May 11, 2018
The Shilla is one of Seoul’s smartest hotels, a cool cube of a building with an attractive modern interior and within easy reach of the city’s main financial, banking and fashion quarters. Headed by Lee Boo-jin, the stylish daughter of Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee (reported to be the richest man in Korea) it’s the accommodation of choice for visiting dignitaries, international CEOs and celebrities. As befits its high-flying clientele, the first floor Library Bar is an artfully elegant space, with books scattered here and there and a grand piano in the corner. In addition to an extensive wine cellar the bar also boasts more than 70 single malt whiskies the greatest collection in Korea. Jazz is played live most nights as a grown up crowd sip one of those smooth whiskies or a perfectly mixed martini. There’s a selection of light snacks on the menu, as well as indulgent desserts like New York cheesecake and coffee chocolate pie. Afternoon tea both traditional and the more indulgent Champagne version is also on offer. And the hotel is home to five of the city’s best restaurants, offering an array of international cuisines, so there’s not far to go if you want something more substantial. The Library is a popular destination for intimate gatherings and meetings, but solo drinkers will feel perfectly comfortable settling into one of the cosy couches and flicking through a book on art, history or culture. Though that overly polished hotel bar vibe is unavoidable, the place has a reassuringly expensive and pleasantly refined atmosphere.