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.
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.
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