If being a “regular” tourist in Helsinki means you visit once a year (or more), I hope I qualify. I have stayed at the Hotel Kamp, the Glo (downtown, not at the airport or in Espoo), and the Hotel Haven (and am intrigued to some extent by both the Klaus K and the Fabian but haven’t tried ‘em yet). However, on my third visit in probably four years to the Haven, I can’t think of any reason to stay anywhere else in the city. It’s a marvelous hotel. No question: The Kamp is better-known. Still, I will say that, just the other day, as I was sauntering down the Esplanade, past that hotel’s entrance, a guest was irritatingly humping his own luggage a half block to the main drag to get a taxi. I don’t know, it didn’t seem like that storied property was keeping to standards.
Regardless, the Haven has a more enviable location (one side faces Helsinki's gorgeous harbor, the other some other office buildings). It has bikes to borrow, it's an easy walk to anything you want to see in Helsinki (though the gorgeous marketplace, as of July 2013, is shut-down for a major refurbishment), is close to restaurants, tourist-stuff and is a quick taxi to the train station.
At Hotel Haven, where if you’re lucky the smaller rooms (at least in my experience, and from poking around when housekeeping is cleaning) look out onto the harborfront, there’s no better view in the city. Weirdly the larger rooms I’ve seen, and I’ve only stayed in smaller ones, are on the street-front side which has a lesser view though they are lovely. On the smaller side, aim for the upper-most floors, (anything below five means you see nothing, and I’d suggest going for six – eight). There are only a handful of rooms on each floor (again, five and above) that look out over the harbor so if that matters, specify. If you’re not sure, invest in an upgrade.
What I like about the Haven beside its location on the waterfront? Great welcome, terrific service, pretty rooms with a minimalist cottage-style ambiance (as opposed to the heavy mahogany feel you get with old school luxe). Superb electronics (Bose TV, phone, though no iPhone charger), good and reasonably priced mini-bar (where are the diet drinks, though?), gorgeous bathrooms (with full-size tubs on request) with Steiner accouterments. The included buffet breakfast is both Nordic and American (you can order dishes a’la carte but there’s not much need). Internet is free (which for a deluxe property deserves acclaim). The beds are perfectly firm (great night's sleep).
The hotel is within walking distance of all the top restaurants (ironically, many of these are also part of the same parent company – I was a little bit…disturbed…when the concierge recommend Sasso, owned by the Haven folks, over Gastone, which isn’t, but okay, consider yourself warned. Do a little bit of homework.) I did love the Sundman’s Krog, which is part of this group, but which feels Finnish in the best possible bistro way.
Why then does Haven net a four star rather than five star rating on TripAdvisor? I love this place, and will be back, but there are minor details missing. Towels are occasionally threadbare (which doesn’t matter in a 2-star place but does matter w/ a luxury hotel). The rug had a lot of spots on it and while I didn’t feel in any way that the room wasn’t cleaned properly, spots, in any quantity, don’t belong on a luxury hotel rug ☺ And one more thing: In my room the closet door leading to the minibar was warped and wouldn’t close (which meant that the light inside wouldn’t go out); I figured out how to slam it shut but…still. Sloppy housekeeping.
Does any of this matter to me in the end? Absolutely not. I’ll be back.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel Haven, Finland’s first member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World chain, is designed to provide homely warmth, exclusive comfort and high-quality services for the discerning guest. The hotel with 77 individual and well-appointed rooms and premium restaurant and conference services is conveniently situated in the attractive setting of Helsinki’s Market Square.In the elegant yet cosy foyer, guests can relax by the fireplace and browse leisurely through the daily papers. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Haven Hotel Helsinki