As soon as the heavy room door closes behind me, I leave my lime green suitcase at the doorway and heave a sigh of contentment. Now this is cozy. I just want to laze around or have a room party.
But I have to shower and get ready to shop through the night.
As one of the newest establishments in Fraser Hospitality’s lineup, Fraser Place Namdaemun is suitably fixed up with understated modern decor in red and charcoal and wood tones. Abstract paintings hang artfully in the lobby and rooms, so that it feels more like a private residence than a hotel. I like.
Fraser Place Namdaemun: Premier Apartment
Since it’s meant to be a serviced residence for long-term stays, each room at the Fraser Place Namdaemun is really more of a mini suite or studio apartment. I got a Premier apartment, a spacious 42sqm room split into three areas: a kitchenette/dining area, a living area with couch and giant-screen TV, and a bedroom with work desk and another TV. Large windows let in plenty of light.
I had no problem working in the room at night either. There were plenty of well-placed power sockets, lights, and lamps that ensured I could type away on my laptop while listening to CNN (okay, it was MNET K-pop Countdown) or connect it to either monitor for editing photos on a bigger screen. I was gratified to learn that not only was there free in-room WiFi, but the connection was blazing fast and password-secured for guests. Given that many 5-star hotels charge for WiFi or leave the connection unsecured, this was a point in Fraser Place’s favor.
Unfortunately, there’s just one problem with the place – a seemingly minor one that’s actually made the Fraser Place Namdaemun impossible to stay in.
Readers of this blog will know that I’m no luxury traveler. I don’t go checking the threadcount of the sheets or whether the towels are made of bloody Egyptian cotton. I’ve couchsurfed on mattresses on the floor and rented rooms with only a too-short chaise longue to sleep on and of course, tried all manner of hostels and guesthouses. So when I say the sheets are scratchy, I mean they’re so scratchy that I can’t sleep.
I only stayed one night and spent a good half-hour tossing and turning before I found a position in which the fabric wasn’t chafing at my skin. In fact, the bed and pillows and sheets were wondrously soft and comfy – but they were just so damned scratchy. If I can’t take it for one night, how can anyone stay here for weeks or months?
I can only hope that this is because of the newness of said sheets, given that the whole place is new, and hope that some industrial-strength fabric softener will make them soft and smooth after a while (and hopefully also bestow that magical satisfying feeling when you rumple the sheets in the morning.)
Getting around from Fraser Place Namdaemun is incredibly convenient. To the north and northeast lie the City Hall business district and cheonggyecheon, to the south and southeast the Namdaemun market and Myeong-dong. Seoul station and Hoehyeon station are literally a few minutes’ walk away.
Fraser Place Namdaemun Service
It’s always the little touches that make a top hotel stand out from its competitors, and that’s what Fraser Place Namdaemun has in generous supply. From the moment we stepped onto the grounds, we were greeted by doormen who actually carried our luggage up the short flight of stairs through to the lobby and a friendly concierge who sweetly and patiently settled a dispute with our guide regarding the safety deposit.
When we asked for late checkout for one of the rooms so we could go shopping before our afternoon flight out, the concierge accommodated our request without hesitation. And when we stepped out the next morning, the doorman made sure we had our umbrellas for the rainy weather. If that’s not attentive, I don’t know what is.
What I Loved
The Panorama bar on the top floor of the residence is a great place to unwind, whether it’s before a night out on the town or after a day of meetings. Thanks to its excellent location, the Fraser Place Namdaemun overlooks the actual Namdaemun or Great South Gate, which recently reopened in May after years of restoration following an arson incident.
With its central location, Fraser Place Namdaemun is great for exploring Seoul even by foot. What’s more, even the top-tier Premier Apartment costs less than other (smaller) 4-star hotels in the area. In my book, this is the best value accommodation in Seoul.