x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Hotel Insider: Klaus K Hotel, Helsinki

Checking into the Klaus K hotel in Helsinki, Finland.

The living room of K Klaus Hotel in Helsinki, Finland. Courtesy K Klaus Hotel
The living room of K Klaus Hotel in Helsinki, Finland. Courtesy K Klaus Hotel

The welcome

The hotel has a pleasant entrance on a smart street between two outdoor restaurant terraces. The door opens automatically, but when I arrive with one suitcase and four pieces of hand luggage, the staff member on the door is talking to someone and doesn’t offer to help. He points the way to a lift up to reception, a futuristic construction which looks like a white egg with a nest on top.

The neighbourhood

Situated on Bulevardi on the edge of Helsinki’s Design District, the hotel is well located to allow easy access to the main shopping areas and the waterfront. The property itself dates back to 1886 and has an original, attractive brick exterior, while the inside has been renovated.

The room

The hotel has 171 rooms, including a series of “Sky Suites” on the upper floors. My first room is on the second floor, but after one night I switch because of the noise from a tram route right outside my window. My next room is better, facing an inside courtyard, but is rather dark during the day and light at night, thanks to exterior lighting and blinds that fail to black out the light. The bedroom is otherwise large and comfortable, and although there’s no real desk (again odd for a hotel frequented by those on business), I’m happy to sit on the armchair in front of the TV with my laptop on the table in front of me. The bathroom is small and there’s no bath, but I love the Malin+Goetz bath products. The air conditioning in my room doesn’t cool much and you can’t open a window. It’s too warm to sleep with a duvet, but hot weather is unusual.

The scene

Strangely for a “design hotel”, the hotel’s main clientele is business travellers. Leisure guests are generally from Finland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and North America. In summer, the hotel feels fairly quiet, though the hotel’s main restaurant, Toscanini, is popular and its outside terrace is full. The Living Room, a stylish adjacent bar with a small “nightclub”, is apparently full in winter months when it’s too cold to be outside. The public areas of the hotel are heavily styled, with plenty of cosy, semi-private seating areas adorned with books balancing the open spaces.

The service

Generally helpful, if not effusive. A receptionist competently prints and scans an item for me on request, charges my iPhone and brings me a sheet when I call to complain the room is too hot. He says that he can’t do anything about the courtyard lights.

The food

A breakfast buffet contains a well-edited selection of mostly healthy items arranged according to food groups. Tea and coffee is also self-service. The hotel’s Italian restaurant, Toscanini, is hugely atmospheric and the food and service excellent. My three-course set meal of vitello tonnato, sliced veal in tuna fish dressing, a huge local trout fillet served with vegetables and scallops and a dessert of strawberries, yogurt and lime ice cream with meringue is good value - the whole meal costs €49 (Dh241) and is enough for two to share.

Loved

Coming back to the privacy of the courtyard room at the end of a long day, the meal in Toscanino and my treatment in the Helsinki Day Spa, a fabulously elegant space in a historic section of the hotel. My 20-minute massage with Mia (€45; Dh221) was one of the best that I’ve ever had.

Hated

The room noise on the first night, light entering the room and lack of strong air conditioning.

The verdict

This hotel just about manages to balance style and substance.

The bottom line

Double rooms at the Klaus K Helsinki (www.klauskhotel.com; 00358 20 770 4700) cost from €115 (Dh565) per night, including taxes.