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.
Those amenities are not from L’Occitane. They are Crabtree and Evelyn. May want to correct your post.
Thanks Robert! I fixed it.
The other Hilton is located by the sea, in a nice neighborhood area, but it is further away from downtown.
There is a Hilton at the airport too, and while nice and very conveniently located, I prefer the Nordic Choice Helsinki Airport hot.
You should have tried the Allas sea pool by the market square. It is an outdoor swimming pool, literally located on the water, which is heated all year around.
Great review. Thank you for the awesome photos. I think you meant you turned in at 7 pm, not 7 am.
“The lounge … a rather disappointing selection of fried foods and light appetizers.” Matthew, great photos – thank you. Our experience in November was vastly different – we enjoyed light appetizers, bottomless beverages and lively atmosphere. The only lounge staff on duty was beyond welcoming and able to keep up with restocking items throughout the evenings despite the lounge being quite busy both times. To us, a “crowded” lounge is Sky Club in Salt Lake City airport on any day, pre-Covid, so perhaps our tolerance for crowds was different. The hotel sauna was spotless and the pool was clean; one night we found a group of 3 friendly gentlemen swimming without any swimwear – perhaps no big deal (? haha). Overall, excellent hotel, walking distance to trams and an amazing view of the water.
Alex, I asked about refills (because there were apparently some chicken skewers earlier) and was told by the lounge hostess that the food would not be re-stocked.
Hope you enjoyed the pictures at least, darling.
Matthew, when was this – was this recent?
Curious if you tried any coffee in Helsinki. Probably not the best place to get a cappuccino, but their filtered coffee is among the best in Europe, if not the world.
As stated in review, February.
I enjoyed several cappuccinos in the Finnair Platinum Wing and was too wired for more.
There’s a thriving coffee culture in Helsinki so relatively easy to find a “hipster cafe” for great cappuccino or flat white. Also pour overs are getting quite popular in cafes over the traditional filtered coffee.
Kaffa Roastery, Rams Roastery, La Torrefazione, Johan & Nyström, Paulig kulma, Way Bakery, Cafe Pequeno, Cafe Sävy, Good Life Coffee to name a few. If there’s a proper machine the odds for a decent barista are high. Robert’s Coffee has a few cafes but I don’t recall how their coffee was. Paulig Kulma is an example of old, large roastery recognizing that they need to follow the market as well — they are huge in traditional coffee and Kulma shows that if they want to, they know the rest, too.
Wrt Hilton Strand, as many locals would say, “on the wrong side of the bridge”.. The area Matthew visited on his walk is “hip” but pretty raw in many ways, plenty of interesting places to spend evenings though. Hilton is probably not the best chain to use while in Helsinki although the other Hilton is in a nice area in many ways.
Thanks Peter! I plan to check them out next time. This place looked good near the Hilton. It’s not on your list, but have you tried it?
It’s been couple of years since I’ve been to Ipi Kulmakuppila but I’ve heard good about it. But highly recommend it simply due to the fact that it employs people with special needs so there’s bit a story behind it.
There is a Torrefazione next to the plaza behind the Hilton Strand, I guess that would be the nearest coffee place with a good selection.
Crabtree and Evelyn used to be a great brand: high quality , reliable, well-scented, consistent over many, many years. Then hipsters got their hands on it and dumped most of the attractive products, replacing them with things like pink peppercorn /mango/briar. I don’t buy it anymore, and never see it in hotels.
@Matthew, did your rate include breakfast, or did they let you choose the restaurant over the lounge? I thought you usually don’t get a choice when they provide lounge access to a Gold (or even a Diamond). Also, did the lounge have drinks all evening/day or just during the appetizer hours?
No alcohol, just soft drinks, water, coffee, tea outside the appetizer hours. The rate did not include breakfast, but they did not charge me for it (and honestly, I did not even ask…so I guess I was fortunate).
This is just some constructive criticism, but with comments like these:
“The location was excellent”
What made it excellent? You should elaborate beyond how easy it is to connect to the airport. Just saying, many of your other hotel reviews give much more details about the area the hotel is located in, so a bit disappointing to see that missing from this review. I get it was a short visit, but it would have been nice to get your thoughts and impressions of the area, beyond what Peter mentioned in the comments.
@Aaron, I always appreciate your constructive criticism. Thanks for taking the time and please continue to offer it.
In my defense, you quoted part of a summary sentence in the conclusion and I had already addressed the neighborhood plus the fact that the hotel was on the river and only a short walk from the central train station.
What additional info would have been helpful to you?
Compared to other reviews you offered, are there any sites close by? Does the neighborhood have decent cafes, restaurants, shopping, etc close by? Are there other forms of public transportation (bus lines, other train lines, etc) close by? The general vibe of the neighborhood (ie is it a younger crowd, older crowd, more residential, is it quiet, etc).
Basically, what is it besides the river and the close location to the central train station that makes the location worth visiting?
I mean, I guess the main point is, for those not familiar with Helsinki, what do the Kallio and Linjat neighborhoods have to offer?
Coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, but honestly not much. There was a thrift shop that I went into (because I found it so odd) and I had a great conversation with the owner, whose sons study in America. There’s that church that I pictured, a war memorial, and that’s about it. But that’s because I deliberately avoided the actual city center, which I visited last time around and wanted to explore the other neighborhoods this time.
I actually like the layout of your guest room. Bringing the bed into the center of the room and using headboard as backdrop for a work desk/space is a good use of the small space, rather than placing everything against the room walls. Hopefully, you still had ample walk-through space around the bed.