Laidback and chill (not just temperature-wise) – Helsinki’s spas, food, sights and drinks will take you on a Nordic dream adventure.
Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo have all made it onto the cool map for travelling pros and swishy vacationers. But now it’s time for another Nordic city to take reign as the ultimate cool-climate-your-friends-wish-they-could-go destination. Helsinki may be small in comparison to its Scandinavian and Nordic sisters, but it’s brimming with spas, saunas, fresh food and all the laidback chillness of California – minus the hecticness of a bustling city. Did we mention it’s a design lover’s dream? The Fins have long been known around the world for their simplistic design in fashion, art and architecture. And since Helsinki has been dubbed the design capital of the world for 2012, we’re pretty sure you’re going to want to pack your bags for this easygoing city with our travel guide musts.
Helsinki travel guide: Where to stay
When locals say that a certain restaurant, shop, sight or museum is “just around the corner” from the Klaus K, they mean it. It took me a jet-lag-filled day to realize it, but everything major was within a two- to five-minute walk of this arty hotel. Booking this as the place to rest your head based purely on location is good enough, but you also don’t want to miss out because of its fabulous design and relatively spacious rooms (for Europe). In every corner you will find unique and one-of-a-kind Finnish pieces of art, fashion and more (when I stopped by I oogled at the Minna Parikka shoes on display by the main counter). Another not miss? The yummy breakfast they serve where you can munch on granola-topped local yogurt and berries. Make sure you leave an afternoon free for a swing by their day spa as well – to do a proper Finnish sauna, of course, and to treat yourself to a facial, mani or pedi (or all three … we won’t judge).
There’s a reason why this hotel is named one of the best in the city. Centrally located on a pedestrian walking strip it’s just seconds away from shopping, cafes and hot spots for a night out – it’s also the only five-star hotel in town. The spa (Kämp Spa) isn’t too shabby either and you’ll want to book yourself a sauna (another one, naturally) and a massage or facial to relax and purify your skin. After seeing all the Fins walking around sans makeup but still sporting clear, natural-looking skin, a treatment using locally sourced ingredients and berries will be in order. The top pick? The Brightening Cloudberry facial – ultra soothing cloudberries (think of a golden raspberry) act as a detoxifying cleanser and a mask in this 50-minute treatment, leaving you with radiant, glowing skin. You may not have Finnish in your genes, but you will get closer to their natural look thanks to this treatment.
You won't want to miss a bite of Helsinki's amazing food ... find out where to dig in on the next page ...