Hotel review: Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotel & Residences
A contemporary hotel surrounded by some of Seoul's best shopping malls.
Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotel & Residences: The details
- Where: 238 Eulji-ro, Gwanghui-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- When: 8-11 December 2019
- Room type: Standard room with 1 queen-size bed
- Guests: 1 guest, 1 room
- Cost: From $209 per night
- Hotel star rating: 5-star
- Book: Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotel & Residences
Stephanie Yip's review, in short
- My star rating: ★★★★★
- Cost: One of the cheaper 5-star hotels in Dongdaemun.
- Location: A short walk from shops and the subway system.
- Decor: Bright and inviting.
- Check-in/out process: Exceptionally speedy and friendly.
- The room: Spotless after every clean with plenty of space to stretch out.
- Food: The buffet breakfast is extensive, offering a range of local and Western dishes.
- Facilities: There's an indoor and outdoor pool and a sizeable gym with a view.
The Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun has more than a few claims to fame.
Opened in June 2018, it's the 500th Accor property worldwide. It's also the first Novotel hotel in the Dongdaemun area of Seoul – an area renowned for its fashion and shopping.
Then, there's the hotel's mixed use, which is another first for the brand. One side of the towering complex offers 331 hotel rooms, the other boasts 192 long-term residences.
I was invited by Jetstar on its first flight to Seoul to experience the city and the Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotel to see what all the fuss was about.
As a guest of the hotel, I didn't pay for my room. On any other day the starting price is $209 for a queen room which is capable of accommodating a maximum of three guests.
This comes up $100+ cheaper than the competing 5-star hotel in the area, the JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul, making it an affordable high-end stay.
Staying at the Novotel Ambassador I loved how I never felt too far from anything. You can reach one of the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park's subway station entrances on foot in less than a minute.
From there it's just five subway stops to Seoul Station, which is the city's major train station that offers connections to the wider KTX train system network.
Novotel has chosen a bright and contemporary decor for its Dongdaemun hotel which gives it a very welcoming and luxurious atmosphere.
In communal areas, such as reception and the bars, a sense of intimacy and opulence has been achieved through the use of natural Korean granite stone features.
The rooms, on the other hand, have been given a more traditional and inviting atmosphere through crisp white walls, light wooden timbers and white, grey and yellow bedding.
A grey paint brush swirl behind the head of the bed is reminiscent of Korean brush paintings, while the bidet-style toilet is a reminder of how technologically advanced the hotel, and the culture, are.
The area's shopping opportunities are never far from the Novotel either. In under five minutes you'll be surrounded by a boundless choice of malls and markets. This includes the Hyundai City Outlet, the Lotte Department Store Dongdaemun and the Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
The check-in/check-out process
We arrived late in the evening but luckily didn't have to suffer from the gamut of a mass check-in as the hotel had already organised this for us and left our room keys at reception. This was a lovely relief – after a 10 hour flight, all you want to do is hit the hay.
Check-out was just as speedy and the hotel was happy to hold my bags before my evening flight.
I found the superior queen size room exceptionally roomy, comfortable and supplied with everything I needed for a pleasant stay. It was structured much like a standard hotel room with a hallway leading to the bathroom and then opening up to the bedroom.
The bathroom featured a walk-in shower with a handheld showerhead or rainshower option. The shower and the toilet shared the same sliding door which meant you could only have one closed at at time. This felt odd but not enough to dislike it.
The bathroom was always refreshed with new amenities every day. This included shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a mini kit with a nail file that personally came in handy.
In the bedroom sat a plush queen-size bed with an oversized base that converted into a nightstand. There was a table, a minibar with complimentary mineral water daily and a luggage stand in the room as well.
One of my biggest dislikes was the lighting system. There were three light switches at the door and on either side of the bed. One was a main switch, the others linked to bathroom lights, but somehow whenever I pressed the main switch not all lights would turn on or off as I'd expect them too.
Another annoying addition of the room was the automatic TV system. This turned itself on to an Accor Rewards ad on repeat every time I entered. I can understand it happening when I first arrived but having to fumble to shut the ad off every time I returned to my room was a major inconvenience.
The Food Exchange restaurant and Gourmet Bar can be found on the 20th floor. The restaurant is open all day and is where breakfast is served, while the bar is open for lunch and dinner and serves coffee, cocktails and desserts.
I dined at The Food Exchange for the buffet breakfast all three mornings and found the quality of the food exceptional every time. It's comprised of three food stations and offers a mixture of Korean and Western cuisines.
For something more cultural, there was a DIY bibimbap station and fried noodle dishes. Otherwise all the standard favourites including eggs, bacon and waffles were available.
Something to note is that unlike Australian hotels, coffee isn't ordered and served to your table. Instead there is a coffee machine for you to make your own.
In fact, there's very little table service outside of being seated and having your empty plates removed during and after your meal. This wasn't unpleasant but it did feel slightly impersonal.
Along with the restaurant and bar, the facilities are also housed on the 20th floor.
There's a sizeable gym equipped with treadmills, elliptical machines and weights. Similar to the rooms, it felt very spacious, open and inviting. I particularly loved the floor-to-ceiling windows which let you enjoy the view during your workout.
The indoor pool is down the hallway from the gym, while the outdoor pool is on the rooftop on the level above.
As it was winter when I arrived, the rooftop was closed due to dangerous weather conditions so I was unable to experience it. However, the indoor pool is still a great alternative, particularly if you are keen on swimming a few laps. The heated pool was almost empty and if you're keen for a bit of relaxation, loungers line the windows and overlook Dongdaemun.
The Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun is the ideal starting point for exploring the Seoul CBD. It's a comfortable night's stay at an affordable price within a stone's throw from shopping hubs and the main CBD.
Stephanie stayed at the Novotel Ambassador Seoul as a guest of Jetstar who flies to Seoul three times weekly.