Review: Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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I had picked the Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun as my base in the South Korean capital for its convenience in the centre of the city (10 minutes walk to Seoul Station and even closer to a number of subway stations) and because it was reasonably priced compared to my other options. On top of all this I had never visited a Courtyard property outside of the US so I was interested to see how an Asian Courtyard would compare to, for example, the Courtyard Chelsea in New York.

From the outside the Courtyard Seoul could be any one of a number of Courtyard properties I’ve visited in various US cities:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

It’s essentially housed in a tall building in the center of a very busy city.

But when you get inside and start taking a look around, it really doesn’t look like a Courtyard property at all.

The check-in area wouldn’t be out of place in a JW Marriott….

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

….and the coffee bar area to the left of the check-in desks wasn’t really Courtyard-esque either:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

What’s more, because the hotel is built around a central atrium which stretches from the bottom to the top of the building, there’s a nice feeling of space:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

At check-in the experience got more un-Courtyard-like as the desk agent passed be information for the executive lounge on the 22nd floor:

As you can see, the lounge offers all the usual things you’d expect from a lounge at a full-service Marriott but not what I was expecting from a Courtyard property .

I was pretty tired at this point (I may have flown in Business Class but I’d been traveling for nearly 24 hours at this point) so I completely forgot to ask if I had been upgraded – all I really wanted was a nice shower and some sleep!

The Room

My room was on the 19th floor (out of 22) and the view looking down the central atrium was as impressive as it was looking up….

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

and the central atrium keeps all the hallways nice and light:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

My room was at the end of of the hallways and, as I could see from the floorplan on the back of the door, was probably slightly larger than a number of other rooms on this floor:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Here’s the inside of room 1903:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Just inside the door and on the right was a bench for luggage:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Opposite that were the wardrobes…..

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

….complete with a good-sized in-room safe:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

A little further in was the most brightly colored mini-bar I think I’ve ever seen…..

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

…and opposite the mini-bar was the entrance to the bathroom:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

You may have noticed that, in the image above, you can see the bed from the bathroom. This is because there are two windows in the bathroom that look out on to the sleeping area (presumably to give the bathroom some natural light):

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Fortunately the windows come fully equipped with blinds to protect your modesty 🙂

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

The rest of the bathroom looked very nice indeed and, again, looked very unlike any other Courtyard I’ve experienced:

 

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

When was the last time you saw a rain-shower in a Courtyard property?!

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

There were two bottle of water in the bathroom to go with a further two complimentary bottles that were placed on the mini-bar…..

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

…and all of these were replenished on a daily basis.

The main sleeping area opens up just past the bright green mini-bar….

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

…and offers a king-size bed….

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

….a chair to relax in together with a matching stool…..

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

…and a small table with a work chair:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

The work table and chair were probably the only disappointing aspects of the room (they were a bit squashed in) but, on a positive note, there was a good array of power outlets and USB sockets right next to the table:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

The good connectivity continues on both sides of the bed which each have a power outlet and 2 USB ports:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

There are a lot of hotels that could learn from this – that’s how in-room connectivity should be done.

The rest of the room was rounded off with a big-screen TV…..

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

…and a kettle and ice bucket:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

The view from the room looked over the Namdaemun market area……

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

…..and, if I looked to the left, I had a view of the N Seoul Tower:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

The Executive Lounge

The executive lounge is on the 22nd (top) floor of the Courtyard Namdaemun and is open from 06:00 to 24:00 every day.

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

It’s laid out in an “L” shape with the long side of the L overlooking the same part of Seoul as my room.

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Most of the lounge is set up for dining…as this photo of the shorter side of the L-shape shows:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

But there are some sofas at one end…..

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

…and the lounge offers an iMac, a PC and printing facilities too:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Having executive lounge access (thanks to my Marriott Platinum Status) can be a big money-saver thanks to the complimentary breakfast that’s offered and, as this is certainly not what you get at Courtyards in the US, having a lounge here was a huge bonus I wasn’t expecting.

Breakfast is served between 06:30 and 10:00 (civilized hours!) and is pretty impressive:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

The hot food included “vegetable porridge” and dim sum…..

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

…as well as all the usual Western fare (with chicken sausage rather than pork sausage):

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Also available were:

Salad items.

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

A toaster, bagels, bread and pasties:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Fruit and salmon:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

A selection of cheeses and cold cuts:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

And to drink there were tea & coffee making facilities….

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

…and a well stocked fridge with sodas, juices and water:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

You really can’t expect more than that from a free executive lounge breakfast….it really was pretty impressive.

But, while the breakfast was impressive, the biggest surprise I got was when I checked out the lounge one evening.

I was expecting a simple selection of drinks but, instead, there were drinks……

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

AND……more food on offer.

The information for the lounge made no mention of food being available in the evenings and this was way beyond being “nibbles”.

The hot food on offer included roast duck breast, beef fried rice, braised sea cucumber…..

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

…..herb crust cauliflower and vegetable spring rolls:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Once again there were salad items on offer….

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

…cheese…..

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

….and various bread, fruits and desserts:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

The overall lounge food and drink selection was better at the Courtyard Seoul than in any US Marriott property I’ve visited.

Other Facilities

I didn’t try out any of the regular eateries that the property offers but here they are in brief.

The Moments lounge (a bar on the 1st floor):

Courtyard Seoul Dining

Courtyard Seoul Dining

MoMo Cafe (first floor) – this is where lunch and dinner are offered to those not eating in the lounge:

Courtyard Seoul Dining

Courtyard Seoul Dining

Courtyard Seoul Dining

Courtyard Seoul Dining

Courtyard Seoul Dining

lastly….the gym.

The gym is in the basement of the property (level B1) and therefore doesn’t have any natural light….but it is well equipped.

Plenty of cardio equipment.

Courtyard Seoul Gym

Courtyard Seoul Gym

A good weights area.

Courtyard Seoul Gym

Courtyard Seoul Gym

And a good supply of towels and water.

Courtyard Seoul Gym

Nothing spectacular but more than adequate for a city hotel gym.

Other Info

My flight out of Seoul wasn’t scheduled to take off until 01:20 the day after I checked out. The property gave me a 4pm check out as part of my Platinum benefits but that was still way too early to head to the airport.

As I still wanted to get some work done I asked if I could use the executive lounge until time came for me to head to the airport and, very kindly, the reception staff arranged for me to have access.

Ordinarily executive lounge access is sold for KRW45,000 + 10% service fee (approx $45 in total) but the property waived this for me as a thank you for being a Platinum guest (another way hotel status can be useful).

Thoughts

Negatives: (I’m struggling here!)

  • I prefer a gym with natural light
  • The work table and chair in the room weren’t great for getting work done – the glass table makes it hard for an optical mouse to work and it was all a bit squashed in.

Positives:

  • Great location to explore the city – easy walk to major stations and a reasonably easy walk to a number of sights too.
  • Very friendly and helpful staff
  • Great room and comfortable bed
  • Excellent number of power outlets in the room
  • Very comfortable executive lounge with an excellent breakfast and very nice evening food offerings.

This property may belong to the Courtyard brand but it didn’t resemble a standard Courtyard property in any shape or form – it was excellent. Choosing to stay here and not at one of the more expensive Marriott properties in the city was one of the best decisions I’ve made this year. The property was also one of the biggest surprises I’ve had this year – it was great.

This hotel had everything I needed for this trip (and more) and I wouldn’t hesitate booking again….even if I was traveling with Joanna. I’m struggling to think what a more upscale hotel could offer us (that we’d need) that this one didn’t.

I guess the property doesn’t offer a spa….but then who visits a new city and wastes time in a spa? (don’t answer that as I already know the answer!)

If you’re visiting Seoul and need somewhere clean, friendly, convenient and nice to stay then you could do a lot worse than the Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun.

Find out more about the property on the Courtyard’s homepage here.