[Herald Interview] When food connoisseur takes charge of hotel management

By Im Eun-byel

General Manager Kim Bum-soo defines himself as lifestyle content producer

  • Published : Jul 19, 2018 - 22:31
  • Updated : Jul 19, 2018 - 22:33

At first glance, Kim Bum-soo seems more like a hip fashion editor or a stylish tailor than a general manager of a classy hotel.

Kim is the GM of a newly opened hotel in central Seoul, L’Escape. He recently sat down with The Korea Herald for an interview at the French-style boutique hotel near Hoehyeon Station. 
General Manager of L’Escape Kim Bum-soo (Park Hyun-koo / The Korea Herald)

Though wearing a classic suit, the GM’s style is different from that of your typical businessmen; his outfit was completed with small accessories such as a jacket lapel pin, a vintage-style ring and a pocket square. The details were not overly done and every inch was stylish.

“L’Escape is going to be a hotel that has never been introduced before,” Kim stressed from the start. “It is not about unilaterally delivering what we have made to the guests. We hope to develop through our guests, while they have fun at the hotel.”

The official opening of L’Escape on Tuesday was highly anticipated, especially among local foodies.

Modern Chinese restaurant Palais de Chine is the hotel’s collaboration with Mott 32, a well-established contemporary Cantonese restaurant based in Hong Kong. Contemporary restaurant L’Amant Secret operates as a popup store, changing its menu and chef every three months. 

Modern Chinese restaurant Palais de Chine (Shinsegae Chosun Hotel)
Contemporary restaurant L’Amant Secret (Shinsegae Chosun Hotel)

Cocktail bar Marque d’Amour was directed by Taxonomy, a highly regarded bartender group from London. Patisseries from Maison M’O, a trendy dessert place, are the highlight at Le Salon. Coffee from Hell Cafe, one of the best coffee places in Seoul, will fill the lobby with the aroma of coffee.

“This hotel is filled with what I love, what I want to eat and drink,” said Kim, who came up with the blueprint for this ambitious gastronomic project, selecting all the “creative partners.”

“I was really lucky. The creative partners are all established professionals in their fields. What I wanted was what they had been wanting as well. The timing just worked out,” he said.

Kim stressed that the hotel’s culinary section targets young Koreans who are seeking an escape from daily life.

“The F&B reflects the needs of young Koreans who are living in the present. Most customers are likely to be Koreans,” Kim said. “The hotel’s hardware may be French (with the interior and design) but the ‘software’ is very Korean.” 

General Manager of L’Escape Kim Bum-soo (Park Hyun-koo / The Korea Herald)
Le Salon at the lobby floor (Shinsegae Chosun Hotel)

A well-known food connoisseur on the web under the name of Pat2Bach, Kim has run a food blog for more than 14 years, with more than 70,000 followers.

Sharing reviews of restaurants, brands and hotels in Korea and overseas, Kim is recognized for his taste. He hopes to continue the reviews, as long as time permits.

He is not just an idealistic gastronome, but a realistic businessman as well. Working under retailer Shinsegae, he participated in the launch of the brand’s food and beverage and lifestyle content and will continue to advise on related projects.

L’Escape is Kim’s first stint as a hotelier and the lack of experience in hotel management did create some difficulties in the beginning.

“As L’Escape is an independent brand, there weren’t any manuals to follow. It was hard to draw them up. But they are now completed, thanks to other directors who are all experienced hoteliers,” he said.

Still feeling awkward with the title of general manager, Kim considers himself a lifestyle content producer.

“As a non-hotelier, I was able to take different approaches, creating a hotel not found anywhere else,” Kim said. “Having been a consumer myself, I prepared the hotel from a consumer’s perspective.”

By Im Eun-byel (