Trending in Korea: The Makeup Hotel

 

Korea’s the country known for its pink women-only parking spaces (though China now also has them), so it’s no surprise that the next evolution in female specific amenities now include the so-called makeup hotel.

First, some background.

When you’re visiting Seoul, and it’s cosmetics and skincare that you want, you devote a day to shopping in Myeongdong. Located in a historic section of Seoul, Myeongdong is a makeup lover’s paradise, with store after store of Korean cosmetics brands from the mainstream (Missha, Etude, Skinfood) to perhaps the lesser known (Baviphat, Tonymoly) to the cool (Too Cool For School). It’s almost always crowded with women in groups of threes or fours, loaded down with shopping bags, rabidly speaking in Chinese or Japanese. Add to the cacophony saleswomen in front of every store, calling out in (bad) Chinese or Japanese (and the occasional English), waving a free sample sheet mask, and you’ve got a perfect picture of Myeongdong.

One hotel has taken advantage of its location in the bustling shopping district and one-upped everyone else: The Hotel Skypark Myeongdong’s new women-only floors. Not only are these floors exclusive to female guests, they’re decorated either in a dollhouse theme or like a log cabin in the woods. In the dollhouse floor, the rooms are Malibu Barbie-pink and filled to the brim with chandeliers, tufted pink furniture and flowery wall decals that say “Princess” or “Play House.”

 

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And it’s not just the decor. Instead of the usual cheap-y, travel size shampoo and shower gel, you can avail yourself of an array of full-size lotions and creams from well-known Korean brands. And you don’t get a mint on your pillow at turn down; instead you are greeted with best-selling sheet masks and palettes of eyeshadow.

Oh, but the pink madness doesn’t stop there. Sure, the log cabin women-only floor, designed in collaboration with Korean brand The Face Shop, offers a more nature-inspired experience, with pale green and brown tones, eco-friendly furnishings and organic fabrics. But the rest of the public spaces in the hotel are littered with too-cute little vanities filled with makeup by Etude House, one of Korea’s top-selling makeup brands (and known for their over-the-top princess design). Just think of it as a Sephora-meets-Holiday Inn.

More photos below.

 

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The Line Hotel in Koreatown

Story by Anna M. Park.

Los Angeles’ Koreatown is known for its food, drinks and even karaoke song rooms. What it’s not known for is hospitality, and I don’t mean the old-school waitresses at some Korean restaurants. That is, until now.

A collaboration between the Sydell Group (Ace Hotel New York City and Palm Springs) and celebrity chef Roy Choi, the Line Hotel has officially become Koreatown’s go-to place to stay and soon, to eat and play as well.

Taking residence in the historic midcentury building designed by Daniel Mann Johnson + Mendenhall (formerly a sad Radisson), the Line houses 388 guest rooms designed by L.A. artist Sean Knibb, featuring specially commissioned local art and nods to the surrounding ethnic enclave (stools in the shower, Korean snacks in the minibar). Knibb also designed the cavernous lobby, a mélange of materials and soothing hues with its textured paneling (actually made of T-shirts dyed in an ombre of indigo), raw concrete pillars and circular banquettes, a mix of highbrow — marble tables, tufted chairs — and organic, everyday materials. The lobby wall facing the street is now floor-to-ceiling windows with an outdoor patio, opening up the Line to the bustling street life of colorful locals and office workers alike.

Artwork made from discarded laundry detergent bottles and molded T-shirt paneling at reception continues the highbrow-lowbrow mix of the Line.

Artwork made from discarded laundry detergent bottles and molded T-shirt paneling at reception continues the highbrow-lowbrow mix of the Line.

The angular moonscape-like banquettes in the lobby.

The angular moonscape-like banquettes in the lobby.

It’s a philosophy that seems to permeate the hotel. Guests are constantly being welcomed, almost to excess, a departure that indicates that the Line is definitely not your typical Koreatown experience — it’s actually more of a modern Seoul experience, where customer service has become key in the last decade. Indeed, Choi wanted to duplicate the experience of a classic international hotel bar in Korea with his Pot Lobby Bar, now open.

Though Choi’s highly anticipated hot pot restaurant Pot, as well as the speakeasy-style lounge Speek by nightlife impresarios the Houston Brothers and Choi’s other restaurant Commissary (a “vegetable but not vegetarian” focused restaurant), has yet to open, there’s already plenty of activity in the lobby — a variety of people in suits meeting in the peri- winkle wood banquettes, stylish young women twittering in Korean, their eyes darting about as if trying to spot a lumi- nary. (Indeed, on this day, Choi rushes by, donning his signature T-shirt, slouchy jeans, cap and bright aqua sneakers.)

“We want our guests to immerse themselves in the neighborhood,” says Sana Keefer, in charge of culture/creative at the Line. “Not just stay in the hotel, but have the Koreatown experience.” To that end, specially commissioned Linus bicycles are available for guest use and the in-house mag, Here, features maps and local businesses like Beer Belly, the HMS Bounty and Soowon Galbi.

It’s a fresh attitude starting to take hold in Koreatown. Some may call it gentrification, but what makes these changes different is that much of the growth of the neighborhood is helmed by Korean Americans. (The Houston Brothers, as well as Angie Myung, co-founder of the lifestyle brand Poketo, which will have a store and streetside newsstand on the lobby floor, are Korean American.) “The good thing is that we have a large Korean American base, a youth base,” says Keefer (herself of biracial Korean heritage). A young, hip American hotel, that’s what they’re going for, she says, while embracing the community with its Korean-speaking staff and translations throughout. “It’s a tricky thing to pull off,” adds Keefer, “but so far so good.” Details Thelinehotel.com.

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This story was originally published in our Spring 2014 issue. Get your copy here