Heritage of LOTTE HOTELS
History and culture built and shaped over a generation by a hotel brand can be extraordinary. This is the story of LOTTE HOTELS, a brand that has been synonymous with the history of hotels in Korea.
Hotels will guide you into the world outside your day-to-day existence. Whether you’re traveling for fun or on a business trip, you get to experience unique space and time at hotels. And a good hotel is supposed to provide guests with the kind of comfort that they enjoy on a daily basis. Further, a great hotel, on top of offering a comfortable stay, should also provide a memorable experience. This is not possible with some one-off events. Only hotels with a rich heritage can pull it off. This is the story of heritage of LOTTE HOTELS, where spiritual heritage is manifested in a system.

Bando Hotel in the 1970s

Tallest and Largest Hotel in Korea
Daebul Hotel, which opened in Incheon in 1889, is the first hotel in Korea. Foreigners who arrived in Joseon via Incheon Port took their rest in Incheon before traveling to Seoul. The first western-style hotel in Korea, Hotel du Palais, opened in 1901 (though some documents claim the year was 1899). Then In 1902, Sontag Hotel opened on an estate bestowed to a German woman named Antoinette Sontag by Emperor Gojong. Hotel du Palais is believed to have been demolished in 1912 during road expansion work. Sontag Hotel closed in 1918 and was turned into a residence for Ewha Girls’ High School, before getting destroyed by a fire.

Hotels built following the open-port period

The first fashion show at Bando Hotel

Postcards and other publications used at Bando Hotel

In 1914, a four-story Josun Hotel was erected, and then in 1938, Bando Hotel, the tallest one at the time at eight stories, opened right behind Josun. Shitagau Noguchi, founder of Bando Hotel, was a tycoon who had also built a nitrogen fertilizer plant in South Hamgyong Province and a hydroelectric power plant at Amnok River. He was once refused entry at Josun Hotel when he showed up in some shabby clothes. He took out his anger by building a new hotel twice as tall as Josun right behind it, and even set up his office on the fifth floor so he could look down at Josun. At the time, Bando rated as the fourth-largest hotel in Asia. Following Korea’s liberation from the Japanese colonial regime in 1945, the hotel was used as residence for the U.S. military officers, before it was returned to the Korean government in 1948. It served as the hotel exclusive for U.S. Embassy officials and foreign tourists. Bando remained state-run until the 1970s, before being sold to LOTTE Group in 1974.

Brochures on LOTTE HOTEL Sky Observatory, Windsor Bar and Chinese restaurant Toh Lim. and View of LOTTE HOTEL before its opening

LOTTE HOTELS Ushers in New Era
A new era was now underway. LOTTE Group tore down Bando Hotel and newly built LOTTE HOTEL SEOUL on the site. The construction cost nearly as much as Gyeongbu Expressway. When it opened in 1979 with 38 stories, it was the tallest building in Korea. At the time, the group faced pressure to keep the hotel to 18 stories, for it would otherwise end up taller than Cheong Wa Dae. But the group persisted and was able to complete LOTTE HOTEL SEOUL to its original design.

Materials from early days of LOTTE HOTEL

Pin commemorating the opening of LOTTE HOTEL and service pin

Matchbox designed by LOTTE HOTEL restaurant

Promotional brochures on LOTTE HOTEL

The heritage of LOTTE HOTEL SEOUL isn’t merely confined to its size. LOTTE did not sign any agreement with a foreign hotel brand and chose to run its hotel independently. If LOTTE had reached any franchise deal, the group would have been able to learn some advanced industry know-how easily. To this day, few high-end Korean hotels remain independent without a license agreement with a global brand. After starting out with LOTTE HOTEL SEOUL, LOTTE HOTELS boasts the most franchises and rooms in Korea. In 2010, it became the first Korean hotel brand to open a foreign location (LOTTE HOTEL MOSCOW). The real heritage of LOTTE HOTELS comes from the sense of pride accompanying its rich history, and the quality service befitting its status.

History of LOTTE HOTEL uniforms

Korean-style Service of High Quality
Instead of finding a global partner, LOTTE HOTEL SEOUL sent its employees overseas for training opportunities in order to improve the quality of its service. This was so unprecedented in the Korean hotel industry at the time that it received media coverage. LOTTE also produced a service manual, the first of its kind among Korean hotel brands, in its continued effort to provide comfortable stay for guests. While other local hotels adopted service manuals from foreign hotels, no one had developed its own manual specifically for the local market. Of course, the Korean service also had to exceed global standards.
From its early days, LOTTE HOTEL SEOUL ordered thick towels, the kind not available in retail, and its beds were 10cm longer and wider than typical beds in Korea. During its 2006 renovation, LOTTE HOTEL SEOUL relocated the front desk for its Executive Tower to the 14th floor, yet another unusual step. It was designed to take guests away from the noisy and bustling first floor and toward a quieter lobby at the start of their stay.

View of Pierre Gagnaire a Seoul, which opened in 2007

Hosting Michelin 3-Star Restaurant
Fine dining is one of the key service areas for hotels. LOTTE HOTELS first reached out to the world-renowned chef Pierre Gagnaire in 2006 to open his restaurant at one of its hotels. LOTTE’s persistence paid off in 2007, when it became the first Korean hotel to house a Michelin 3-star restaurant with Pierre Gagnaire a Seoul. From then on, LOTTE HOTELS earned a reputation among epicures as a great culinary destination.
LOTTE HOTELS has also developed an understated but caring service that finds its way to the heart of its guests. In 2009, LOTTE HOTELS celebrated its 30th anniversary with the grand prize at the Customer Satisfaction Management Awards, and it has continued to pick up trophies since. In 2022, LOTTE HOTELS extended its winning streak in the hotel category of the Korean Standard-Service Quality Index to 10 years, and in the business hotel category of the same index to six years.

LOTTE HOTEL’s global ad in world-renowned travel magazine <Global Traveler>

LOTTE HOTEL MOSCOW (opened in 2010)




Prime Location Where Every Moment Spent Is Memorable
At the time of its opening, LOTTE HOTEL SEOUL made headlines for being the tallest building in the country. It has since been surpassed by others, though in 2017, as SIGNIEL SEOUL opened at LOTTE WORLD TOWER, it once again became the tallest hotel in Korea. But it is never about just the height with LOTTE HOTELS. The view from up high helps turn every moment spent into a memorable one for guests.
Euljiro, where LOTTE HOTEL SEOUL stands, has been the business and cultural center of Korea since Joseon Dynasty days. Landmarks and attractions such as Gwanghwamun, Yukjo Street, Deoksugung, Namdaemun and Seosomun can all be a source of wonder for international tourists. Jamsil, home of LOTTE HOTEL WORLD, was at the heart of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, which showcased Korea to the rest of the world as it scripted the ‘Miracle on the Han River.’ LOTTE HOTEL WORLD is also adjacent to the LOTTE World Adventure theme park and other large cultural and convention centers. It serves as a microcosm of South Korea’s rapid growth.

SIGNIEL SEOUL, located in a Seoul landmark, LOTTE World Tower

SIGNIEL SEOUL is in an ideal location that encapsulates what makes Korea so great. In 2019, SIGNIEL SEOUL’s ‘Bar 81’ made the list of the 12 best hotel sky bars, as selected by .  LOTTE HOTELS also has locations in Jeju, Ulsan and Busan, among other Korean cities, and has opened hotels all over the world, including in Moscow, Saigon, Tashkent, Guam, New York, Yanggon, St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, Samara and Seattle. They all provide services of the highest quality in prime locations.

Address 30 Euljiro, Jung-gu, Seoul
Phone +82-2-771-1000
May 2023 Editor:Jung Jaewook
Writer:Yi Joonghan
Photographer:Park Sungyoung LOTTE HOTEL

Where to stay?

  • May 2023
  • Editor: Jung Jaewook
    Writer: Yi Joonghan
  • Photographer: Park Sungyoung
  • Cooperation: LOTTE HOTEL
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