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Banyan Tree Hotel, Club and Spa - Seoul, Korea | Hotel Review

Bombastic Property, Mediocre Service


Banyan Tree Hotel, Club and Spa - Seoul, Korea: Located an hour's drive from Incheon International Airport and just minutes from downtown Seoul, at the foot of Mt. Namsan, Banyan Tree Hotel, Club & Spa Seoul which opened in June 2010 is Banyan Tree’s first combination hotel and membership club.

After reading the description of the property; 32 luxurious rooms and suites, the largest outdoor pool in Seoul, an array of restaurants and lounges and knowing the five-star service the Banyan Tree is famous for, I booked a suite and anxiously awaited for my day to visit the Banyan Tree Seoul to arrive. Click here to see over 50 pictures of the Banyan Tree Hotel, Club and Spa in Seoul, Korea.

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First Impression/Lobby: As we pulled into the drive of the luxury hotel, Banyan Tree in Seoul, I was a bit taken back at how busy it was, people, cars and workers were everywhere. It was a much busier place than I was expecting. The lobby though, was quiet, small, yet inviting. The hues of browns and black of the wood, marble and stone made the minimalist entrance feel rich and luxurious.

Reception: We were quickly escorted to our suite by our coordinator where we completed our registration and were given a brief tour of the suite and all it had to offer. The suite was a perfect fit for this luxury hotel in Seoul.

The Suite: Our Premier Suite, located on the 12th floor was stunning to say the least (there are four Premier Suites in total, two on the 11th and two on the 12th floor; they are the only rooms on each floor); decked out in natural fibers and materials, the suite was an oasis of stylish looks and luxurious surroundings.

A trendy, warm brown, leather sectional accented with tan and gray pillows gently hugged an over-sized, thick wooden coffee table. Off to the side however, was the real centerpiece of the living room, a large, relaxation pool; while not very deep, it was deep enough to sprawl out and truly relax, and surely large enough for two. Plus, with a view of the Seoul Tower out the large windows, it was a haven all in itself. To further the relaxation theme, a large shower/steam room (plus a half bath for guests) anchored the end of the living room. A night of relaxation was definitely in my plans.

At the other end of the suite, separated by a sliding pocket door, was the bedroom, trendy, warm and just as relaxing. Natural tones on the wall and ceiling contrasted against the dark wood floors; natural daylight flooded in through the multiple windows; it was a whole other room ready to be experienced, not just lived in.

The large granite and marble master bath offered trendy dual sinks, a large stand alone shower with a variety of shower settings, (as you would expect the Banyan Tree to offer) and a semi-private (with a stripped down Japanese style) toilet stall. A large closet offered ample space for my clothing but the suite lacked an idea spot to store luggage. Huge windows allowed for the ample daylight but at night, the trendy lighting did a better job of setting a mood than offering sufficient illumination.

Room Service: The Banyan Tree Hotel’s room service menu was varied and offered a small selection of both Western and Korean dishes. Finding the perfect dish to satisfy my appetite was a bit of a challenge, but the most challenging part was actually placing the order. Even though the staff spoke some English it was maddening trying to place an order; apparently their lack of fluent English and my non-existent of Korean was just a bad mix.

My orders arrived more or less on time, and more or less accurate; the quality of the food was average. They would never win any awards; it simply was not what I expected from a five-star, luxury hotel like Hotel Banyan Tree.

Housekeeping: Housekeeping did a nice job of servicing the room during both the day and evening service. My only complaint is they failed to leave any towels in the guest bathroom. Was it an over-site or not part of their policy, I am not sure, but something as essential as that is hard to overlook.

Concierge: The Hotel Banyan Tree Seoul does not have a dedicated concierge staff but instead reservations and requests are handled by the guest coordinator or guest services. I had mixed results; my coordinator did an excellent job, the general guest services staff was less than proficient. Overall, it was not a stellar performance from this five-star hotel.

Restaurant: The good thing about the restaurants at Banyan Tree Hotel in Seoul is that they have an almost overwhelming selection of cuisines: Italian, Mediterranean, Japanese, French, Western, and Asian to name to name a few, plus a variety of venues, decors and atmospheres: upscale, chic, trendy, romantic, private rooms and casual dining. To make it even more enticing, the Banyan Tree also offers dining both indoors and outside under the stars. (The Banyan Tree Seoul website boasts 12 dining outlets, but during my visit at least a third of them were not operational.)

Read my separate Banyan Tree Seoul restaurant reviews by following the links below:

Mori N Japanese Cuisine Restaurant
The Club Member’s Restaurant

Currently the restaurants, bars and lounges are only open to hotel guests and Banyan Tree Club members. This has its pros and cons; it’s easy to get a seat, but they tend to be very, very empty.

Pool/Spa/Activities: The luxury Banyan Tree Hotel Seoul offers a range of activities and amenities: the largest outdoor pool in Seoul, aptly named The Oasis (in winter it turns into a skating rink), a fully equipped health club, their exclusive and world renowned Banyan Tree Spa, golf driving ranges, a mini-soccer field, a basketball court and a Korean spa. The old saying, “There is something for everyone” lives true and large here!

I had the opportunity to try the Banyan Tree Spa, which lived up to the Hotel Banyan Tree reputation and The Oasis Pool. The pool area, complete with over twenty private cabanas (available for a fee, book in advance to secure one) was a fantastic place to spend a sunny summer afternoon. Service from the pool bar was not overly attentive. Luckily, I had a spot not too far from it. My only real complaint I had at the pool was the sheer number of children.

The pool is open to hotel guest and club members only. However, I was told that each member can bring numerous guests (I was told 19 but find that hard to believe), which lead to a children’s pool that was overflowing with happy, out-of-school, vacationing kids, full of energy and spirit. That is fine and all, but they over-flowed, energy and spirit in tow, into the adult pool. The quiet day at The Oasis pool at the Banyan Tree Hotel I hoped for was impossible.

Check-Out: When the bellman came to suite to retrieve our luggage, he took the initiative to call the front desk and let them know we were checking out they could prepare our bill. That is what I call five-star service!

Once we were down we reviewed our bill and to my dismay, there was an error. I was both disappointed but not surprised. This five-star, luxury hotel that only has 35 rooms and suites was small enough that errors like this should be non-existent, but from the less than five-star service I witnessed during my short stay I wasn’t surprised to find an error.

Regardless, they promptly corrected the error, but never once did they apologize for the error or even bother to ask how my stay was. Sadly, this poor excuse for service was one of the last memories of I had of this five-star hotel in Seoul.

Overall Impression: I left the Banyan Tree Hotel in Seoul knowing it just did not live up to the Banyan Tree reputation. The property and by that I mean the suite, the pool, and the restaurants were all beyond my expectations; gorgeous, chic, luxurious, five-star and all unique in their own sense.

The service though lacked, and it lacked in many different areas and at many different times. At this point and time, I cannot call it five-star service. Does it have the potential to reach the bombastic level? Of course, it is the Banyan Tree, but for now, due to its inconsistent and sub-par service, the Banyan Tree Seoul gets a hotel review rating of between bombastic and not.

Address and Telephone Number:
San 5-5, Jang Chung-Dong 2-Ga
Seoul 100-857
Tel: +82 2 2250 8000
Fax: +82 2 2250 8009

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