Let’s Play at The Yard Concept Hostel, Helsinki

You couldn’t get more downtown than this brand new hostel opening its doors at Kalevankatu 3A in Helsinki. You can literally pick up a stone and throw it through a window at Stockmann Department Store or at the plethora of bars and restaurants downstairs.

You couldn't get any closer to shopping and night life than this spot.
You couldn’t get any closer to shopping and night life than this spot.

Besides its 10/10 location, a big shout out to Matilda Sankamo, the young owner, who has done a splendid job of turning this space into a tasteful playground of colour and comfort both in the living room and the dorms. The wooden framed beds, specially designed, are cosy with huge lockers underneath. Choose from a six-sleeper to a two-sleeper or a private family room for four with its own balcony toward the bustling street below. Strangely enough, the place is quiet thanks to the heavy glazing of windows required by law in Finland.

dsc05444There’s no sauna, but why would you need one if there’s a nude-only swimming hall with oodles of character a hop and a skip away at Yrjönkatu around the corner? Don’t worry, designated times for men and women set your mind at ease for the more bashful among us.

Simple but nice finishing touches
Simple but nice finishing touches

Cooking is not an option but the use of the microwave, kettle and utensils are available for free use. You’ll be happy to know that breakfast, however, is included in the price of €40/bed. It also doesn’t have a liquor licence, a big plus in fact since it enables you to bring your own. According to liquor laws in this country, both options are not allowed. Besides, it’ll cost you a lot less.

dsc05445Gone are the days of hostels with dodgy beds and strange characters skulking about. This one’s stunning and stylish and best of all, it comes with a big, friendly smile.

The dorms have huge lockers for all your stuff
The dorms have huge lockers for all your stuff

Links:

The Yard Concept Hostel

The Yard on Bookings.com

Yrjönkatu Swimming Pool

 

Cosily Comfy – Fabian Hotel, Helsinki

It’s found its place in the corner of downtown Helsinki, close to everything but just a step away from any noise that might disturb your beauty sleep. Hotel Fabian is small, tiny in fact by hotel standards, but its heart is big and it enfolds you with warmth and comfort from the time you step through the main entrance.

The bar area at Fabian Hotel
The bar area at Fabian Hotel

Let’s begin with the staff. If it weren’t for them, this gem would not hold its value. It would just become another impersonal encounter. The manager has a broad smile and welcoming manner and runs a tight, professional ship, the hallmark of her staff being friendly and accommodating. Sure, you’ve heard this before but it’s that extra little bit of information or help that just puts the people that work here ahead of their game transforming your stay from ordinary to extraordinary.

Generous smiles from the manager at Fabian Hotel
Generous smiles from the manager at Fabian Hotel

The hotel doesn’t have a bar so to speak, it doesn’t have a restaurant but it does have a living room with soft, enveloping sofas where you can sip a drink. This flows into the little dining room where the included breakfast is served. If you choose to eat in for other meals, an option is a Lux room with a kitchenette and table. Standard rooms are plush with modern features like metal bedside lamps on wooden stairs setting a playful tone to the surrounding elegance.

Plush rooms with modern details
Plush rooms with modern details

It’s rare to find a commercial home-away-from-home where you feel so at ease, where your eyes are soothed by the gentle browns and whites and where everything just falls into place, like it should do.

A cosy living room in stead of a cold lobby
A cosy living room in stead of a cold lobby

 

Modern touches with a traditional feel
Modern touches with a traditional feel

Helsinki Secret Residence for Bloggers

Could it be Aino from the Finnish epic poem Kalevala? The mural that greets you.
Could it be Aino from the Finnish epic poem Kalevala? The mural that greets you.

Once I realised who this handsome, young, clean-cut guy was, I asked the owner of Aalonkoti, the block of hotel apartments, whether it was out of the goodness of his heart that he had ‘donated’ a flat or two for bloggers to use. He didn’t laugh but he did smile,

“Actually, we’re going to get plenty of publicity out of this. It’s really a win-win situation and in any case, it’s a nice way of promoting Helsinki as a city.”

With the sea on the one side and the city on the other, the views are spectacular.
With the sea on the one side and the city on the other, the views are spectacular.

Just to put this all into perspective, we’re talking upmarket, really stylish, I mean the flat/flats of course. Location couldn’t be more perfect in the heart of the city in a ‘new’ part of Helsinki which has recently been developed and where the average price wallops your wallet with around €10 000/sq.m. And not only does he own the apartments he’s prepared to sacrifice, but the whole block, would you believe it.

The penthouse at Aalonkoti
The penthouse at Aalonkoti

Bloggers are being wooed, not only by owners of top end hotel apartments such as Ossi but also by tourist boards and airlines, the likes of Finnair who will be prepared to give free passage to a worthy applicant whose audience is mainly situated in destination countries.

Prop up your laptop and start scribbling. Every apartment has a balcony with a view.
Prop up your laptop and start scribbling. Every apartment has a balcony with a view.

Seated on your balcony in your comfy lounger looking out on a view that’s a mixture of garden colours and creative architecture with luxury lapping at your feet, it would be very hard not to be inspired. The street is appropriately named Alvar Aalto with his own handiwork in the form of Finlandia Hall a stone’s throw away. Helsinki’s thrown out the bait and the scramble begins.

Here’s where you apply:

For bloggers – http://www.helsinkisecret.com

For travellers – http://aallonkoti.fi/en/