Visiting Helsinki and looking for a discrimination free, filled with unique art pieces and a “very Finnish” style hotel, Helka is the right choice for you. Located in the Helsinki city centre – Kamppi, it’s very easy to reach hotel Helka no matter which transportation you choose. Immediately as you enter Helka you’re greeted by the lovely and laidback staff.
You can choose if you want to use an electronic, self check in or the traditional one. Whatever you choose, your check in and check out will be equally user friendly and rarely that you’ll have to wait long to do either.
Hotel Helka has gone through some renovations and got a nice facelift so now it shines like a new penny. 🙂 You can check my previous review of Helka here. Besides standard comfort and smart rooms, there are also junior suites, all beautifully decorated with a touch of pink and cute notes, such as “Spend a night with Alvar Aalto” as there are a lot of designer touches in the hotel rooms, from Alvar Aalto vases to the Design house Stockholm famous brick lamps.
Many visitors have stayed in hotel Helka since it’s opening back in 1969, from the random hotel guests to the public personas. Hotel Helka also has a bit of a “movie history” as it served as a Hotel Budapest in American movie Gorky Park.
When visiting Helsinki, from the outside, Helka’s building doesn’t look that much different from other nearby buildings and you would never guess how stylish, cozy and pretty hotel is hiding inside. 🙂
I loved my stay at a Junior Suite and it’s private sauna was very much appreciated as I happen to love Finnish sauna and to have one at your own disposal in your own room is one of those small things which make life beautiful.
There are no mini bars at the hotel rooms because Helka is the holder of the Green Key and is very eco friendly so by not having mini bars it saves 50 000 kWh annually.
Delicious and organic breakfast is served every morning. If you feel like grabbing a drink with your friends or have a meeting with a larger group, Helka’s bar is always ready to serve you. 🙂 If you’re feeling like snacking, there’s a chance to grab a sandwich from the bar as well.
Finally, hotel Helka’s prices are some of the best ones in town and rooms are most of the time sold out but if you book in advance and through the hotel’s website using the code pinkhelsinki you will get -10% off your reservation.
*This post was made in collaboration with Hotel Helka, all of the opinions are my own.
How to dress for Autumn? Yes, want it or not, the Summer has finished and the season of layers is here. I must say that I’m happy to feel the breeze in the air, put on a coat and light scarf… After all, the Summer in Croatia was insanely hot, end of the Summer was also hot in Helsinki so I had it enough, officially. 😀
As soon as the Autumn arrives, I become more creative and playful with my outfits. I start to dig out the clothes which I have totally forgot about, some new, more Fall like colours start to dominate in my outfits and first thing which comes to my mind when somebody mentions Autumn are forests, trees and that golden sunshine hour which is so magical and only specific for Autumn.
This year has been the year of “Trees” for IvanaHelsinki. Their main designer and founder, Paola was inspired by the Red Wood forests in California as well as the nature in her homeland, Finland. Trees and forests have a mystical grounding power that is channeled into the prints of this collection. Forests are spiritual, intelligent, enduring yet very delicate and vulnerable.
I couldn’t agree more with Paola, ever since I was a little kid I’ve been wondering in the forests, that’s where I would find the best inner peace, my inspiration would blossom on my long walks in the forests, I had many “realisations” about life, solution to my own problems and so on exactly in the middle of the majestic forests in Russia, Croatia and finally in Finland too.
I’m happy to have partnered up with IvanaHelsinki to collaborate together and spread the word about everything that IvanaHelsinki is and stands for as well as, in my mind, one of the best collections the brand had to this date. You still have time to shop “Trees” collection at THIS LINK with a discount of 15% by typing IVANAXNATALI at the checkout.
To those who remember IvanaHelsinki flagship store on Uuudemankatu in Helsinki, it has moved to a new, much bigger and more functional space , an architecturally unique Finnish atelier house built in the 70’s on Palopirtintie 15. When you arrive to the shop, you can not just explore the newest collection but also have a cup of coffee or tea and talk to the lovely girls which are working there, check out an exhibition because the space also serves as a mini gallery or just wonder around and admire the beauty of the wooden house with a calming and elegant atmosphere. You will feel very welcome either way. 🙂
I will link some of my favourite pieces from the “Trees” collection here, happy shopping! NORMA , SYLVIA , JOCELYN .
Minato sushi is a lovely little restaurant located in the city centre of Helsinki, it has opened a little over a year ago and is ran by two very passionate foodies and professional chefs, Tuomo and Riina. Riina has 17 years of experience and is very specific about sushi rice, fresh fish, perfect cuts and giving an own signature twist to the dishes.
Minato sushi has a small but very satisfying and delicious menu which will definitely leave you enough of choices to satisfy your cravings.
Minato sushi is a welcoming breeze of “fresh air” in the sea of wanna be Japanese and sushi buffets which have taken over Helsinki food scene.
Minato sushi delivers to your doors too, so if you’re living in Helsinki you can order their delicious sushi via the delivery services too.
While visiting Minato sushi, it was such a pleasure to talk to Tuomo a young, very involved and proud force of the restaurant. We had a delicious chance to indulge in miso soup with grilled salmon and portobello pieces, sashimi and sushi platter including signature roll, Kolari with smoked reindeer.
Just a little bit before we have dined at Minato, they had two special days of fresh tuna and they promise to have more of those kind of surprises in the future. 🙂
*Thank you Tuomo for this opportunity. This post has been made in collaboration with Minato sushi but all of the opinions are my own.
Radisson Blu Plaza is one of 4 Radisson Blu hotels in Helsinki. I haven’t stayed at the Radisson Blu Plaza previously but I knew that it’s one of the nicest looking old buildings in the heart of the city.
Radisson Blu Plaza is located right next to the Central Railway Station and it’s hard to miss on not spotting it as it’s facade is grandiose. There’re 302 rooms in this hotel which have been refurbished back in 2012 so now they’re decorated using the most impressive classics of Finnish design, for example some of the suites are decorated with Alvar Aalto’s most famous furnishings.
Big ball room is perfect for events and weddings, there’re guest saunas, gym and hotel lobby is a perfect place to chill at or work on your laptop while you’re waiting on the room or on your private chauffeur to take you to the airport.
Radisson Blu Plaza has some of the services which aren’t so common in Helsinki such as concierge, bell boy and private chauffeur as well as a possibility to pick your own pillow (there are 5 different options).
I must say that the bed was one of the most comfortable ones I’ve slept in and that’s something that is very important to me when I’m staying at the hotels.
I also found it very convenient that all of the lights in the room could be adjusted on different “modes” on a mini electronic screen right next to the bed. Bathroom was well set up with the Radisson’s own toiletries and the TV screen in the bathroom mirror was a nice touch.
I sometimes like to test room service by requesting either a meal or something random like a set of cutlery or tea just to see how quick they are and how willing they’re to meet your needs. I did it this time too and Plaza’s room service was 5/5.
Radisson Blu Plaza is getting more and more recognised for it’s big breakfast buffet. The selection was plenty, various and thoughtful, meaning that they have served different variations to suit different diets. The restaurant’s design was incredible, very beautiful ceiling and lots of art photos everywhere.
If you’re stying at the Business Room or suite, you have the exclusive chance to have a more private breakfast at the hotel’s Business Lounge/ terrace. If you’re arriving with the car, Radisson Blu Plaza has its own parking garage.
It was a short but sweet stay at the Radisson Blu Plaza which I would recommend as a great choice for a weekend getaway or a very convenient place to stay at in Helsinki at a competitive price. 🙂
*This post was made in collaboration with Radisson Blu Plaza but all of the opinions are my own.
*Thank you to Miss Annukka for making this possible.
If you come to Helsinki by boat, chances are that you’ll arrive right at the Viking Line port and a hotel which is conveniently located nearby is hotel Katajanokka. Hotel Katajanokka is a very unique hotel and one of those experiences which you can put on your “bucket list” and the reason for that is because it used to be a prison!
Hotel Katajanokka was “made” in 2007. when it had been transformed from a prison into a hotel. Restoration lasted for a while and once it had opened it’s doors to the visitors it immediately became hyped up and a wanted place to stay at! You can still visit original group and isolation cells in the hotel but other than that and some prison like metal doors or window rails, you would never say that it served as a county prison previously.
Hotel Katajanokka goes by the motto “escape the ordinary” and you definitely do feel everything but ordinary staying at this modern, stylish and incredibly sweet hotel. The staff is one of the nicest I’ve encountered in my numerous hotel stays around the world.
In 2018, hotel Katajanokka joined to chain of Mariott hotels which sets them a level up higher and a certain standard which they’re meeting flawlessly. All of the bedrooms are simple, practical and the walls are decorated with the photos and small details like “lockets” to portray the hotel’s past.
For all of the hungry bellies, on the 1st floor of the hotel, there’s a well spoken about restaurant Linnankellari which serves you delicious Nordic cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I had a chance to enjoy fine dinner testing some simple but full of flavour starters such as sprout salad, local blue cheese with rhubarb jam, new potatoes and broiled fish.
Main courses are hearty and perfect for sharing if you ain’t too hungry. 🙂 Linnankellari serves classics such as hotel’s own burger and fries as well as cooked pork ribs or something lighter like spelt risotto with asparagus.
There are three desserts but all three were very light and different, from deconstructed Pavlova to creme brûlée Linnankellari style, all three were worth the sugar spike. 😀
If you need a hotel in Helsinki which is nearby the best of local attractions but enough “tucked away” to give you sort of privacy and peace, hotel Katajanokka is the right choice for you, not to mention that if you’re into that whole “bucket thing” list, you simply must stay here!
*This post was made in collaboration with the hotel Katajanokka but all of the opinions are my own!
*Photography by #natalikphotography
*Thank you to Ms.Heli for this opportunity and Ms. Anni for the warm welcome.
About 12 years ago when I’ve first visited Helsinki, there weren’t as many hotels as there are now in the very heart of the Helsinki city centre but one of the first hotels I did stay at back then was Scandic Simonkentta.
Swedish chain of 4 star hotels right away “got” me with their minimalistic design, effortless check in/out and great comfort. Couple of years after, I have stayed at hotel Marski as well and while it was not any different looking than the other Scandic hotels I’ve been to (in other cities such as Turku and Oulu) I did love the very central location of it, right on the main street Mannerheimintie and right across the best department store in Finland, Stockmann as well as the historical Swedish theatre and 3 blacksmiths square.
About a year and half ago I have heard that hotel Marski is under the reconstruction and the whole new look and concept will be given to it!
Oh and it was so! Beautiful new hotel Marski by Scandic was (re)opened couple of months ago and the new , very stylish and fancy design had complemented the “old fame” of the place.
I love the cozyness of it, the upgraded bedrooms and amenities as well as the restaurant Kuusi Palaa which served us amazing dinner and a wonderful breakfast table. I found the rooms to be very stylish, more spacious than before and I have loved the new “splash” of colour it got versus the other Scandic hotels I know of.
Gym, sauna access, parking garage and super friendly and helpful staff would be definitely what I’m looking for when staying at a hotel in any city’s centre. Something that is also great about Marski by Scandic hotel is that WiFi is free of charge, pets are allowed and it also proudly carries the Nordic Swan eco label for the sustainability.
Thanks to already mentioned hotel’s restaurant Kuusi Palaa, I have dined well and have enjoyed to the max Noridc / Finnish cuisine at it’s best. The name of the restaurant is quite entertaining as it can mean many different things and some of them are: “Burning Tree” or “6 slices”. You even get a small pamphlet on your dinner table explaining the name and all of the variations of it. 🙂
It’s rare that I like any of the hotel’s own restaurants, but Kuusi Palaa has definitely satisfied my foodie standards as well as my tastebuds. 🙂
From the starter plate or so called Finnish tapas to the main course and finishing off the dinner with a rich but just perfectly combined brownie with coffee cream and popping candy was nothing short but great!
I can definitely recommend you to try out the Marski bar, besides live music played by the DJ you can also enjoy many great cocktails among which I’d like to point out Grandma’s pickle cocktail and Raspberry boat, both of them you can also get as a mocktail. 🙂 For avid beer lovers, there’s an extensive list of local and Finnish beers as well.
If you find yourself visiting Helsinki sometime soon and are looking for a 5 star hotel treatment and vibe but at much affordable rate, give a chance to Marski by Scandic, you won’t regret it!
*This article was made in collaboration with Scandic hotels / Marski hotel but all of the opinions are my own.
*Photography by Natali K. photography
*Thank you Ms. Elina and Mr. Jouko for this opportunity!
NOVA Rent A Car is my favourite rent a car company in Croatia. When I’m not in Finland and I want to relay on a good, safe and modern cars for the local trips in Croatia, I go to NOVA Rent A Car!
NOVA Rent A Car has the best selection of rental cars at the most affordable prices! I have been using their services for a long time to be able to stand behind my words when I assure you that there was not a single time I had any issues with NOVA Rent A Car, actually quite the opposite. Every visit to NOVA Rent A Car in Sibenik has been one of the most pleasure filled “client services” experience.
From getting to the office, to getting a car, payment, driving the car and to finally returning it, it is all so easy and comfortable which is the main reason why I keep on coming back to NOVA Rent A Car and don’t go elsewhere.
Great fact about NOVA Rent A Car is that they have many offices through whole Croatia, from Zagreb to Dubrovnik but you can also always book your car online too! Another cool thing is that you don’t need to stress taking the car back to the original office where you have picked it up from. If you need car from Sibenik to Zagreb for instance, you can drop off the car in Zagreb NOVA Rent A Car office and continue on with your trip.
NOVA Rent A Car offers you 2 different options when renting their cars, you can take a full on package, meaning you prepay for the insurance of the car or you can take it without one but then it’s bit more riskier because in case something happens on the road, you’re responsible to pay for the damage no matter what the price will be.
There are also car extras which you can choose according to your needs and you can also always check out NOVA Rent A Car website for the special deals which could for instance get you a 15% discount on certain cars for a specific period.
*Thank you to Mr.Ivica from NOVA Sibenik and Miss Vanja for the best customer service.
*All of the opinions are my own/ all of the photos by me.
Phones are something we’re all attached to on daily basis, some of us more, some less, but I don’t think that any of us can imagine a day go by without using our phone.
I also drop my phone on daily basis… A lot! I know, not something to brag about but I am wishing to explain you the importance of a great, high quality phone cases.
The ones which I’m using, Portabile phone cases are exactly that, high quality, durable phone cases which are protecting my phone but they’re also something I have “designed” myself and you can too!
Portabile phone cases are Croatian based company which allows you to create your own phone case, costumise it just how you want it in 3 easy steps:
1.Pick the model of your phone (iPhone, Samsung, Huawei)
2.Upload your preferred photograph
3.Fix/ scale your photo to fit the phone case and add text if you wish.
It can’t be easier or quicker to create a new “coat” for your phone be it something more trendy or something more personal like a photo of your significant other or a child. This could also be a beautiful and unique present to your friend, family member, etc.
Zinfandel’s restaurant is one out of the two restaurants which you can enjoy inside of the Esplanade hotel. While LeBistro is more of a laidback “bistro” for a whole day dining, Zinfandel’s is perfect for a romantic night out, foodie experience or the best hotel breakfast you’ve ever had.
Let’s start with the breakfast, big variety of cold cuts, dips, spreads, fruit platter, overnight oats, smoothies, numerous cakes, selection of breads… All of those are part of the breakfast buffet table where you can serve yourself and eat as much as you like but if you wish to have something more special like warm porridge, grilled pineapple or poached eggs, you have a a-la-carte menu and the servers will do their best to spoil you with something warm and delicious. 🙂
I would say that you should definitely try the “star” of their breakfast table and that’s traditional Croatian strukli, a dish like no other, which quickly became my favourite breakfast choice. Dense yet “melt in my mouth” dough, filled with the fresh cheese and topped with the sour cream and eggs, baked to perfection in the oven. It’s a well known fact that Esplanade’s breakfast strukli are the best in Zagreb, if not in whole Croatia.
Zinfandel’s got it’s name after a special sort of grapes originating from the South of Croatia. Main chef, Ms. Ana Grgic has been devoted to crafting her special signature at Zinfandel’s for 13 years. What begun as an apprentice in training, developed into something very fruitful and it ensured that Ms. Ana becomes the main chef of Zinfandel’s and LeBistro.
If you are looking for a delicious lunch with a 5 star service and a cozy, home like vibes, I suggest you to go to LeBistro. It’s a perfect place to try traditional Croatian dishes but interpreted in a “finer” way with a modern day twist to it. What stood out for me were definitely a carrot risotto and ricotta gnudi.
For a dinner at Zinfandel’s, I’d suggest you to leave about 2-3 hours of free time to enjoy all of the beauty of the interior, complex but delicious bites of food and some of the best wines from an extensive drinks list.
It’s impressive to see how much an interior can change from the breakfast to dinner service. From a bright, “comfy” and bistro like vibes in the morning to the luxurious, dimmed lights and candlelit dinner tables at evening. Zinfandel’s menu is changing very often but some of the dishes marked as “Zinfandel’s classics” never go off of the menu and there is a reason for that. Traditional dishes, which don’t need any adjustments and are visually as well as tastefully perfect just as they were years before and will be in years to come.
Part of Zinfandel’s a-la-carte selection which does change has been for years putting it’s chef and the restaurant in the top of the Croatian restaurant scene. Loved by the critics as well as by the visitors and foodie enthusiasts, Zinfandel’s have set the bar very high to all of the other hotel restaurants in Zagreb. So far none of them have even got a close to Zinfandel’s in this “silent competition”.
I was happy to share this dinner experience with my brother. We went a little “reckless” and have ordered some dishes which sounded interesting and innovative to us. There was no room for the safe options when trying to test and give a grade to Zinfandel’s food.
Starters were foie gras and truffles with truffle ice cream and cocoa cone and open lasagne with rabbit confit and chickpea foam. I must say I have never yet heard of truffle ice cream and esp. not served with the foie gras so I was excited to see how it’s going to be plated as well as what kind of the taste all together will have. Foie gras with truffles was delicious! I suggest putting it on a cracker bread to enjoy it fully. The ice cream part was bit confusing to me as I just couldn’t put/ mix it with the foie gras or eat on it’s own but that’s just the way my taste buds were, maybe you would go nuts about it so don’t hesitate to try something as innovative as this.
My brother had the open lasagne and before I could even ask him how does he like his dish, it was gone, licked off of the plate. 😀 He loved them as they were full of taste, creamy… Tomac Millennium Brut sparkling wine was perfect to match with our starters.
Main courses were reindeer fillets with roasted beetroot and rhubarb and a pork fillet with mustard seeds, pickled radishes and Bernaise sauce. Visually, both dishes were perfect but my brother who tested both of the dishes could conclude that the pork fillet was the “winner” out of these two.
Technically they were both prepped perfectly but the reindeer fillets were overpowering with the taste the rest of the food on the plate. Rhubarb and beetroot might be a good combination together in some vegetarian dish or even a dessert but together with the reindeer maybe something else would be a better choice. Pork fillet had nothing to complain about, everything matched well together and mustard seeds were a cherry on top of the taste explosion. Well done!
For the main course wine we were offered a merlot by Krauthaker from Kutjevo. I must say that the sommelier made us really entertained by the whole service of the red wine from out of the bottle to the glass. Very nice “touch” to the whole dinner experience.
Zinfandel’s dessert list consists of 4 equally great sounding options but we have decided to try their brownie and lemon sponge cakes. Brownie was a chocolate and nut dream, it tasted like a sophisticated version of Snickers bar. 😀 Lemon sponge cake was served with marinated pear and cinnamon ice cream – I couldn’t think of a better , Winter perfect dessert.
I hope that my detailed description of what you can expect from Zinfandel’s and LeBistro as well as the photos of the dishes have made you consider of visiting them both and experiencing a real food heaven oasis in the heart of Zagreb city.
*This post has been made in collaboration with hotel Esplanade, all of the opinions and photos are my own.
*Thank you to Ms. Sanda and Mr. Ivica for making this collaboration possible.
*Thank you to all of the wonderful staff at LeBistro and Zinfandel’s for giving us a remarkable service during our visit.
Hotel Esplanade, situated in the heart of the Croatian capital city Zagreb in an old but grandiose building which has been an important part of city’s history as well as one of the, up to this day, most important spots for social happenings, fine dining, jazz nights in the bar or perhaps the place with one of the most beautiful rooftop views overlooking the streets of Zagreb.
Hotel Esplanade counts 5 stars and from the moment you enter the hotel, you are being treated as a 5 star visitor. From the doorman and bellboy, over the concierge to the receptionists you feel warmly welcomed and attended to. While you’re waiting for your check in, just a look around will give you a sense of old, glamorous times, back in the time of Orient Express train for instance. Exactly Orient Express train and this hotel have a big connection as the hotel was visited by many passengers from the famous train. Ever since, 1925 to this date, many important politicians, movie stars, musicians, etc. have stayed at the hotel Esplanade creating it’s story which is already long and interesting, a movie could be made about it. 🙂
Hotel Esplanade’s 208 rooms are all spacious, carefully designed to fit the 5 stars standards while still sticking to the “vintage” vibes. Beautiful marble bathroom, fluffy big pillows or one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in will make you feel at home even if you’re far away from your home.
If you wish to get pampered and relax to the max, hotel offers you Spa, gym as well as real Finnish sauna which I had to test first to make sure it’s the real deal and it was. 😀 I must say that before moving to Finland 11 years ago, I have never been to sauna and have found it even “scary” but once I got into it, I fell in love with how amazing benefits it had on my overall mood, feeling clean and warm. 🙂
Hotel Esplanade guests can enjoy full day dining in two restaurants, Zinfandel, offering a fine dining cuisine lead by a famous Croatian chef Ms. Ana Grgic or at it’s “sister” restaurant Le Bistro, more laidback dining with traditional Croatian dishes also designed by the master chef herself, almost becoming the biggest competition to herself since the food at both restaurants looks and tastes wonderful. I must say that hotel’s breakfast which consists of a-la-carte menu as well as the buffet section is the best breakfast I’ve ever had anywhere in the world. Esplanade’s famous strukli dish were simply to die for!
I will write more about my dining experience in the next post but to finish off this one, all I want to add is that after travelling a lot, staying at different hotels and even testing many different hotels in only Zagreb itself, I can say that only hotel Esplanade meets the world class standards of 5 star hotels. First thing I said to my brother upon leaving the hotel was: “They don’t build them like this anymore.”
*This post was made in the collaboration with the hotel Esplanade. All of the photos and opinions are my own.
*Thank you Ms. Sanda and Mr.Ivica for making this collaboration possible as well as for the warm welcome to the hotel.