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[Weekender] ‘VVIP’ hotel guests ― who stayed where?

When Paul McCartney was planning a visit to Korea for his first concert in Seoul on May 2, he requested his team to find a hotel with a room that comes with a balcony.

In the overpopulated business district of Gangnam, a hotel room with a balcony is rare. When everyone was curious where the 72-year-old rock star stayed, his fans on a hunt to spot their star found out that McCartney was staying at the Ritz-Carlton, Seoul, located just 5 kilometers from the concert venue at Jamsil Sports Complex.

Luxury hotels become home-away-from home for world’s top celebrities and leaders during their stay in Korea. It becomes an important part of their itinerary as their hotel room is the only places where they can unwind and spend their downtime after a busy day. 

Presidential suite at The Ritz-Carlton, Seoul (The Ritz-Carlton, Seoul)
Presidential suite at The Ritz-Carlton, Seoul (The Ritz-Carlton, Seoul)

For the guests labelled as the “Very Very Important Guests,” five-star hotels in Seoul offer personal butler service, in-room Jacuzzis, luxury amenities, private dinners and meetings to maximize their comfort during their stay.

The room where McCartney stayed was a presidential suite that cost $4,424 a night. The room, awarded as “the Best Suite” by the Gold Key Award for excellence in hospitality, has a balcony that overlooks the dazzling night view of the city. The balcony can also accommodate standing parties, or transform into a relaxing tanning place. Linked to the balcony stretches a living room which a guest can use for meetings or in-room dining.

Its wall is adorned with the iconic masterworks of Picasso and Lichtenstein, and the room has been home for many other celebrities such as Will Smith and Lady Gaga in 2012 and Leonardo DiCaprio in 2013.

Hotel protocols prevent information on their “VVIP” guests revealed to the public, but regular visits by popular figures help hotels create a favorable image to luxury travelers. 

Sheraton Grande Walkerhill has appointed Ryu Hyun-jin, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, as their honorary ambassador in 2013. Ryu has been a regular guest at the hotel, visiting during his off-season. 

Diamond suite at Sheraton Grande Walkerhill (Sheraton Grande Walkerhill)
Diamond suite at Sheraton Grande Walkerhill (Sheraton Grande Walkerhill)

He stays on the hotel’s royal suite floor, featuring four kinds of suite rooms. The suite rooms, whose prices ranged from 790,000 won to 5.7 million won, were used by Italian composer Ennio Morricone and Michael Sandel. 

World leaders such as U.S. and Chinese presidents are regulars to two major hotels in Seoul.

Grand Hyatt Seoul has been home to U.S. presidents during their visits to Korea. Recent guests include George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton.

The hotel is favored by U.S. presidents for security reasons and logistics. It’s located close to the U.S. military base in Yongsan and the center of northern Seoul where Cheong Wa Dae and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and foreign embassies are located.

Being the tallest building in the neighborhood, the hotel reduces security concerns for the U.S. presidential guards.

Hotel Shilla Seoul has long been favored by Chinese presidents. One of the reasons they stay here is it has the old official guest house Yeong Bin Gwan, built by the Korean government in 1967. It was later purchased by Samsung Group, parent company of Hotel Shilla.

By Lee Woo-young  (