Review: Hilton Helsinki Strand
S ince I checked out of my stay at the Hilton Helsinki Kalastajatorppa hotel property earlier that morning, I had been outside in the cold weather with light snow persistently falling. Prior to arriving at the unusual yet beautiful Temppeliaukio Church — which is also colloquially known as the Church of the Rock — I had already been to Sibelius Monument and attempted to visit the Tower at Olympic Stadium, which is being renovated and will not open again to the public until the year 2019.
All of the sites at which I had stopped and visited that morning were on the way to the hotel property at which I was to stay that night: the Hilton Helsinki Strand.
Review: Hilton Helsinki Strand
The snow was still lightly falling on that cold and grey day as the hotel property loomed on the other side of the Kaisaniemenlahti waterway while I crossed on the east side of the Pitkäsilta bridge heading north.
I arrived at the hotel property an hour or so prior to its official check-in time of 2:00 in the afternoon; but one of the agents behind the front desk cheerfully welcomed me and let me know that a room was ready and waiting for me — and the miniature chocolate Easter eggs in a bowl off to the side did not exactly hurt the experience of checking in.
I then repaired to my room…
…but not before peering down the cavernous open interior of the hotel property once the elevator reached the top floor.
Upon walking in, I noticed that the room was somewhat unusual in its layout.
Once past the bathroom, a long desk doubled as the headboard to the bed, which faced the window.
Awaiting me were two bottles of Finnish spring water and a dish full of candy. I do not particularly care for hard candy; but when I realized that what appeared to be hard candy was actually Finnish chocolates manufactured by Karl Fazer — a brand of which I have never heard — that only improved the experience of the room. The desk had a telephone, a pad with a pen, and ample outlets.
There was a sitting area near the foot of the bed by the window.
The desk is hidden behind the bed — which I suppose is better than within view of the bed if one person wants to work while the other wants to sleep. The entrance to the room is on the right in the background.
The bed itself was comfortable. There was a telephone on a nightstand on one side of the bed; and an alarm clock was on a nightstand on the other side of the bed.
A full-length mirror and a large flat-screen television was on the wall near the left side of the bed, which is seen in the mirror.
The closet was well lit and contained two plush robes; two pairs of slippers sealed in cellophane; a hair dryer; and an ironing board with an iron. A bar area contained a minibar; a room safe; a couple of alcoholic beverages; glassware; and an ice bucket.
Also supplied in the closet was a shoe shining cloth; a shoehorn; a mending kit; and a plastic laundry bag.
Coffee, tea, packets of creamers and assorted sweeteners, mugs and a pot were found adjacent to the right side of the desk.
The thermostat worked well in keeping the room at a comfortable temperature. On the right is a photograph of the entrance to the room; the bar and minibar area; a soft area on which to place your luggage; and several hooks to hang clothing.
The bathroom seemed larger than the one in the room at Hilton Helsinki Kalastajatorppa.
It had plenty of mirrors; and it was lighted well.
…and next to the toilet is a shower of sorts — supposedly to function similarly to a bidet?
Amenities include conditioner, shampoo, a shower cap, body cleanser, skin lotion, and two bars of soap.
The Executive Lounge in the Afternoon and Evening
The executive lounge was empty during my first visit shortly after I checked into the hotel. There was no head lounge person — guests simply had access using their room keys.
Assorted fruit and snacks were out.
Those snacks included a hybrid cookie of sorts: hardened jelly on the center top of the cookie and creme filling inside; and a thick creme wafer covered in chocolate. Both were delicious but not exactly the best cookies I ever had.
Assorted water, milk and soft drinks were available from a refrigerator off to the side. Interestingly, the cola was Pepsi.
The executive lounge was not yet ready for the evening…
…but hot beverages — such as coffee and tea — were also available at that time.
I visited the executive lounge again during evening hours; and this time, it was crowded with people. Only one person appeared occasionally to replenish the offerings.
There were a few assorted hors d’oeuvres. Duck breast was originally briefly available; but after that was gone, it was eventually replaced by the sole lounge employee with some type of fried triangular things — they smelled and tasted like some sort of Indian vegetarian food. They were decent — some of them fried to the point of too crispy and dry — but I still have no idea what they were called. Tangy sweet sauce was available to top those triangles — but even that sauce was rarely replenished.
Asian noodles were originally available; but after they were gone, they were replaced by shredded carrots to form a sort of cole slaw, which was not a good substitute, in my opinion. Some salad options were also available — such as mushrooms, eggplant, purple Kalamata olives, mixed vegetables, leafy greens and cherry tomatoes. You probably could create a dinner out of these selections — but just barely — and the food was not replenished often enough.
A custard dessert with blueberry topping was replaced by crumbly cakes; and a thick chocolate dessert was also available.
I chose a table near a window in a small alcove to look out at the view facing southwest, which included a view of the Kaisaniemenlahti waterway and the Pitkäsilta bridge which I crossed earlier to arrive at the hotel property.
While I was ensconced with the view and watching the trams cross the bridge, at least two sets of clueless parents decided to set up shop with noisy kids and assorted toys on the floor right next to where I am sitting — essentially blocking my egress from where I was sitting. I eventually had enough and returned to my room…
…and speaking of the view, I looked outside of the window of my room…
…and looked at some nice views of the water and the buildings surrounding it as the sun was setting behind the hotel property.
I watched cars and people cross the bridge…
…and viewed more buildings built atop of solid rock, as seems typical in the Helsinki area.
The next morning, I awoke to an amazing sunrise.
The sun peeked out from behind the buildings in the distance…
…and slowly rose up in the sky on that frigid morning.
Not seeing snow obscuring my view was appreciated that morning…
…and after the sun reached a certain point in the sky, I decided to have breakfast.
The Restaurant for Breakfast
My choice to have breakfast in the hotel restaurant known as Restaurant BRO rather than in the executive lounge was a good one, as only a few people were there when I arrived…
…not to mention that there were a plethora of options available.
Assorted cold meats and fish included paté, salami, ham, “turkey”, salmon and herring.
Of course, I went straight for the herring again — especially that strong mustard herring. I also sampled the shrimp skagen, which is a Swedish shrimp salad. All were tasty.
There was plenty of delicious salmon.
Hot dishes included pork sausages, crispy bacon, potatoes and assorted vegetables…
…as well as hot cereal.
Assorted fruit included bananas, pineapple, cantaloupe, an assorted fruit salad — and even some berry smoothies.
There were plenty of hot beverage options; and on the left is an area where you can choose to dispense your beverage of choice through a digital device. Simply press the beverage of choice on the illuminated panel.
The dairy station included two types of yogurt, three types of milk, and lemon quark. Berries and tomato juice were also available.
At least six varieties of cold cereal were available — as well as several varieties of dried fruit and other accompaniments.
Berry pie, chocolate pastry and rolls were only three of the vast assortment of breads and pastries available at the bread station.
Cheese, eggs and a blue tube of Kalles Kaviar — which is a caviar paste made from salted cod roe from Sweden — were also available.
The egg station included Hollandaise sauce, fried eggs, hard boiled eggs, scrambled eggs and egg muffins…
…and if those choices of eggs were not enough, you could contact a server and have eggs prepared any way you like.
A wide range of salad options were available as well — including fresh carrots, cucumber salad, pickles, tomatoes and lettuce.
Keep the pancakes and other breakfast options typically offered in the United States. This is my type of breakfast!
I also had to have the chocolate pastry with the assorted berries.
This hotel property is centrally located in Helsinki; and although I would have liked for the hotel property to have been located closer to the Market Square, I had no problem walking that straight shot south over to that area whenever necessary.
Additionally, the executive lounge could use better food options and improved service — but it was not a bad experience overall.
Public transportation is readily available; but I personally did not need or use it. Parking a car at this hotel property will cost 24 euros per day.
The sauna, pool and fitness room are located on the top floor of this hotel property. I did not use them.
I paid a total of 80.50 euros for one night at this hotel property in advance during a sale. It offered the least expensive rate of all of the Hilton hotel properties in Helsinki on the day I arrived. The rate included breakfast; and it was worth every euro.
I highly recommend staying here — especially if you are able to get a room with a view of the Siltavuorensalmi strait and the waterways leading into the Gulf of Finland; and especially if you can secure the rate I paid.
Hilton Helsinki Strand
John Stenbergin Ranta 4
Helsinki, 00530, Finland
All photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.