Planning to bask on the tourist beaches of South Korea's famous island? Insight Guides shows you two great places to stay in the 3rd edition of Asia's Best Hotels and Resorts. The 384-page guide features 350 top hotels in the region, chosen and voted by none other than the consumers themselves. Check out AsiaOne's review here.
Lotte Hotel Jeju
2812-4 Saekdal-Dong, Seogwipo-Shi,
Jeju-Do 697-130, South Korea
T: +82 64 731 1000 F: +82 64 738 7305
In Korea, from department stores to apartments and even TV dinners, Lotte is a by-word for luxury and expense, and the Lotte Jeju is certainly both. This 12-floor hotel and casino, located close to the popular Chungmun beach, mixes all the class and comfort you expect from Lotte with a touch of that old Vegas razzle-dazzle - after all Jeju is a kind of Love Island where Koreans come to escape the everyday grind.
All 500 rooms here are extremely spacious and spotlessly clean, with all mod-cons including wonderful bathrooms with hightech toilets and sumptuous bathtubs. For almost the same price as regular rooms, they also have Korean "Ondal Traditional Style" rooms, which feature wooden floors, furniture, and paper frame-screens, tastefully incorporating the big TV and internet connection. Most rooms also have balconies that look southward out over the expansive grounds to the wide Southern Sea.
These landscaped gardens, with several pathways winding through them, include an enormous and rocky outdoor swimming pool, an exquisite oriental garden (complete with classical Korean-style pavilion overlooking a carp-filled pool), and (curiously) three large Dutch-style windmills whose blades light up at night - if these seem a bit Vegas, they're nothing compared to the nightly "Volcano Light Show".
The interiors, though, are pure Lotte classicism, with the public areas having high ceilings, marble columns and Art Deco furnishings. There are top-draw Korean and Japanese restaurants, as well as a beautifully decorated Western restaurant for those who want a taste of home and the Garden Buffet restaurant does a pretty good Western breakfast buffet too.
3039-3 Saekdal-Dong, Seogwipo-Shi,
Jeju-Do 697 130, South Korea
T: +82 64 735 5114 F: +82 64 735 5414
Overlooking the sea and lovely Jungmun beach, the 429-room Shilla perches elegantly atop a cliff on the south side of Jeju Island. It has stylish, classical, Mediterranean architecture featuring white-washed walls and orange Roman tile roofs, with palm trees out front adding a tropical feel. Everything about it screams luxury and class, and facilities include a casino, spa and several excellent restaurants - James Bond would love it!
There are two main buildings; the old building is accessed unusually, from the fifth floor, from where guests descend to their rooms, then to the restaurants, finally to the pool and immaculate grounds towards the beach.
The rooms here have pastel interiors, pristine white linen on the beds (the suites even have romantic four-posters), offset with striking blue fittings and accessories. Slatted wooden screens open out to ample balconies, where guests can relax with either a view of the ocean, or of Korea's highest peak, Mount Halla.
The rooms and facilities in the new building are similar, though far more spacious (and slightly pricier), and decorated in the blue and white of Chosun Dynasty Cheonhwa Baekja porcelain.
The rambling eight hectares of gardens are one of the hotel's highlights, with fragrant tropical plants, oriental gazebos, and artificial waterfalls feeding tranquil pools populated by koi carp and quacking ducks. From the gardens it is also possible to take the 200 stairs down to the beach, which has breathtaking views - it's especially beautiful at night, with the cicadas chirping, the lights of the island twinkling, and the ocean all around.