What’s it like? For me, a hotel with a story has already won half the battle. Fortunately, Klaus K has a brilliant story to share: the hotel is themed around the Kalevala, which, in the same vein as Greek mythology, is one of Finland’s most significant pieces of folklore literature. According to the Kalevala, the universe was created by eggs laid on the goddess Ilmatar’s knee, who gave birth to the first man on Earth – Vainamoinen – and in the process shattered the eggs, the shards of which became the sun, the stars and the seas.
This story is artistically woven into the entire hotel, from the egg-shaped reception under a nest-like chandelier to the fantastical piece of art displaying the making of the universe; from the carpets inscribed with Kalevala quotes to the name of the hotel itself, which is borrowed from one of the characters, Klaus Kurki. There is a surprise waiting to be discovered at every turn.
The structure that houses the hotel has its own story too; first built in 1882, it originally served as a German girls’ school, a music institute and a printing house, before it was bought by the current owner’s family in 1938 and converted into a hotel. In 2004, it was redesigned, refurbished and rebranded to become the city’s first contemporary hotel, and is now a member of the Design Hotels portfolio.
Where is it? Quite aptly, this Design hotel is located along Bulevardi within the heart of Helsinki’s design district – the trendiest and most artistic area of the city comprised of flagship stores of famous Finnish design companies, such as Marimekko and Iittala, as well as the Design Museum.
Room facilities The 137 rooms are divided into four categories named after the main emotional themes of the Kalevala: passion, mystical, desire and envy, with each room following colour themes symbolising the emotion. The envy suite I stayed in sports a dark chocolate and beige colour scheme to correspond with the dark emotion.
There are two Art suites that fall under the envy category. These were designed and custom-made by two prominent Finnish artists – Rikko Sakkinen and Jani Leinonen – who were invited to treat the walls of the suites as blank canvases and do with them what they wished; the suites are consequently named after them.
Rooms start at 15 sqm and reach a maximum of 55 sqm, which may be small but they are all cleverly designed and thus do not feel cluttered. For example, instead of taking up space with a working desk, a small coffee table with armchairs and rolling bed tray tables have been installed instead, which also creates a comfortable and fluid working environment. All rooms provide a DVD player (DVDs can be borrowed from reception), flatscreen TV, complimentary wifi internet access and iPod docking stations, amongst other standard amenities.
Restaurants and bars Klaus K has three F&B outlets: two restaurants, Toscanini and Ilmater (named after the goddess), and one bar, Ahjo. The daily breakfast, which is fresh and wide-ranging, (the brownies are to die for), is served at Ilmater while Toscanini, which is situated on the ground floor, is a locally renowned Italian restaurant.
Business and meeting facilities The hotel has a ballroom for up to 120 people, a smaller function room for up to 30 people and a boardroom for 12. Furthermore, when I was there, the hotel was in the process of expanding its meeting facilities.
Leisure facilities As with most hotels in Helsinki and in tune with Finnish culture, Klaus K consists of a spa and sauna. Other facilities include a 24-hour gym and stylish bicycles that can be borrowed to explore the city.
How many rooms 137, including the two Art suites
Room highlights The free internet and the unique artistic feel of the room. The bed was extremely comfortable too
Price Internet rates for an entry-level room start at €164 (US$224) for one night in December
Contact Bulevardi 2/4, Helsinki, Finland 00120; tel +358 207 704700; www.klauskhotel.com
As well as being stylish, funky and exciting, the hotel’s location is brilliant: almost anything you may need to visit, such as the shopping malls or the museums, is within walking distance or a short tram ride away. I give this place a big thumbs up.