Le Méridien Seoul

Will Speros • Photography by Edmon Leong • January 31, 2018

Photos: Le Méridien Seoul

When Le Mèridien tapped London firm David Collins Studio to spearhead the design of its first Korean outpost, the Le Méridien Seoul, the owner emphasized one thing in the design brief: to explore color in new and interesting ways. But first, the building had to undergo a full renovation, so the firm stripped the space way back to its bones and restored it with a new layout that connects old and new buildings via a 12th-floor bridge. But the most distinct indication of a visual refresh is the muted, elegant tones that traverse the building, starting in the entrance.

Woven metal screens frame the lobby and the grand colonnade at arrival gives way to a series of rooms, including the hotel’s F&B outposts, revealing a soaring atrium that spans five stories. “We set out to combine and layer some key moments of inspiration from Korean culture,” notes Simon Rawlings, creative director of David Collins Studio. “There were lots of similarities in the theory to those of the midcentury movement and the two bodies of thought began to marry well.” Look no further than the addition of mirrors, which instill a sense of drama and depth throughout the property, while a color palette of deep olive green, teal, and lilac add a regal quality to the property. The addition of artworks from local artists give the space a sense of authenticity.

“I want the guest’s mood to change as they move around the hotel, and to have lots of different experiences,” he says. “Many spaces are multifunctional and can offer a different experience through the design.” For example, Latitude 37 is a coffee bar by day that transforms into a nightlife spot at night, so Rawlings chose sleek timber cabinets to reveal the cocktail bar behind atmospheric lighting. “I really want guests to take and delight in discovering each of these spaces.”

At the end of the colonnade, all-day dining restaurant Chef’s Palette is crafted with grid-like detailing, including an ornate ceiling that recalls Korean arts and crafts, and is dressed in timber, crackle-glazed white tiles, and glass block screens with blue and pink leathers and fabrics that complement brass accents. Meanwhile, Elements restaurant further embraces classical Korean culture with two clearly defined north and south zones joined through a dramatic central colonnade flanked with stone columns.

The private club lounge on the 12th floor offers views of the city’s skyline with double-height ceilings and glazed walls boasting traditional Korean overlapping linen blinds. Drama is added by layering dark timber and velvets in dark green and navy with red accents and woven leather, which soften the space.

The calming palette continues into the 253 guestrooms where serene tones of ivory, green, blue, and lavender create a luxurious effect in the rooms. Yet, it’s the exclusive presidential suite that truly embraces Le Méridien’s midcentury aesthetic with sumptuous patterned fabrics mixing with screen silk paper, embossed leather, and luxe silk carpets. Guests enter through a dramatic double-height ceiling that opens up to six distinct rooms, including a rotunda featuring a high-level screen inspired by the work of Pierre Chareau in eucalyptus and antique brass trims. A spiral staircase leads to the suite’s upper terrace, and the “décor throughout is an impactful blend of green, lavender, and blue teamed with dark timber parquet flooring and velvet upholstery,” he says, noting that creating a light-filled ground floor with “the flow and feeling of grandeur of the new colonnade” was the ultimate reward.