I ended up staying one night in the city (and one night at the airport) during my recent trip to Helsinki. Due to a much cheaper rate at the Hilton than either the Hotel Lila Roberts or Hotel Haven (both Hyatt-affiliated properties), I elected to deviate from my usual loyalty to Hyatt. Here’s my review of the Hilton Helsinki Strand.
Hilton Helsinki Strand Review
From the airport, I took the train to Helsinki’s central railway station (about 20 minutes). From there, I walked; a journey of about 12 minutes (1.1km). True to its name, the hotel is located right on the river. This was in February and the river was still partially frozen. It was a nippy day just a tad over 0ºC.
Upon arrival, it felt so nice to be hit with a blast of warm air. I walked through the brightly lit lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows in which the low winter afternoon sun streamed through.
I was promptly welcomed by an associate on duty and informed that I had been upgraded to a room overlooking the water and would be given lounge access. I have Gold status from Hilton (by virtue of American Express Platinum) which comes in quite helpful when a Hyatt hotel is unavailable or, as in this case, simply not practical. I paid $100 for the room, which I thought was quite superb, even during the low-season.
My sixth floor room was small, but perfectly functional for my needs. The bed faced the window with a desk behind it. The bathroom was beside the entrance to the room and featured Crabtree and Evelyn amenities.
View from room at 7:00AM:
Phosphorescent emergency exit sign on the door:
Due to my HHonors Gold status, I was given a paper bag with two bottles of water at check-in, one bottle of still, one of sparkling.
There was no coffee machine, just a hot water kettle, but (non-instant) coffee, tea, and other beverages were available in the lounge.
While it was still light, I took some time to walk around…it had been nine years since I had been to Helsinki. I had originally planned to visit on of the popular public saunas, like Löyly, but opted to use the hotel’s facilities instead. Thus, I just spent about an hour walking around. Helsinki is a clean city that is not as charming as other Nordic cities, but the quality of life appears very nice. My walk took me through the Kallio and Linjat neighborhoods.
Back at the hotel, I was already feeling very tired even though it was only about 6:00PM. I headed up to the lounge where I found a rather disappointing selection of fried foods and light appetizers. I had hummus and some bread. The lounge was extremely crowded. I decided to go to bed early and turned in around 7:00PM, then got up at 4:00AM to catch up on work.
These were some photos I took earlier in the day before my walk:
Since I had an early flight and just ate a quick breakfast in Restaurant BRO, the hotel’s lobby restaurant the following morning, I cannot comment on the breakfast spread.
Pool + Fitness
The hotel has a dated (based upon the tiles and wood) but charming indoor pool on the top floor that includes a small built-in fish tank. I did not go swimming.
I did, however, workout and appreciated the selection of cardiovascular and strength training equipment. This stay was at the start of the current pandemic and already signs were present reminding guests to wipe down equipment after use.
One of my most enjoyable parts of my stay was using the sauna early in the morning. Long before the sun rose I headed up to the sauna. I arrived simultaneously with two Japanese businessmen who were also jetlagged. One of them spoke English and we found we were in the same line of work. The chat continued as we rotated from the warm sauna to the blistering cold of the patio outdoors. I’m not used to such sharp and rapid changes in temperature!
As previously mentioned, I ate an early breakfast in Restaurant BRO, the hotel’s only restaurant. Located on the lobby level, the restaurant/bar serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The breakfast buffet was expansive, with all kinds of hot and cold items. I enjoyed some fried eggs with reindeer meatballs as well as some pancakes with berry compote. Although the hotel advertised beautiful cappuccinos with latte art in signs all over the hotel, the machine-dispensed coffee was the only disappointment.
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This hotel perfectly met my needs. The location was excellent, service professional, breakfast tasty, bed comfortable, and I enjoyed the sauna. While I would be open to trying a different hotel next time (maybe even Hilton’s other hotel in the city), I would not hesitate to return here.