A guide to Seoul’s finest dining, shopping, and entertainment 

Seoul is a city bursting with life and culture. With its historical palaces, active food markets featuring an abundance of delicious local delicacies, extensive malls, and even a theme park – the city has no shortage of things to discover, eat, drink, or do. The Conrad Hotel in Seoul will set the stage for the Airline Economics Growth Frontiers Korea conference on March 12 & 13, 2024. The hotel is nestled in Seoul’s financial district and benefits from its proximity to Seoul’s most luxurious spots.  




A selection of the best food and drink Seoul has to offer 

A short walk along the high-rise streets of Seoul and you could quickly become overwhelmed by all the bars, cafes, and restaurants the city has to offer. Korea’s Naver Maps app is often touted as being more reliable for directions in Korea than other commonly used navigational apps and may be worth downloading to help you find your way around Seoul’s rich offerings.   

Korea BBQ style restaurant.

One restaurant to check out is the Gowooga Yeouido restaurant, which sits only a ten-minute walk away from the Conrad Hotel. The restaurant serves Korea’s highest quality meat, hanwoo beef, which rivals Japanese wagyu beef in terms of marbling and flavour. The restaurant offers set-course dinners with a large variety of seafood, desserts, and other foods to complement the complex flavour of hanwoo beef. Tables, including private rooms, can be booked through the Korean booking site, Catchtable, which is available in English.

Another short walk from the hotel is Sushi Yu Yeouido. The restaurant offers a wide selection of sushi dishes and set-course meals. The restaurant offers high-quality Japanese-style food in a sophisticated and stylish venue with private dining options.  

The Conrad itself conveniently hosts the 37 Grill & Bar on its top floor offering fine dining options and excellent cocktails while soaking in the night-time views of the city. It is recommended to book in advance to secure the coveted window seating options.  

Speaking of cocktails, the Glad Hotel Yeouido, across Yeouido Park from the Conrad, holds a special speakeasy bar on its lobby floor, the Black Bar. The bar offers a selection of stylish cocktails and a wide whiskey selection. The luxurious atmosphere can be unlocked by finding the two lion head statues at the hidden entrance. A hint: try feeding one of the lion statues your hand. 

For something a little more energetic and innovative, there is the Tap Public Yeouido bar. Customers are provided with chipped bracelets, which can be pressed against a screen above a tap to pour their own beer. The bar offers 60 different beer brands to tap and pour from. There is also an extensive hearty and filling pub food menu to complement the beer.  

Seoul’s financial district is home to a wide range of bars, plenty to accommodate a specific taste. A 15-minute walk from the hotel, there is the Glenwood bar with its friendly owner and cosy atmosphere that makes for a more intimate venue to wind down in and enjoy its diverse range of whiskies. Just around the corner, is Allie Whiskey, which offers champagne and beer options on top of its whiskey selection in a more sophisticated backdrop. Just over a five-minute walk from the Conrad, there is the TENUTO bar. It offers whiskey flights and cocktails, which can be complemented with a cheeseboard. Its darkened room with dim light fixtures at night creates a settling ambience. 

A department store scene like no other 

Department stores in Korea are a world unto itself where you can spend a full day alone of shopping the finest brands, experiencing the finest entertainment, and consuming their wide array of food. With the IFC mall being connected to the Conrad Hotel, you can treat yourself to modern shopping with a wide selection of dining and café options right on your doorstep.  

Alternatively, indulge in extravagance at the Hyundai Seoul department store– Korea’s largest department store – conveniently located across from the Conrad. It is host to a high selection of luxury brands such as Balenciaga, Burberry, Gucci, and more. The Hyundai mall’s open ceiling with natural sunlight as well as a resting area with indoor trees, a 12-metre-high waterfall, and the Sounds Forest indoor park on the 5th floor will complement your day of retail therapy with some much-needed zen and relaxation. 

No doubt you will build up an appetite after a long day of shopping in this mammoth mall. Not to worry, for it hosts a plethora of eateries in which to recharge. Naui Gaya offers bulgogi (a type of Korean beef) dishes and a wide variety of stews. Whisk your tastebuds away to Jeju at Sun-ok’s Myeong-ga restaurant with Jeju-style dishes with various seafood. Make sure to try the abalone, which is famous in Jeju for its Haenyeo (female divers or endearingly referred to as the mermaids of Jeju) who gather it and other seafood off the coast of Jeju. Speaking of Jeju, the department store also has the Osulloc teahouse – the finest tea originating from the cultivated fields of Jeju, perfect for tasting its rich and complex flavours. Why not treat yourself to its famous green tea ice cream? Its wide selection of merchandise also makes for excellent gifts or souvenirs. Alternatively, the Teddy Beurre House cafe emanates a homely aesthetic, which sells a variety of home-baked goods. Other offerings are Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Vietnamese, and other various cuisines. 

Further afield from the hotel to the east, lies the high-end fashion and shopping area, Apgujeong Rodeo Street in the upscale district of Gangnam. You can download Korea’s Kakao T app to grab a taxi if needed, just be sure to select to pay the driver in the payment option. The street was once known as the Beverly Hills of South Korea where it was once a hot spot in the 1990s for Korean celebrities and affluent individuals to flaunt their sports cars and luxury brands. The street still has an affluent reputation; however, it has become more popular among a diverse crowd of visitors and thus attracted a wide range of stores, bars, and restaurants. At night, Korea’s signature eclectic stack of businesses in tall buildings shines bright with their neon lights as revellers descend upon the streets and the nightlife bounds throughout. 

Further along from Gangnam, stands the Lotte World Tower at a staggering 555m tall, with its peak cutting sharply against the Seoul skyline. The tower itself hosts Korea’s tallest observation deck at Seoul Sky, which also holds a Guinness World Record for having the tallest glass floor observatory installation in the world. If you are feeling brave, you can strap in and walk into the open air at 541m high, crossing a tight bridge connecting the tower’s two peak structures at the Sky Bridge tour.  

The Lotte World Mall features a wide range of shopping and dining. Make sure to pay a visit to South Korea’s luxury eyewear brand Gentle Monster store here. This specific store features an ultra-modern and avant-garde design concept incorporating kinetic installations to create a unique and evocative atmosphere for its customers. On the basement level, there is also an aquarium and a separate aquarium café where you can enjoy a coffee or cake as exotic marine life swim past in front of your table. If you are with the family and have a day to spend, why not consider the incredibly popular Lotte World theme park, which features an outdoor park as well as an indoor area – one of the largest in the world? With its popularity, the park can get incredibly busy, so it is recommended to buy the park’s magic pass through its website or Trazy to easily skip up to 10 rides (depending on the type of magic pass purchased) per guest.  

Cherry Blossom in spring with Korean national dress at Gyeongbokgung Palace Seoul,South Korea.

Outside of the tower, the Seokcheon Lake is nestled below in a ring of cherry blossom trees. The lake pathway sees a huge influx of people visiting in early April as the trees bloom with their pink blossom. Even without the blossoms, the lake is a remarkable sight. Walk along the pathway and take in the breathtaking views. As you walk alongside the lake, you can get a peek at Lotte World’s outdoor area situated on the lake. 

The cultural and exclusive things to do in Seoul 

Sunset colorful Seoul Floating Island at Han river in Seoul South Korea

If you have time and are looking for activities to fill your free time, you are spoiled for choice in South Korea’s restless capital. Within proximity to the Conrad, you can walk along Yeouido Park and take in the views of Han River and the striking skyline of Seoul’s skyscrapers dotted with mountains. From the Yeouido E-Land Cruise Terminal, you can take the E-Land Han River Cruise. There is a sunset cruise from around 5pm, a moonlight cruise at 7.30pm, or a starlight cruise at 9pm, which can be booked through Trazy or from the terminal. If you desire something more private, the Seoul Marina Club & Yacht, conveniently located in Yeouido, offers personal catamaran and power yacht tours. If you are feeling more adventurous, it also offers private helicopter tours so you can truly get an exclusive view of the city. This can be booked through its website (in Korean) or through Tripadvisor. 

Down past the E-Land terminal and the Wonhyo Bridge, you can find the recognisable 63 Building; the 250-metre-tall, elongated golden skyscraper. Catch it as the sun is low and watch it cast a stunning reflection along the Han River. The building itself offers an excellent observatory to soak in the city views, as well as an art gallery, aquarium, IMAX cinema, and performance hall.  

If you seek something more rooted in Korea’s rich culture, Seoul – despite its ultra-modernity – also keeps its heritage roots close to its chest. Near Anguk station, there is Insadong neighbourhood, perfect for Korea’s rich array of cafes and cultural shopping. Nearby is the Bukchon Hanok Village made up of traditional Korean homes (hanok) and features a stunning view of Namsan Tower looming high on the mountain from where it gets its name. The village is located between two famous and distinct palaces. The Gyeongbok Palace, which once served as the main palace for the old Joseon dynasty (famous for its development of science as well as King Sejong who introduced Korea’s writing system, hangul). The palace is expansive, and you can get lost in its open-ended layout of buildings and gardens. You will likely see tourists and Korean nationals alike immersing themselves by wearing a hanbok (traditional Korean clothing), which can be rented in close proximity to the palaces. The second palace is the Changgyeong Palace, which was originally built by King Sejong for his father Taejong. The defining feature is its wonderful secret garden that requires a separate tour ticket once inside the palace, but you are free to go at your own pace once inside.  

Aerial panoramic of Gyeongbokgung palace and the Blue House

Gyeongbokgung Palace at sunset.

A stop down from Anguk station, at the Jongno 3-ga station is the aircraft-themed cafe, “Boing”. Korea is renowned for its multitude of eclectically themed cafes that derive inspiration from various pop culture and ideas. They go beyond a simple cup of coffee; Korean cafes are an experience with each one bringing a unique concept to the table. The Boing cafe offers beer, wine, and whiskey on top of its coffee menu at its themed check-in desk. You can enjoy your beverage in standard seating, or you can sit at an airplane seat, which even features overhead luggage for your belongings. The special seating also has a window with simulated flight viewing along with pilot announcements. There are also oxygen masks if you so wish to immerse yourself. The lavatory, too, sticks to theme.  

Further afield, you can experience Korea’s bustling food market scene at Gwangjang market and sample an eclectic array of Korean delicacies from mung bean pancakes, fish cake soup, tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), bingsu (shaved ice dessert), and gimbap. Be sure to take a seat at Gohyang Kalguksu, made famous by Netflix’s Street Food: Asia (2019), and try its knife-cut noodle soup (kalguksu). 

Before making your way home, you may consider treating yourself to a stay at the five-star Paradise City hotel located a stone’s throw away from the Incheon International Airport, which offers various facilities and entertainment such as an indoor and outdoor pool, a spa, kids’ zone, and sauna. The hotel has an indoor funfair, Wonderbox, for all the family to enjoy. There is also the Paradise Casino which is exclusive to foreign nationals. It also hosts the trendy Cimer spa with an indoor area and an outdoor area where you can watch flights take off from the airport.  

This guide merely scratches the surface of what Seoul has to offer. Jacada Travel and Black Tomato are services that can be consulted to create bespoke travel itineraries for your trip.