What is the best area to stay in Seoul for tourists? When you look at the map you can easily get overwhelmed because of the city’s size.
As with anything, there is not just one correct answer to the question, but we will help you make the right choice based on your needs and budget.
Firstly, we must say that Seoul and South Korea, in general, are quite pricey when it comes to accommodation. However, there is something for everyone and you will find it all here.
This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Read more about it on our disclosure page here.
Where is the best place to stay in Seoul?
A few extra tips
Before we dive into the best places to stay in Seoul, you might want to understand a little bit about how the city is set and split.
The main areas of Seoul are called “gu”s or districts, and there are 25 of those. Every “gu” is divided into “dongs” or neighborhoods.
Also, the city is split into 2 parts by the Han River: the northern part and the southern part of town.
When looking for accommodation in Seoul, you will want to make sure you are relatively close to a subway station. However, traveling by bus is as easy and sometimes quite as fast. We would almost always choose the bus in order to avoid getting lost when changing lines at the subway.
Just have your Traveler SIM and Public Transportation Card with you or your Discover Seoul Pass.
Different types of accommodation options in Seoul
Seoul has a few types of accommodation options that you won’t really find in many places. While you can find some of the most important chain hotels, there are also other types of hotels and accommodations.
With residential prices skyrocketing in South Korea, and with rental contracts that require huge down payments, many young people cannot afford rent.
That’s why you will see plenty of so-called love motels around Seoul or other cities in South Korea. They charge an hourly fee and don’t offer the best facilities.
Local chain hotels
South Korea has a few big local giants that have everything from food, stores, drinks, and buildings, to hotels.
Lotte and Shilla are 2 of the most luxurious local brands you will want to try.
Traditional houses stay
The traditional houses, also known as “hanok” are not only incredibly photogenic but you can also have a unique experience when staying in one.
Hanoks are usually found on the northern part of the river, in Bukchon Hanok Village, Eunpyeong Hanok Village, and also in Insadong or Jongno-gu.
Read also: How to get to Bukchon Hanok Village and what to do & see
Stay in a traditional house in Insadong!
While usually temples are hidden outside of Seoul, in the mountain areas, there are a few options in the city as well.
The temple stay is not only an accommodation type but an entirely unique cultural experience. You get to learn about Korean Buddhism, spend time with the monks, taste delicious vegetarian meals, and find yourself at the temple.
Bongeunsa Temple in Gangnam-gu, Jogyesa Temple in Jongno-gu, and Jingwansa Temple in Eunpyeong-gu all offer different kinds of Templestays.
Read more about a templestay and book one here!
Where to stay in Seoul for first-timers – by area
Don’t have time to go through the whole post? Here are Seoul areas in a nutshell:
|Area||Why stay here||Book hotel|
|Hongdae||Perfect for first-time visitors, youngsters, or those looking to have fun||Book the best price!|
|Myeongdong||Perfect for shoppers but also those who want to be close to everything in the city.||Book the best price!|
|Gangnam||The posh area, perfect for luxury shopping and fancy restaurants.||Book the best price!|
|Insadong||The historical area, perfect for short stays and first-time visits. Walking distance to palaces and Bukchon Hanok Village.||Book the best price!|
|Itaewon||Nightlife, and foreigner-friendly. A bit further away from the main attractions.||Book the best price!|
|Yeouido||Seoul’s “Wall Street”, close to nature and great for shopping.||Book the best price!|
|Namdaemun (Jung-gu)||The best area to stay in Seoul close to the center, but also close to Seoul Station.||Book the best price!|
|Mapo-gu||The best area to stay in Seoul for families and those looking for relaxation or to emerge in the true Korean way of life.||Book the best price!|
Hongdae – perfect for first-time visitors or for those looking to have fun
Pros: Hongdae is located in Mapo-gu and is relatively close to the city center.
It is very well linked to the major tourist attractions both by bus and by subway – Hongik University Station on the Inner Circle Green Line is a few stops away from the City Hall and the main city center area.
The Airport Line stops here as well and links both Gimpo and Incheon Airports to Seoul Train Station. That’s why at the subway station you will also find lockers where you can leave your luggage.
In the area there are a few of the most important universities in town, thus you’ll find also plenty of restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops with affordable prices.
Cons: The area is literally packed with people (mostly students and tourists) at every time of the day and night. So if you are looking for a more laid-back area, this is not the place for you.
Read also: How to get from Incheon to Hongdae | Where to stay in Hongdae | Fun things to do & see in Hongdae, Seoul
Best hotels in Hongdae
Luxury hotels in Hongdae
L7 Hongdae by LOTTE – A 4* hotel, steps away from the subway station, set on the main boulevard. The hotel has a stunning rooftop restaurant and bar from where you can admire the city, but also a rooftop swimming pool for the hot days of summer.
Mercure Ambassador Seoul Hongdae – right across the street from L7 Hotel, this international chain hotel won’t disappoint. It is perfectly located, and rooms offer stunning city views and currency exchange for guests.
Mid-range hotels in Hongdae
Amanti Hotel Seoul – only a bit further away from the melting hot pot, this hotel will offer a relaxing stay in Hongdae. Guests can access the rooftop pool and the fitness center without any additional fee.
Budget accommodation in Hongdae
Cocoa Guesthouse – tucked away relatively closer to Sangsu Station, this guesthouse offers accommodation in simple traditional rooms. You will be close to cafes, restaurants, and the streets with public performances.
Apartment in Hongdae
This is a great 1-bedroom apartment located seconds away from the subway station. See availability here!
Myengdong – for shopping and being close to everything
Pros: By choosing to stay in Myengdong you will literally be in the center of the action. Within walking distance from the area of the palaces, and also perfectly connected by subway or bus, this is the place to be when you are visiting Seoul for the first time.
The area used to be packed with shops and restaurants, but with the current situation, things have changed a bit. However, I am confident Myeongdong will come back to life once tourism is back for good.
This is any cosmetics lover’s paradise!
You will also find it easy to exchange money here and find different places to eat.
Cons: It truly is a touristic area where you won’t find much authentic Korean vibe. On top of that, the streets are always packed with people, street food stalls, and street artists.
Read also: How to get from Incheon Airport to Myeongdong | Where to stay in Myeongdong | Fun things to do & see in Myeongdong
Best hotels in Myengdong
Luxury hotels in Myengdong
The Westin Josun Seoul – a 5* hotel perfectly set behind Lotte Department Store, offering luxurious rooms and an indoor swimming pool and SPA center. You will have an impressive city view and access to some of the best restaurants in Seoul.
Lotte Hotel Seoul Executive Tower – enjoy the swimming pool and SPA, just before dinner at a 3* Michelin restaurant.
Mid-range hotels in Myengdong
L7 Myeongdong by LOTTE – with a simple, fun, and colorful interior design, this hotel also has one of the few rooftop bars in town.
Nine Tree Hotel Myeongdong – I must admit this was our first choice when we visited Seoul for 3 days as tourists, but somehow we ended up at Marriott (and I don’t regret it a bit). This one is perfectly located and offers a great quality vs price ratio.
Budget accommodation in Myengdong
Crib 49 Guesthouse – hosted in a small building, with a rooftop terrace, very conveniently located close to the main tourist attractions, shops, and restaurants.
Apartment in Myengdong
This is a relatively small but clean and airy studio apartment, set close to Chungmuro subway station. See availability here!
Hongdae or Myeongdong?
If you are visiting Seoul for the first time and are not sure where to stay between Hongdae and Myeongdong, we would recommend staying closer to the city center.
While we absolutely love Hongdae and would recommend it to anyone coming back to the city, Myeongdong will place you closer to the main tourist attractions. From here, if you want to, you can walk to the Palaces, Namdaemun Market, Namsan Park and Namsan Tower, Insadong, and Bukchon Hanok Village.
Gangnam – the posh area perfect for luxury shopping
Pros: Staying in Gangnam will put you in the heart of the trendiest neighborhoods in Seoul – one that has become worldwide famous thanks to PSY’s song “Gangnam Style”. The skyline looks totally different than in most other areas in town, and you’ll have a mix of skyscrapers, traditional temples, and luxury shopping malls and department stores.
Come here for the nightlife, lush bars, sky restaurants, and 5* hotels. You will also be close to one of the nicest parks in town (the Olympic Park), the tallest building in South Korea (the Lotte World Tower Observatory), and the fun Lotte World Adventure Park.
Additionally, here is where you will find more international food, trendy cafes, flagship stores, and crazy nightlife.
Cons: Gangnam is the most expensive area in Seoul, thus you can expect also hotel prices to be towards the higher end.
On top of that, you will be a bit far from Seoul’s most important tourist attractions, especially when visiting for the first time. While the city’s public transportation system is amazing, getting from Gangnam to the old town area will still take between 30 minutes and 1 hour.
Read also: Fun things to do & see in Gangnam | Where to stay in Gangnam
Best hotels in Gangnam
Luxury hotels in Gangnam
InterContinental Seoul COEX – set right next to the COEX Mall famous for its impressive library, you will also be steps away from a subway stop, and one of the most beautiful temples in town: Bongeunsa Temple.
You will have access to an internal swimming pool, and rooms with breathtaking city views.
Mid-range hotels in Gangnam
L7 Gangnam by Lotte – a 4* fancy hotel, set in the business area, with rooms boasting incredible city views. You will be close to subway line 2 which will take you anywhere in town, the interior design is luxurious, and on the 10th floor, you’ll find an Italian restaurant and bar.
Aloft Seoul Gangnam – a bit further away from the subway, but close to bus stops, at this hotel, you’ll find rooms with views over the Han River.
The interior design is colorful and joyful, and close by you’ll find convenience stores, and they could even allow you to bring your pet!
Budget-friendly hotels in Gangnam
Princess Hotel – while this hotel is set in the most expensive area – Apgujeong – it is yet a budget hotel without much of an interior design or facilities. However, it is close to many restaurants and stores, rooms are clean and comfortable.
Insadong – the historical area, perfect for short stays and first-time visits
Pros: Insadong is at the heart of the city, close to all the main tourist attractions in town, including temples, traditional restaurants, and whatnot.
It is the perfect area to stay in when you are visiting for 2 or 3 days, and also when you are visiting for the first time.
The area is packed with art galleries, and souvenir shops, but also restaurants in traditional houses, tea shops, and clothing stores.
Cons: The area can get a bit overwhelming and packed with tourists and locals alike, and just like Hongdae it might not be the perfect area to stay in when you want some peace and quiet.
Best hotels in Insadong
Luxury hotels in Insadong
Nine Tree Premier Hotel Insadong – even though the hotel is set in the center of Seoul, it offers quiet and comfortable rooms. You will be across the street from the Jogyesa Temple, and minutes away from the main streets in Insadong.
Mid-range hotels in Insadong
Orakai Insadong Suites – luxurious self-catering apartments set in the heart of Insadong. You will have access to a fully equipped kitchen, making it a great long-stay accommodation option.
ibis Ambassador Insadong – perfectly located close to a subway station and within walking distance to many of the most important things to do in Seoul, the hotel has a simple and clean interior. What will draw your attention to it will be the rooftop terrace with a stunning view, especially during the night.
Budget-friendly hotels in Insadong
Makers Hotel – a hotel with a very nice interior and a great location. Many great laneways and eating places around, and nice and friendly staff.
Apartment in Insadong
Stay in a traditional house next to the Kyoungbok-gung palace, and minutes away from other important attractions in town.
Itaewon – nightlife, and foreigner-friendly
Pros: Throughout the years, most expats have chosen Itaewon as their “home” neighborhood in Seoul, making it the one area where you’ll find plenty of foreigners and international cuisine restaurants.
The area is set on hilly streets, packed with small houses, colorful streets, and cool cafes. From here you can start climbing the Namsan Mountain all the way to the NSeoul Tower, or you can make your way to the river.
It is perfect for nightlife, even though it is an area that has been widely known as not so safe during the night because of that.
Cons: While the streets and architecture still look traditional and authentic, here is where you will feel less like in South Korea and more like in any other city around the world.
Best hotels in Itaewon
Luxury hotels in Itaewon
Banyan Tree Club & Spa Seoul – one of the fanciest hotels in Seoul, not literally set in Itaewon but close enough. Here is where you will find rooms with hot tubs set by the window, with a view of the Namsan Tower.
Grand Hyatt Seoul – stunning decor, incredible outdoor pool, and amazing views over the city.
Mid-range hotels in Itaewon
Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel – a simple hotel set in a great location with an artsy vibe. Great value for money.
Budget-friendly hotels in Itaewon
G Guesthouse Itaewon – don’t expect much from this accommodation option, it is perfect when you are traveling on a budget and want to stay close to the party area of Seoul.
Apartment in Itaewon
Choose to stay in a spacious apartment, with a luxury interior, 3 bedrooms, perfectly set in Hannam/Itaewon. See it here!
Yeouido – Seoul’s “Wall Street”, close to nature and great for shopping
Pros: The financial area of Seoul will also place you close to the Han River and its beautiful park, but also right next to the most popular department store packed with shops and restaurants.
Additionally, Yeouido is one of the best areas to stay in Seoul because of its high density of luxury hotels and the location next to the Cherry Blossom Festival that takes place every year.
Because of its location a bit further away, staying here will be more relaxing and tranquil.
Cons: You will be relatively far away from Seoul’s main attractions, and you’ll have to change the subway line in order to get to the city center.
On top of that, as mentioned, here you’ll find mostly pricy hotels and restaurants.
Best hotels in Yeouido
Luxury hotels in Yeouido
Conrad Seoul – a 5* hotel with requisite facilities and rooms, with a SPA where you can relax after a day exploring the city. The rooms are overlooking the Han River, and the hotel has been featured in publications like Conde Nast Traveler.
Fairmont Ambassador Seoul – set right next to the Hyundai department store, within walking distance to the subway and the park. This hotel has been featured in popular k-dramas and boasts an interior swimming pool and luxury restaurants.
Mid-range hotels in Yeouido
Toyoko Inn Seoul Yeongdeungpo – a simple and clean 3* hotel, perfect as well for a longer stay.
Budget-friendly apartment in Yeouido
This is a small studio apartment set in a building with a rooftop terrace, and a gym, fully equipped for a short or long stay. See more here!
Namdaeumun – the best area to stay in Seoul close to the center
Pros: the Namdaemun area is in the city center, but not quite. You will be within walking distance of most of the important attractions in town, yet not in the middle of the craziness.
You can find various options of accommodation for your budget, and be close to the Central Station. In the area, there are plenty of restaurants and even street food in Namdaeumun Market.
Cons: You will have to walk or take public transportation to get to most of the important landmarks in Seoul. However, you won’t be too far from either one.
Best hotels in Namdaemun
Luxury hotels in Namdaemun
Millennium Hilton Seoul – a hotel set close to almost anything you want: Namdaemun market, the Central Station, and within walking distance to Namsan Tower.
Mid-range hotels in Namdaemun
Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Namdaemun – the hotel I stayed in on my first visit to Seoul. This was the best place to stay in Seoul for a first-timer because we had everything we needed and more. They gave us complimentary face masks upon arrival, and we even had a view over the Namsan Tower and the Sungnyemun Gate.
Fraser Place Namdaemun – is another perfectly located 4* hotel. It has a gym and a SPA you can enjoy during your stay.
Budget-hotels in Namdaemun
Superior Cozy Home J is an apartment with a breathtaking view and wonderful reviews. It can fit up to 12 people making it the perfect stay for when you travel with your family.
Mapo-gu – the best area to stay in Seoul for families and those looking for relaxation
Pros: The district where you’ll find Hongdae or Yongsan, and as you go further away you’ll get to more local and authentic areas. Mangwon or Hapjeong is more tranquil, have direct lines to the city center, and is really authentic Korean neighborhood.
Digital Media City is even further away and if you choose to stay here you’ll get to see k-dramas being shoot on the street.
Cons: You will spend money and time on public transportation since it takes around 1 hour to get to the city center.
Best hotels in Mapo-gu
Luxury hotels in Mapo-gu
Stanford Hotel Seoul – 10 minutes away from the DMC subway station, close to all the TV and radio stations in town, this 4* hotel is the place for you if you want to be in a quiet area.
Close by you will find a nice park set up on the hill, and plenty of local restaurants to choose from.
Mid-range hotels in Mapo-gu
LOTTE City Hotel Mapo – offering an interior swimming pool, a fitness center, and car parking, this hotel is set within seconds from Gongdeok Subway Station.
Budget-friendly accommodation in Mapo-gu
Hi Dear Guesthouse – not far from the university area, the hotel is clean and close to the subway. They also provide karaoke and the staff is really nice.
Other hotels and areas worth considering in Seoul
Seoul is a huge metropolis, thus it has many other neighborhoods less explored by tourists where you could find pretty hotels and even 5* options.
Dongdaemun is a central area, that will place you close to many attractions and public transportation options. However, not many people look at this area as a place to stay in Seoul.
JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul is a great 5* hotel option, offering good service, delicious food, and a great location. From your window, you can see one of the city’s gates, and you can enjoy an afternoon tea experience at their cafe.
Insadong is relatively close by, and you will have Lines 1 and 4 within minutes of the hotel.
Vista Walkerhill Seoul – formerly W Seoul is another luxury hotel worth considering when you want to spend a few days of relaxation in Seoul.
While you will be pretty far away from the most important tourist attractions, I strongly encourage you to book a room at least for one night of pampering and relaxation. The hotel is set on the top of a hill overlooking the Han River, surrounded by green areas, served by 3 fancy restaurants offering stunning city views.
The hotel also has an infinity pool on its rooftop, and one of the coolest SPAs in South Korea. Only hotel guests can access it, thus it is worth booking a night here only for this cool SPA.
What is the most convenient place to stay in Seoul?
If you are visiting the city for the first time and want to be close to everything, the most convenient place to stay in Seoul would be either Myeongdong or Hongdae.
Both neighborhoods are well connected to the airport, but also to the main tourist attractions in town.
There are plenty of hotel options for all budgets, and tons of things to do and see.
Another great option for when you plan to go on day trips outside of Seoul or are planning for a longer South Korea itinerary would be to choose a hotel close to Seoul Station.
Safest area to stay in Seoul for a solo traveler and the best budget hotels in Seoul
Generally speaking, Seoul is one of the safest cities you could go to as a solo traveler. There are cameras everywhere, and people literally leave their belongings on the table at the cafe.
Of course, you should always use common sense and be aware of your surroundings, especially if you are planning to stay out once the night falls.
There are certain neighborhoods known for their nightlife, where you could bump into people who had a bit too much to drink. We would encourage you to choose to stay in a popular area, one that stays lively once the night falls. Hongdae, Jongno-gu, and Myeongdong are all such areas.
Here are some great hotel options recommended by previous solo travelers:
Hotel Skypark Central Myeongdong is really central and conveniently located close to local markets and subway stations. Myeongdong is a lively area where you will never feel alone.
Henn na Hotel Seoul Myeongdong is safe and also in a great area. Make sure to check your dates in advance, since it gets sold out fast.
57 Myeongdong is very safe, convenient, and comfortable. Nothing special, but a decent breakfast, and comfortable rooms, close to everything.
Hostelworld is a great platform for finding hostels. Look for the available options around Hongdae or Insadong.
The best boutique hotels in Seoul
Boutique hotels are perfect for those that have a higher budget, don’t want to stay in a large chain hotel, but want to stay in a comfortable and luxurious place.
Here are some of the nicest boutique hotels in Seoul worth looking into.
RYSE, Autograph Collection Seoul – situated in Hongdae, near a lively area with loads of bars, and restaurants, and straight opposite the airport bus. However, they also provide valet parking, and previous guests have rated it as a brilliant choice for staying in Seoul.
L’Escape Hotel is a hotel with French-style decor located near Namdaemun Market, Noon Square, and Seoul Station. We know you came to Seoul, but by staying at this hotel you will feel like stepping inside Paris.
Sotetsu Hotels The Splaisir Seoul Myeongdong is located only 5 minutes away from the City Hall subway station. With most rooms with a minimalist design, you can also choose to stay in one of the thematic Line Friends rooms.
Where to stay in Seoul for a month or longer?
I’ve seen people considering staying in Seoul for a longer period of time. Taking advantage of the permission to stay up to 90 days in South Korea’s capital is great if you can. We are fans of slow travel because that’s how you really get to know a place and have the time to understand its culture and people.
However, if you want to stay longer in Seoul, and are looking for a monthly place, here are a few options to consider.
The state highly regulates long-term rental contracts, and the three officially sanctioned contractual options are not financially feasible for stays shorter than 1 year. So, your best bet is AIRBNB (or VRBO). The prices for an AIRBNB are between 800 to 3.000 USD / month for 2 people, so I would say that you can find a decent place at 1.200 USD / month, maybe even lower, depending on your expectations.
Another option is to stay in an expat-friendly serviced apartment as we did. You pay by the month, and the fee includes all the additional services (internet, heating, water, electricity).
We lived in a ~100 sqm, 2-bedroom service apartment and paid around 2.200 USD / month, including all the associated costs, access to the gym, and one underground parking space. We really enjoyed staying at DMC Ville and we highly recommend it for people traveling with children, when they want to stay in Seoul for a longer time.
Other Seoul travel resources
Most Instagrammable places in Seoul
Seeing Seoul in one day – a great itinerary
4 Days in Seoul – make the best out of your time!
Visiting Seoul in Spring – what to do and where to go for cherry blossom
PIN FOR LATER