I spent a night at Hotel St. George in Helsinki, a Marriott Design Hotels property. While Bonvoy nickel and diming knows no end, overall I very much liked this property.
Hotel St. George Helsinki Review
I used an expiring Bonvoy 35K free night certificate to book this room. The paid rate was close to €300, so I thought the value was very reasonable.
What Is A Design Hotel?
Design Hotels was a German chain that Starwood Preferred Guest partnered with and was later acquired fully by Marriott. As Marriott describes it:
Each Design Hotels property reflects the vision of an independent hotelier, an “Original” who combines thought-provoking design, local knowledge, and cultural programming to create a gathering point for travelers and members of the surrounding community that challenges the very definition of a hotel
I would say that description is quite apt for Hotel St. George, which had a bakery and café onsite that appeared to be very popular with locals along with a unique collection of art.
I arrived just a few minutes before 1:00 pm and was welcomed in. There was no bellman or concierge, just a couple ladies sitting at a desk one level above the street entrance. The hotel felt empty and I was upgraded to a “atelier with balcony” (from the “cozy studio” room I booked) thanks to my Bonvoy Platinum status.
All five suites were available (St. George, Finlandia, Poetry, Coupole and Church Park), but Bonvoy explicitly excludes suite upgrades from Design Hotels.
What I did not expect was to be told, “Since you are on a free night stay, you will not get free breakfast in the morning. It is only for paid stays.”
Okey dokey. Good thing I was leaving well before dawn anyway.
History + Artwork
While the hotel has only been open since 2018, the building was designed by architect Onni Tarjanne, who also designed the Finnish National Theatre. It was completed in 1890 and as a hotel includes 148 rooms and five suites.
As you enter the hotel, look up and you will see a dragon, a creation of artist Ai Weiwei called Tianwu, a mythical creature from Chinese literature.
The hotel boasts over 400 pieces of art on the property and you will notice the lobby area feels much more like an art gallery than a traditional hotel lobby.
While the lobby area appears very modern, the adjacent connected building, which takes you up to your guest room, is much older in design and feel.
Upstairs, the guest room corridors again had a very modern feel.
My room, 612, was very much to my liking. I loved the parquet floors, muted color scheme, large windows, and L-shaped design of the room.
There was not much of a view from the balcony and it was too cold to sit outside, but this would be a great feature of the room on a beautiful spring or summer day.
I really misjudged the coffee, thinking it was powdered (it was high-quality filter coffee instead). I liked the soda water machine.
The restroom was large with a walk-in shower, separate tub, and dual sink. The toilet included a built-in bidet.
Shower and soap products were from L:A Bruket. There was also a basket with other amenities like shower caps and nail files in a basket next to the sink.
St. George Bakery
After settling in, I headed down to St. George Bakery for a cup of coffee. This was packed with locals when I arrived, though it emptied out by the time I left. While I just drank a couple of flat whites, the food here looked very delicious. This really felt like a local café rather than a hotel coffee shop.
One of my favorite areas of the hotel was the Wintergarden Bar, located adjacent to the lobby. It’s a beautiful space with more artwork.
At check-in I received two drink vouchers for Wintergreen. Around dinner time, I went down to the bar to get something to eat and drink.
A special menu was presented for the complimentary drinks which included a selection of beer and wine plus a gin and tonic. I asked if I could order a flat white and fresh-squeezed orange juice instead, which was not a problem.
The bar has a full cocktail menu as well.
Rather than venture out into the cold, I stayed for dinner and ordered salmon, served over a bed of almond couscous with sumac labneh (€19). It hit the spot.
The hotel has an upscale Thai restaurant called Boon Nam on-site, open Monday thru Saturday evenings.
A 24/7 room service menu is available.
The reason I chose this hotel in the first place is because of its spa. There are few things I would rather do on a cold winter day than rotate between a sauna, steam room, and pool and that is exactly how I spent my afternoon. The spa area includes a nice locker room.
The spa itself is beautiful, with soft lighting and intricate tile work.
Guests who book massage treatments are also welcome to enjoy a relaxation area with mixed nuts, fresh fruit, and hot tea.
Next to the spa is a small but comprehensive fitness studio with cardiovascular machines and free weights.
The hotel is located across the street from Old Church Park, a beautiful area in which I took a short walk in the afternoon when the sun popped up, even though I was extremely under-dressed (I did not my bring my winter coat, since I was traveling from Doha to Los Angeles and this was just an unexpected layover).
The stingy breakfast policy aside, I really liked this hotel and would happily return. I found it far cozier than the Hilton Helsinki Strand and found the amenities and design of this hotel superb. I look forward to returning.