Flourishing with beautiful grass-covered gardens and islands, Helsinki is one-of-the-most ‘stunning’ cities to visit in the world. Perhaps, for that reason, the 20-minute drive from the airport to the hotel felt like I was streaming an episode on ‘Baltic’s daughter’ on the National Geographic Channel. Besides the natural beauty, what seamlessly caught my attention was the vernacular architecture perched across mesmerising lakes. For the first-timer in Helsinki, this was a pleasant joyride to luxuriate in, en route Original Sokos Hotel Presidentti. Before I knew, the chauffeur had driven the car into the heart of the city, and then gradually towards Kampii mall on the Etelainen Rautatiekatu square, where this box hotel is situated. I was very excited to be staying in central Helsinki, something I knew would save me a lot of travel.
With its grand carton-shaped design, Sokos Hotel Presidentti is bound to impress the first-time guests. Something that begins with you walking across that giant sliding glass door! On the other side of the doorway is a lavish lobby with a wide reception-desk and a sufficiently accommodating waiting lounge. Despite the long queue of guests, there was enough space for everyone to move around with their luggage. On top of that, the warm and polite reception staff were promptly seen handling the check-ins which ensured smiling faces at the end of the day. Wouldn’t you agree that such actions ignite a sense of inarticulated inspiration, to a large extent? Holding on to that thought, I collected my room key from the receptionist, who was still smiling at me and then paved my way to the twin elevators.
Who doesn’t like to be spoilt, for choices? That was my first thought when I saw two adjoining elevators carrying multiple passengers simultaneously. The first one, or the second one, I asked myself, throbbing onto a mental conquest of my own. Exactly, at that time, a fellow guest almost impelled me into taking the first lift. In a few seconds, the door opened and here I was, on a hotel floor which seemed to have long (and I mean very long) narrow passages. And, you ‘actually’ do have to cross these, before you make it to your room. Luckily for me, I chose VIP bags as my luggage partner and they made it relatively easy for me to scout through such extended passageways. Alternatively, walking is a great workout and when you think about it like that, walking through Europe’s stretched out passageways doesn’t feel tiresome anymore.
For those splurging EUR 220 a night, to stay at Sokos Hotel Presidentti, must know that the rooms feature a feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation. I stayed at this hotel in 2016 however they revamped all the rooms in 2017 so you can expect a pleasant Finnish surprise when you arrive here. Despite the compactness of the room, each element was placed just as it should have been, creating ample space for one to move around. My room featured all modern amenities, whether it be, a stocked minibar, flat-screen TV, complimentary WiFi, telephone service, or great hospitality. Both the queen bed with a hybrid mattress as well as the blinding curtains ensured a wonderful night’s sleep. You can kick start your morning in total peace by savouring that first cup of coffee in the room.
Beyond the bedroom, was a lovely ensuite washroom with a ventilated shower, bathtub, toiletries, hairdryer, towels, bathrobes, and bathroom slippers. (And more I guess including the drinking glasses) It’s not customary to drink tap water while you are in Europe, but also, why not try it once as the locals do, right? So, whichever hotel I check-in while travelling in Europe, I ensure to drink tap water at least once. Then again, that’s me! You really don’t have to. Coming back to the Sokos Hotel Presidentti, I have to say that the centralised heating kept me warm like a snuggly sweater! Although, additional room facilities like an electric kettle, iron board, radio, safe, sofa, and work desk did add to my travel joy. So did the world outside the single pane window! I still remember it like it was yesterday when I had pulled over those soft drapey-curtains to find Hollywood come alive on the streets of Helsinki.
Finns dressed in overcoats were wending their way on squeaky clean roads, while, the ‘nebulous’ night lamps added substance to a scene that was exhibiting Finnish lifestyle at its best. I was so absorbed by that vibe that I forgot to capture it on my camera. Keeping that aside, Hotel Sokos Presidentti also flaunts a wide array of in-house-enjoyable-activities to keep the guests entertained. For that, they have four restaurants, namely Bistro Manu, Coffee Bar, Presidentti private restaurant and Pressa nightclub-restaurant. In addition to that, they also have one lovely Bar called Pub Adjutantti, along with, an elegant clubhouse, 8 Sauna-Spa rooms and a ravishing indoor swimming pool. Did I mention the food as yet?
Due to my tight travel schedule, I didn’t get a chance to eat a lot at the restaurants but I made sure to have breakfast on all days. Not only, because it’s complimentary, but also, because it’s organic and delicious. My favourite picks were the cold meats, bread, choice of eggs, fruit yoghurt, cheese and all the local items on the buffet.
Each day I would finish my breakfast by 9 AM and head out to explore the city. The location of the Sokos Presidentti allowed me to cover half the city on foot. Kamppi Metro Station and Helsinki harbour are the closest landmarks. Also, the neighbourhood is thriving with plenty of shops, eateries, and sightseeing spots.