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Where to stay in Seoul? Seoul has got it going on! Tourists are starting to cotton on to how amazing a visit to South Korea can be, with Seoul often their starting point.
There are so many cool neighborhoods in Seoul, from historic villages to hipster hang-outs that deciding where to stay in Seoul can be challenging (especially if you are on a tight budget or short on time).
First time travelers to Seoul are also in for such a treat – friendly locals, incredible food, shopping mall heaven and trendy districts are all par for the course.
We’ve spent many weeks in South Korea over the years and these would be our recommended places to stay in Seoul from famous places (Hello, Myeongdong and Hongdae) through to some of the more emerging Seoul neighborhoods like Seongsu-Dong.
Here is our guide to best places to stay in Seoul and the best Seoul neighborhoods to visit:
You might like – top things to do in Seoul – the ultimate guide >
Table of Contents
Where to stay in Seoul
Jump straight to the best Seoul neighbourhoods to stay in:
|Seoul Neighbourhood||Why stay in this Seoul Neighbourhood?|
|Myeongdong||Perfect area for first time visitors to Seoul with a central location, excellent transport links, multiple affordable hotels, malls, good late night shopping and lots of restaurants/street food.|
|Hongdae||Student neighbourhood that is popular with youngsters who are lovers of late night partying and Karaoke. Plus many cheap chicken and beer restaurants, K-Pop street performers and trendy shopping.|
|Insadong||Popular laid back historic area with lots of culture, museums, crafts, traditional Korean tea houses, restaurants and souvenir shopping. Also excellent transport links.|
|Jamsil||Quiet family friendly neighbourhood with many child friendly attractions, outdoor activities and good shopping.|
|Gangnam||Upmarket fashionable neighbourhood in Seoul with excellent nightlife, malls and designer shopping.|
|Ikseong-dong||Located a short walk from Insadong, this cute neighbourhood is popular with youngsters and is packed with historical buildings that have been converted into Instagrammable cafes and restaurants.|
|Dongdemun||Centrally located neighbourhood with good transport links. Close to many 24-hour budget malls and markets, and is a good spot to try traditional street foods.|
|Seongsu-dong||Hipster neighbourhood popular with youngsters that has many restaurants, cafes, craft beer bars and boutique shops.|
|Itaewon||Multicultural neighbourhood with a buzzing nightlife scene, karaoke and many international and Korean BBQ restaurants.|
Our first recommended best place to stay in Seoul
1. Myeongdong, Seoul (the most popular area to stay)
Myeongdong is a perfect place in Seoul to stay for
– First time visitors to Seoul
– Shopping fans with lots of malls and K-beauty stores
– Foodies with lots of snacks at the night market
– Excellent transport links
One of the city’s most popular shopping and restaurant districts, Myeongdong is a lively and vibrant neighbourhood that is incredibly popular with tourists alike and one of the best places to stay in Seoul for first-timers.
A retail mecca by day and bustling street food hub and restaurant destination by night, Myeongdong has many things to do and see. The abundance of hotels in and around Myeongdong also make it quite competitive in terms of hotel prices.
Given its proximity to excellent transport links, late night markets, good shopping and restaurants, we’d recommend Myeongdong as the best neighbourhood to stay in Seoul for your first visit.
- Myeongdong night market, Seoul’s largest nocturnal street-food market with over 100 stalls.
- NANTA Theatre show – South Korea’s longest running comedy and cooking theatre show – also included as part of the Go City Seoul pass.
- Several of the largest Seoul shopping malls including Lotte department stores, Shinsegae department store and Noon Square Mall.
- Myeongdong’s late night chicken and beer street (“chimaek”).
Accommodation in Myeongdong, Seoul
Hotels and accommodation in Myeongdong, Seoul include:
Hotel 8 Hours
This budget hotel is located a 5 minute walk from Myeongdong subway City Hall station exit. Rooms are compact but modern and hotel facilities include TV, refrigerator, shower booth, hairdryer and free toiletries. Check out prices and availability for Hotel 8 Hours
Sotetsu Fresa Inn Seoul Myeong-dong
We stayed at this popular chain hotel for 5 nights and really loved the comfortable room and the location was perfect – right in the heart of Myeongdong. Check out prices and availability for Sotetsu Fresa Inn Seoul Myeong-dong.
L7 Myeongdong by LOTTE
This trendy 4-star hotel is located right by the subway station and within a few minutes of the shopping areas. Facilities include a rooftop bar which has views of the city and Mount Namsan. Check out prices and availability for L7 Myeongdong.
2. Hongdae, Seoul
Hongdae is a perfect place in Seoul to stay for
– Lovers of late night partying and cheap bites
– Karaoke fans
– Bargain hunters and second-hand shopping
– K-pop fans
Hanging out in Hongdae is one of the best places to both explore and stay in Seoul.
Day and night, there are so many Seoul sights to enjoy in hedonistic Hongdae from street performers to sharp shooting, 24/7 karaoke to Korean selfie booths.
Hipster Hongdae is where all the cool kids, cafe connoisseurs and craft beer geeks hang out – there is something to suit all budgets and tastes, from thrift stores to theatre, K-Pop treatments to tranquil parks.
A sweet slice of Seoul life loved by locals for late night entertainment and range of restaurants, Hongdae is highly recommended and one of the best places to stay in Seoul.
- Gyeongui Line Forest Park; a gorgeous green-walkway along a disused railway line, partially surrounded by cafes and bars
- Hongdae Street Performers – watch tomorrow’s K-Pop stars today
- A variety of shopping from AK& Plaza’s manga floor to weekend flea markets and cute character stores
Accommodation in Hongdae, Seoul
Hotels and accommodation in Hongdae include:
Twin Rabbit Guesthouse
Budget accommodation located close to the Hongik University Station. Rooms have private bathrooms, flat-screen TV and a refrigerator, plus the guesthouse offers a free washing machine and dryer. Check out prices and availability for Twin Rabbit Guesthouse
Holiday Inn Express Seoul Hongdae
Highly rated modern hotel located in a high-rise building above a shopping mall close to the subway station. Hotel facilities include a fitness centre and in-house restaurant. Check out prices and availability for Holiday Inn Express Seoul Hongdae
Mercure Ambassador Seoul Hongdae
Stylish 4-star hotel with smart TVs and bluetooth speakers within a short walking distance to the main Hongdae attractions. Facilities include a terrace, garden, fitness centre and bar. Some rooms have a balcony with river views. Check out prices and availability for Mercure Ambassador Seoul Hongdae
Tour and attractions in Hongdae you might like
- What’s cooking? How about a K-BBQ Party Experience with Local Koreans >
- A private tour of Hongdae with a local >
- Get a K-Pop idol level of nail art and hairstyling treatment at at OLRANG, Hongdae >
- A Beer-tiful experience – go on a Pub Crawl Experience in Hongdae every Thursday and Saturday >
3. Insadong, Seoul
Insadong is a perfect place in Seoul to stay for
– History lovers and culture vultures
– Tea drinkers (historical tea houses a plenty)
– Families (lots of fun museums and cartoon character shops can be found in Insadong)
– People who don’t need to party at night
– Excellent transport links
Seoul in South Korea is a joyous mix of the old and new, and no more so than Insadong, one of Seoul’s most popular neighbourhoods and shopping streets with a historic heart.
From traditional tea-houses hidden down back alleys and ancient pagodas to modern shopping centres and even retro vinyl LP bars, Insadong has got it going on.
Insadong is also just a short walk from historical gems like Bukchon Hanok Village, Ikseon-dong Hanok Village and the former royal palaces.
It is also within easy walking distance of Myeongdong if you want to stay somewhere a little quieter at night.
- Jogyesa Temple – dating back to the 14th century and one of Seoul’s largest and most beautiful temples
- Family activities like the Alive Museum and the Colorpool Museum plus even a poop cafe!
- Ssamzigil Shopping Mall, the cutest and most charming mall in Seoul
- Plenty of restaurants including the BEST dumplings
Accommodation in Insadong, Seoul
Hotels and accommodation in Insadong include:
Insa Hostel Insadong
Backpacker friendly hostel located in the heart of Insadong. All rooms have private bathrooms and there are two common areas including one on the roof top. Check out prices and availability for Insa Hostel Insadong.
Nine Tree Premier Hotel Insadong
Popular hotel located along Insadong-gil – a 5-minute walk from the nearest metro station. Facilities include a restaurant, rooftop bar, fitness room, lounge and laundry. Check out prices and availability for Nine Tree Premier Hotel Insadong
Orakai Insadong Suites
Luxurious and spacious self-catering apartments with a kitchenette, flat-screen TVs and washer/dryers. Hotel facilities include an indoor swimming pool, fitness centre and sauna. Check out prices and availability for Orakai Insadong Suites
4. Jamsil, Seoul
Jamsil is a perfect place in Seoul to stay for
– Indoor / all weather activities for families
– Theme park fans
– Sporting fans
The Jamsil neighbourhood in Seoul is located next door to Gangnam and is a fantastic mix of luxury shopping, skyscrapers and sports stadiums.
This residential area has seen an emergence of cafes and bars popping up in recent years, plus the Korean corporate giant Lotte has built duty-free shopping malls, theme parks and an observation deck with 360-degree views of Seoul.
The 1988 Olympics stadium is also located in Jamsil and hosts an annual baseball tournament.
The downside to staying in Jamsil is that it is less centrally located than other Seoul neighbourhoods on this list, and is a much quieter part of town.
It is however a perfect place to stay in Seoul for families, as it has lots of child-friendly entertainment on your doorstep with attractions such as Lotte World Adventure and Lotte World Aquarium. Jamsil is also close to the Han River.
- Enjoy a day out at Lotte World Adventure Park – the biggest theme park in Seoul
- Head to Jamsil Stadium to watch a Korean Baseball match
- Visit the iconic Seoul Olympic Park
- Take in views of the city from Seoul Sky Observatory
- Go shopping at Lotte World Shopping Mall
Accommodation in Jamsil, Seoul
Hotels and accommodation in Jamsil, Seoul include:
Located just 400 metres from the subway station, hotel facilities include a restaurant and laundry. Upgraded rooms have sitting areas, minibars, living rooms and private indoor pools. Check out prices and availability for Hotel Pharos
Seoul Olympic Parktel
High-rise hotel located on the edge of the Olympic Park. Hotel facilities include 4 dining options and a fitness room. Check out prices and availability for Seoul Olympic Parktel
Lotte Hotel World
Situated beside Lotte Lotte World Adventure park, this 5-star Lotte Hotel sits atop Jamsil Subway Station. Some rooms are themed after amusement park characters, and the more expensive suites have whirlpool tubs and separate living areas.
Facilities include a buffet restaurant, cafe, bar, hot tubs, sauna, gym, indoor pool, golf range and jogging tracks. Check out prices and availability for Lotte Hotel World
5. Gangnam, Seoul
Gangnam is a perfect place in Seoul to stay for
– Luxury shopping
– K-pop fans
– Craft beer fans – Mikkeller, Art Monster and Garosu Brewing are all here
– Night owls
Gangnam style! Although arguably most famous outside of Seoul as the title of Psy’s global K-pop hit, Gangnam in Seoul has a unique identity of its own and is an ideal place to stay in Seoul, especially for shopping.
Gangnam is a trendy district and an urban utopia of high-end shopping, traditional temples and choice cultural spots (plus K-Pop motifs galore). It also has some of the best craft beer bars and night clubs in Seoul.
There are lots of things to do in Gangnam but if you are looking for luxury goods, it is your one stop shop for handbags, shoes and all your fine fashion, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and Cartier – just remember to keep enough back to pay for your Seoul accommodation!
- Visit the teddy bears of K-pop Avenue and Psy’s Gangnam statues
- Take in beautiful Bongeunsa Temple
- Shop at Starfield COEX mall and visit famous Starfield Library
You might like – Discover the Korean Wave in Gangnam private tour >
Accommodation in Gangnam, Seoul
Budget accommodation with 19 individually decorated guest rooms – each with flat-screen televisions and a private bathroom. Facilities include a rooftop terrace and garden, shared lounge, kitchen and WIFI. Check out prices and availability for Upflo Hostel
Stay Hotel Gangnam
Modern and comfy hotel with bright and spacious rooms. Located a 3 minute walk away from Yeoksam subway station with many restaurants and coffee shops nearby. Check out prices and availability for Stay Hotel Gangnam
InterContinental Seoul COEX, an IHG Hotel
Located inside the World Trade Centre, this luxurious 5-star hotel includes four restaurants and bars (including an Italian restaurant with a skyline view), casino, golf practice room, outdoor spa pool and indoor pool. Check out prices and availability for InterContinental Seoul COEX, an IHG Hotel
Ikseon-Dong is a perfect place in Seoul to stay for
– Culture vultures – there are so many historical buildings in and around the village
– Design gurus – see how all the historic houses have been transformed
– Gamers and fun seekers
– Instagram wannabies and selfie lovers
One of the lesser known Seoul districts that was until recently under the radar, Ikseon-dong has transformed from a sleepy historical village into a hipster hang-out, packed full of cute cafes, craft beer bars and tea-houses.
If you are looking for accommodation in South Korea and doing some ‘Seoul searching’, Ikseon-dong is one of the best places to stay in Seoul with a plethora of business hotels and mid-range accommodation on the outer edges.
It also benefits from great transport links as the local Subway Station Jongno 3-ga is accessible from Subway lines 1, 3 or 5.
From rooftop terraces to beautiful bakeries, there are so many things to do in Ikseon-dong Hanok Village (and eat!).
A cute and charming combo of old buildings and tiled low rooftops (watch your head!) that has reinvented itself with the coolest bars and best new restaurants.
- Desserts! From Donut Jungsu Ikseon to Cheong su Dang Dessert cafe; plus Instagrammable Ikseon Goro Purpleberry ice-cream
- Go retro at Com Com Play, a vintage games arcade
- Discover reinvented heritage buildings and historical streets free of traffic
Accommodation in Ikseon-Dong, Seoul
Hotels and accommodation in Ikseon-Dong, Seoul include:
City Park Hotel
Budget motel located less than 400 metres from Anguk Station, rooms include a free minibar and free WiFi. Check out prices and availability for City Park Hotel
ibis Ambassador Insadong
Famous chain hotel located a 4-minute walk from the subway station. Facilities include a bar, buffet-style restaurant, rooftop terrace, fitness center, sauna and laundry. Check out prices and availability for ibis Ambassador Insadong
Moxy Seoul Insadong
Highly rated stylish and boutique hotel. Facilities include a rooftop bar with views of the city, 24-hour cafe, laundry and gym. Check out prices and availability for Moxy Seoul Insadong
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As of Autumn 2023 we are currently digital nomading / travelling around Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea). Check out our daily travel diaries on Instagram @.c.k.travels >
7. Dongdaemun, Seoul
Dongdaemun is a perfect place in Seoul to stay for
– Shopping with lots of malls and markets
– Design and culture fans
Dongdaemun is a large commercial district and popular Seoul neighbourhood to stay in with plenty of affordable hotels.
The area has many historical and cultural attractions, but is best known for its massive budget malls and traditional markets that sell clothing, accessories and electronics, some of which are open 24 hours a day.
Dongdaemun also has many Korean restaurants in the neighbourhood and is a short walk to the famous Gwangjang Market where you can try many traditional Korean dishes.
Culture fans will staying in this Seoul neighbourhood as the epic Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is located here which holds regular art exhibitions.
- Explore the epic landmark of Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)
- Visit the historic Dongdaemun Gate
- Stroll along Cheonggyecheon stream
- Shop at the many markets and malls in the Dongdaemun neighbourhood
- Eat your heart out at Gwangjang Market
Accommodation in Dongdaemun, Seoul
Hotels and accommodation in Dongdaemun, Seoul include
Travelodge Dongdaemun Seoul
Budget 3 star chain hotel offering rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows. Facilities include a fitness centre and restaurant offering American or an Asian breakfast. Check out prices and availability for Travelodge Dongdaemun Seoul
Hotel Skypark Kingstown Dongdaemun
Located steps away from Dongdaemun shopping district and connected to the Hyundai City Outlet, this mid range hotel has a rooftop lounge, garden patio, restaurant, laundry and fitness center. Check out prices and availability for Hotel Skypark Kingstown Dongdaemun
JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul
Luxury hotel with rooms featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and city views. Hotel facilities include restaurants, rooftop bar, spa, indoor pool, fitness center, hot tub and steam room. Check out prices and availability for JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul
Seongsu-dong is a perfect place in Seoul to stay for
– Coffee shop and craft beer connoisseurs
– Nature lovers (Seoul Forest Park is huge and so close)
– Savvy pop-up shoppers
A hipster hang-out and super cool area of Seoul to stay in, Seongsu-dong was once an enclave of industry with limited appeal that has recently reinvented itself.
A homely hybrid of street-art, pop up stores with weird and wonderful warehouse spaces, this is one of the best spots to shop til you drop – then reward yourself with a craft beer or delicious desserts.
A cradle of counterculture and the place to be seen in Seoul, Seongsu-Dong is a chock full of top spots from shipping container malls to cute coffee shops and clothing stores to craft beer brewery bars.
Still mainly under the radar to most visitors to Seoul, there are also gorgeous green spaces and some village vibes to enjoy in Seongsu-dong, Seoul.
- Seoul Forest Park – Seoul’s third biggest park full of green spaces, ponds to picnic around plus a deer park and butterfly house (all free to visit).
- Common Ground shipping container mall – from Japanese toys to rooftop terrace restaurants, this is South Korea’s original container mall.
- Cute coffee shop central from IG famous Daelim Changgo to tea-room-tastic Teddy’s Oven.
Accommodation in Seongsu-Dong, Seoul
Hotels and accommodation in Seongsu-Dong, Seoul include:
Seoul Forest Stay
Affordable hostel with both dormitories and private rooms located a 3 minute walk from the subway station. Facilities include an outdoor terrace and a shared lounge. Check out prices and availability for Seoul Forest Stay
Hotel POCO Seongsu
Light and airy hotel located within walking distance of many shops and cafes. Upgraded rooms include an outdoor terrace with city views and spa bath. Check out prices and availability for Hotel POCO Seongsu
The Classic 500 Pentaz Executive Residence
Five star spacious and modern suites located a 3-minute walk from Lotte Department Store. Facilities include a fitness centre, outdoor pool, sauna, restaurants and karaoke. Check out prices and availability for The Classic 500 Pentaz Executive Residence
Itaewon is a perfect place in Seoul to stay for
– Alternative Seoul
– Cheap eats from around the world
– Coffee by day, craft beers by night.
Popular with expats who have moved to South Korea and want to set up in Seoul, Itaewon is one of Seoul’s trendiest dining and shopping districts with many international flavours.
Still a little gritty around the edges, Itaewon is renowned for its coffee culture, craft beer scene and late night venues including many LGBTQ+ pubs and clubs.
It should be mentioned that since the awful Halloween tragedy that occurred in Itaewon in October 2022, the area is a lot quieter than it used to be as many locals are too upset to return.
- International food galore – from Vietnamese to Lebanese, Turkish to Mexican, Itaewon has got your tastes covered.
- Passion 5; a palace of puddings and delightful desserts
- Late night clubs and craft beer bars like Magpie Brewing and White Rabbit
- Yongsan Haebangchon Village – an avenue of cafes, bars and restaurants with stunning views of Namsan Park and N Seoul Tower
Accommodation in Itaewon, Seoul
Hotels and accommodation in Itaewon, Seoul include:
H HOSTEL Itaewon
Sleek hostel with both dorm and private room options, plus a roof terrace and free breakfast. Select rooms have amenities such as a refrigerator, blackout curtains and in-room entertainment. Check out prices and availability for H HOSTEL Itaewon
Modern rooms with seasonal rooftop pool, large sauna (there is an additional fee to use these facilities) and a Korean barbecue restaurant. Located steps aways from the subway station. Check out prices and availability for Hamilton Hotel
Mondrian Seoul Itaewon
Five star luxury hotel with seasonal outdoor swimming pool, indoor pool, fitness centre and rooftop bar. Check out prices and availability for Mondrian Seoul Itaewon
The Best place to stay in Seoul – recaps and recommendations
Best area to stay in Seoul for the first timers
Myeongdong or Insadong – centrally located with good transport links; most restaurants also have English menus if required
Best area to stay in Seoul for night-life
At the time of writing, Hongdae and Gangnam are the go to places for night-life
Best area to stay in Seoul for general shopping
Myeongdong or Gangnam – they both have malls galore. If you are just after souvenirs like T-shirts or the famous HBAF almonds, Myeongdong edges it.
Best area to stay in Seoul for luxury shopping
Gangnam – Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and Cartier have multiple stores here to name a few.
Best area to stay in Seoul for food
To be honest, Seoul street food and the restaurant scene is good everywhere.
Based on our experiences, we’d recommend Insadong for quieter, traditional restaurants or Hongdae for late night bites (and fried chicken with beer).
Best area to stay in Seoul for culture
Ikseon-Dong Hanok village or Insadong for heritage buildings and historical palaces – for modern museums, head to Insadong.
Best area to stay in Seoul for Families
Jamsil if you want to do big theme parks and attractions like Lotte World or the 63 Art Observation Deck, or Insadong for cool shops but with less of the hustle and bustle – don’t blame us if the kids want to go to the Poop Cafe in Insadong though!
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