Where one should stay when in Helsinki is probably one of my most-asked questions. I have family coming over, one of them being a history teacher – so I wanted to recommend a place that has a story to tell. There are countless possibilities and places, kinds of accommodation, and what kind of place feels best is something so subjective. What’s undeniable though is that there are not all that many places that have a lot of character to them, hotels can often be generic and pragmatic, but often lack charm and uniqueness – but the Original Sokos Hotel Vaakuna is different. Opened in 1952 for the Olympic Summer Games in Helsinki, it still managed to retain the vibes from the era, even after the extensive renovations.
*This post is a paid collaboration with Original Sokos Hotel Vaakuna – thank you!
Walking into the lobby, you are set back in time, the extravagant line of chairs and the dome in the ceiling, the fountain and the chandeliers it the middle of it are really something else. Even in 2019, the unique lighting and furniture from the 50s are present in the hotel, and I appreciate the level of love for details. I hope that these will get to stay even after the renovation!A hotel like this could easily come across as stuffy and out-of-date, but here the history is integrated so well with the generally modern look and feel. Vaakuna has different room categories, some that are well designed for families, as some have connecting doors for instance, but pretty much anyone who likes nostalgic vibes will enjoy this place.
The location is pretty much as central as it gets, across the street from the Railway Station, this is probably the best hotel in the city where you can just fall into when you arrive in the city. Also just a few steps away from Kamppi and Lasipalatsi, the Sokos department store is literally in the same building, and you can enter it straight from the lobby. Forum shopping mall and the railway station can be reached through the connections in the building as well, you if the weather is bad you can really get all your errands run without even taking a jacket. So handy.
Sleep in modern 1950s Nostalgia
We stayed over at Vaakuna in the midst of a busy time, with a lot going on. We hadn’t had a proper date night in a while, this was before we got fancy new mattresses, so especially I was looking forward to a good nights sleep.
Vaakunas 46 rooms on the 9th floor have spacious balconies so you can enjoy the city view from your private space, I recommend their own beer which goes perfectly with that. I took my time to get ready for our dinner date, took a bath and lounged about in the bathrobe while we watched Netflix – what a great way to relax on a rainy day. The rooms are equipped with Chromecast, so you can watch your own stuff on the TV from bed, there’s also an iPad available that lets you order room service, book dinner or get information about the city – super handy. In the summertime, I would definitely order a big luscious breakfast to have on the balcony! What a treat! I can’t wait to come back, maybe I’ll organise a family breakfast on the balcony when they come to visit.
I love the little nostalgic touches like the old telephone, yet the room is well equipped with the modern business (which I’m not sure said family members will be able to wrap their head around, but they always have the old phone to call me).
Dine above the city – Ravintola Loiste
Next thing that makes a stay here special: the restaurant. Loiste is up on the top floor of the magnificent building, and also the restaurant retains the 50s vibes that are all around the building. Leading up from the 9th floor, the doors are truly the entrance way into a different time. Especially the views during the evening times are just stunning – and there’s really no place like it.
The terrace is super popular during the summertime for after work drinks, but the restaurant is worth a visit during any time its dark, really. The food varies from some Finnish classics and some with a bit of a modern twist to them.
Vaakuna is a unique place, and especially in this moody weather, it gave us the feel of being in a 50s movie. I loved a cosy night in, a dinner with a view and a bath (!). Especially if you don’t have an awful lot of time in the city, this is a great place to stay at for exploring Helsinki, you’re right in the centre of everything and you are literally surrounded by public transport options in all possible directions.