If, like me, you have a formal event to attend, but only a few hours to spare during a whirlwind stopover in Seoul, what do you do? Maximise your visit by visiting one of the country’s top new spas; hit Gangnam for some retail therapy; and entrust your make-up and hair to the same stylists who help Korean celebs the likes of Lee Min-jung and Daniel Henney shine on the red carpet.
1 Visit the new Sulwhasoo Flagship store
Formerly the venue of Sulwhasoo’s annual Sulwha Cultural Exhibition, the repurposed six-storey building was entrusted to Neri&Hu, the architecture duo behind The Waterhouse at South Bund, a boutique hotel in Shanghai’s Cool Docks development. Now a distinctive landmark in Gangnam characterised by its use of lantern-inspired brass latticework, Korea’s largest beauty brand flagship houses a boutique, heritage room, cultural lounge, rooftop lounge with views overlooking Dosan Park, and not one but two in-house spas. Beauty hoarders, take note that this is the only store in the world that carries the new Sulwhasoo Lantern Collection, which includes the First Care Activating Serum Ex and the Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream.
18, Dosan-daero 45-gil, Gangnam-gu; Tel: +82 2 541 9270
2 Pamper yourself with a spa treatment
While both the Sulwhasoo Balance Spa (level four) and Sulwhasoo Spa (basement level) offer full body treatments that are restorative and recharging, you’ll want to opt for one of the facials instead since you’ll need to be looking camera-ready. Catered towards a younger customer-base, the Sulwhasoo Balance Spa takes the concept of the lantern to heart, with natural-lit rooms and floor-to-ceiling windows that offer views of Dosan Park. The 60-minute Vitality Care treatment, in particular, is perfect for revitalising dull-looking skin and is founded on the brand’s oriental medicinal techniques. Those seeking to knock back the traces of time will be heartened to know that the downstairs Sulwhasoo Spa offers anti-ageing treatments built around the brand’s Timetreasure and Concentrated Ginseng lines.
3 Enjoy Seoul, Gangnam style
Since you are already in Gangnam, it’s only a hop and skip away to some of the world’s top luxury boutiques. Directly across the street from Sulwhasoo is Ralph Lauren, while just minutes away are Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Prada, Dior…and the list goes on. The sub-district of Chungdam is also known for its cluster of beauty and hair salons where Korean celebrities get their make-up done and visitors come to for “Seoulite” make-overs.
4 Doll up while celebrity-spotting
No red carpet event is complete without first sitting in the chair of a trusted make-up artist and hair stylist. A favourite of top celebrities, Jenny House has three salons within Chungdam and boasts a clientele ranging from Girl’s Generation’s Yuna to Boys Over Flower’s Lee Min-jung. The hairstylist who attended to me at the Primo brunch was even introduced as one of the hair whizzes behind Korean girl group T-ara. As if the celebrity connection wasn’t enough, there was girl-next-door actress Park Shinhye of The Heirs and Pinocchio fame in the flesh seated just a few seats down. But do observe salon decorum: No wandering cameras or wefies with the stars, please.