only casino—Asia's first W is a slightly surreal pileup of high-tech Zen and Las Vegas theatrics. The 253 rooms, for instance, come in four varieties: Scent (outfitted for aromatherapy), Media (with an interactive art display), Spa (tubs looking out at the river), and Wonderful (standard rooms with water or mountain views). The hotel's WooBar has all the trappings of a jet-set hangout, with DJ's and multimedia installations, while the vast Away Spa—50,000 square feet, 21 treatment rooms—will have the city's traditional bathhouses scrambling for a Reiki expert. (21 Gwangjang-Dong, Gwangjin-Gu, Seoul; 877/946-8357 or 82-2/465-2222; www.whotels.com)
W Seoul Walkerhill
The hippest hotel in town (as all W’s aim to be) occupies an angular, 14-story glass building overlooking the Han River, 30 minutes east of downtown Seoul. The 252 guest rooms are categorized with hypey, not-very-useful names (Wow, Wonderful, Fabulous, and Cool are a few of the designations)—each with individual features like molded, egg-shaped chairs; round platform beds; freestanding cylindrical tubs; and walk-in glass showers with rainforest showerheads and heated towel racks. The minimalist-chic WooBar, where mixologists sling creative cocktails till dawn, is one of the city’s premier hot spots; those who’ve overindulged can head straight to the Away Spa for an herbal detox wrap or a yin-yang balancing facial.