Are you getting ready to visit the heart of South Korea? I’m your gal when it comes to planning where to stay in Seoul because I visited a couple of times and fell head over heels in love with the city!
In short, the best place to stay in Seoul for first time visitors is Hongdae, an eclectic neighborhood full of fabulous restaurants, shops, and activities!
Read this post because you will get my hand-picked recommendations for the best hotels in each area of the city (I recommend 6 areas that are the most convenient for tourists).
I made sure to include only the top-ranked hotels even if they are in a lower price range.
This way everyone can book their ideal accommodation in just a couple of minutes, let’s go!
If you are in a hurry…
If you don’t have time to read all the information and just want to grab your bags and leave, let me give you the top hotels in Seoul:
- Best luxury hotel: RYSE, Autograph Collection Marriott
- Best Mid-range hotel: 9 Brick Hotel
- Best budget hotel: Hongdae Cheese Guesthouse
- If you are in a hurry…
- 1. Hongdae – where to stay in Seoul for the first time
- 2. Myeongdong – where to stay in Seoul for shopping
- 3. Gangnam – best area to stay in Seoul for luxury
- 4. Itaewon – where to stay in Seoul for foodies
- 5. Insadong – where to stay in Seoul for culture
- 6. Seocho – where to stay in Seoul on a budget
- Best apartments in Seoul
- BONUS 1: best family hotels in Seoul
- BONUS 2: best hotels near Seoul Airport
- FAQs about best areas to stay in Seoul
Watch my video, it will give you a visual explanation of all the areas:
Here is a map of the 6 best neighborhoods in Seoul to give you a better overview of the city:
Here’s a rundown of all the best neighborhoods to stay so you can choose your favorite:
- Where to stay in Seoul for the first time – Hongdae
- Best neighborhood for shopping – Myeongdong
- Where to stay for luxury – Gangnam
- Best area for foodies – Itaewon
- Where to stay in Seoul for a traditional vibe – Insadong
- Best for budget travelers – Seocho
1. Hongdae – where to stay in Seoul for the first time
Hongdae is your best choice if you’re coming to Seoul’s city center as a foreigner.
The neighborhood is home to 4 universities, art studios, eclectic shops, small clubs, bars, and much more! The artistic and creative vibe is found in every corner through the indie music culture and urban arts.
It’s also great for shopping, with the Hongdae Free Market (open from March to November on Saturdays) for handmade crafts and the bustling streets around Hongik University offering a range of fashion boutiques.
Food-wise, the area is filled with affordable eateries and street food stalls, perfect for trying Korean snacks and dishes.
Hongdae is well-connected by public transport, making it easy to explore other parts of Seoul.
Luxury (US$160 and up)
- RYSE, Autograph Collection Marriott – a 4-star luxury hotel with a fitness center, library, and 2 restaurants on-site! The rooms here have a private bathroom with a walk-in rain shower for ultimate relaxation. The nearest subway station is within walking distance.
- Hotel L7 Hongdae by LOTTE – a luxury stay near Hongik University with a seasonal rooftop pool at extra cost. A fitness center, a bar, and 2 restaurants are available on the premises.
Mid-range (from US$80 to US$160)
- 9 Brick Hotel – a 3-star hotel with a warm, elegant, and cozy décor just a short walk from Hongik University and close to everything in Hongdae.
- Mercure Ambassador – A centrally-located hotel with modern aesthetics and wooden flooring 6 km from the Seoul Tower. Some rooms have hot tubs, so make sure to book in advance for the best ones!
Budget (up to US$80)
- Hongdae Cheese Guesthouse – Choose between a dormitory (female-only) or single rooms at an incredible price! A kitchen, a terrace, and a washing machine are available at the property.
- Batwo Stay – a foreigner-only guesthouse with cozy and comfortable rooms and great lighting, air-conditioning, a fridge, and an electric teapot. Buffet, continental, and American breakfast options are available daily.
2. Myeongdong – where to stay in Seoul for shopping
If you like shopping in large department stores, Myeongdong is your neighborhood! This is the main shopping stop for locals and tourists.
Myeongdong is especially known for its skincare and cosmetics stores, with brands like Innisfree, Etude House, and Nature Republic. I might or might not have bought like a hundred of face masks there myself! 🙂
It’s also a great place for street food, offering a variety of Korean snacks like Tteok-bokki and gimbap.
The area is bustling both day and night, and it’s conveniently located near major attractions like Namsan Tower and the historic Gyeongbokgung Palace.
This is a safe area overall, and it’s not as loud at night as Hongdae, so it’s excellent for families.
Luxury (US$150 and up)
- The Westin Chosun Hotel Seoul – one of the best Seoul boutique hotels with all the royalty-like amenities like an indoor pool, spa, or sauna room.
- Royal Hotel Seoul – a warm, luxurious decor with 19 suites with a city view, air-conditioning, and AI speakers to control the TV and lighting!
Mid-range (from US$70 to 150)
- Metro Hotel – the Metro Hotel offers a fitness center and rooms for the whole family! A great location near Seoul Station, perfect for exploring Seoul and beyond.
- Crown Park Hotel Seoul – a fabulous 3-star hotel in the center of all the action for an active stay in Seoul. The hotel features free Wi-Fi across the property and serves a great breakfast daily.
Budget (up to US$70)
- Daeyoung Hotel Myeongdong – a top-budget option if you’re wondering where to stay in Seoul near the Namdaemun Market. Ideal for couples and it features a garden and free Wi-Fi.
- Oriens Hotel & Residences Myeongdong – Oriens Hotel features a fitness center and rooms with private bathrooms within walking distance from the shops and malls!
3. Gangnam – best area to stay in Seoul for luxury
Did you know that the song “Gangnam Style” by PSY is about the fancy and fashionable lifestyle in Seoul’s Gangnam District?
Gangnam is a business- and luxury-oriented part of Seoul where it’s almost impossible to be overdressed!
While we were all happily dancing to it years ago, most of us didn’t know that the song is a parody of the wealth of the ultra-rich Gangnam district of Seoul!
Well, now you can stay here and see what it is all about! Think: Gucci stores, aesthetic surgery clinics, business centers (Google, IBM), and TONS of malls, including the COEX Mall!
Since there’s so much money around Gangnam, this is also a safe area to stay in Seoul.
Please note that Gangnam is a bit far from the airport (almost 2 hours by public transportation or about an hour by car) so account for this as well!
Luxury (US$200 and up)
- Park Hyatt Seoul – Park Hyatt is a 5-star hotel featuring rooms and suites with fabulous city views, bathtubs, and an on-site swimming pool! Plus, you can choose from 3 upscale restaurants on-site!
- Andaz Seoul – among the best luxurious accommodations with world-class service including an indoor pool, a hot tub, and a spa wellness center. Modern décor rooms have city views, and the nearest subway station is just steps away.
Mid-range (from US$110 to US$200)
- L7 Gangnam – feel like a star in one of the best hotels in Seoul, Korea, featuring a business center, a gym, and a restaurant!
- Aloft Seoul Gangnam – boutique hotel in Seoul at an excellent price! All rooms here have a flat-screen TV and a fridge.
Budget (up to US$110)
- Dormy Inn Seoul – a 3-star hotel with modern rooms, free Wi-Fi, and wooden furnishing. Private bathrooms are available for some rooms.
- Glad Gangnam – an excellent budget hotel with exceptional amenities like a fitness center, a restaurant, and rooms with air-conditioning.
4. Itaewon – where to stay in Seoul for foodies
This is one of the most popular areas for residents among locals, solo travelers, expats, and U.S. military personnel.
Itaewon-dong has outstanding international cuisine! Explore dishes from India, Pakistan, Turkey, Germany, Portugal, Mexico, South Africa, Russia, and more! Because of its variety, some people call Itaewon the “Western Town.”
Itaewon was probably my favorite neighborhood thanks to its incredible vibe!
You can experience the area’s vibrant nightlife by visiting the spots behind the Hamilton hotel just across the Itaewon station.
The area is also famous for its shopping, offering everything from custom-tailored suits to vintage clothing
When the N Seoul Tower lights up in blue, it indicates that the air quality in the city is good.
If you head north of Itaewon, you will find a lot of huge green parks around, including Namsan Park with the famous N Seoul Tower featuring a revolving restaurant at the top.
NOTE: Itaewon, however, doesn’t have the best transportation links. I wouldn’t recommend staying here if you’re coming to Seoul for the first time. However, staying here is a great idea if you’ve already visited the city!
Luxury (US$160 and up)
- Banyan Tree Club & Spa – one of the best luxury hotels in town with modern design, incredible amenities, a central location near the subway station, and an on-site bar for a perfect stay.
- Mondrian Seoul – a 5-star hotel with a seasonal outdoor pool on the rooftop, spa and wellness center, and continental + American breakfast. The hotel is located near the Namsan Tower.
Mid-range (from US$60 to US$160)
- G Guesthouse – graffiti-like decor and a roof garden make for a cozy and urban stay in the G Guesthouse. Single and dormitory rooms are available.
- Seoul Cube Itaewon – dormitory and private rooms available with shared amenities like a terrace, kitchen, and luggage storage space just across the Itaewon station.
Budget (up to US$60)
- H Hostel Itaewon – an affordable stay for singles, couples, and families with non-smoking rooms, continental breakfast, and a terrace just across the Itaewon metro station.
- Itaewon Yellow Guesthouse – clean rooms near N Seoul Tower with housekeeping, laundry services, and air conditioning.
5. Insadong – where to stay in Seoul for culture
Insadong is an ideal area to experience an authentic Korean vibe and find local souvenirs to bring home from your trip!
Just head over to the main street to see the variety of traditional Korean clothing, paper, pottery, souvenir shops, and crafts.
The neighborhood’s main tourist attractions include traditional tea houses, local restaurants, and some of the best galleries (100+!) of traditional Korean fine art.
You can see many traditional buildings here that were built for government officials but are now used by merchants as restaurants or shops.
About 40% of the nation’s antique souvenir shops and art galleries are in this neighborhood!
Insadong is also known because it is close to some of the city’s most popular attractions, like Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukchon Hanok Village, and Changdeokgung Palace!
NOTE: Everything in this area closes early, and there’s almost no nightlife.
Luxury (US$150 and up)
- Nine Tree Premier – chic and cozy 4-star hotel with modern décor and furniture and fabulous city views from most rooms. Free breakfast is included with most booking options.
- Orakai Insadong – central location, luxurious self-catering apartments, and facilities like an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, and sauna are all available at Orakai Insadong.
Mid-range (from US$80 to US$150)
- Amid Hotel Seoul – each room in this hotel is super clean and has a great view, also featuring air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV, a fridge, and a bathroom with a bathtub.
- Moxy Seoul – great value adult-only hotel with a view, gym, free Wi-Fi, and non-smoking rooms. The hotel has modern and clean rooms.
Budget (up to US$80)
- Grid Inn Hotel – Grid Inn Hotel is a small but modern accommodation with an on-site restaurant and free Wi-Fi throughout the property.
- Yehadoye Guesthouse – affordable, clean, and air-conditioned rooms neatly located between 3 palaces.
6. Seocho – where to stay in Seoul on a budget
This district, located directly south of the Han River, is part of the Greater Gangnam Area and is home to the National Library of Korea, Seoul Art Center, Heonin Tomb, and Citizen Park!
The area has many fancy business zones and a variety of European-style restaurants, desserts, cafes, and amazing wineries on the main street.
Seoul is home to the longest fountain bridge in the world! It’s called Banpo Bridge, and it connects Seocho and Yongsan districts over the Han River. Visit the bridge at night for spectacular views!
Seocho district is a bit further from the Seoul city center and is situated close to the famous Lotte World Theme Park and Lotte World Tower. This is the perfect place to take the family for a fun day out!
To sum up, Seocho is a calm, less touristy area with local markets and restaurants, good for seeing daily life in Seoul.
Luxury (US$150 and up)
- JW Marriott Hotel Seoul – among the best luxury hotels with 7 on-site restaurants, an indoor pool, a basketball court, a scuba diving pool, indoor golf facilities, and much more!
- Hilton Garden Inn – this Hilton Garden Inn hotel has soundproofed rooms with impressive floor-to-ceiling windows to enjoy the city views. The hotel has a central location and features an outdoor pool.
Mid-range (from US$70 to US$150)
- Hotel Peyto Gangnam – Canada’s Lake Peyto-inspired hotel décor, where the rooms and areas have vivid colors with plenty of natural light. Located near children’s park, making it a great stop for families.
- Dormy Inn – a nice accommodation with an on-site restaurant, as well as a spa and wellness center to relax after a day exploring the city. Each room has a work desk, a fridge, a flat-screen TV, and a bathroom with a bath and shower!
Budget (up to US$70)
- Upflo Hostel – hostel with private rooms, shared bathrooms, a ping pong table, a shared kitchen, and a terrace. Perfect for making friends!
- Toyoko Inn Seoul Gangnam – non-smoking units with a fridge, a small desk, a flat-screen cable TV, and a private bathroom. Reviewers talk about how comfy the beds are!
Best apartments in Seoul
If you’re looking for spacious accommodation where you can easily fit more luggage or plan a longer stay, aesthetic Korean apartments may be your best option.
These are my recommendations for the best apartments in Seoul that I promise you’ll love, for every budget!
Luxury (US$160 and up)
- 2-Bedroom Deluxe Suite – A luxurious and comfortable apartment with spacious rooms that can fit up to 4 people and are suitable for an extended stay. Located close to a metro station.
- Orakai Insadong Suites – perfect for families of 3, this huge apartment is located in Insadong. Just 10 mins from Jogyesa Temple, there’s even a shared indoor pool and sauna!
Mid-range (from US$60 to US$160)
- White Linen House – this studio is GORGEOUS, super modern, and right in the heart of Gangnam! It’s situated on a quiet street and you’ll even get free slippers!
- Namsan Residence – with a great location near a subway station, Namsan Residence can host up to 3 travelers. It has 1 bedroom and 2 beds.
Budget (up to US$60)
- Apartment Near Hongdae – a great option for a family of 4, this apartment is in a mezzanine-style and it’s less than 5 mins on foot from the nearest subway station, which makes it super convenient.
- Semi-Basement Unit – a great and colorful option that is a perfect fit for up to 2 people. It has free Wi-Fi and private on-site parking, with a metro station and street food corners being just steps away.
|👑 Luxury price:
|📍 Best neighborhood:
|🛎️ Best luxury hotel:
|🧳 Mid-range hotel:
|9 Brick Hotel
|👛 Best budget hotel:
BONUS 1: best family hotels in Seoul
Where to stay in Seoul with a family? The capital of South Korea is quite a colorful city with plenty of family-friendly attractions in different neighborhoods.
Luxury (US$220 and up)
- Four Seasons Hotel Seoul – the Four Seasons in Seoul has all the amenities you could ask for in a child-friendly hotel, including cots and extra beds upon request. There are also traditional Korean saunas!
- The Shilla Seoul – a 5-star accommodation with 6 restaurants, a full-service spa, an indoor golf range, yoga classes, and a path through a sculptured garden. Sounds super peaceful!
Mid-range (from US$100 to US$220)
- ENA Suite Hotel Namdaemun – all the hotel suites have air-conditioning, a flat-screen satellite TV, a fridge, an electric teapot, a closet, and free cots upon request. There’s also a fully-equipped fitness center AND a currency exchange service!
- G2 Hotel Myeongdong – situated in the popular area of Myeongdong, the hotel offers air-conditioned and soundproof rooms and an on-site restaurant. Children of all ages are welcome. There’s also a rooftop bar for the adults!
Budget (up to US$100)
- Daol Guesthouse – family rooms with a double bed and a bunk bed. Also featuring a fridge and an electric kettle. Centrally located with a 3-minute walk from Hongik University Subway Station.
- Stitches House – accommodation for families on a budget with a heating system, air-conditioning, and a minibar. Perfect location near a subway station.
BONUS 2: best hotels near Seoul Airport
For all travelers who will be in Seoul for a short stay or just like to stay close to Seoul Incheon Airport, I suggest booking a hotel near the airport!
Here are my suggestions for hotels close to the airport area (one per each type of budget):
- Luxury: Paradise City – This luxury hotel near the airport is INSANE! It has comfortable rooms, 2 swimming pools, a fitness center, a sauna, and an excellent breakfast. They also offer a free shuttle bus to the airport.
- Mid-range: ibis Terminal 2 Hotel – an excellent option that includes complimentary in-room Wi-Fi and a free shuttle to terminals 1 and 2. You can stay here on a long layover and be super comfortable!
- Budget: Mr. Kim Guesthouse – a budget accommodation with small rooms that feature all the essential amenities like air-conditioning, a seating area, and a flat-screen TV.
FAQs about best areas to stay in Seoul
📍 Where is the best place to stay in Seoul for first-time visitors?
The best part of Seoul for first-timers is Hongdae, where you will find everything from exciting art galleries to fun bars and restaurants that serve delicious dishes.
⏱️ Where should I stay in Seoul for a month?
If you plan to extend your South Korean trip, I recommend staying in Itaewon. Here, you will find many things to do and stay near public transportation to easily move around the city! This is also a favorite area among expats!
💰 Which is the best area to stay in Seoul on a budget?
📅 How many days are enough in Seoul?
3 days are enough to visit the highlights of this beautiful city in South Korea, from central Seoul to all the small villages and palaces like Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village! A visit to the Lotte World, however, calls for an extra day.
🏨 Where is the best place to stay in Seoul for a week?
🚆 Where is the best place to stay in Seoul near the train station?
🗺️ Is it better to stay in Hongdae or Myeongdong?
Both areas are excellent for first-timers looking for where to stay in Seoul! Hongdae is a better choice for nightlife, and it’s closer to the airport. Myeongdong is better for shopping and has an excellent subway station connection to other parts of Seoul.
🏠 Is it better to stay in a hotel or Airbnb in Seoul?
Hotels are better for convenience (24/4 front desk for assistance, tips, questions, etc.), while Airbnbs can offer greater comfort and independence. I recommend staying in a hotel on your first trip to simplify your trip.
😎 What is the trendiest area in Seoul?
🧍 Where is the best place to stay in Seoul for solo travelers?
The most convenient place to stay for a solo traveler in Seoul is Hongdae! It’s the most international part of the town where you’re most likely to meet new people. Hongdae Style Guesthouse is an excellent accommodation for solo travelers!
That was my list of the top 6 neighborhoods and places to help you decide where to stay in Seoul! I also suggested great hotels for families and even some convenient airport accommodations if needed!
I hope this extensive list of Seoul neighborhoods and hotels will help you choose the place in the city that suits your travel style and preferences!
Whether you’re into vibrant nightlife, traditional tea houses, or exploring the main shopping streets, I made sure to include enough options to satisfy all types of travelers!
If you are still hesitant about where to stay in Seoul, let me give you my favorite hotel options:
- Park Hyatt Seoul – one of the best luxury hotels close to all things cool in Gangnam
- 9 Brick Hotel – an excellent boutique hotel that won’t break the bank featuring rooms with exceptional city view
Remember to book your stay in Seoul in advance, as many travelers are looking at the same accommodation options as you!
If you have any questions, please share them in the comments section below! I am always curious to hear from my readers!
Have fun exploring Seoul,
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