Fancy staying in a former prison? Or a floating cabin on a lake? Or hanging out with the locals in Helsinki’s swanky design district?
Finland’s capital has some great places to stay, from design classics to quirky hidden gems. Here’s our guide to the best of Helsinki’s unusual accommodation!
This industrial chic apartment
In a great location in Helsinki’s design district, this large, light, open-plan loft apartment is full of industrial-style charm.
With bright white pillars, recessed day-beds, high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows, its stylish interior is the work of local designers and artists.
But the apartment’s highlight is definitely its wooden-decked roof terrace, where you can breakfast in style and admire the views over Helsinki’s Punavuori district.
And if you’ve indulged in too many Finnish cinnamon rolls or meat pies during your stay, the helpful owner even throws in free gym passes.
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This Art Nouveau castle
Fancy staying in an Art Nouveau hideaway in Helsinki’s trendy design area? With a granite façade, a heavy carved front wooden door and a round turret on its roof, Glo Hotel Art certainly has the look of a castle from the outside.
Built in the early 1900s as the student union for Helsinki’s technical university, it’s all vaulted ceilings, thick stone columns and brickwork in its public spaces, with Finnish designer furniture added to the mix.
Most of the bedrooms, however, are in a modern annexe with sleek, contemporary décor. Wooden floors, large beds, flatscreen TVs and minimalist furniture are the order of the day here.
This Helsinki townhouse
Fans of Finnish design will love this three-storey stylish redbrick and timber townhouse, with white minimalist décor, blonde wood floors and large picture windows.
The huge open-plan kitchen-diner opens onto a wooden deck and a communal grassy area, where you can hang out on day-beds or barbecue with the neighbours.
And in winter, you can cosy up in front of the contemporary-style wood-burner and admire your Finnish design classic furniture.
Surrounded by parkland, the house is in a quiet residential area. So here you can live like a fashionable Finn for a few days, but still only be a 15-minute tram ride from the city centre.
This former prison
It occupies an old prison, but the atmospheric Hotel Katajanokka has been beautifully converted into a stylish hotel with comfortable rooms and all mod cons.
Built by Tsar Nicholas in 1837, it served as Helsinki’s county prison until 2002 – and even housed Finland’s wartime president and government ministers.
But don’t worry – before it became a hotel, the building was blessed by five priests to remove all the ‘negative energy’ from its former inhabitants.
The rooms have been converted from the former cell blocks, and now have have wooden floors, high ceilings, large beds and stylish furnishings. And with one-metre thick walls and triple-glazed windows, you should get a peaceful night’s sleep.
In a great central location on Katajanokka island, the hotel is just ten-minutes’ walk – or a short tram trip – from the city centre.
This apartment with sea views and a sauna
This cosy apartment may be only a short walk from Helsinki’s sights and shops, but its views across the sea and over the Suomenlinna Fortress make it feel a world away from the bustle of the city centre.
With large picture windows and a balcony, there’s no better spot to settle into the Alvar Aalto chairs and watch the ferries drifting by or the sun setting over the sea.
Host Elianne may even leave you a tasty traditional Karelian pie to try. And after a hard day’s sightseeing in the city, you can ease your aching muscles in the apartment’s private sauna.
This ‘sauna ferry’ in Kirkkonummi
Is it a sauna? Or is it is a boat? Well, it’s more of a floating cabin really, with a cosy living area and its own sauna.
Okay, it’s hardly in the city centre (it’s about 35km west of Helsinki) but it’s still an easy drive from the capital. And it definitely makes a great place to chill out after the bustle of the city.
Large windows open onto a wooden deck, where you can barbecue, relax in the sun and watch the wildlife on the lake. But of course, the main draw is the sauna, which will be heated and ready for you when you arrive.
This means that whatever the time of year you can leap into the lake (or lower yourself gently down the ladder, if your prefer!) for a quick, refreshing swim – then warm up in comfort afterwards.
The cabin comes with own rowing boat for pottering around the lake, and bikes can be rented too – perfect for exploring the nearby countryside.