Helsinki is ready for its close up. While its neighbours have reaped the virtues of a now internationally-admired brand of Nordic cool and have stepped forward as some of Europe’s most cosmopolitan hubs, the Finnish capital has been quietly laying the groundwork for its own lasting moment.
A modern airport, expanded and updated to accommodate travellers making good on the city’s claim to being the most direct route between Europe and Asia; a newly vibrant dining landscape hosted by exceptionally talented homegrown and returning chefs; and a design industry finally shouting loud enough about Finland’s longstanding contribution to the milieu are shaping this city’s coming of age.
The heart of Helsinki sets the stage for the capital’s newest landmark – Hotel St George, a 153-room ode to new luxury, where numerous elements of art, transformation and healing all combine for a wholly sensory experience.
Opened in May 2018, Hotel St George presents 148 guest-rooms and five suites spread across an historic building located opposite the capital’s Old Church Park. Rooted in this thriving neighbourhood, the hotel is a re-imagination of the ‘grand hotel’ in the most contemporary sense and meets tomorrow’s travellers with a seamless amalgamation of new luxury, and authentic, original experiences.
The result is a property that brings together a number of national creatives from the realms of art, gastronomy and design with a concept and script that combines various touch points – from alchemy and science, to culture and enlightenment – for unforgettable stays defined by holistic wellbeing and contemporary design. A new icon has emerged.
Located at the crossroads of Yrjonkatu and Lonnrotinkatu, right next to the Old Church Park, Hotel St George is situated in a quiet corner of central Helsinki and is ideally positioned for access to the city’s main draws.
As well as residing on the edge of the capital’s self-styled Design District – filled with galleries, boutiques, museums and restaurants – the hotel is in close proximity to the city’s Central Station, which offers both national and international links.
Esplanadi and Mannerheimintie, two of Helsinki’s most famous streets, popular with locals and visitors for their shopping and dining options, are a short walk from the hotel, as are the municipal ferry terminals of Market Square.
With the concept of transformation being a key component in the story of Hotel St George, it is fitting that the hotel is carved from a former printing house that was one of the earliest designs of Finnish architect Onni Tarjanne and completed in 1890.
Now, the seven-storey Neo-Renaissance stone building – once home to the Finnish Literature Society – has been sympathetically reinvented and connected to an adjacent five-storey Art Nouveau Rationalism building, also designed by Tarjanne.
This modern reincarnation is characterised by elegant, light-filled spaces, accented with contemporary interiors and modern art for a metamorphic reawakening.
The entire property is bound together by an impressive art collection curated by Kullberg, the driving force behind the property’s aesthetic.
The most prominent piece in this standout compilation is an awe-inspiring sculpture by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, which takes center stage in the entrance gallery. The huge, floating polycephalic dragon, entitled Tianwu, is crafted from bamboo and clothed in white silk, and is the only piece of work by Ai Weiwei to be displayed in a public space.
Its presence is suitably underwritten by a curated art program, which is presented in the form of over three hundred pieces of art displayed throughout the hotel.These are framed by a palette of soft mint greens, pearl greys, and delicate browns, and appear alongside elegant furnishings that include pieces by Eero Saarinen and Nikari.
Located in a city that spends a significant amount of time cloaked in darkness, Hotel St George presents a series of singular social spaces which invite guests and locals alike to lounge, dine and relax.
Restaurant Andrea, helmed by Mehmet Gurs, is a contemporary destination restaurant that marries Nordic and Mediterranean flavours via a menu of sharing plates and slow cooked meats, served in an atmospheric space filled with wall-mounted sofas and wooden chairs.
St George Bakery, meanwhile, is a small subterranean cafe and bakery that offers high quality fresh bread and coffee in addition to light and healthy breakfasts and lunches, and also includes the first ever Monocle Shop in the Nordic countries, located at the bakery’s rear.
The jewel in the crown is the Wintergarden, which sits underneath a glass-roofed inner courtyard that harks back to the great eighteenth-century interior gardens, and is flooded with natural light during Helsinki’s precious summer months.
Theatrical and grand, the space is dominated by Finnish artist Pekka Jylha’s specially commissioned overhead sculpture, Learning to Fly, and hosts to a monthly changing schedule of events that sees the space adapt for dining, debate and wellbeing.
Modern, easy to walk, and enchanting, Helsinki is known for its design, technology, architecture wonders, cool boutiques, delightful restaurants, and beguiling bars, as well as its easy access to Stockholm and St. Petersburg (just three hours away by direct train).
Its unique character comes from its bridging role between East and West and from its close proximity to the sea. Not to be missed are the main railway station (a majestic early twentieth-century creation in the National Romantic style) and The National Theatre (an Art Nouveau masterpiece by architect Onni Tarjanne).
Indeed, fans of Art Nouveau will want to be sure to stroll the city’s Katajanokka, Kruununhaka and Eira neighbourhoods.
Visit St George’s website, here.