St. George & Ventuno

This year to celebrate hubby’s birthday I booked a room at the new boutique hotel St. George that opened in Helsinki this past spring and a table at restaurant Ventuno that had opened its doors in September. The room I booked was a Sky Attic Studio at the top floor of the hotel with lovely views of the Old Church Park. The room was perfect for a short stay but would feel quite small for say a week’s vacation. The hotel offers a spa, Wintergarden restaurant and bar, restaurant Andrea – where Nordic and Anatolian kitchens meet, and the St. George Bakery café with the first ever Monocle Shop in the Nordic countries.

 

 

After checking in at the hotel we headed out for some lunch and shopping. We had lunch at Kamppi shopping mall’s Kortteli restaurant world at Beijing8, a dumpling restaurant. After lunch and shopping we headed back to the hotel and visited the Wintergarden bar for a cocktail. I liked the atmosphere in the bar and the cocktail was good too. Then we withdrew to our room to relax and get ready for dinner.

Dumplings with broccoli and edamame sides
 
Wintergarden had some nice private rooms
 

Ventuno was quite surprising, as we walked in, the place seemed noisy and slightly chaotic but when we were taken to our table, the atmosphere changed to a calm and relaxing place. So the front café/bar type area was really bustling, while the dining room/osteria was calm even though fully booked. We started with an aperitif while studying the menu. We ordered the Ventuno Degustazione tasting menu accompanied with the recommended wine package. The menu consisted of: Arancini /Lemon & thyme flavoured crispy risotto ball, thyme-parmesan dressing), Alici & N’Duja (Fennel cracker, spicy n´duja sausage, anchovy, dill, pecorino), Kingfish Bianco (Raw marinated kingfish, green olives, pistachio vinaigrette, lemon jam cremé), Casarecce al Ragù (Braised brisket ‘ragù’, confit garlic, toasted almonds, gremolata), Capesante & Gamberetti (Roasted scallops, dried tomato-shrimp dressing, saffron, trout roe), Pesce Piccata (Roasted fish of the day, olive oil hollandaise, salted halibut fritters) with Gratin di Patate (Potato, cabbage, caramel onions, parmesan) , and for dessert  Limoncello (Lemon pie, meringue, blackberries, blackberry sorbet, limoncello jus). The food was really good and we loved every course except for the Pesce Piccata, which seemed a bit too heavy with both hollandaise sauce, a fritter and creamy potatoes. It also did not seem very Italian to us. However, all in all the menu was really good as where the wines. The service was also good and the waitress followed our wishes regarding pausing between certain courses. The only small faux pas happened with the wine as we had to ask for the third wine when we were served the fish and this wine was supposed to be served already with the scallops. We will come back to this restaurant when the menu changes.

Back at the hotel when we tried to get to sleep we noticed that the control panel for the door was super bright so I had to drape a towel over it. Once the panel was covered we got a good night’s sleep in a bed that was slightly too soft. In the morning it was time for breakfast that on weekends was served until noon, which is a huge plus. The breakfast was quite good but I found the bread selection a bit disappointing. For a hotel that advertises its own bakery only being served a small basket of one type of bread with a small serving of butter was a letdown. Also, the selection of cold cuts was very limited. The omelets and home-made yogurt were a nice touch. All in all, I loved the feel of the hotel and the staff was really friendly but Hotel Haven still remains our favorite boutique hotel in Helsinki.

HAM, Salve & Clarion Sky Room

This Saturday we headed into Helsinki to check out the Modern Life exhibit at Helsinki Art Museum (HAM) as the exhibit was closing on Sunday. The Modern Life! – Finnish Modernism and the International Dimension exhibit showcased highlights of architecture, design, visual art and photography that contributed to the construction of a modern and international Finland between 1917 and 1968.

After an interesting tour of the museum we had planned on heading to Bar Runar at hotel F6 for drinks but after walking to the hotel we realized the bar would not open until 4 p.m. which I could have seen on their webpage had I bothered to check. I did snap a few pictures of the courtyard, however. We will definitely head back to Runar for cocktails some other time during opening hours.

We were heading to Salve, an old sailor’s hangout that has been operating since 1897 but that quite recently moved to new premises, for an early dinner. So we decided to walk there and stop at a bar on the way. However, as it was July and Finland is practically closed and apparently no one needs or wants a drink before 4 pm we could not find an open bar on the way. This meant we simply went to Salve and had some food. I chose the fish hash with smoked salmon, prawns, tuna fish, onion, potato, dill and egg yolk and hubby opted for Salve’s special with a breaded pork schnitzel, fried egg, sausage, choron sauce and fried potatoes. The food was tasty and the portions were huge, I barely ate half of mine.

As I still wanted a cocktail we decided to walk to the Clarion hotel just across the dock basin from where we had dinner. This hotel that opened in October 2016 has a rooftop bar called the Sky Room on the 16th floor. We stepped into the hotel and I immediately liked the lobby with huge windows opening up to the sea. Then we headed to the elevator that took us up to the 16th floor that also hosts a rooftop pool & terrace. We peaked into the pool area and I absolutely want to come spend a night at the hotel and enjoy the facilities. The Sky Room bar had a nice vibe, excellent views and tasty but pricy drinks. As the bar was quite full I could not really take any pictures of the views.

The Clarion
Lobby. Picture from booking.com
A Rhubarpickle and a Napue & tonic
Sky Room at night. Picture from http://www.nordicchoicehotels.fi
View from elevator

Favorite hotels in Helsinki

Me and hubby are in the habit of taking mini-minibreaks in the Helsinki region where we also live. We book a nice cozy hotel for a night and a table at a nice restaurant. Some people might see this as a complete waste of time and money but we find it really relaxing and invigorating. So based on this, I wanted to share a couple of hotels that I love.

Hotel Haven was opened in 2009 and it was the first Finnish member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World chain. The hotel belongs to Kämp Group. The hotel has 137 rooms in four categories. The hotel also has normal meeting facilities, a bar and a gym. There are three restaurants operating in connection with the hotel. I love the ambiance of the hotel, as well as the friendly service. Even though the hotel is located in the city center it is peaceful and quite. The hotel serves a lovely breakfast with local produce in a restaurant with sea views. Pictures from booking.com.

Breakfast room

Another member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World belonging to the Kämp Group is Hotel Lilla Roberts. This hotel that was opened in 2015 has 130 rooms in four categories and is located in a building from 1909 that first housed a substation and later was converted into a police station that moved in 2012. The hotel has meeting facilities, a bar and a restaurant. The building is really lovely and the rooms are comfy with a lovely décor. The staff is friendly and the breakfast is of high-quality with local produce even though the selection is not as vast as at Hotel Haven. Pictures from booking.com.

The lobby has a horse

If you want to stay in a historic luxury hotel in Helsinki my recommendation would be Hotel Kämp. We have stayed there a couple of times and it is a lovely, luxurious hotel with great service. Pictures from booking.com.

There is also a new boutique hotel that was opened in 2016, which I would like to check out at some point. It is called Hotel F6 (https://www.hotelf6.fi) with 66 rooms in three categories. I love the look of this place and especially the courtyard seems interesting. Pictures from the hotel’s site.