Lifestyle, My Work, Travel

HOTEL U14

November 9, 2020

Hotel U14 is newly opened hotel in popular Helsinki area, very close to the Market square and President’s palace. Hotel U14 was opened in March this year by the same owners of another beautiful hotel F6, also located in Helsinki.

Corner room

Hotel U14 is a family owned business and it is part of prestigious Mariott autograph collection of hotels. Hotel U14 offers you a contemporary design with chic interior but cozy atmosphere. It has capacity of 117 rooms, it has meeting rooms, gym, sauna, stylish but relaxed vibe restaurant and cocktail bar with specifically crafted cocktails. This is also a pet friendly hotel so if you have a furry friend, feel free to bring it with you to U14.

I had a privilege to stay at beautiful “Corner room” a spacious, 33m2 room with a king sized bed and sitting area. When looking through the corner window you can enjoy the calming sea view. Corner room also has a premium bathroom with both, shower and bathtub. WiFi is complimentary in all of the hotel rooms and each hotel room has flat screen, smart TVs which serve you with multiple channels as well as with the possibility to sign in to your Netflix, HBO and similar accounts.

I loved the cute little hippo strategically placed in the bedroom, hotel slippers with dog and flamingo drawings sewn into the slippers as well as in the bathroom towels. Wallpapers of the bedroom were so funky and gave me a good mood vibes.

Hotel U14 is a part of Mariott autograph collection but each detail in the hotel was completely though through and sourced by the local designers or producers. From the eggs and bacon you get served in the morning during the breakfast to your bed, everything was picked with the same mindset – only the best of quality for the visitors of the hotel.

I have to mention that the beds in the hotel rooms were made in heaven. They’re made by Finnish brand Unikulma and they’re everything I ever wished for in a form of bed. It was so comfortable to sleep in it that I never wanted to leave it. 😀

Mr. Janne Ant-Wuorinen , a master of hospitality in Helsinki has been named the general hotel manager and is very ecstatic about the new jewel on the hospitality scene here, hotel U14 is his very important project which he saw through from the beginning to it’s opening and is still enthusiastically sailing through the challenging times hospitality has encountered this year.

One of the cutest details I’ve noticed in the hotel and which Janne had time to explain to me are the “humans of U14” . These are the face drawings of all of the hotel’s workers to some of the hotel’s visitors, which all of them are easily seen on the welcome cards, hotel coffee and tea cups to the hotel elevators. This was an idea which scored them the autograph collection , an idea that we are all people but we all have our own personality.

Lastly but not least important detail which stands out at hotel U14 is an incredibly mesmerising lobby watch. It’s placed on the wall right next to the reception and it has a very specific mechanic way of showing the time. It’s one of only 5 these kind of watches in the whole world.

Important to note is that you can enjoy full day dining at hotel’s restaurant Version but I will write about that more in my next blog post so stay tuned. 🙂

*This post has been made in collaboration with Hotel U14. All of the opinions are my own.

*All of the photos are by Natali K. photography .

*Thank you to Janne Ant-Wuorinen for making this collaboration possible.

Lifestyle, My Work, Outfits, Travel

Summer’s end

August 31, 2020

Summer’s end always comes way too quickly. As much as I love the seasons changing , almost all of my best memories from childhood and even now in adult life come from Summer time.

Summer’s end comes earlier in Helsinki, Finland than what I’m used to call as Summer’s end in Sibenik, Croatia. For those who have been reading this blog for years know that I’ve been living for the past 13 years in Finland but I grew up in Croatia.

I’m very melancholic person and in some ways I have hard times letting “things go”. I sometimes get too attached to just a feeling of something , such as the feeling of Summer at it’s best, the energy, the never-ending sunshine, the happy faces of passers by…

Summer’s end always makes me rethink of the months behind since the year’s beginning. It’s kind of my way of checking in with myself, see what I’ve done well, what I’ve done wrong and what I could do better. Not just in sense of work and success but also , if not even more importantly in sense of how I’m feeling and how I’m progressing as a human.

I hate wasting time into nothing and I try every day to be better than I was the day before. Of course work done well pushes you forward and gives you that confident “wind in your back” but more and more as I’ve been growing older, I find it that my self confidence comes from how much I’ve managed to better myself and how many people besides myself I’ve brought happiness to.

We’re living in the extraordinary times and just like with Summer’s end, I am still hang on that feeling of the world before “the pandemic”. I feel like nothing is as simple and easy anymore but I have managed to figure out how to get the best out of this situation and accept the changes as they come.

I, like many of us love to be in control of things and know what’s coming next but life is everything but predictable and changes are inevitable. We sort of forget that we’re not Higher power and that so little is actually in our control. Life is meant to be changed and life is meant to break you and raise you, that’s just the law of the Universe and as much as we’re now thinking that this Pandemic is one of the worst things that has happened to us in decades, maybe , just maybe it might be one of the best things as well…

Maybe we have been too cocooned in the safety of our daily lives, living more freely and carelessly than what we’ve been aware of. Maybe we have stopped growing as humans and so many things were getting too big, too overpriced, overhyped, etc. I think that we’ve taken so much for granted and never had a moment to actually stop and ask ourselves what are we, as earthlings actually doing here on this planet? How much are our eyes open, how much our ears are ready to listen?

Isn’t this just the right time to rethink everything? The whole structure of our society, the way how things work, what and who’s important and who and what is something that we can totally mange without or not in as big doses as we’ve been used to.

It’s time to be humble, to be thankful and to finally, when looking at your neighbour , co-worker, friend, etc. to look at them and actually care how are they doing, how can you help and / or just pay more attention to small things in life like freedom of movement!

No matter how bad things might look like, underneath it all, maybe the awakening is what’s hiding and maybe, we can together make a positive change in the world which is right now what we truly need.

Summer’s end is melancholic for me, I miss my Sibenik more than anything and I’m thankful that I was able to spend two beautiful weeks there this Summer but due to the situation at the moment I have no idea when is the next time I’ll go there. I wanted to share with you my latest photo shoot for YSL beauty here and invite you all to always search for that silver lining in everything. What you’re searching for is what will find you. 🙂

Photos and idea by : Valerio Baranovic

Make up and idea by : Katarina Jukic

Location : D-resort Sibenik, Croatia

Jewellery : LuluRoxx

Lifestyle, My Work

Rowan essentials

August 4, 2020

(NEST Helsinki)

Rowan essentials – the final designer name in trinity of NEST Helsinki shop. Just like with the Nest Factory and LuluRox jewellery I’m proudly presenting you all what you would need as a first time mom or simply just a mom who has small kids and wants the best materials to be on the skin of the little ones.

Behind Rowan Essentials is another super sweet woman called Eva. She’s a hands on mom but also a graphic designer. Putting these two together, her skills and noticing the lack of items on the market which she needed as a new mother , now mother of two little girls inspired her to start making bedding for baby cots by herself. She also noticed that there were no soft and good quality fabrics , something neutral and kind to the skin of the newborns so that’s what she wanted to bring in with Rowan Essentials.

Soon enough she started to design other items which she wanted to have for her kids so now you can find clothes, cloths and baby carriers as part of her collection. She’s lead with an idea of wanting to design something whimsical not “in your face” type of prints and of course never compromise on the quality and softness of the materials. She is designing her bed linens as reversible ones so she there are 2 different patterns, one on each side.

When it comes to swaddles (baby carriers) she loves to use soft pallets for colours and some more brighter one for the older kids. You can choose between gold or silver details of the metal parts. Eva decided to start expanding her brand by starting to design for older children too like toddlers and up to teen years.

Rowan essentials offers 8 different sizes for the bedding and soon they will be sold as sets too. All of the products are manufactured in India and are 100% ecological.

Eva loves to interact with her customers at NEST Helsinki and is always ready to show you and explain how versatile her designs are and how you can easily adjust them to your needs and preferences. 🙂

Once you meet Eva you will feel like you’ve been showered with rays of sunshine and great vibes so don’t be shy and say hi to her!

*This text has been made in collaboration with NEST Helsinki and Rowan Essentials but all of the opinions are my own.

*Text and photographs by me.

Lifestyle, My Work, Travel

Helsinki boats

August 2, 2020

Experience an unforgettable boat ride and stunning sights of Helsinki archipelago with Helsinki boats!

About 3 weeks ago I had made one little dream come true! As some of you know, I have been living in Finland for over 12 years and this whole time I have contemplated on getting a private boat ride to discover Helsinki archipelago which I have heard about so much yet never got to see it properly. I don’t count mini boat ride to Suomenlinna island and back. 😀

Thanks to Marco, the best skipper and host of Helsinki boats, I made my dream come true and got to bring my daughter and brother along. Yes, Helsinki boats rides are like no others, it’s completely private, customised to your wishes rides and you can bring up to 3 people along with you. You can have whole boat for yourself or you can also share it with others starting at only 20 eur per person.

I want to tell you more about our experience. Marco welcomed us to his boat at Tervasaari, small island in Kruununhaka area of Helsinki. We jumped in and took off. First stop was mandatory fuel filling, since we went for the ride early in the morning and were the first ones to ride with Marco on that day.

We have witnessed some beautiful sights of Kalasatama and Mustikkamaa as well as discovered that there is a secret outdoor sauna in the most convenient spot, right on the rocks, ready to jump into the sea from the sauna.

Then we spotted Honkaluotto island which has nobody living there as it’s so small but there is a house, sauna and yard which you can rent for a whole day. Next off towards Herttoniemi and it’s beach area, lots of beautiful houses and villas, I was impressed. We saw a tiki bar! Yes in the middle of Helsinki archipelago there was a tiki bar and that’s when I thought that I must be somewhere else, this just can’t be Helsinki. 😀

We took a bit of a speed ride towards Itis and Vuosaari area where the stunning views and all sorts of secret spots continued. My jaw was dropping every five minutes and I completely fell in love with Helsinki all over again.

From there we turned back and started our ride towards Suomenlinna, passed it by smoothly as well as Uunisaari and continued towards Jätkäsaari to the Hietalahti and restaurant Hampton Bay.

During our whole ride with Marco we have talked a lot, found him to be such a cool and relaxed guy, it’s hard not to love him at the first sight. 🙂 We were happy to share lunch with Marco and talk some more about life in general and never ending source of conversation – pros and cons of life in Helsinki.

Marco was so kind to give us a short ride to Mattolaturi where we got off the boat and wished him luck with his next rides which he had lined up right after us.

I must mention that during the whole boat ride I felt safe, comfortable and incredibly happy! This was definitely one of the best experiences during my life in Finland and I can wholeheartedly suggest you to try his Italian styled boat and discover the gem of Helsinki archipelago.

*This post was made in collaboration with Helsinki boats, all of the opinions are my own.

*Photos and text by me.

Lifestyle, My Work

LuluRox jewellery

July 31, 2020

(NEST Helsinki)

Continuing from my previous post about Nest Factory and newly opened NEST Helsinki shop, I’m happy to introduce you to LuluRox jewellery. As I’ve already mentioned, NEST Helsinki is a shop of three different designers and one of them you’ll get to know in this post.

Abbie moved from London to Helsinki 7 years ago and from her previous work experience in the Fashion industry and living in one of the world’s fashion capitals she put it all into creating her own brand LuluRox.

She is self taught jewellry designer and what started just as a hobby has turned into her passion and work.

Firstly starting slow from her own home where she used to have a studio to make the jewellery she also used it as a shop but soon realised that jewellery would need a place of it’s own so she opened a small shop in Helsinki city centre. It’s helped her get more noticed and create regular customers but she craved for a shop with more visibility and possibly shared with somebody else but it all needed to fit well together and be the right time for a change.

When Tracey approached her with an offer to open a shop together, it came just in the perfect moment and Abbie was eager to show her collection and newest designs as well as get a whole new group of customers. So far the response has been great and Abbie is excited to see where it all goes. She’s definitely on the uprise of her brand and if you’re not able to stop by and meet her in person at NEST Helsinki, you can always take a look and shop at her newly redesigned webshop.

What makes LuluRox jewellery the one which you will love and wear for a long time? Abbie uses only the best materials such as gold fill which is better than plated because it lasts for decades. She uses sterling silver and charms which are 14 karrat gold fill as well as natural pearls and gemstones.

LuluRox is demi fine jewellery designed for every day use. It’s easy to combine bracelets with each other by stacking them up or to combine necklace, bracelet and earrings from the same materials/ line. It’s customisable and personal jewellery. Everything is handmade in Abbie’s home studio in Helsinki but materials come from UK and only from the small businesses like herself. Abbie is always ready to welcome you at NEST Helsinki and tell you more about her jewellery and if you wish design you a piece of jewellery exactly after your wishes! 🙂

I love elegant, timeless jewellery which is not too official and perfect for any occasion and LuluRoxx is just that!

*This post has been made in collaboration with NEST Helsinki and LuluRoxx jewellery but all of the opinions are my own.

Lifestyle, My Work

Nest Factory

July 29, 2020

(NEST Helsinki)

One of my favourite things to do on days off is to just walk the streets of Helsinki and simply “wonder” around without any specific schedule or reason besides just to be present in the moment and hopefully discover something new, what I haven’t noticed before.

As we live our daily lives, it’s easy to get “stuck” in our usual routines and places which we commute to or walk by. The most interesting shops, secret spots, cute cafes and such are usually found scattered through the outside of the strict city centre. It’s the same case with NEST Helsinki which just recently opened on Korkkeavuorenkatu in Ullanlinna district.

NEST Helsinki is like a breath of fresh air in the most stylish and frequented part of Helsinki. There are lots of little cafes and special shops with different local designer names but only NEST sells unique, ecological and sustainable designs all handmade!

Three inspiring ladies have opened NEST Helsinki with so much love and thought put into it and every detail at the shop is just as if it was supposed to be like that or there. I’m happy to support them and their business and I hope that you’ll be interested to learn more about them and what you can find at NEST Helsinki. 🙂

I’m starting with Tracey, my sweet friend, known under brand name Nest Factory. I’ve known her for couple of years and since the day one, she’s been one inspiring, spot of sunshine human in my life. From her passionate support for women in India who are making all of her designs by hand and in the oldest tradition known, something that’s almost dying out and therefore so rare nowadays to her vision and constant belief in bright future of small businesses and supportive community.

Nest Factory will surprise you with some of the most beautiful patterns and prints which beautifully fall over the most softest and of best quality cotton you’ve ever put on! From kaftans and tops to robes and dresses, you will for sure find something that’s just perfect for you and Tracy will be there to answer any of your questions or give you a style suggestion.

Tracey’s inspiration are colours, her trips (especially to India) and bringing two opposites like India and Finland together in her designs. When deciding on the designs her leading though is “romantic vs. ethnic”.

She loves working at NEST Helsinki and even though Nest Factory has webshop, she loves the interaction with her customers which pop by the shop daily and sharing the space with other two likeminded designers but least favourite part of the job might be the “unknown” situation during pandemic times and depending on delivery services/ post to receive her designs since they’re all made in India.

I asked Tracey if she has any vision or what’s her wish for the future of NEST Helsinki and with a significant spark in her eye she mentioned that she hopes one day they will expand to Copenhagen and Stockholm and maybe become a lifestyle brand.

*This post has been made in collaboration with NEST Helsinki / Nest Factory but all of the opinions are my own.

*Text and photographs by me.

Lifestyle, Travel

Humans of KOTI: Cristina

June 15, 2020

One of the benefits of staying at KOTI apartments is that you get personal, once a week cleaning service. I have always been a hands on kind and I can clean my own apartment just fine by myself but oh how big difference this weekly deep cleaning makes! I think that I can’t imagine living without it anymore. 😀

This is why I’d like you to meet Cristina, one of the KOTI apartments cleaning girls who does an amazing job at cleaning and is also a very sweet personality wise so I’m not even bothered if we’re at an apartment at the same time while she’s cleaning.

Cristina comes from Philipines and she’s been living in Helsinki for under a year. “My cousins have been living in Finland for long time so thanks to them I have moved here. I got job at KOTI through my relative who worked with Hannu and after waiting for 5 months on my working permit I could start working. Because it’s been my first and long Winter here, I didn’t had so much chances to explore Helsinki outdoors but I definitely will now that it’s Summer and the weather is nicer.”

We went on to talk bit more about Helsinki and how does she like it compared to her home country: ” I think that Helsinki is very safe, you can walk late at night on the street, going back home and nobody will bother you or attack you. It also has great public transportation which is reliable.”

When I asked her how does she like working at KOTI apartments and if she has something she’d like to pin as the best feature of her time working for KOTI and she went on to say: ” I really have nothing to complain about , everybody from the KOTI staff have been so nice and kind to me. Also same goes for the KOTI visitors or tenants, everybody is so friendly to me and makes me feel appreciated. I am very happy about that.”

I hope that this brings you third KOTI apartments humans closer and that you know whom to expect when visiting KOTI apartments. 🙂

Lifestyle, My Work, Travel

Humans of KOTI apartments

June 5, 2020

One of my favourite profiles to follow on Instagram is Humans of NYC. That is where I got the inspiration to create couple of posts titled “humans of KOTI apartments” in which I would like to bring you closer the sweetest staff which works here and makes my life and everybody else’s here that much nicer, comfortable and makes sure that everything works perfectly. 😉

In my previous blog post I had a coffee chat with the owner of KOTI apartments, Hannu. Today I’d like to introduce you to Jasmin, Hannu’s right hand and a good fairy which always greets you warmly at KOTI apartments lobby and is always ready to answer your questions or wish you a nice day.

Jasmin, Helsinki

I have known Hannu (owner of KOTI apartments) for about 10 years. We have worked previously together and there was a break of 5 years until our roads crossed again when he was starting KOTI, he called me up to join him and I happily accepted. 

I go by the motto of “People maybe won’t remember your name or what you did but they will always remember how you made them feel.” 

That’s my guidance not just in work but also in my life. If I can make a difference in somebody’s day by saying simple “Hi” and smile to them, that makes me very happy. 

Our customers are from everywhere, all parts of the world. Usually if they’re Finnish then they’re staying for bit longer or because of their own home’s renovation but if they’re foreigners usually there are no rules and we have visits from everywhere. 

Lifestyle, My Work, Sunday Cafe

Coffee time with Hannu

May 27, 2020

Even though it’s not Sunday, I went for a coffee with Hannu, owner, heart and soul of KOTI apartments. I will attach this lovely interview to my previously published “Sunday Cafe” section for you to enjoy in the future and easily access it.

When I first met Hannu was on our business meeting regarding my collaboration with KOTI apartments about 2,5 months ago. Ever since the first meeting up until this moment, Hannu has been not just an easy person to collaborate with but also very warm and welcoming individual which is very dedicated to what he does and every single client who walks into KOTI apartments matters. I was happy to spend some time interviewing him and I hope that this will bring him closer to you and that you will too consider staying at KOTI apartments in the future. 🙂

Your name and age.

Hannu Junkkaala , Libra 🙂 

Where do you come from and what is your connection to Helsinki? 

I come from Helsinki, I was born here and I’m what’s considered “barefoot” Helsinkian.

Well, almost because you’re supposed to have 5 generations in your family who are from Helsinki, I don’t have that many but almost. That also explains my connection to Helsinki.

What are the advantages of operating a business from Helsinki and what are disadvantages? 

Helsinki is clean, safe and has pure, straight forward people living here. Helsinki is modern and always developing more. To me, it’s much easier to operate my business from Helsinki because there is enough space on the hospitality market for what I’m doing. KOTI apartments are quite unique in that sense and it makes a big advantage for me. 

Disadvantage might be that Helsinki could still have more bigger/ worldwide  known companies their offices here and create more centred point for business traveler who are are also majority of our guests. If you compare Helsinki and Zurich for example, they’re the same size wise but Zurich is still much more advanced in business operations and such vs. Helsinki.

Running small, private business vs. bigger one? What do you like about being a small business owner? 

I used to work before as part of big business and I must say I prefer more running a small business. Decisions are sometimes made in seconds, there is not so much thinking through and having endless sheets or power point documents but rather going by the feeling and knowing what’s the right decision or the next step in the given moment. 

I also like that I have a great and close relationship with my employees and they feel like family members rather than my workers. I don’t think that it’s possible to have that in big business. 

Also, my days are all different. It might sound like a cliche but every day is different. I might have an empty schedule when driving in with my car to work and suddenly it might be that it’s 9 pm and I’m only then going home. That can be good and bad but mostly a  good thing and I like that.

Why name KOTI apartments? 

I used to own KOTI hotel before and I sold my business to Forenom apartments in 2015. I have then lost my “rights” on that specific name so when I was about to open KOTI apartments I chose that name half because I had some melancholic attachment to my previous business and half because KOTI means home in Finnish and that’s exactly the feeling which I wanted to create at KOTI. It can be of course modern design, luxurious  and classy apartments with great equipment but the feeling needs to be the one of “home”. It is nice to see that not many people who visit us know what KOTI means in Finnish but when they come over and get that homey vibes and find out the meaning of “koti” in my language they connect the dots and are pleasantly surprised that the name fits the feeling of the place. 🙂 

What inspires you or makes you happiest the most in your work? 

I can honestly say that I’m the happiest when I interact with my visitors. Due to the current situation I have been “locked up” inside of my office for the past 3 months and I miss the daily interaction with our guests. It is part of our KOTI vibes, to see me or Jasmin and have a smiling face say hi and wish you a nice day. I am also happy when I hear that our clients are happy and that we have met or exceeded the expectations. I’m happy when I hear that somebody had been marketing us in “mouth to mouth” way and they have only good things to say, that is what truly inspires me and gives me motivation to go forward. 

What is the best place you’ve ever stayed at like hotel/ apartment/ etc? 

I would say that the best experience was last Summer in one boutique hotel in Lourdes, France. I went there with my girlfriend because of Tour De France and could easily go each day with car or by bike, from the hotel to see different stages of the Tour de France. I liked the fact that it was ran by elder couple who would also every morning prepare big breakfast table for all of us and each morning you would be seated differently so you get to meet and talk to different people. I liked that. 

When it comes to my benchmark place/ hotel, I always stay at Ett Hem hotel in Stockholm who’s name by chance means home in Swedish just like KOTI does in Finnish. 😀 

What’s your life motto?

Angels live in details. Some people say for the contracts that the devil lives in details and I was thinking that Angels live in details because in my work, you have to have basic ground great but details are what makes the work or place stand out and special. We have lots of little details at KOTI and I think that it is nice touch. But it is true that if basics are not right, then details won’t matter at all. If I put a bowl of candy at your room it won’t make you happy if rooms are not clean or if our staff is not nice.

Recommend a book, movie and song? 

Favorite book is by Simon Sinek, Start With Why 

Texas country music, something like Kenny Chesney.

Michelle Obama – documentary 

Name 3 things everyone should do or see  when staying at KOTI apartments?

I think that if it’s first time someone is visiting Helsinki and staying at KOTI apartments they should go to Loyly, Suomenlinna island and jump on the tram 10 which stops next to KOTI and wonder off. 🙂 

Thank you Hannu for this interview!

Lifestyle, My Work, Travel

Finnish sauna at KOTI apartments

May 7, 2020

Finnish sauna experience at KOTI apartments was just what I have craved for on a rainy Spring day. I must admit that I have never been to sauna before my move to Helsinki, Finland. It has been 12 years already that I have moved here and I can proudly say I’m a big Finnish sauna fan. 🙂

There are many saunas in Helsinki, some are private, some are shared and public but almost every building has one, unless you’re a lucky one and have your own inside your own apartment.

“All people are created equal but nowhere more so than in the sauna.”

KOTI apartments sauna is a private one which anybody can use with an announcement beforehand. You have to reserve the time and date and then it’s yours for the whole day.

When you enter the sauna from the 1st floor, you get inside a big space with relaxing area which also has TV, fridge and coffee machine. Then there is a walk in shower with Rituals body shop and shampoo and then there is the sauna with pamphlets and mini pillows for the maximum comfort.I have tried many saunas, even the old traditional wooden ones but this is by far my most favourite sauna experience. 🙂

*This post was made in collaboration with KOTI apartments but all of the photos and opinions are my own.

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