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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.

Food, Lifestyle, My Work

What’s in my fridge?

May 5, 2020

What’s in my fridge? One of interesting things is that lots of people don’t even realise how their fridge tells a lot about them. What you eat is who you are and that is so true. Wonder what’s in my fridge at KOTI apartments? Keep on scrolling. 🙂

I don’t know how about you, but I love to peek into people’s fridges and get inspired by the food or products others use in their daily lives. I always get some ideas what to cook for myself at KOTI apartments.

My fridge at KOTI apartments is big and nicely organised so I can fit in everything I need and store my produce. I usually like to stack up my fridge with greens, berries and cheese. “You are what what you eat eats.”

If you care for yourself and those whom you’re feeding at home, you know that the more fresh produce you have at home the better. The less packaged and “long lasting” produce you have at home the more chances are you will live longer and healthier life.

In my fridge you will always find different cream cheese spreads, current favourites are from Bonjour. Some Turkish yoghurts, smetana or Creme fraiche are always on my shopping list. Some feta cheese or Parmesan are my favourite ones to snack on or put in salads, pastas, etc. Fresh berries like blueberries and strawberries are always great sweet treat.Lots of tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and mushrooms are always occupying my fridge shelves. Different lettuces, broccoli and fresh herbs like basil are not just great for the sight but are part of my daily diet. In the bottom shelf I always have some food I’ve cooked the day before or some fresh pasta and gnocchi.

Eating healthy isn’t science fiction and you don’t need to know more than just listening to what your body is craving for. Some days it will be more raw and green, some days it will be something warm and with cooked vegetables, etc. but as long as you don’t keep bad foods at your home, the easier it is to make the right choice.

Food, Lifestyle, My Work, Travel

KOTI Helsinki ; live like a local

April 16, 2020

In my previous post I have introduced you to luxury apartments in the heart of Helsinki – KOTI apartments. Today, I wish to let you know some of my thoughts of actually living there as a local. Testing made in 1 week time period made me realise that KOTI apartments are even more than what I was expecting.

KOTI apartments have 30 differently sized apartments and I was testing one of about 40 m2 their Classic apartment. Besides cool and modern design, I have right away noticed how comfortable it is to live there. Couch is very comfy and can be made into extra sleeping space if needed. Bed is also very comfortable and has 4 pillows which I love because I always sleep with 3 pillows if I can. 😀

Toilet has enough space for everything you need, shower is just perfect and you can pick which shower you want, the regular or rain shower and all while laddering nicely scented Rituals body wash.

Under the sink there is washing and drying machine in one and also gel tablets for washing your clothes. Of course, dryer, hand soap, 2 people towels set…

Kitchen is full of utensils and machines you would need during your longer stay, from toaster and coffee maker, tea boiler to pots, pans and cutlery, mugs and glasses. You’re all set for living. 🙂

Complimentary coffee and tea are waiting for you and they get replenished once a week during your personal cleaning day. Dishwashing machine helps a lot to keep everything clean in the kitchen but you also have some cleaning supplies in case you need them. Oven, micro and fridge are all of great quality and I would pick them for my own home too.

Small sized table is actually great for 3 people to sit comfortably, flat screen smart TV will keep you entertained when needed and Helsinki guide book comes in very handy to be aware of all of the great spots locals love which are also nearby KOTI. WiFi is great and works well on multiple devices.

There is small balcony, enough to catch some fresh air and enjoy the view. 🙂

There is a ton of closet space and you won’t be lacking space for your clothes, shoes and so on.

Weekly cleaning is a saviour and I believe that when staying longer than a week you realise that it means a lot to have a day off to not worry about cleaning and have somebody else change your bed sheets and vacuum clean.

Finally, let me mention that every Friday lovely people of KOTI leave freshly baked cinnamon buns at the lobby of KOTI for the residents to take and enjoy. MMMMmmmm! Sounds heavenly doesn’t it? Yes, KOTI is really worth booking your stay with them.

*Commercial collaboration with KOTI apartments, all of opinions and photos are my own.

Lifestyle, My Work, Travel

KOTI apartments

April 3, 2020

KOTI apartments offer you modernly designed and highly comfortable apartments in the heart of ever so popular area in Helsinki called Ullanlinna. 

Building itself is right next to the Design and Architecture museums as well as it’s surrounded by many cute and unique shops, St.John’s church, trendy restaurants and vicinity of the sea. 

With concierge-services and short or long term accommodation, KOTI apartments are perfect for those who wish to live like a local when visiting Helsinki. KOTI customers usually stay from couple of months to years but you can also book your stay for as short as one night only. 

Each of KOTI apartments are like a real home where you can make food, do laundry or invite your friends over. 

Sweet and welcoming KOTI staff will make sure that you’ll feel cozy and lively during daytime, and have your peaceful haven at evening and night.

KOTI apartments also provide you with once a week apartment cleaning, speedy WiFi, smart TV, possibility to have private sauna moments as well as breakfast delivery from next door restaurant Ventuno. 

Nothing is impossible at KOTI apartments and they’re your perfect choice when you want to have the comfort and convince of a hotel but privacy and coziness of your home in one. 

*This post has been made in collaboration with KOTI apartments. All of the opinions and photos are my own.

Lifestyle, My Work

Corroded

March 14, 2020

Corroded or destroyed is the word which comes to my mind when I think about the current moment. Who feels like it’s been only couple of days ago that everything was “fine” and fast forward to Friday the 13th of March, we’re all on our toes waiting on the latest updates on Covid 19 known as Corona virus. A virus which found us all unprepared for such mass madness and fear it has created.

I must say that I have my point of view on all of this and while I’m not afraid of anything or anybody and while I’m using my free will and common sense and I am refusing to be upset by the current situation in any way, I do feel for those affected or who’s families are in immediate danger and had to pause their normal day to day lives because of the virus.

Model : Alison, Clothes by Destiny Helsinki and Alison

I have been entertained by reading some of the articles in different media regarding hygiene, from how to wash your hands to how everybody should be more aware on personal space, sneezing and so on. I’m thinking, is it really necessary to point out something which is absolutely natural to me and goes under “normal” in my household? I guess that yes, because apparently, many people are not having the best of hygiene or aren’t aware how poor their hygiene is even though they might have been thinking that it isn’t so.

Washing your hands many times a day, drinking lots of water, using hand sanitisers and not touching everything and everybody is just most normal for my daily life and that is what I teach my daughter too.

Model : Alison, Clothes by Destiny Helsinki and Alison

Yet, the times we’re in right now are more than needed… I unfortunately think that this is just the beginning and some bigger and more lethal things might happen if we don’t learn something from this Corona virus situation. This world needs a reset and people need to stop volunteering their lives and minds to the media and mass control run by people who love to play God. People should be more aware of each other, less selfish, more conscious and more responsible. Poor is the human who blindly follows what they’re being told, not questioning and agreeing to be manipulated by the installed fear.

Model : Alison, Clothes by Destiny Helsinki and Alison

Nature never breaks it’s own rules… Why do we, humans who are so smart, so advanced, so perfectly created, so stupid at the end of the day? When did we become hypnotised masses and when are we going to wake up finally??

The time is now to DO SOMETHING and not let another, even worser situation than this one or the wild fires in Australia happen on even bigger scale. Think about it… You have the power to change the world, start with yourself.

All photographs by Natali K. photography

Lifestyle, My Work

Runaways

February 5, 2020

It’s been an “hour” since I wrote something more personal. My last intimate post was a cathartic unloading which indirectly marked an ending of a chapter which I don’t want to remind myself of much but I’m still very thankful for everything because in all of that darkness and tough situations, some of the most beautiful moments have happened, some faces came in, some left for good, some challenged me to look deep inside of myself and face some of the fears I had, as well as see my flaws and make me work on becoming the best I can be.

We all need that spark, a light in the dark to overcome hard times and rise up like a phoenix. Oh yes darling, I assure you that no matter how low you fall, only one little spark of light and a little wish of your heart to live happy and fulfilled life but on different terms than the usual patterns which brought you down, I can promise you that you will rise up again and live to see the day when suddenly, so easily everything starts to look much more clearer and starts to fall into it’s place.

You will never forget your scars and maybe time won’t heal anything, but YOU , your inner beauty, purity of heart and thoughts is what will create your 2.0 version. Strong, yet sensitive, smart yet open to flaws and mistakes, self-assured but very kind and receptive – that will all be you, because at your core, before anything bad had happened to you and before all of the losses have happened, that’s been you since the day you were born.

Nothing can change you at the age XY but you can completely reinvent yourself. Take your best qualities, learn your lessons and offer the 2.0 version shining strong! Being strong and happy doesn’t mean that you can’t or won’t cry ever again it just means that you will know what or who’s worth your tears and that you won’t spend time after time overthinking everything and keep on giving chances to those who never gave you a chance to start with.

If you’ve ever felt like nobody will ever hear you or see you for who you are truly, if you were ever scared that you won’t ever be able to overcome some situations, I got news for you… It might take time, it might take convincing but God (or Universe or whoever you believe in) will send you the right people in the right moment to help you heal, to lift you up from the ashes and set you on the right road to being your best self and living the life to the fullest.

My circle is small, it’s almost a dot but the ones who are there in that dot with me, they are the most precious jewels, ones who have helped me in so many ways just by being there and themselves without even realising how much they make me happy, how much they lift me up and how much all of them in this way or another have healed all of the broken pieces of me.

When the healing happens on the inside, it shows on the outside and you radiate the energy which can heal others too. See! The game is taking a shift and you, who used to be broken have become a light, that little spark in the deep darkness that can help heal other souls which are on your path…

Next time you’re around your closest ones, make sure you’re keeping your eyes “open”, make sure your ears are hearing things left unsaid… Many of us suffer by ourselves and that’s fine but we all need that other person, even if only one but somebody who will see past the “bloody knees” and offer us a hand to get up.

Thank you to my people from that little dot which I’m mentioning. 😀 You have saved me in so many ways that I can never thank you enough! My darkness will always stay somewhere there in the back of my being just to bring the balance and remind me to be thankful for what I have now and to be able to recognise that same darkness in others and be able to understand others better.

Lifestyle, My Work, Travel

Visit Helsinki: Hotel Helka

October 8, 2019

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.

Lifestyle, My Work, Outfits

How to dress for Autumn with Ivana Helsinki

September 23, 2019

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 .

Food, My Work

Minato sushi

September 13, 2019

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.

*Natali K.photography