Another quality offering from the Starwood group of hotels, Sheraton Seoul D’Cube Hotel is one of the premium lodging offerings that Seoul has to offer. The hotel, housed in an immensely tall skyscraper as part of the D’Cube City complex has much to offer to guests and the Sheraton name seeks to maintain its global reputation through this Asian accommodation. It surely puts up a good fight with other 5 star hotels in Seoul and in this review, I take you through an in depth look at what this world renowned brand has to offer.

Date of stay: November 2013

Address

360-51 대한민국 Guro-gu, Seoul, Sindorim-dong

Guro-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Location

Sheraton Seoul D’Cube City Hotel is located in the south west of Seoul, in the Sindorim district. Depending on which airport you arrive at or depart from, getting to the two international airports the Seoul has to offer is relatively easy and hassle free. Gimpo Airport lies just 14 kilometres from the hotel and making your way to and from the airport is a quick and simple task. A taxi ride or train ride should take no more than 30 minutes to get from the airport to the hotel and vice versa, and there is also an airport shuttle bus which takes just slightly longer. Needless to say, taking the train is the most budget friendly mode of transportation with tickets priced at about 1150KRW. For those with a much higher budget and do not want to rely on the possibly crowded public transportation system, private car transportation can be arranged for a much higher cost of 100,000KRW. Incheon Airport, however, is locater farther away at a distance of 55 kilometres from the hotel. Similarly, guests can chose from airport shuttle bus, subway or taxi modes of transportation and all these modes have an average journey time of 1 hour. Likewise, the luxury hotel provides the option of private car transfer for a higher fee.

The first signs of a good business hotel is its proximity to business hubs and Sheraton Seoul D’Cube City hotel is conveniently located 3.5 kilometres away from Yeouido, Seoul’s financial, political and broadcasting hub. The area is home to numerous office buildings and companies, with the more notable ones such as Samsung Boramae Omni Tower and the Korea Financial Investment Association well within walking distance. For those whose offices are located further away from the hotel, taxis are readily available for rental at the entrance of the hotel and the ever so helpful front desk staff are more than willing in  assisting guests with pre-booking taxis. If there is no such need, the Sindorim subway station is barely a 5 minutes walk away and it is in fact a very fast and efficient mode of transportation in the developed city of Seoul.

Being part of the D’Cube city, guests of Sheraton D’Cube City Hotel have almost unparalleled shopping and dining convenience, as 30% of the space at D’Cube city is designated for food and beverage, with a department store directly conjoined to it. For guests who desire to purchase groceries, necessities or electronic gadgets, they can do so with complete ease, as there are huge malls and department stores steps away from the hotel.

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To start things off, there is the Sindorim Techno Mart. As its name implies, it is a gadget geek’s paradise located just 100 metres from the hotel. This behemoth mall stocks 9 full storeys of electronic gadgets and equipment and there is something for everyone in this mall. Not only does it sell gadgets, it is also home to E-mart, a popular Korean supermarket providing groceries, daily necessities, household items and sporting goods all at discounted prices. The E-mart also opens till 2400 hours, making life a breeze for guests who wish to purchase some tidbits during a late night.

Next up, we have the famous Lotte department store, which is incorporated as part of the D’Cube city, meaning it is directly linked to the Sindorim subway station and the hotel. Hotel guests can take a stroll to the mall without having to leave the building, and purchase authentic Korean goods from the famed Lotte group. Such convenience is definitely uncommon and this sure is beneficial to guests. A Shinsegae Department store – another popular shopping spot for locals is also located within walking distance from the hotel. Above all of these, convenience stores such as 7-11 are present around the hotel, offering commonly needed items for the convenience of guests.

Unfortunately, this is just about the point where the locational benefits of this Sheraton hotel ends. After all, I would assume that a visit to Seoul calls for more than just shopping at department stores and IT hubs. Thus, I am disappointed to have to say that Sheraton D’Cube City hotel is in fact not located to close to most of the tourist hotspots of Seoul. Take for instance the youthful, happening and extremely lively areas of Hongdae and Itaewon – must visits when in Seoul. These places offer a plethora of cafes, bars and shops that carry fashionable goods and they are definitely in almost every traveller’s bucket list. However, it is definitely impossible to visit these places by foot, as they are both close to 10 kilometres away from the hotel. Many other hotspots such as Insadong, Seoul Tower, Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Han River are also located at least 7 kilometres away from the hotel. If you are a tourist looking for proximity to such attractions, then, another hotel might be a better choice for you. However, being located further away from these popular attractions does not mean it is inconvenient to travel and experience Seoul fully, as the huge city has an extremely efficient and reliable public transport service. Most of these attractions are located within a stroll from a subway station and being located right at Sindorim station makes taking the subway an easy task. If you are a guest that do not mind slightly longer travelling and also place importance on comfort and luxury, Sheraton D’Cube City Seoul is surely a good contender for your consideration.

Check In

I am sure that many readers have been to at least one hotel where the check in lobby was on located on the ground floor. Many of these hotels have lobbies on a level just slightly above ground level and are generally easily to locate. Sheraton D’Cube City Seoul, however, has its lobby located not on the 10th, not on the 20th but on the 41st storey! Guests will be treated to a spectacular city view upon arrival and surely, most will be wowed just as I was.

Image from http://www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton/property/photos/index.html?propertyID=3569&mediaID=1009474895

Image from http://www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton/property/photos/index.html?propertyID=3569&mediaID=1009474895

The huge, thick metallic pillars in the lobby made it feel grand, almost like he entrance of a majestic mansion. I particularly liked the play of colours and textures that the Starwood group chose for this Sheraton hotel. The use of wooden tables, soft fabric couches and plush velvety round stool were utilised intelligently such that they well complimented the class and luxury brought by the pillars and the marble floor. Honestly, the lobby was to me, an incredible place to lounge and relax at while taking in the breathtaking city view. With such a sight coupled with the comfort I experienced, I can be confident that many guests would not even mind if they had to wait longer than usual to check into their rooms.

Korea, being an Asian country with its own language, it is expected that many guests have language concerns. However, you can be assured that the staff at the Sheraton D’Cube City Seoul have an excellent reputation for being well versed in the English language. After all the Sheraton brand is well-known globally and its parent company, the Starwood group has a reputation to maintain. My check in process was done very professionally and swiftly, with not much of a waiting time. The staff were very warm and friendly, treating guests with the formality and respect so greatly seen in traditional Korean culture, yet speaking good English without any inaudible accents. They were also extremely helpful in giving detailed descriptions when I asked for directions getting to places near the hotel. The only one thing that I would change about the hotel is the layout of the elevators. It was quite a hassle for me to move between places within the hotel itself due to the need to utilise numerous different sets of elevators to get to different locations. This process could perhaps have been further simplified to make movement around the hotel a simpler and more enjoyable process. Then, there would be no limiting factor to discourage guests from exploring this magnificent hotel.

Room

For this trip, I booked a club room, which gave me access to the the club lounge on the 38th storey of the building. Club rooms are not much bigger than the standard deluxe rooms, but come with a host of upgrades, such as express check in and check out, two complimentary bottles of water daily, toll-free and local calls for 60 minutes, an umbrella and many more. Furthermore, club rooms are located on higher floors of the skyscraper, offering club guests with a more comprehensive view from their rooms.

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Before even stepping into my room, I was already rather pleased, but not ye amazed with the general interior design of the building. The corridors spotted several pieces of artwork, some of which were rather beautiful and the lobbies for each floor was just like what I would expect from a branded 5 star hotel. You can expect the carpets to be clean and the lobby to look simple, yet luxurious. The presence of some décor, such as an oriental looking vase with artificial Asian plants added a little oomph to the lobbies, making them slightly less boring.

Upon stepping into my club room, I had a pleasant first impression, as I had expected a much much smaller room. As many will know, Seoul is a metropolitan city with many citizens and limited land. Therefore, many high rise apartments and hotels have small land areas, resulting in cramped rooms which are unsuitable for the claustrophobic. However, the club room which I lodged in measured at a surprising 38 metres square, which is slightly more spacious than club rooms of hotels in similar cities, such as Tokyo and Singapore. However, besides this good first impression which I had upon entering the room, I thought that the room in general looked rather unexciting and common. Many other 5 star hotels haver very similar layouts and taking a general overview, there was nothing that seemed to differentiate the room at Sheraton D’Cube City hotel Seoul and her other competitors in Seoul. However, you can say that old is gold when it comes to such a case, and the warm, neutral tones of the room gives it a warm and cosy feeling. It made me feel comfortable and relaxed and I believe doing that satisfies the very basic but imperative need that every guest expects.

I personally felt that the beds in the room were pretty comfortable. In my club room, I got 2 queen sized beds, each with a selection of 4 pillows – a very generous selection if the room is only shared by 2 people. Overall, the bed wasn’t too hard or too soft and they provide ample back support for a good night’s sleep. However, I must say that although there is a choice of pillows, they are not too different. This means that guests who prefer a much thicker and harder pillow will not have the option of having one, unless they check with the hotel concierge regarding the availability of an extended pillow menu. That being said, I enjoyed every other part of the bed area. There was more than sufficient bedside storage, with three bedside tables, a modern alarm clock and easy to use light switch controls. Another point to note is that families travelling with a baby can request for a crib upon check in and the accommodating hotel staff will be more than willing to send one to the room.

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The bedside lamp is also of a good brightness, perfect for doing some night reading. What impressed me was the presences of an international power socket located by the bed. This brings convenience to a new level as guests do not have to worry about bringing a power adapter any more. Many 5 star hotels do provide adapters should guests require it, but the presence of this international power socket eliminates the need to even make phone call to the concierge. Furthermore, all power sockets are internationally compatible.

The rooms are also well equipped with basic entertainment devices such as a LG HD television set. Because I booked the club room, I got to enjoy the use of a blu-ray DVD player as well. For guests who wish to have a relaxing night in the comfortable and homely room sipping drinks and watching a movie, the blu-ray DVD player and the HD television makes a perfect combination. To add on to the benefits, guests of Club Rooms get to enjoy free DVD rentals at the club lounge – a perfect way to enjoy the blu-ray DVD player and HDTV! Cable TV is also included in the package and there are no lack of entertainment options. There are also VGA and HDMI ports located by the television screen and this definitely serves the numerous businessmen that will be lodging at this Sheraton hotel. Guests can conveniently utilise theses ports to give a small presentation in their individual rooms and this indubitably makes it much more convenient for business partners or colleagues travelling for business and wish to have a discussion in the comfort of the hotel room.

Another unique aspect about the rooms at Sheraton D’Cube City hotel is that the electronic safes are not located in the wardrobe, like most hotels. Instead, the electronic safes are located by the television console, as part of a drawer compartment! The opening motion of the safe is like that of a laptop, allowing for easy access to your valuables and this also makes checking the safe for anything left behind a breeze. The only downside is that most guests would expect the safe to be in the wardrobe and if they do not search hard, many might not even come to know of the existence of the safe.

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As you can expect from a quality hotel, there is always a separate seating space where guests can lounge in whilst enjoying some drinks or light bites from the pantry. However, there was only one lonely chair and a minute coffee table in my room and I thought that it was clearly insufficient. To add on to the disappointment, recall that there are VGA and HDMI ports in the room for guests to give presentations or have discussions, but where should their colleagues sit then? More attention to detail would be required to make the club room more impressive.

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However, what you get by this lonely seat is a gorgeous view during the day time. With the club room located on such a high floor, I experienced a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire city. Look further ahead and you’ll even get to see a picturesque scene of mountains. This makes a great blend of urban and nature, satisfying every guest. Though the view is not the grandest I have seen, it does provide for a change of scenery for guests living in the bustling city of Seoul.

The pantry area and mini bar is well stocked, with a variety of drinks offered to guests. However, just like most branded luxury hotels, majority of the drinks and snacks are not complimentary. The canned drinks and “premium” bottled water stored in the refrigerator are charged at pretty high prices. In the club room of this Sheraton hotel, guests can feel free to enjoy the Dilmah teabags an the Nespresso machine – both of which I believe will be fully utilized. The Nespresso machine also makes life convenient and easy for caffeine junkies who need a quick dose of coffee before heading out for a long day of work or touring. There are also two bottles of water provided with compliments. The best thing about the pantry area is that the beverages are all replenished daily, including those provided at no cost! Guests will surely find it convenient to be able to just grab and go the essentials such as the bottled water. For those who desire to pay less for their food and beverage and have a wider variety of choices, keep in mind that the hotel is part of the D’Cube City project, connecting it to limitless options of food and beverages, with supermarkets located within a stone’s throw away as well.

Moving on to the work desk, I must admit that I wan’t too impressed by its size initially. After all, Sheraton D’Cube City Seoul is somewhat more of a business hotel and thus I had expected a larger work area. However, do not let this put you off as functionality still beats size and the work desk has sufficient amenities and functionalities to satisfy workaholics. To start off, there is a writing pad, complete with a pen and even pencils that are provided for free. Pull open the drawer and you will notice a stapler, paper clips and even a post-it note pad waiting to be utilized!

Discovery the stationary was kind of a pleasant surprise as not many hotels – even those catering to business travellers – carry these basic items and with this point, I feel that Sheraton D’Cube City Seoul has indeed done a good job of making sure the needs of their primary customers are well met. There is also a table lamp which helps improve the lighting conditions of the room and this makes it easy on the eyes for those who have to work in the room. For guests who wish to plan their itinerary, the table lamp makes a good aid. In such a well connected and technologically advanced country such as Korea, I would say that having an internet connection is quintessential in getting work done or even planning an itinerary. Fortunately, SPG guests who book through the Sheraton website can enjoy free high speed wifi in the room! Unfortunately, this means that non SPG members have to fork out extra for the use of wifi and though this is rather inconvenient, it is not uncommon when staying in global 5 star hotels as such.

Overall, business travellers will be pleased to utilize the amenities provided a the work desk. I thought that it was a practical area and comfortable to use. The only negative point would probably be the size of the desk and I would suggest maximising the table for practical use by shifting the in-room dining and other pamphlets to perhaps the television console and this would surely create more practical space.

 

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