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:

a city street with cars and buildings at nightCourtyard 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….

a reception desk in a hotelCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

a large room with a large black door and a large black wallCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

a room with tables and chairsCourtyard 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:

a building with a tall wall and a tall windowCourtyard 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:

a letter to a guest

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….

a view from the top of a buildingCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

a hallway with doors and lightsCourtyard 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:

a sign with a diagram on itCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Here’s the inside of room 1903:

a room with a television and a tv on the wallCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

a room with a television and a tableCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

a bench in a roomCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Opposite that were the wardrobes…..

a white robe from a swingerCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

a safe in a closetCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

a green cabinet with a mirror and a shelfCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

a mini fridge with drinks and snacksCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

a bathroom with a large mirrorCourtyard 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):

a window with a bed and a mirrorCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Fortunately the windows come fully equipped with blinds to protect your modesty đŸ™‚

a white blinds on a wallCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

 

a bathtub with a white towel on the edgeCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

a glass shower door with a towel on itCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

a shower head in a bathroomCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

a group of white bottles with black capsCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

a box with a white package and a black containerCourtyard 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…..

a bottle of water and a glassCourtyard 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….

a tv on the wallCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

…and offers a king-size bed….

a bed with a white blanket and a green chairCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

a chair and a table in a roomCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

…and a small table with a work chair:

a chair next to a tableCourtyard 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:

a power strip with ports and portsCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

a electrical outlet and a wall outletCourtyard 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…..

a room with a television and a green cabinetCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

…and a kettle and ice bucket:

a coffee pot and a bucket on a tableCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

a city with many buildingsCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

N Seoul Tower on a hillCourtyard 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.

a sign next to a glass doorCourtyard 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.

a room with tables and chairsCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

a table and chairs in a room with a view of a cityCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

a room with a long table and chairsCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

a city with many buildingsCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

a room with tables and chairsCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

But there are some sofas at one end…..

a room with a couch and coffee tablesCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

a desk with two computers and a printerCourtyard 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:

a buffet line of foodCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

a group of pots of soup and a stack of white cupsCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

a group of bowls of foodCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Also available were:

Salad items.

a table with bowls of foodCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

A toaster, bagels, bread and pasties:

a counter with food on itCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

a trays of pastries on a counterCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Fruit and salmon:

a tray of food on a counterCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

A selection of cheeses and cold cuts:

a buffet table with food on itCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

a coffee machine on a counterCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

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

a refrigerator with drinks and beveragesCourtyard 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……

a table with wine bottles and glassesCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

a group of wine bottles on a marble counterCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

a group of bottles on a counterCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

a group of bottles in a bucket of iceCourtyard 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…..

a row of bowls of food on a counterCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

…..herb crust cauliflower and vegetable spring rolls:

food in a pan on a counterCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Once again there were salad items on offer….

a table with bowls of food and saucesCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

a row of plates of foodCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

…cheese…..

a buffet table with different types of foodCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

….and various bread, fruits and desserts:

a table with plates of food on itCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

a buffet table with food on itCourtyard 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):

a room with a bar and shelves of wine glassesCourtyard Seoul Dining

a room with chairs and a lampCourtyard Seoul Dining

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

a sign with a menuCourtyard Seoul Dining

a restaurant with tables and chairsCourtyard Seoul Dining

a restaurant with many tables and chairsCourtyard Seoul Dining

a table with a glass and a glass plate on itCourtyard Seoul Dining

a restaurant with tables and chairsCourtyard 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.

a room with a large mirror wall and exercise equipmentCourtyard Seoul Gym

a group of treadmills in a gymCourtyard Seoul Gym

A good weights area.

a gym with weights and exercise equipmentCourtyard Seoul Gym

a group of dumbbells in a gymCourtyard Seoul Gym

And a good supply of towels and water.

a bathroom with a sink and a sinkCourtyard 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.