Everything at the exquisite Hotel St George in Helsinki has a story. From art-lined walls to molecular cocktails, this is the place to stay when in Helsinki. The architecture is both a nod to the past and a wink to the future. The interiors stand out from the norm. And the myriad levels with secret nooks o er up artful surprises to those willing to explore its various layers.

Housed in a magnificent Neo-Renaissance stone building (the most iconic section of which was designed by architect Onni Tarjanne and completed in 1890), the seven-storey hotel was once home to the printing house of the Finnish Literature Society. Although its rooms have been reimagined as understated, modern and light-filled spaces, culture and history still reign supreme throughout.

THE MODERN AND CREATIVE AESTHETIC FILTERS THROUGH EVERYTHING

This is most notable in the artworks that you encounter at every turn. Chinese contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s Tianwu sculpture greets you in the entrance hall, welcoming you into the only public art gallery housed in a hotel. The towering kite, constructed of bamboo and white silk, was made by hand and is the sole work of the artist available for viewing in a common space.

Venture a little deeper within and you will discover esteemed Finnish sculptor Pekka Jylhä’s Learning to Fly sculpture wistfully gliding above the Wintergarden bar. But it is not the only eye-catching feature in the room – contending with it for most striking is the intricate large-scale mural, Lightnings in Tiger Woods, created by internationally acclaimed artist and designer Klaus Haapaniemi.

The whimsical wallpaper benefits from the skylight, which lets in light during the day and softly illuminates the space in the evening, creating a changing mood and showcasing the many elements of the intricate design printed on silk. These are just three of nearly 400 pieces of abstract and contemporary art featured throughout the 153-room hotel, which has only been open for a year.

The beauty of this all can be accredited to creative director Mirkku Kullberg, who, along with architects Arkval and interior designers Carola Rytsölä Interior Architects, reimagined this palatial residence into what it is today. The modern and creative aesthetic filters through everything else too – the spa, the rooms, the food.

And speaking of food, Hotel St George has three options when it comes to dining. Nordic and Mediterranean flavours meet at Mehmet Gürs’ Restaurant Andrea, which serves expertly crafted sharing plates (and moreish slow-cooked meats) in a vibey setting. The Wintergarden restaurant and bar offers light meals

that appear simple but are deliciously complex, and the molecular mixology of the signature cocktails will leave you wanting to try every one on the menu. Rounding off the dining trio is St George Bakery, which serves healthy breakfasts and lunch options, superb co ee and freshly baked bread and sweet treats.

It would be sacrilege to visit Finland and not experience its sauna and wellness culture, which is why the hotel’s St George Care Spa pays homage to the country’s overall concept of holistic wellbeing. Characterised by a palette of slate greys and shimmering whites, mosaiced tiling and natural materials, the spa is contemporary and serene. Here guests have access to two saunas, a swimming pool, a cold plunge pool and a state-of-the-art gym.

IT IS AN EXPERIENCE IN CULTURE, DESIGN, STRUCTURE AND MODERNITY

Once you’ve taken in the art, delighted in the spa, and been satiated by the food, retreating to the spacious and luxuriously furnished suites is like the icing on the kakku.With Finnish water being some of the best in the world, you can top your glass straight from the tap, and for your drinking pleasure, each room comes equipped with a Soda Stream, so you can make it sparkle if you prefer. It’s unique touches like this that really set Hotel St George apart.

Being situated in the heart of Helsinki cements it as the best address in the city. Idyllically located across from the Old Church Park and on the edge of the Design District, the hotel is within walking distance of the best restaurants, bars, galleries, shops and sights. And as one of the safest cities in the world, ‘on foot’ is definitely the best way to explore the capital. Hotel St George is not your average hotel – it is an experience in culture, design, structure and modernity. It has a place for everything and everything in its place. stgeorgehelsinki.com

EXPLORING THE DESIGN DISTRICT

Comprising the precincts of Punavuori, Kaartinkaupunki, Kamppi and Ullanlinna, Helsinki’s Design District is home to 25 streets and 200 antique shops, fashion stores, museums, art galleries, restaurants and showrooms to explore. With its reputation as a city of impeccable design, this district is elevating that sentiment and attracting a new type of culture-loving traveller to the capital. Within this precinct you will nd the Design Museum, which opened in 1873, and is an internationally recognised national specialist museum of Finnish design. Housing 125 000 images, 75 000 objects and 45 000 drawings, it’s worth every Euro to spend a few hours wandering its inspiring spaces.

Also do not miss visiting Galerie Forsblom, Galerie Anhava and the Helsinki Contemporary, which all showcase various works of Finland’s leading contemporary artists, and “The Museum Mile” of Ateneum, Kiasma, HAM and Amos Rex. Art and design are a part of the Helsinki way of life, which is evident throughout this district, where you are likely to meet the makers, creators and designers behind each project while strolling its cobbled streets. designdistrict.fi

 

LYNETTE BOTHA