AN AFTERNOON IN: SEOUL

AN AFTERNOON IN: SEOUL

Five must-see spots in the international hub.

A hub for technology and a global crossroads, Seoul is about as modern a city as you can get. But behind the high-gloss sheen of its glass towers and slick devices lies a thriving network of equally innovative shops, restaurants and art institutions that makes its culture singular. Should you ever find yourself with a free afternoon in the city, here are five things more than worth your time.

BISTRO SPARK

Orchestrated by Chef Park Sung-woo, Bistro Spark has served some of Seoul's best Italian cuisine since 2016. Besides a food menu packed with delicious pastas and seafood delicacies, it also has an extensive wine list with top bottles from around the world. Despite the restaurant's minimal aesthetic, its decor has a warmth that makes for a relaxing spot to enjoy a meal.

BOON THE SHOP

Since opening in 2000, Boon the Shop – created by Shinsegae and Milan Vukmirovic – has been pivotal in helping establish Seoul as an international fashion destination. Its futuristic space was created by none other than fashion's go-to architect and designer Peter Marino (who counts Armani, Chanel, Fendi and Dior as regular clients) and is filled with an incredible edit of top luxury brands.

HPIX

The vintage furniture market has been growing in recent years, and HPIX is an ideal spot to peruse some great design inspired by decades past (along with some genuine vintage articles). This design showroom features the kind of streamlined tables, sofas, sideboards and more that fit in just about anywhere thanks to their beautifully spare look. The space is also home to fine art exhibitions that speak to HPIX's overall design ethos.

LEEUM SAMSUNG MUSEUM

It's safe to say most have heard of the Korean tech giant Samsung. Perhaps less known is the fact that the company also owns and operates one of the best contemporary art museums in South Korea (if not the world). Divided into two sections – one traditional Korean art, the other contemporary art – it has quickly amassed an exceptional collection of 15,000 artworks since its founding in 2004. The building that collection is housed in has an equally rarefied pedigree with sections created by top architects Mario Botta, Jean Nouvel and Rem Koolhaas.

ANTHRACITE COFFEE

Anthracite Coffee gets its name from the variety of hard coal that proved vital to fueling the industrial revolution and the advancements that came about as a result. We have the feeling more than a few coffee drinkers would agree with caffeine's comparable fortifying abilities. With only three locations in Seoul, Anthracite roasts all of its own beans and keeps true to its gritty namesake with interiors that embrace concrete and burnished metal as their primary building materials. And if you're serious about learning more about your brew, the business offers home barista courses throughout the year and boatloads of information on the history, processing methods and flavor profiles of coffee.