Finland: Hotel Haven
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AddressHotel Haven, Unioninkatu 17 00130 Helsinki , Finland 358/9-681-930 hotelhaven.fi
Tour the town on bicycle; bikes are available to hotel guests.
If you're visiting in the summer, watch the sun never-quite-set over the ocean, which is accessible by the easy-to-navigate and gratifyingly punctual metro (the northernmost subway system in the world, and an easy walk from the hotel.)
- 77 rooms and suites
- 3 restaurants
- High-speed internet
Hotel Haven, a small boutique hotel, is located adjacent to Helsinki's harbor in the heart of the city, the hotel is the ideal base from which to explore this land of midnight sun. Rooms mingle contemporary Scandinavian design with eclectic accent furniture to create a refined ambiance. Bathrooms are superbly designed (between the giant tub with Jacuzzi jets and the television in the bathroom, you may never get out of the bath), and the beds are exquisite—indeed, so exquisite that I at one point found myself taking pictures of the bed layers so I could try to recreate it at home. As hard as it was to convince myself to go to sleep while it was light out, the cocoon of featherbed, Egyptian cotton sheets and feather duvet had me sleeping later than I intended.
A seventeenth century home adjacent to the hotel features three excellent restaurants: Havis (a traditional Scandinavian seafood restaurant), Sundmans Krog (straightforward Finnish and international fare), and G.W. Sundman's, a contemporary Finnish restaurant with a view over the harbor whose tasting menus are a playful, take on the traditional elements of Finnish cuisine: an appetizer of shrimp with spheres of cucumber jelly topped with a droplets of dill ice cream; crispy cones filled with salmon creams topped with a flourish of caviar "sprinkles." It all was delicious, but I was especially taken with the simplest dish of freshly-made malt bread: perfectly sweet, rich, and addictive. —Kat Rickenbacker
In the Area
- Helsinki Ice Cream Factory: In 1922 the Italian-born Magi family opened Helsinki's first ice cream shop in a small wooden cart on one of the city's busier roads; they cut their ice from the frozen sea in winter and stored it, so it wouldn't melt, in a large pit they had dug in the earth. Ninety years, three generations, and significant mechanization later, the Magis still churn out their signature scoops to loyal fans throughout the city. Helsinki Ice Cream Factory (in Finnish: Helsingin Jäätelötehdas) currently sells eighteen flavors, the recipes for which often date back to the factory's early years. We've got our eye on the lemon curd cone—or maybe the cinnamon-apple. Mäkelänkatu 62, 00520; tel: 09/8775-3930; helsinginjaatelotehdas.fi
- Juuri: Rich, meaty entrées are in ready supply at Juuri, a handsome-walled dining room in downtown Helsinki—but at 5 euro apiece, it's the small-plate sapas (like tapas, but Finnish) that we're really after. There's salmon marinated with lingonberries and served with maltbread and tarragon oil; herring with red onion, or with black currants, potato cake, and brown butter mayonnaise; "egg cheese," a Finnish delicacy made from buttermilk and eggs, here spiced with oregano. Juuri's got a dozen more sapas options, and showcasing only the best—and most authentic—of Finnish fare. Korkeavuorenkatu 27, 00130; tel: 09/635-732; juuri.fi/en
- Ravintola Savoy: Savoy's rooftop restaurant, with its sparkling glassware and panoramic views, is great for a special occasion-dinner, a fitting cap-off to a food-filled Nordic vacation. The inner dining room has long been an architectural darling (its simple, elegant design a work of Finnish maestro Alvar Aalto), but try dining on the terrace. The chefs have planted an herb garden there, and its big, leafy bounty inspires their plates: spring salads, lettuce gazpacho, whitefish with dill, and lemon–thyme sorbet, among others. Eteläesplanadi 14, 00130; tel: 358/9/6128-5300; ravintolasavor.fi/en
- A21 Dining: The menu at A21 favors Baltic seafood and fresh, seasonal produce—but its biggest draw is the matching cocktail that accompanies each plate. Tied together with lyrical descriptions, the plate-and-cocktail combos evoke images of the Finnish archipelago. These include "By the Seashore" (herb panna cotta with asparagus and pickled onion; flowery chive and onion cocktail), "A Moment By the Campfire" (smoked white fish, birch-flavored potatoes; vihta, or birch, cocktail), and "Strawberry Path" (milk chocolate fudge with strawberries and wood sorrel; summer strawberry cocktail with caramel). Kalevankatu 17, 00100; tel: 358/400/21-4421 or 358/4017/111-17; a21.fi/dining