Mar162015

Hotel Indigo Helsinki newly open and my day in Helsinki

Hotel Indigo Helsinki – Boulevard is a newly open hotel from the boutique brand of InterContinental Hotels Group in the capital of Finland. Interesting to see a hotel with only two reviews on TripAdvisor. The hotel has an excellent rating, so far. Hotel Indigo Helsinki enters IHG Rewards Club at 30,000 points per reward night.

Hotel Indigo Helsinki

Hotel Indigo Helsinki photos link.

The addition of Hotel Indigo brings IHG’s presence to six hotels in the Helsinki region with three hotels in central downtown:

Finland has the only IHG hotels north of the Baltic Sea. IHG has only one hotel in Scandinavia. The other day I checked the definition of ‘Scandinavia’ and it does not include Finland. The term ‘Nordic Region’ is used when talking about Finland, Sweden and Norway, There is no IHG presence in Sweden or Norway and only Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers (25,000 points) in Denmark.

Nordic-Baltic region map

I think an IHG hotel in Finland has appeared on just about every non-summer months PointBreaks list for years. The current list has Holiday Inn Tampere available for 5,000 points per night through May 31.

Hotel Indigo Helsinki – Boulevard

120 room boutique hotel located on Bulevardi in a stylish neighborhood of Helsinki. The reviews are also good for the other two downtown IHG properties.

My Day in Helsinki

I loved Helsinki. The airport shuttle bus passed a couple of these IHG hotels when I traveled between Helsinki Vantaa Airport and downtown on a 23-hour overnight transit between Oslo and London in March 2013. I spent the night at Starwood Hotels Luxury Collection Hotel Kamp.

Helsinki My City

This post gives me an opportunity to share some thoughts and images from Helsinki, Finland to illustrate why I was fascinated with Helsinki.

Helsinki blond

Finland remains the world stronghold for natural blonds. You might see more people with blond hair in other places, but in Finland the blond hair you see is more likely to be the person’s natural hair color.

Helsinki is stylish, modern and historic with trendy shops, restaurants and entertainment.

Helsinki Glo

Sidewalks downtown were clear of snow in mid-March when I was touring the city.

Helsinki snow

Other places had plenty of ice patches and shin-deep snow on the ground in parks, on stairs and across benches.

Helsinki Train Station

Helsinki Railway Station was designed by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen and constructed 1910-1914. Eleil Saarinen moved to the U.S. in 1923 and became a professor of architecture at University of Michigan. The art deco style architecture exemplified in the Helsinki railway station in the early 20th century is known as Finnish National Romanticism. This train station was named one of the most beautiful in the world by BBC in 2013.

 

Finnish Food

Food prices are high in Finland and beer prices are astronomical. Good news is a lively craft beer scene exists in Finland. Bad news is beer is highly taxed and expensive. Think $3 to $10 per bottle depending on store bought or restaurant purchase.

Breads are brown and hard. Having arrived in Helsinki in the evening and barely reaching a grocery store minutes before closing, combined with the high luxury hotel prices for eating at Starwood’s Hotel Kamp, meant I had eaten little food while wandering around downtown Helsinki taking photos at night and the following morning before my evening flight departure to London. I had been living three days on airport lounge food and drink with one Radisson Blu breakfast buffet in Oslo as I traveled from Berlin to Oslo to Helsinki over the course of 72 hours on a single one-way award ticket for 10,000 AAdvantage miles.

Around lunch time as I looked for food in urban central Helsinki, I came across an organic Finnish foods display from a farmers’ cooperative in a downtown Helsinki grocery market.

Finnish food

This table provided me with a free lite lunch of bread, cheeses and fish while I talked about Finnish food and agriculture with a local woman farmer.

Finnish Education means dumb blondes are likely smarter than you

The last thought I’ll leave you with is education. Finland has the highest proportion of college educated adults in Europe. Finland’s education system is one of the most successful in the world.

One of my favorite signs I photographed in Helsinki was on the window of a downtown college.

Helthinki

Helsinki is a cool place to be, especially in March.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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Comments

  1. I am going to be laying over in HEL for about 8 hours on Sunday. Can you suggest any activities that might be worth doing in that timeframe?

  2. The airport shuttle to downtown drops you off at the train station. Walking around central Helsinki and the waterfront can use up a couple of hours. Two beautiful churches in city center.

    The cold air of March limited me to about two hour trips before I was too cold and returned to my hotel room.

    I used my time to gaze at architecture, walk around stores and check out boats and churches. Nearly everyone spoke English and that made it easy to talk with locals and ask questions.

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