Travel, Lifestyle

Sofitel Ambassador Seoul brings the art de vivre

Sofitel Ambassador Seoul brings the art de vivre

Even while Seoul is packed with in culture, the Sofitel Ambassador Seoul is magnificent in its ability to imbue the French way of living with its impressive Parisian-styled spaces and culinary offerings that does not feel out of place in one of the city’s most defining districts.

All around Seoul’s Jamsil district are streets flanked with South Korea’s usuals:
Hansikjib [traditional restaurants], Pocha [street vendors] and underground karaoke parlours. Local residents, and tourists alike, are familiar with the area as a recreational district, owing its popularity to the vast Lotte amusement park, Lotte Sky Tower [the Peninsula’s tallest building] and Seokchon Lake situated within minutes from each other. But amongst the small mix of skyscrapers in the area is a hotel where the wealth of Seoul’s culture vanishes, and instead, is replaced. It is at the Sofitel Ambassador Seoul where all that is within the imposing building is about as French as it gets — from its art deco-style entrance, the object d’art in its lobby, to the haute cuisine at its restaurants.

Bringing a touch of France to a city already rich in its own culture may seem like an unorthodox move. But at the brand’s debut in South Korea, the French way of living [or Art de vivre] becomes a masterclass in design that conveys a strong sense of place. Sofitel is, after all, a hotel chain deeply woven into the fabric of French hospitality — the Sofitel line was the first luxury hotel chain from France.

It was not until 2008 when the Accor group downsized the number of properties to focus on a revamped vision, one that sees its future properties imbuing a sense of France in its philosophy. That makes Sofitel Ambassador Seoul, having arrived in the capital only in 2021, its newest property which conveys a fully-realised vision.

The Presidential Suite at the Sofitel Ambassador Seoul is impressively large, covering 243.5 square meters in size with marble-floored living room and a private observation deck. 

The hotel also retains much of the best-loved features from Sofitel, which combines classic French interiors with a modern finish. Across its 563 guest rooms, including 160 residences, charming interiors decked in subtle French touches that feature complete panoramic skyline views are promised. Ornate mouldings spread across living and sleeping spaces while bathrooms come equipped with lavish gold-toned mirrors and crystal lamps that are modern in their finish, even while they might sound like features of a historic building. And despite being housed in a modern skyscraper, marble-clad lobbies [the hotel has multiple greeting spaces] and hallways with modern palace details with delicate muntin bars create a bewildering feeling that would mistake most on arrival as having been in the wrong country.

Food is aplenty at the Sofitel Ambassador Seoul. Guests can take advantage of four dining spaces and one bar in the hotel. Plus, the plenty of spectacular Korean fare just within walking distance means one would never have to eat in the same place twice. Its vibrant culinary offering includes staples at Sofitels in Asia including Fait Maison – Chic Bistro, a large restaurant which doubles as the breakfast venue that serves rustic and authentic homemade Parisian food. Must-tries are its ‘Tour de France’, sharing course menu, which include Soupe au pistou [Mediteranean vegetable soup with toasted parmesan tuile] and Homard rôti en persillade [Roasted lobster with persillade and champagne beurre blanc].

Or for a change, MIO offers a fusion of Korean and Japanese cuisine with flavours and textures borrowed from each other. Lighter options are available at Jardin d’Hiver – Gourmet Café and L’Espace – Parisian Lounge. Latitude32, a skyline lounge purged on the 32nd floor — where one can also find the hotel’s Club Millésime lounge — is a speakeasy bar reminiscent of those in Paris, where specials include Parisian cocktails with a Korean twist.

There is also certainly no need to stray from the hotel as well. The hotel’s extensive facilities make a compelling case for a little sun exploration, whether it be Winter or Summer. Sofitel Ambassador Seoul is blessed with an indoor heated pool that comes snug with its deep red walls, yet majestic with illuminating ceiling and skyline views creating space and length — it is also the reason why this is the spot most would see when peaking through the hotel’s tags on Instagram.

It would not be a true French experience if it does not include a treatment at a French spa. Reviving facials and revitalising massages are available at Sofitel Spa by Beauté BR, with plenty of private treatment rooms, including two couple treatment rooms. And to “Live the French way,” as the brand’s tagline suggests, means truly indulging yourself in the spaces as though one is truly in Paris — and there is no shortage of that experience here. 

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