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Where to stay in Seoul [updated 2022]

A comprehensive guide on finding the best accommodation in Seoul for first time visitors who want to make the most out of the holiday. Here's where to stay in Seoul.

Where to stay in Seoul

Need help finding where to stay in Seoul? Seoul is South Korea's capital city and a microcosm of everything Korean and international.

Very small for a capital city and distinctly separated into districts. There's so much to do in the city, but it is a true haven if you like shopping and eating delicious street food.

The main museum and cultural area of Insadong is based in the north where you'll find countless museums, traditional buildings, and teahouses, and its opposite, the glitzy Gangnam full of shopping, international dining, and cocktails, is based in the south.

Everything in Korea is about convenience, and with a significant expat community, is geared towards English speakers more than neighbouring China and Japan.

This article is a complete guide to help you find the best places to stay in Seoul during your South Korea trip.

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Where To Stay In Seoul

Luckily, it's an easy city to get around with an affordable public transport system that ranges from the well-timed subway that stays open late to the easy-to-use bus system, and affordable taxis that you can just flag down. Just pay for them all with your t-money card that you can pick up from any subway station for three dollars.

Transportation is great all around South Korea, which means you can always take a day trip from Seoul to several nearby cities, to see, for example, the gorgeous temples in Busan.

When picking a place to stay in Seoul, consider whether you want to be based north of the river or south of the river. The north is the more authentic half of the city and the south is the richer, glitzier half. It can take over forty minutes to get from one to the other by subway.

We recommend Myeongdong area to stay in Seoul for first time visitors. Plenty of hotels, lots of street food, easy access to other parts of the city. It's a great location for if you are new to Seoul.

The city centre of Seoul is the south of Jung Gu and the west parts of Dongdaemun Gu. The Gyeongbokgung Palance in the north and the Cultural Station Seoul in the south mark the edges of the city cenre.

Where to stay in Seoul

Hongdae - Busy, Party And Shopping Centre

Why Stay In Hongdae

Sort of the new, unofficial centre of Seoul, everything happens in Hongdae from the best shopping to the best bars and local restaurants. Street performers lining the main street and there are seating areas everywhere.

Find everything from chain shops and boutiques to small market stalls selling cutesy phone cases and novelty socks (a big thing in Korea).

All the fun museums are in Hongdae, like the Trick Eye Museum and Love Museum as well as many of the animal cafes like the Meerkat Café and Sheep Café.

K-beauty is a big deal, so prepare for all the county's skincare shops luring you in with free face masks.

Hongdae has the city's biggest nightlife hub outside of Gangnam (which tends to market its nightlife towards an older crowd) so if you like to party and love everything about modern Korean culture, you'll love it here.

There's also plenty of budget to mid-range accommodation in this area, since it's geared to a younger crowd.

Hongdae where to stay in South Korea, a great neighbourhood

Why Avoid Hongdae

You should avoid Hongdae because it's incredibly busy, - there's actually a meme about how busy Hongdae is, and it's true to life. There's no time of the day or night where the crowds die down, and you can feel like a sheep filtering through the narrow streets.

If you're in Korea to drink, this would be a great hub, but if not, it's probably worth basing yourself outside this area and just popping in on the very fast subway.

There's also less high-end hotels and fine dining due to the large student crowd and a little far from the areas south of the river (like Gangnam).

Where To Stay In Hongdae

High-end: Mercure Ambassador

Each accommodation at the 4-star hotel has city views, and guests can enjoy access to a garden and to a terrace. The comfortable rooms feature a 24-hour front desk, room service and currency exchange for guests.
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High-end: L7 Hongdae by LOTTE

L7 Hongdae by LOTTE features various facilities including a restaurant, a fitness centre and a bar. Free WiFi is available. Seasonal rooftop pool is available at an additional cost. All air-conditioned rooms have a kettle, a fridge and a flat-screen TV with satellite channels.
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Mid-range: Amanti Hotel Seoul

Amanti Seoul houses a seasonal outdoor pool and a free-access fitness centre. WiFi is available in public areas. Finished with hardwood flooring, each room at Amanti has a panoramic window, a flat-screen cable TV and an electric kettle. Private bathroom is fitted with both a bath and a shower.
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Myeongdong street in the evening - is one of the best places to stay in Seoul

Myeongdong - Street Food, Restaurants, Shopping

Why Stay In Myeongdong

Myeongdong is very similar to Hongdae, but better, with less nightlife scene and crowds. There are a lot more restaurants here and most of the most famous and international chains (shopping and restaurants) can be found here.

Myeongdong is the best district to stay in Seoul.

There's a much bigger street food scene in Myeongdong with a whole street lined with stalls. You can try everything from fried steak to strawberry mochi, tteokbokki (rice cakes in spicy sauce), to fresh juices and shakes.

You'll also find a high proportion of massage parlours at reasonable prices. There's a big skincare scene here too, with shops selling a wide range of Korean and internation beauty products.

Love K-pop? You will find many K-Pop themed shops here. Check out Music Korea and pick up the latest and best of K-Pop.

Myeongdong has the most hotels in Seoul, so you will have an easy time picking the one you like. The options range from budget accommodations to modern, luxury hotels, and it's in a good location for travelling elsewhere in the city.

Euljiro is the nearest subway station, connecting you to other Seoul neighbourhoods via subway line 2.

Where to stay in Myeongdong

Luxury: Hotel Lotte

Linked to Euljiro 1-ga Subway Station (Line 2) and Lotte Department Store, this luxury hotel provides 10 food and beverage options and rooms with views of the city. Enjoy a variety of cuisines including French, Italian, Chinese and local specialities.
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Mid-range: Hotel Gracery Seoul

Hotel Gracery Seoul offers comfortable rooms with a city view near popular tourist destinations. Guests can use free WiFi at this newly built hotel. Every room includes ironing facilities, a fridge and a flat-screen TV.
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Budget: Hotel Skypark

Hotel Skypark Myeongdong 2 is a branch of Skypark Hotel Group, located close to the Uljiro 1-ga Subway Station (Line 2). It offers private rooms with free WiFi, a lounge boasting views of Myeongdong and a restaurant.
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Gangnam building - Gangnam is one of the best places to stay in Seoul

Gangnam - Glitzy Shopping And Party Hub

Why Stay In Gangnam

This is the richest pocket of Seoul and where locals aspire to live. Made famous by Psy, his song satirizing the local rich people, Gangnam is one of the best places to stay in Seoul. Gangnam makes a great base since everything is here, from budget restaurants to fine dining, and is a shopper's paradise. Most rich people and Korean celebrities stay in Gangnam, close to the Coes Aquarium area, as that's where all the five-star hotels are.

The backstreets are dotted with boutiques and cafes. The main street has all the international and local chains, including flagship skincare stores that offer services like custom skin tests and personalized make-up.

Stay in Gangnam for the great nightlife. The scene includes the famous Club Octagon and plenty of hotel bars with a great view over the Seoul skyline.

Gangnam is on the main subway line 2, so it's easy to get to most places around the city from here.

gangnam in the evening - a great place to stay in Seoul

Why Avoid Gangnam

It's one of the priciest areas of Seoul, so the accommodation options are mid-range to luxury and most of the dining and drinking options are expensive, with no street-food in sight.

You can find some budget restaurants and bars, but overall expect to spend a lot more money in Gangnam.

Where to Stay in Gangnam

Luxury: Novotel Ambassador

Offering an indoor heated pool and golf practice facilities, Novotel Ambassador provides luxurious accommodations in Seoul's Gangnam business district. Close to the Sinnonhyeon Subway Station (Line 9) the hotel has a great, central location.
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Mid-range: Peyto Samseong

Finished with hardwood flooring, each room in Hotel Peyto Samseong is air-conditioned and has a seating area. You will find a flat-screen TV, a safety box and a minibar in the room. The private bathroom comes with a shower, bathrobes and free toiletries.
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Budget: Guesthouse Gold Hill

Ideally located in the Gangnam-Gu district of Seoul, Gold Hill GH House is set 1.7 miles from Bongeunsa Temple. With a shared bathroom, rooms at the guest house also feature free WiFi.
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Itaewon as seen from above - a great place to stay in Seoul

Itaewon - Multi-cultural Food And Bar Central

Why Stay In Itaewon

Itaewon is a multicultural area of Seoul that used to be a military hub. There are many Western restaurants and bars, and excellent Middle-Eastern restaurants and food shops here.

Most expats live in this area and English is often spoken. As you can imagine, the places here are geared towards the expats. Itaewon is the place to stay in Korea if you are after culture and art.

There are some lovely cafes, art galleries, a big nightlife scene. As a bonus, you're very close to Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower) and museums like Seodaemun Prison, so there's plenty to do.

The hotels in Itaewon range from cheap hotels to luxury accommodations. The metro stations are well-connected to other parts of the city. Travel time to the south side of Seoul is about 30 minutes on line 2 from the Itaewon Metro Station.

Itaewon with its street food and restaurants in the evening - a great place to stay in Seoul

Why Avoid Itaewon

If you're looking for any kind of authentic Korean lifestyle, you won't find it here, it is dubbed "Little America" for a reason. That being said, it does provide some excellent home comforts for people who are there a bit longer or would like some familiarity.

The nightlife scene is a bit rowdy, geared towards people who like tp party. Itaewon has more of a pub scene than a cocktail bar scene, and it can get very loud at night, so maybe pick somewhere off the main street if you're staying in this area.

Where To Stay In Itaewon

Luxury: Hotel Hamilton Hotel

Just in front of Itaewon Subway Station (Line 6), Hamilton Hotel is one of the best luxury hotels offering modern rooms with free internet in Seoul's Itaewon District. It has a seasonal rooftop pool and a large sauna.
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Mid-range: Hotel Imperial Palace

Offering style and comfort rooms, the Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel is in a convenient location in the popular Itaewon District, just 3 minutes' walk from Itaewon Station.
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Hostel: G Guesthouse Itaewon

G Guesthouse Itaewon is only a 1-minute walk from Itaewon Subway Station (Line 6) and a 15-minute drive from Seoul Station. The property features a roof garden where guests can enjoy a barbecue and views of N Seoul Tower. The property provides complimentary breakfast as well as free WiFi.
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Jamsil in Seoul - a quiet place to stay in Seoul

Jamsil - Quiet Area, Lotte World Tower

Why Stay In Jamsil

If you love shopping, Jasmil is the best area to stay in Seoul because you're right next to the biggest mall in Korea - Lotte World Tower. Inside, you'll find a large cinema showing all the international films in English with Korean subtitles.

There's also a whole floor dedicated to skincare with facials, massages, and dermatologists and the Sky Tower offers a magnificent view over the city.

There's a huge range of restaurants and cafes, both local and international cuisine, and all the shopping you could need.

It's a quiet area with wide open spaces geared towards families, and the accommodation tends to be mid-range to luxury hotels with spacious rooms.

You're also in a perfect location to explore the north and south of the city, as you're very central.

Why Avoid Jamsil

Jamsil is all about the mall, and there isn't much else going on. If you just want a quiet hub with one of the world's biggest malls next to you, then it's ideal. Otherwise, if you want your area to have a bit more going on, then you may want to consider somewhere else. The accommodation around here tends to be expensive due to the ideal location and nearby facilities.

Where to stay in Jamsil

Luxury: Hotel Signiel

Located between floors 76 and 101 of Lotte World Tower, Signiel Seoul boasts panoramic views of Seoul in all 235 rooms. This five-star hotel features a champagne bar, Michelin-starred fine dining a restaurant, indoor swimming pool and banquet facilities.
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Mid-range: Hotel Lake Tourist

Conveniently located a 10-minute walk from Jamshil Subway Station on Line 2, Lake Tourist hotel offers cosy accommodation. Guests here can relax in the sauna or savour a massage treatment at a surcharge. Airport shuttles are available upon request.
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Budget: Hotel Pharos

Hotel Pharos houses an on-site restaurant and offers free WiFi in all areas. Each guestroom at Pharos Hotel is furnished with a flat-screen TV, seating area and working space. Jamsilsaenae Subway Station (Line 2) is just next door.
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Insadong where tourists and locals dress traditionally - lovely and cultural place to stay in Seoul

Insadong - Culture And Museum Centre

Why Stay In Insadong

There's not a lot of old Korea culture left to see in the hyper-modern Seoul. If that's what you're looking for, then this is your area. Insadong is a smaller neighbourhood, part of Jongno-Gu district, and is inside the Seoul city center area.

You'll find the gorgeous, traditional Korean houses in the Hanok Villages and plenty of hanbok (traditional Korean wear) rental shops to take pictures in the village.

Look for Bukchon Hanok Village, Ikseondong Hanok Village and Seochon Hanok Village all within 10 mins subway ride from each other. The main metro station is Jonggak, connecting line 1 and 3.

There are tea houses, museums, handmade goods stores, and beautiful cafes. The food is generally more traditional, so you'll be able to try the classic dishes here like bibimbap and kimchi jjigae.

There's a wide range of accommodation, and prices for food and drink are typically mid-range.

There's an excellent market full of boutique shops and souvenir shops. This is where you can buy all of your souvenirs and try temple food.

Night in Insadong in Seoul - a great and safe place to stay in Seoul

Why Avoid Insadong

If you'd like to be based in the glitzier parts of Seoul, then this is very far removed from that. It's a quiet area with little to no nightlife but is very busy with tourists and mostly geared towards tourism.

There isn't a huge range of accommodation in this area, so it's worth booking early. It's also a long journey south, so it's not ideal if you're hoping to spend a lot of time south of the river, but ideally located if you're spending most of your time north of the river.

Where to stay in Insadong

High-end: Aparthotel Orakai

Centrally located in Orakai, Insadong Suites offers luxurious self-catering apartments with a well-equipped kitchenette. Facilities include an indoor swimming pool, fitness centre and sauna. Apartments are spacious with comfortable rooms.
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Mid-range: Hotel Sunbee

Featuring spacious rooms with neutral colours and free WiFi access, Sunbee Hotel is located just a 5-minute walk from Jonggak Subway Station (Line 1). Air-conditioned rooms are fitted with a refrigerator, an electric kettle and an en suite bathroom.
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Budget: Hotel Grid Inn Hotel

Grid Inn Hotel is located in Seoul, a short walk away from Jongmyo Shrine. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. Free WiFi is available throughout the entire property. Every room at this hotel is air conditioned and soundproofed.
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Jongno Gu district in Seoul - a lovely place to stay in the South Korean capital

Jongno Gu - Authentic Korea, Culture, And Museums

Why Stay In Jongno Gu

North of Insadong, further away from Seoul city center, these are the "hipp" backstreets geared less towards tourism.

There are plenty of cafes and tea houses to explore, most of which are in hanok style buildings, without all the people dressed in hanboks blocking your view.

Jongno Gu is the temple and palace district. If you'd like to see most of Seoul's beautiful historical buildings and statues and spend time visiting the museums, then this is the area where most of the history still stands.

Exiting nearby Gwanghwamun station on to Gwanghwamun Square with Gyeongbokgung palace and the famous statue of King Sejong is an unforgettable view.

Lastly, Ihwa Mural Village is just around the corner from Naksan Park. If you are into street art, don't miss this part of Seoul.

There are some more modern buildings and some chain restaurants and cafes as well as plenty of local food.

Jongno Gu - traditional buildings in Seoul

Why Avoid Jongno Gu

There isn't a huge range of accommodation here, so it's best to book early. There isn't really a nightlife scene in the area either, and most things close early.

You are just outside of Seoul's city center, but it's still a great location. On the other hand, you're quite far north in, so getting south of the river via subway will take well over an hour.

Where to stay in Jongno Gu

Luxury: Apartments Somerset Palace

Located in the centre of Seoul, Gangbuk district, Somerset Palace Seoul offers serviced apartments with kitchen facilities, a rooftop swimming pool, 24-hour convenience store, lounge and free parking.
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Mid-range: Hotel IBC

IBC Hotel Dongdaemun is in a great location, perfect for exploring Seoul. Within a 5-minute walk from Dongmyo metro station (Line 1 and 6) and Sinseoldong (Line 1 and 2) subway stations.
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Budget: Hotel Centermark

Offering comfortable rooms, Centermark Hote, ideally located within a 10-minute walk to Insadong and Myeongdong, and the historical Changdeokgung Palace, with its classical gardens and architecture.
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Lovely sunset in Yongsan Gu in Seoul - a great place to stay

Yongsan Gu - Great Transport Links And I'Park Mall

Why Stay In Yongsan Gu

Much like the Jamsil area of the west, Yongsan is more of a residential area. People travel here for the giant I'Park mall, which currently has the biggest IMAX screen in the world and plenty of international stores and restaurants. It doesn't offer the range of Lotte World Tower, however.

Don't miss Video Game Alley, the underground video games market near the mall. It's a great place to look around, browse games and electronics.

Yongsan Gu has some of the best cheap hotels in Seoul like Casa Cielo (address: 18, Cheongpa-ro 63-gil, Yongsan-gu, 04308, Seoul). Rooms in Casa Cielo start at £30 ($35) per night and the hotel has a superb rating.

Yongsan Gu is safe for tourists event at night. South Korea is generally very safe and Seoul is one of the safest cities on the planet with very low crime rate.

Yongsan Gu has a very central location, you are next door to Itaewon (within walking distance) and have good transport links to Hongdae or Gangnam, so it's great if you're looking for a quiet hub.

The main Yongsan Train Station is very close, so if you're hoping to explore more of South Korea, then this is a great hub. Trains leave to Busan regularly.

Why Avoid Yongsan Gu

Yongsan is best avoided if you want to be in the heart of everything. Yongsan caters more towards the budget end of accommodations in Seoul.

Where to stay in Yongsan Gu

Luxury: Hotel Novotel Suites Ambassador

Novotel Suites Ambassador Seoul Yongsan is located on levels 27 to 40 of Seoul Dragon City complex with sweeping city views. It houses a lounge, fitness centre, indoor pool and sauna facilities.
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Mid-range: Hotel ibis Styles Ambassador

Located in the central wing of Seoul Dragon City complex. Free sauna is available. Sky Kingdom, Seoul Dragon City complex's entertainment facilities, is open at night and boasts brunch café and four lounge bars.
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Budget: Hotel Four Points by Sheraton Josun

Hotel Four Points by Sheraton Josun is directly connected to Seoul Station via an underground passage. Great location, one subway stop away from Deoksugung Palace.
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Mapo Gu in Seoul with properties and charming streets - a great budget place to stay in Seoul

Mapo Gu - Quiet, Budget Area

Why Stay In Mapo Gu

Similar to Yongsan but even more residential is Mapo Gu. Yongsan is cheaper and ideal for travelling to other Seoul neighbourhoods, since it's centrally located, along the Han river and well served with public transport.

The Hongik University Campus is right here, just a short walk away from the Hongik University subway station.

Mullae Arts Village, across the Han river, can be reached using the subway (line 2) within 30-40 mins. This is a small neighbourhood with street art and art galleries.

Pick this area if you want to take day trips from Seoul to other cities or regions in South Korea.

Why Avoid Mapo Gu

Again, if you like to be in the heart of the action or want things to do after dark, then this won't be ideal for you. Mapo Gu is not very close to tourist attractions.

Taxis are very cheap in Seoul, so getting a taxi back from one of the larger areas of Gangnam or Itaewon would be affordable.

Where to stay in Mapo Gu

Luxury: Hotel RYSE, Autograph Collection

RYSE, Autograph Collection is located in the bustling Hongdae district. Daily breakfast is served at Long Chim, and Thai cuisine is served for lunch and dinner.
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Mid-range: Holiday Inn Express

The hotel has several amenities including a fitness centre and free WiFi. The in-house restaurant serves American cuisine. Every room has with a kettle.
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Budget: Hotel LOTTE City

Lotte City Hotel Mapo is conveniently located above five levels of shops and clinics and offers a free-access indoor pool, a fitness centre and a car park.
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Where to stay in Seoul [updated 2022] by Gergely Varga

Gergely Varga - Also known as 'G', Gergely is a web developer and software engineer who lovingly created the code behind You Could Travel. G occasionally writes data-rich articles for the blog, takes pictures and videos.

What do you think?

Did you like this article? Do you have any questions or suggestions? Leave a comment below.

Your Comment

28 Jun 2022

Hi G,
Great article! Thanks for sharing.
Question: Is Myeongdong back to being "alive" now after all the lockdowns? I heard a lot of shops have closed down and is now a pretty quiet area, thoughts? Curious as we are heading to Seoul in a few months.

29 Jun 2022

Hi Maria, thank you for your message. It's going to take a bit more time for everything to come back to normal. It's worth a visit, because local businesses do need the love right now. But eventually everything is going to get back to being "alive" and fun :)

Seoul Business
21 Mar 2022

Good article! I agree! Thanks for the information.Keep it up