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South Korea may not be at the top of the list regarding travel destinations, but it should be.
South Korea has much to offer even the most experienced tourists, with a bustling metropolis, great food and a fascinating culture.
For this reason, I spent ten days in the country, including five nights at the Grand Hyatt Seoul. This beautiful property is located near the Itaewon area of Seoul and enjoys easy access to the rest of the city. Let's talk about the experience in this review.
» Learn more: The best hotel credit cards right now
I am a big fan of Hyatt, mostly because I have Globalist elite status with their program. Along with such benefits as free breakfast and late check-out, I've earned Suite Upgrade Awards that allow me to guarantee upgrades to suites when I book.
The total cost for this stay was $1,020 for five nights. This was a Category 4 property at the time of booking, which meant it would have cost me 75,000 Hyatt points.
At NerdWallet, we value Hyatt points at 2.3 cents each, but with this redemption, I would have only netted 1.3 cents per point — making cash a much better option.
Since I was traveling with a friend, I used one of my Suite Upgrade Awards to guarantee an upgrade to a Grand Suite King, which retails for more than triple the cost of my original booking.
» Learn more: The guide to the World of Hyatt award chart
Seoul is a vast city with many distinct neighborhoods. The Grand Hyatt Seoul is perched atop a high-rise near Itaewon and Myeongdong, which are excellent to explore. It's also about a ten-minute walk to the nearest train station, although it includes negotiating a steep slope.
The hotel is a five-star property, which is evident upon entering. High ceilings and gleaming gold details echo throughout, lending an exquisite vibe.
» Learn more: The complete guide to World of Hyatt
As I noted previously, I stayed in the Grand Suite King. It was both roomy and featured a fantastic view.
A revolving wall separated the living and sleeping areas. Honestly, it took me a few days to realize that the wall moved so the TV could be watched from the living room.
The room also featured a walk-in closet.
Perhaps the most odd part of the suite was the bathroom, divided into three distinct areas. In addition to a sink, there was a separate toilet room.
And, strangely enough, an oversized wet room including a second sink, a shower and a soaking tub.
If you're interested in complimentary tea and coffee, they're also available within the room. Be warned, though: It's instant coffee.
Overall, I was pleased to spend my five nights here and particularly enjoyed watching the evening fall over the city from the massive span of windows.
» Learn more: The best credit cards for Hyatt
Food and beverage
Globalist members receive free breakfast at eligible properties, though if there's an executive lounge, it's usually served there rather than in a restaurant.
This was the case for the Grand Hyatt Seoul, where a rotating food selection was served daily.
I appreciated that there were options for both Eastern and Western tastes.
The lounge was massive and reasonably busy, though the crowds died after breakfast.
Snacks and drinks are available all day, and hors d'oeuvres are served at night.
If you're looking for options other than the lounge, the hotel features a lovely cafe for drinks and other food.
It also has a steakhouse. I didn't visit, but I ordered room service and the steak was perfectly cooked. The meal came in less than fifteen minutes and was remarkably fresh.
In the lobby was another restaurant where guests could enjoy afternoon tea and a city view. There was always a line, and I had free food at the lounge, so I skipped it, but it looked nice.
» Learn more: The pros and cons of the World of Hyatt program
As you'd expect, the amenities are top-tier. This includes a sprawling leisure complex complete with a seasonal ice rink.
Club Olympus is where most amenities are located, including the hotel's two pools and the gym.
When I visited in April, the outdoor pool was drained. I assume this was because it was still chilly and they hadn't refurbished it from its time as an ice rink.
The indoor pool area connects directly to the women's changing room, which is convenient.
Within Club Olympus, you receive a wristband granting you access to all the amenities. This included the gym, which was surprisingly busy. I tried my best to get a clear shot, but the judging looks from all the attendees ensured I squirreled my jean-clad body out quickly.
The men's and the women's changing rooms include large lockers where you can place your clothing. They also feature steam rooms, a sauna, showers and a sitting area to do your hair.
» Learn more: Different ways to earn Hyatt points
How to get to the Grand Hyatt Seoul
When flying to Seoul, you have a few different options. I was arriving from New Zealand and had booked a cash ticket to Incheon International Airport.
If you're coming from the continental U.S., you can book flights with major U.S. airlines, including United, Delta and American Airlines. There are also options from Korean Air and Asiana Airlines.
If you're looking to fly business class to Seoul, your best bet is to use ANA miles for United flights. ANA will charge you 95,000 miles roundtrip in business for the flight and you can transfer over American Express Membership Rewards at a 1:1 ratio.
Once you arrive, there are several different ways to get to this hotel, including public transit, but I opted for an airport taxi.
Incheon International Airport is located far outside Seoul, so it will take some time to journey from the airport to the property.
The train took a little over an hour, while my taxi took 50 minutes. It cost me roughly $60 for the ride and I could use my credit card to pay.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
If you're looking to stay at the Grand Hyatt Seoul
I enjoyed my time at the Grand Hyatt Seoul mainly because it's a nice property. It's also relatively inexpensive when paying with cash, though redeeming your points here isn't the best option.
If I revisited Seoul, the Grand Hyatt Seoul would be my first stop — and it should be yours, too.
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