Choosing the Venue: Korea (Part 2)

In this post, I’m going to review the top five hotels we’ve toured in Korea in the order we visited^^ Note: We got too tired and never made it to the Walker Hill and Coex Intercontinental Hotel

— Hyatt, Shilla, Ritz Carlton, Raum, and J.W Marriott Review —

1) Hyatt (하얏트 호텔)

The first place we visited was Hyatt. We stayed here for few days after we returned from our trip to Singapore, so we decided to stop by the Wedding Coordinator’s office on the first floor to inquire about the wedding venue. A lot of famous Korean actors/actresses had their weddings here and I was told Hyatt is one of the top two hotels in Korea.  The first reaction I had when I saw the “Grand Ballroom” @ Hyatt was that it was huge. It fits up to 700 people.  The room wasn’t set up at all when we toured, so it was sort of a peep into vacant space. We really liked it, but thought it might be too big for us. (Our guest number: 300) There’s also smaller room called the “Regency Room” right across it that fits up to 200 people, but the space looked really small and the ceiling was low (two things I look for in a wedding hall: the long heightened aisle and high ceilings). Overall, it was a decent venue, but  a bit pricey for its name I thought, because America’s Hyatt isn’t as great.

2) Shilla (신라 호텔)

Shilla is in close proximity to Hyatt (both located in 강북), so it was next on our list. Shilla is the best hotel in Korea and most of the Korean celebrities get married here, so I was excited to see what the wedding hall would look like in person. When we walked into the wedding office, it was really well designed.  The lady was very friendly and professional, and as we sat down, she turned on the wall TV to give us a presentation of what it would look like on our wedding day. The hilarious part was that the the couple who was chosen to be included in the presentation happened to be my fiance’s friends!! They had a beautiful wedding and it was great to see such a well planned out ceremony.

The cool thing about Shilla hotel is that they have a beauuutiful Korean castle next to the main builing called 영빈관 (Youngbinkwan), and this is what had me sold. (till I visited more venues) It’s a traditional and classy landmark that holds up to 300 guests, and we felt it was perfect for our number. There’s the main ballroom named “The Dynasty Room” on the second floor of the main hotel building, but it is set aside for bigger weddings with minimum guest numbers of 600~1000 people so we couldn’t hold it there even if we wanted to. This is what 영빈관 looks like:

This is Dynasty Room @ the main hotel building, which is similar in size to Hyatt and similar in concept. Very classy and pretty if you meet the min number!

The only downside of 영빈관 castle was that the actual ceremony room was too small in size and didn’t have high ceilings and the long aisle. But I loved that it had an outside garden where people can sip on cocktails before the actual ceremony, and a huge lawn in the center where reception can be held. The lady told us we can basically have it in any way we want. My fiance’s friends hired a singer to perform for them in the outdoor reception area, and it looked like a small concert hall! Overall, loved the castle and the service would be top notch, but wasn’t sure if I can compromise the ballroom look I wanted.

3) Ritz Carlton (리츠칼튼 호텔) 

We really didn’t expect much because we’ve heard so many differing opinions about Ritz Carlton, Seoul. But when we first stepped into the lobby, we immediately fell in love with its luxurious interior. The lobby here is gorgeous and classy in style. While Hyatt and J.W. Marriott’s decor was more business-y and Shilla’s more modern & simple, Ritz Carlton had that fancy, mansion type of a feel I liked. We were led to the office down a swirly stairway that looks like this:

There are actually three wedding rooms @ the Ritz: The Grand Ballroom, The Kumgang room, and an outdoor garden wedding. The kumkang room is too small and has low ceilings, so it was immediately crossed off. Outdoor weddings are uncommon in Korea due to Korea’s unpredictable weather. The Grand ballroom, on the other hand, fits around 300 people and has high beautiful ceiling, long heightened aisle, and a beautiful interior that would look awesome in pictures.  They also gave us special pricing for holding it on a Sunday.

I actually took the picture above when we toured. The place was not set up yet, but you can tell it’ll be beautiful with lighting and flowers.

4) Raum (라움)

This isn’t a hotel, but we visited this wedding & event venue also because it’s new (built last year) and we were told it’s just as upscale and classy as hotel weddings. (I’ve provided some info and pictures on the previous post). This venue was the most fun yet annoying out of all our tours. It was fun, because the wedding manager seemed to have intensively prepared for our tour and very well(?)-marketed the venue to us by using all sorts of lighting, music, and grand entrance scenarios to get us to “feel” the special moment. 😆  It was annoying, because he took us around for nearly two~three hours! Anyway, here’s a picture of our wedding manager asking us to enter as the door flung open and lights and music snapped on:

Without doubt, the venue is very beautiful. it’s antique in style and classy; I could see why they say only the top 1~2% of Korea’s Elites hold their weddings here. There are two types of wedding halls: one is the House wedding style, where the ceremony hall is in a chapel and is separate from the reception area. Another is the typical Korean-style, with round tables surrounding the long aisle for ceremony + reception all-in-one. I liked it that it had the korean style venue, with an outdoor lawn in the immediate front as well for people to sip on cocktails and mingle before the ceremony. Because it’s new, the 폐백 (paebaek: korean traditional ceremony) room was really spacious and beautiful. Here’s a picture of it:

 The bride room was so beautiful too. I think many dramas were filmed here as well because I recognized the background immediately.

this is what I like most about Raum: the exterior!

But we ultimately crossed the Raum off our list, because we felt it lacked history and depth. We wanted to wed at a place where it wasn’t just a “place to get married,” but a respected name that would be remembered for years to come.  We also wanted our ceremony at a hotel because we felt there was a significance in staying overnight at the place we married. Also, we would return on our anniversaries and stay at the same suite as a remembrance of our special wedding day.

5) J.W. Marriott (메리엇 호텔)

Having already almost made up on our minds about where we wanted to hold our wedding (either Shilla or Ritz!), we drove to J.W. Marriott hotel without much thought. We actually heard many great things about this hotel. Sadly, it was not the case. The lobby looked like it belonged to a typical 3-star business hotel, with minimal decorations. The carpet and wall colors made it look gloomy and even dirty. The ballroom on the 5th floor looked like a convention center used mostly for conferences. It’s similar in size to Ritz Carlton, but my fiance told me the traffic here is horrible due to its location next to Gosok Terminal (고속터미나). The price was the cheapest of all considering it’s a hotel wedding, but the venue was just not my type.

We didn’t go to Walker Hill hotel, but we didn’t think we would have it there anyway due to its far location. It’s a bit far from the main areas of Seoul so it’s difficult for guests to come. I didn’t really want to do it at Coex Intercontinental as well, because I’m not too familiar with the hotel and it just seemed very average.

My parents-in-law married at Shilla, and my parents married at Coex, but I don’t think I’ll end up at either.

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