After two years, some changes and still wonderful
The Hotel Haven, where we spent a couple of nights this past week, has this kitschy-seeming slogan, especially notable on its “do not disturb” door tags, about being your home while presumably not at home. It’s clear to me, however, that this is not just marketing; after two years, I returned to my favorite hotel in Helsinki. Only to learn that my beloved hostelry had undergone a major expansion, into the building next door, and it had booked me into a room in the “new” part. How dare they? Not only build another 60 rooms without my awareness, laughing, but also to put me in one of them.
The good news? The same beautiful design ethos that permeates the “old” part of this not-so-old hotel, is absolutely on display in the newer, “also not new” section. I adored our room and actually was inspired by the design to make some improvements at home. Service on the hotel side is still absolutely on-point, marvelous, thoughtful, caring. Efficient (the service at the gorgeous bar, which we do love, wasn’t up to standard and I’ll review that experience separately).
This was the first time I had booked a room that turned out to be on the street side, rather than the more picturesque harbor side. A hint: Unless you’re on a higher floor than, say 4, don’t even worry about being on the harbor side as your view is obscured. We were on the 7th floor with a view of an office building but there was enough sky to make it feel open.
Important: The bed was so comfortable. Great, crispy percale sheets. A nice couch at the end of the bed, love that. Great mini-bar (as over-priced as any mini-bar, and could be better stocked but on the other hand there was room for me to put my own purchases in there). Lovely glassware, ice machine down the hall, by the elevator, and a great bathroom. Did I say great bathroom? Indeed, as what can be unusual in Finnish hotels, there’s a lovely long tub, heated floors, great lighting (especially loved the under-the-sink lighting that kicked on whenever you came in).
Love this place. In the 10 or so years we’ve been coming to Helsinki relatively regularly, we have stayed at the Kamp and the Glo (and they’re all owned by the same company) but the Haven just feels more special.
And the restaurant scene, by the way, has gone on an upturn. While I’ll forever miss Sundman’s Krog, which served a bistro-style of traditional Finnish food, at least it’s no longer empty and now is home to Sue Ellen’s, which oddly enough, does low-country American cuisine. There’s a new Finnish Michelin-starred wannabe in the hotel’s more modern space; it didn’t appeal to us, though that’s not saying anything. Definitely better is that the included breakfast is on the upper floor of Sundman’s gorgeous old building, and it’s well done and atmospheric to boot.