In the center of Seoul, the natural haven of Mt. Namsan and its namesake tower rising over Korea’s capital is the focal point of the city. Nestled amid the trees yet overlooking the sprawling urban landscape is the exclusive Banyan Tree Club & Spa. The resort, which covers 70,000 square meters, offers a relaxing respite from Seoul’s frenzied pace. The Banyan Tree is housed in what was once the Tower Hotel building, crafted in 1967 by Kim Swoo Geun—the same architect who designed the Olympic stadium in Seoul—as his commemoration of the Korean War. The Banyan Tree brand’s in-house design firm Architrave has since remodeled the hotel using inspiration from the five oriental elements of water, fire, metal, wood, and earth. The results are a luxury hotel that is equal parts tranquil, modern, and sophisticated—an alluring combination that draws a plethora of Korean celebrities to luxuriate in the exclusive surroundings.
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Mt. Namsan truly is the heart of the city, and the various neighborhoods of Seoul fan out around its verdant heights. On the mountain itself is N Seoul Tower. The 777-foot structure provides stunning views of the city, and on a clear day, even a peek into North Korea. At the top of the tower, enjoy dinner at the N Grill, with its Michelin-starred chef who serves up a taste of France. Explore Namsan Park, with its many nature trails, by foot, or for an aerial view take the cable car to the top. Taxis, buses, and subway lines are always close by to whisk you to other areas of Seoul.
Need to Know
Rooms: 34 rooms, 18 suites. From $620. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The granite walls and mood lighting at Granum Dining Lounge feel like you’ve stepped into an ultra-sophisticated cave—one with a variety of Asian-inspired dishes. If it’s entertainment you crave while you sip and dine, check out the Festa Bistro & Bar, offering a menu with a European touch and an extensive whiskey selection. The Club Member’s Restaurant offers a menu of Korean specialties, and for the best view while you nosh, check out the outdoor Oasis Restaurant overlooking the hotel’s spectacular pool. Spa and gym details: The Banyan Tree has spared no expense on the recreational areas available to guests. The rainforest-inspired spa has 11 luxurious treatment rooms featuring spa therapists trained at the brand’s Banyan Tree Spa Academy in Phuket, Thailand. For exercise, work out at the rooftop fitness center, take a water aerobics class at the indoor pool, or shoot some hoops at the basketball court.
Who’s it for: Leisure travelers who crave luxurious amenities at their fingertips. The Banyan Tree Club & Spa is Seoul’s most exclusive hotel. Our favorite rooms: The hotel has only 34 rooms and suites in total, and there’s not a bad view in the house. Additionally, every room has its very own pool—a fun place to soak as you gaze over the city below. For the ultimate indulgence, the two-story Presidential Suite affords 360-degree views of Mt. Namsan and the city. Winter highlight: Don’t overlook a visit to Banyan Tree Club & Spa in the colder months, when the pool area transforms into a winter wonderland of sorts, with an ice rink and sledding areas.