Healing Stay Kosmos hotel - Ulleungdo Island, South Korea
It takes some effort to reach the volcanic Ulleungdo Island – a logistical challenge that involves a 350km trip due east from Seoul as the crow flies, and includes a three-hour ferry ride from Gangneung port. Persistence, however, will pay handsome dividends.
On the side of a steep icepick-shaped peak, Chanjoong Kim principal of Seoul-based architects The System Lab has curled snow-white concrete walls that swoop and swirl like the unusually potent chi energy fields that locals believe flow through the island. Equally, the resort’s high-ceilinged rooms – sparely furnished with blue-grey stone floors and a severe white palette – curve and bend like the interior of a giant seashell.
It’s no surprise that the diversions are almost entirely nature-based, taking full advantage of the island’s pristine haul of sea-caves, waterfalls, temples, and ancient forests. Equally arresting is chef Sunjin Hwang (ex-El Bulli and Noma) whose menu pairs steamed Dokdo Island shrimp with an oyster emulsion, and a short-rib sous-vided with red wine for 40 hours