Helsinki – luxury hotels, iconic cafés and more
In the heart of the capital of Finland it is not a demanding task to find a five-star pillow under your head. The hotel scene of Helsinki is booming and new hotels are opened regularly. One of the newest ones is Hotel St. George, which also has a luxurious spa with relaxation pool. This modern and chic hotel is filled with eye-pampering art from world famous artists, like world-famous Chinese contemporary artist Ai Wei Wei. If you would rather admire a sea view, head to Hotel Haven. This classy boutique hotel offers a wonderful view to the Russian-style Uspenski cathedral for the lucky hotel guest. To start your day in a truly elegant way, try Haven’s delicious breakfast in the grand 19th century dining room. Right at the heart of the city you can find Hotel Kämp – a true icon of Helsinki’s small but fiery luxury hotel landscape.
Did you know that Finns drink more coffee per capita than any other nation in the world? Most of it is consumed as ordinary filter coffee in homes but why not try a more sophisticated coffee break? Visit the most traditional café of the city, Ekberg, which has served cake lovers ever since from 1852. Or try Chez Janet, which reminds you with its pastel-colored interior and sweet macarons of the feasts of Marie Antoinette. As they say, luxury is in the details.
In Helsinki, shopping ethically and stylishly is easy. Kämp Garden offers a large variety of Finnish fashion and design such as high-quality cashmere by Arela, evening gowns by Mert Otsamo and much more. Or go hunt for second-hand luxury in Fredrikinkatu from seducing little boutiques, like Amado and Soma Oma. In Relove, you can enjoy both recycled fashion and vegan delicacies or a glass on organic wine.
Porvoo – historic charm and culinary treats
The tiny town of Porvoo is a medieval pearl situated less than 50 kilometres from the center of Helsinki. It is as cozy in the summer as it is during Christmas time. But if you decide to make a trip there in summertime, we suggest doing it in a old-world style with M/S J. L. Runeberg – a ship built in 1912 and named after the Finnish national poet, who used to live in Porvoo. The grand ship takes you to your destination through the stunningly beautiful Finnish archipelago. Sail away and enjoy the landscape and a bowl of delicious salmon soup.
Porvoo is a foodie’s paradise packed with high-quality restaurants. One of the most popular ones is Sicapelle, which combines Italian flavours with local ingredients. The lady behing the delicious recipes is the head chef Simona Milazzo. Or try Salt. This easy-going restaurant with dividend portions is located next to the church in an old log building with unforgettable atmosphere.
The narrow streets of Porvoo offer interesting shopping opportunities for antique and vintage lovers. Antique House has a stunning collection of old cutlery, porcelain, glassware and jewelry.
After hard shopping, dining and wining we all need rest. Get it in style and book a room from Pariisin Ville, an elegant boutique hotel named after the Belle Époque sculptor Ville Vallgren who once upon a time shared his time between Porvoo and Paris. In the luxurious Aleksanterin Sviitti, you can sleep like the emperor, because in this very same house Alexander I of Russia lived during the parliament meeting of Porvoo in 1809.
Images of Sicapelle and Pariisin Ville by Kia Arpia (Brinna).
Tampere – jazz age meets vintage gems
Tampere, the third biggest city of Finland, is mainly known for its industrial red brick architecture and rock music scene, but if you seek for luxury with a Finnish twist, you will not be disappointed. A fabulous place to stay is Radisson Blu Grand Hotel Tammer, which is situated beautifully by the Tammer river. Take a step inside and you can feel as if you would have entered Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot mystery. The interior of the beautiful art deco hotel, built in 1929, takes you back to age of jazz. Don’t pass the spectacular dining room where you can enjoy tasty meals made of local products under the crystal chandeliers.
Tampere is well-known for its popular museums, like the Moomin Museum, which is especially loved among the Japanese fans of the famous Finnish cuddly cartoon characters. A hidden museum gem for a luxury traveler is Milavida, an elegant stone villa surrounded by a green park. The building served originally as a wealthy manufacturer family of von Nottbeck. In addition to the home museum, which tells about upper class life during the age of Belle Époque, the museum offers a location for visiting exhibitions, often associated with fashion. There is also a café in the museum.
For vintage shoppers, Tampere is a small haven. Vintage Garden is favored by ladies who love feminine dresses and bold jewelry. Helga-Neiti offers contemporary, high-quality second-hand fashion with brands like Max Mara, Hugo Boss and Marimekko. Or visit Kätkö Vintage, where you can also find interior design bargains, such as old glassware and ceramics.
Lahti – music, meals and modern tastes
The city of Lahti, one hour north of Helsinki by train, is small Lakeland city known for sports events, especially winter sports.
But nowadays it also boasts one of the finest concert halls in the country: Sibelius Hall. The hall located by the beautiful Lake Vesijärvi, hosts both classical and pop music concerts. The impressive building combines old factory architecture with modern, wooden structures.
In addition to music, you can enjoy culinary treats in Lahti. Try Roux, an elegant yet cozy restaurants which blends Scandinavian and French influences. It is also well-known for its excellent wine cellar. Or visit Bistro Popot – a name referring to shoes because of a shoe shop that was located in the same address for decades. Bistro Popot offers modern tastes made of local ingredients.
Shoppers go to destination is Petit St. Louis. This cute little boutique sells hip and trendy clothes, alluring fragrances by Byredo and Diptyque as well as Charbonnel & Walker chocolates.
Image of Petit St. Louis by Femboart.
Savonlinna and Lake Saimaa – luxury in the midst of nature
Savonlinna, a Lakeland town in Eastern Finland, turns into the opera capital of Finland with the annual Savonlinna Opera Festival held in July. The medieval castle of Olavinlinna has offered breathtaking setting for the operas ever since 1912. Remember to reserve both your ticket and hotel room well ahead of the festival as Savonlinna tends to be packed during the opera festival with both Finns and international visitors.
Nothing to wear for the big opera night? Even though Savonlinna is a small town, many designers, such as the Grand Old Man of Finnish fashion Mr. Jukka Rintala, open pop up shops during the opera festival. The Finnish fashion brand Muotikuu also has a shop permanently in Savonlinna. Muotikuu is especially well-known for its knitwear which is perfect for chilly Finnish summer nights.
The most elegant place to sleep by Lake Saimaa is located 30 kilometres from Savonlinna in the small town of Punkaharju. Hotel Punkaharju is the oldest hotel in Finland founded already in 1845. It pampers guests from locals to presidents with stunning scenery, cozy rooms and delicious food made of local ingredients. The owner, ex-supermodel Saimi Hoyer is a specialist in wild mushrooms and therefore you can always find them in the menu.
Turku and Naantali – vintage charm on the West coast
Turku – located less than two hours west of Helsinki by train – is the oldest city of Finland. Turku and its tiny neighbor Naantali are well worth a visit. In addition to the fascinating medieval castle and cathedral, Turku is particularly well-known for its restaurants. One of the best ones is Kaskis, a small and very popular restaurant (remember to make a table reservation in advance!). Kaskis only serves tasting menus so we suggest reserving enough time for indulging. For a relaxing and easy meal, try Tintå. This cool and cozy restaurant by the River Aura serves excellent portions to both meat-lovers and vegans.
Turku is also an excellent shopping city. Many shops have a large variety of international brands but if you wish to invest to something Finnish, head to Televisio boutique. There you find flirtatious shoes by Finnish designer Minna Parikka, also favored by celebrities like Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift. Or how about a cocktail dress by one of the leading Finnish designers, Katri Niskanen? Televisio also has its own, signature jewelry collection.
Naantali is an old spa town, which was extremely popular in the 1800s by the rich Russians. Stay at the luxurious Naantali Spa which won the prize for the best hotel in Finland at the international World Travel Awards gala in 2019. Spacious rooms with a sea view, vast pool area and a beauty salon are perfect pampering, especially if you suffer from jet lag.
Åland islands – luxury in the Archipelago
The beautiful Åland islands are a heaven for cycling enthusiasts. The landscape is flat so a bicycle is a perfect vehicle to explore the islands. The most glamorous place to relax after a long day of cycling is Havsvidden spa hotel. You can either stay in a hotel room or in one of the small villas that are located on the cliffs next to the sea. The experience is always as stunning – whether your stay is during the serene summer months or on a stormy autumn night. In addition to the pools, you can also enjoy different saunas or a hot tub under the stars.
Åland is a perfect destination for a gourmet traveller. Visit Smakbyn – a village of tastes with a restaurant, distillery, bakery, shop and much more. Smakbyn was founded by top chef Michael Björklund and it favors always local ingredients.
Ecological values are accentuated in the daily life of the archipelago. That also considers shopping. The most well-known fashion brand in Åland is Labelled which only uses recyclable material. Designer Linda Karlsson gives old clothing a new life by creating ravishing dresses and blouses of them. Or would you fancy some local jewelry? Designer Roberto Ferrari creates impressive pieces of silver and local granite for his Ele & Kele brand.
Lapland – extraordinary accommodation and arctic magic
Landscape, scenery and precious arctic nature are the greatest luxuries of Lapland. Numerous travelers wish to experience the Nordic lights and therefore a glass igloo with transparent ceiling is a a true bucket-list destination for many. Lapland has many locations where you can literally doze off under the Northern Lights. Pictured above are the Seaside Glass Villas in Kemi.
Lapland is one of the best places in Finland, if not the world, to find extraordinary accommodation from cozy cottages to glamping. For a truly unique accommodation experience, try Nellim. Nellim has four wilderness hotels in Northern Lapland. For those looking for a more traditional hotel experience and can’t make it all the way up north, Lapland Hotels offers beautiful Lapland-inspired experiences in their new city hotels, one of them located in Helsinki. Enjoy an interior filled with arctic details such as dark, relaxing colors, wood and other small design details. You can also see local, Lappish art, like Anu Pentik’s and Reidar Särestöniemi’s works.
How about fashion from Lapland? Jukka Puljujärvi’s and Marta Valtovirta’s Hálo makes elegant coats and dresses of high-quality materials. Hálo has the exclusivity to use Reidar Särestöniemi’s paintings as part of their collections whereas all the other prints are designed exclusively by Hálo. You can find their products like many other local designer’s creations in Korundi Shop in Rovaniemi. Hálo also has a flagship store in Helsinki Kämp Garden.
If you’re in the Pyhä-Luosto region and love precious stones, take a trip to the Pyhä-Luosto National Park to visit the only functioning amethyst mine in Europe.