Another staycation: New hotel and classic restaurants
A couple of weeks ago it was time for another staycation in Helsinki. There is this newish hotel I was dying to test out and as it was blini season we opted for some classic restaurants.
Hotel U14, a new favorite
Hotel U14 that is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection opened its doors in February 2020. The hotel soon had to close its doors due to COVID and re-opened again in summer 2020. Hotel U14 is the first Nordic hotel in the Autograph Collection chain. The hotel is family-owned with the same owners as hotel F6 in Helsinki. The hotel has 117 rooms, a restaurant for over 100 people, a trendy cocktail bar, and normal hotel amenities. The hotel is in a 7-story office building from 1969 designed by architect Kurt Simberg. I had booked a Trendy King room for two nights. My first impression of the hotel was positive; the staff was welcoming, the common areas of the hotel were inviting, and the room was spacious and beautifully decorated with fun little details. I had requested a room as high up as possible and the hotel had placed us on the top floor which was a plus. The bed was perfect, and the room was quiet, so we had two perfect night’s sleeps. I’ve recently had some problems with Chromecast in other hotels but at U14 it worked perfectly so we could watch Netflix. I love rain showers and U14 had a lovely rain shower that made my morning.
Tasty cocktails and best hotel breakfast in town
On Friday evening we popped downstairs to the cocktail bar for an aperitif. Hubby who tends to be less adventurous opted for a traditional G&T while I decided to try a Cosmic Beet that essentially was a cosmopolitan with beet juice. The drink was lovely, not too sweet and slightly tart – great job! Our room rate included breakfast. I was thrilled to hear that on weekends breakfast was served until 1 pm, so there was no rush in the morning. The breakfast was great, good selection of high-quality foods with some small extras like fresh avocados and home-baked cookies. A big thumbs up for the scrambled eggs that were made of real eggs (not powder) and super-creamy. It is almost impossible these days to get good quality scrambled eggs at hotels in Finland. The only small complaint I have is that at a hotel of this quality I would expect specialty coffees to be made to order but at least they had a machine that made such coffees (which is often not the case) and the coffee was quite tasty. You could tell the breakfast is popular as on both mornings there were people not staying at the hotel that came just for the breakfast. Oh, and the cookies, they were to die for!
Strindberg – a true classic
After our tasty drinks on Friday, we headed to a true Helsinki classic, restaurant Strindberg. Café Strindberg was opened in 1922 and has been operating ever since. The restaurant was offering the Strindberg’s Classic Menu that gathers the most popular dishes throughout the times. We both decided to enjoy his menu but with different mains. The starter was Toast Skagen, which is always a great way to start a meal. My main was chargrilled salmon with béarnaise sauce and poached egg and hubby had Steak Rydberg. Dessert was French toast, which neither of us has had in years. The menu was delicious, and everything worked well together. The service was maybe not quite as professional as we are used to at Strindberg, but I have a feeling the waiter was quite new. All in all, a lovely dining experience.
Huvilakatu and Brooklyn Café
On Saturday we had a slow morning at the hotel. Later we headed out for a stroll and jumped on a tram to go explore one of Helsinki’s most instagrammable places – Huvilakatu located in Ullanlinna, the southernmost district of central Helsinki. Huvilakatu is only two blocks long and lined with pastel-hued stone art nouveau houses with towers and bay windows. We also found a cute little alley, called Huvilakuja, right next to Huvilakatu. Then we headed to Brooklyn Café for lunch. I’ve wanted to visit this café for years and finally got around to it. Brooklyn Cafe was founded in December 2011 by two sisters, Sharron and Brenda Todd from Brooklyn. The café offers freshly baked authentic bagels, cupcakes, brownies, and dark roasted coffee. We decided to share a bagel and a cupcake. We chose turkey and swiss on a sesame bagel and a red velvet cupcake. Both were delicious and very authentic; I’m bound to visit this little piece of Brooklyn in Helsinki again.
Blinis at restaurant Lasipalatsi
On Saturday we decided to visit hotel F6’s cocktail bar Runar for aperitifs on our way to dinner. This time we both had classics; hubby drank a Bloody Mary and I a Garibaldi. Both were a good start for a lovely dinner ahead. Once at restaurant Lasipalatsi, we ordered blinis with whitefish roe for starters. They also offered an all-you-can-eat blini main, which seemed to be the favorite for most other diners but personally, I find it to be too heavy and you easily end up eating too much. Thus, we tend to have a blini starter and a separate main during the blini season. For my main I chose a Jerusalem artichoke risotto with pickled tomatoes, artichoke chips and truffle aioli and hubby ate grilled pike perch à la Mannerheim with creamed button mushrooms and horseradish. For some reason here too, service was not what we’ve grown accustomed to at Lasipalatsi. It took ages before we got to place our order and food was served before the wine. However, it was still a lovely dinner and the food never fails at this restaurant.
Another wonderful and relaxing staycation, which resulted in us finding a new hotel favorite. As lockdown is tightening in Finland, it may be a while before our next staycation