What’s Helsinki’s highest hotel really like?

Staying in a hotel in the city where you live is a bit like buying bottled water when the tap water is fine. But if that hotel is also the new tallest building in town – and has a rooftop pool – then it’s worth visiting for the view alone. So I checked in to see what the Clarion Hotel Helsinki has to offer.

I had initially thought about staying in the hotel on a Sunday or Monday night to get that feeling of the solo business traveller. You know…arriving in a new city in the late evening, too early to go to bed, possibly too late to go out and get something to eat. But that scenario felt too much like an older version of my life, so I decided instead to spend Friday of the May Day weekend there with my two young kids. Someone had to try out the pool despite the snow!

Location, location, lonely…

The Clarion is built next to the sea in a newly developing harbour area that might one day actually…well… develop. But for now it’s neither here nor there, and restaurant or bar options – besides the ones the hotel has to offer – are few and far between.

Although it’s a bit of a lonely location, tram number 9 stops right outside the hotel and gets you to downtown Helsinki in just five to ten minutes. Tram 9 runs a brilliant route that slices straight through the centre of the city, continuing all the way to the main conference and exhibition centre in Pasila. It’s also very easy to travel west by road from the hotel out to Keilaniemi and the rest of the city of Espoo, where many multinationals have offices. So for business travellers the Clarion is actually in a very convenient location. It’s good thinking from the hotel group.

A room with a view

The location also affords the Clarion a view to really write home about. The two cube-like buildings that make up the hotel are angled in such a way that you’ll get a good look at Helsinki from just about any of the 425 rooms. With floor to ceiling windows throughout, you can see that the architects really did their homework. The views are great.

The rooms themselves – which have nice high ceilings – are done in a comfortable Nordic style that’s uncluttered without being clinical. White walls and light parquet are balanced by warm lighting and touches of dark wood in the furniture. It’s all very tasteful. The bathrooms are done in a similar theme, with both white and black towels that look good together. This monochrome theme is actually continued from the hotel’s exterior, which is made up of white and grey panels that take some getting used to from the outside. The colour palette makes a lot more sense from the interior.

Heading to the top

What the Clarion is really about though is its height. The urban development style in Helsinki is to build out rather than up, but the hotel breaks that model in style. The view from the Sky Room bar on the 16th floor is very generous to the Helsinki skyline – especially at night. The gym, pool and saunas – also on the 16th floor – may be small, but they work very well together. The pool even has a glass panel built into it so you can look out at Helsinki from underwater.

The Clarion is Nordic style and global-hotel thinking at its best. Definitely a great place to stay on a trip to Helsinki – business or otherwise.