Quite possibly one of the coolest properties to hit the Asian hotel scene last year, RYSE in western Seoul’s Hongdae neighbourhood is the perfect place to nurture your inner creative. Here in this artsy locale, a mere 10-minute walk from the Hongik Art University (regarded as one of South Korea’s best colleges for art education), one discovers yet another facet of South Korea; underground clubs, budding galleries, design studios, art festivals and the carefreeness of youth.
All these elements are artfully reflected in the 272-room property that is RYSE, conceived by London-based Michaelis Boyd, as well as Daniel Song and Kate Cho of local studio Integ. They sought to represent Hongdae’s ‘self-expression and individuality’ through the hotel and its amenities – staying close to the local character which has latterly come to define Hongdae.
Stepping in feels like arriving in an high-end artsy apartment, with textured concrete walls – reminiscent of the mountains which ring the city – reflecting off a floor of pink resin with a fluffy hot pink carpet at the hotel’s ‘culture lounge’. This creative slant by RYSE gives birth to the multifaceted works of artists which showcase the crossover of cultures and influences, a microcosm of South Korea’s uber hip and cool personality in the current age, yet never far from its national identity.
Room categories riff on the arts theme a little further; Creator, Editor, Director, and the Producer and Artist Suites. Each room (from KRW240,000) offers artistic touches with installations and art works, as well as drip bag coffee, a Bluetooth-enabled boombox and, in a nod to that eternal South Korean fascination, a facial mask – custom-made for RYSE. IISE, a Korean-inspired lifestyle brand, has been roped in for the hotel’s custom bathrobes and also the hotel crew’s modish attire. At the topmost 20th floor, RYSE’s 2,000 sq ft Executive Producer suite offers a soaking tub for six, a DJ table, art by young upcoming names and Korean legend Lee Bae, plus sensational views of the pulsating Hongdae neighbourhood.
Here at RYSE, even the music, journals and magazines in the swanky living hall are carefully curated, with work by up-and-coming names. Ultimately, this permeates through to RYSE’s various spaces. At the hotel’s Side Note Club – a trio of world-championship wining South Korean bartenders serve up cocktails amid RYSE’s own vinyl collection, all happening on the 15th storey rooftop bar and lounge.
Another gathering point for the locals is Tartine, made famous by the original coffee shop and bakery in San Francisco, with RYSE being its second outlet worldwide. Thai restaurant Long Chim – which found initial fame in Australia – is RYSE’s exciting dining option. Indeed, this Seoul outpost, serving chef David Thompson’s refined spin of Thai street food, has made its way into the 2019 Michelin Guide Seoul. A grilled chicken with chilli jam is served with toasted coconut, shallots and lemongrass, while the pad thai transports you to heady Bangkok with aromas of prawns, peanuts and bean sprouts. Its set dinner menu ‘Maa Long Chim’ (KRW90,000/RM313), promises a lineup of the chef’s favourite dishes, with an optional beverage pairing.
RYSE’s dedication to being a hub for artistic pursuits and the local populace works, in large because of its sincere approach and thoughtful conception. The basement-level Arario Gallery cultivates young international artists while a third-floor library – known as the Print Culture Lounge – is an invitation for guests to connect with the property’s vinyl, book and magazine collection.
Adjacent to the library is the world-famous Workout Store – occupying 5,000 square feet of retail space where guests and locals shop for hip, cool threads to channel their inner Kanye. Perhaps, more intriguingly, is the hotel’s own sneaker concierge Eric Yoo – himself a long-time sneakerhead – who can help you track down that elusive Yeezy or Air Jordan.