My criteria for choosing hotels usually depends on the kind of trip I’m taking and on my destination. In a scorching hot city like Bangkok I always make sure to book a hotel with a pool so that I can cool off after a day of sightseeing. If I’m by the beach, I look for a place close to restaurants and shops, I don’t like resorts that feel secluded but require a long drive to the center of town or simply a coffee shop. When I go on a city break, I try to stay in a hotel that’s right in the heart of the action and has comfortable rooms to relax in after hours of exploring. Throw in a filling breakfast to energize me for the day, fast WiFi to research things to do, a nearby coffee shop and some restaurants, and I’m completely satisfied.Not only did the Radisson Blu Royal in Helsinki tick all these boxes, but it exceeded my expectation. Fast WiFi? Make that a lightning fast internet connection. A filling breakfast? Make that a breakfast buffet with so many yummy things to eat that I had a hard time stop eating. Nearby restaurants? More than I could possibly try, because it was located smack dab in the center of the vibrant Kamppi shopping district with lots of cafes and restaurants. And with an excellent martini bar onsite, I didn’t even need to leave the hotel if I didn’t want to, which is especially great in the winter. How often have I sat in a sad hotel bar, neglected by both staff and guests. Not at this hotel though: here, the bar was buzzing with people on a Friday night when a DJ who played chilled tunes did not only attract hotel guests but also the after work crowd of some nearby offices. And my verdict of the self-proclaimed ‘best martinis in Helsinki’? They might be right. (Since I didn’t try any other martinis in Helsinki I don’t think that I’m qualified to judge this but the one I had at the Grill It! bar was fabulous). I was impressed by how effortless the Radisson Blu Royal switched from business hotel to leisure hotel – how often have I stayed at business hotels that offer great weekend rates to attract city break tourists in order to fill their rooms over the weekend, but have a distinct ‘business-y’ feel to them. Not so the Royal: even though it is undoubtedly a business hotel during the week, with 13 meeting rooms that hold up to 500 people, plus a large conference room (which can be transformed into a ballroom), it manages to attract city breakers just as much as it attracts business travelers, thanks to a funky design and a more laid-back feel than your standard business hotel.
As far as business goes, I have to say I was impressed by the hotel’s concept of experience meetings which allows businesses to choose lighting and seating arrangements according to the nature of their meeting or in accordance with their company colors. And my absolute favorite part was the Brain Box breakout room which was the most innovative meeting room I’ve ever seen. I’d probably call it brainstorming room rather than meeting room as it was equipped with couches, funky lighting, fresh mint plants for tea, and iPod docking stations so that you can brainstorm while listening to your own music or stream the music of your choice. I have never seen a room in a hotel that inspired me to be creative in the same way the Brain Box did!No need to go to a meeting room to get some work done though, since all guest rooms are equipped with a desk and a sufficient number of plugs for all your electronics. The best part of the modern and chic rooms was not in any way business or work related though, but focused on pure relaxation: the Magic Dreams beds, a feature you find in all Finnish Radisson Blu hotels (including the other Radisson Blu properties in Helsinki – the Radisson Blu Seaside and the Radisson Blu Plaza as well as the nearby Espoo Radisson Blu). Together with Finlayson, the Radisson Blu developed a unique double-spring foam mattress made of intelligent visco-elastic. The foam, originally designed by NASA, conforms to every guest’s individual body shape, and this combined with the uber comfortable duvets and pillows make for a wonderfully relaxing and refreshing night of sleep. I have to say that even after several very short nights with only a few hours sleep, I always woke up feeling relaxed and re-energized, ready to take on the day.What got me out of bed was not only a quick espresso shot straight from the Nespresso machine in my room (all room categories except for the standard rooms, which only have a kettle, are equipped with one: the business rooms, junior suites, executive suite and royal suite), but also the prospect of the generous breakfast buffet. A pet peeve of mine is when 4* and 5* hotels serve stale pastries and breads (which I’ve experienced quite a few times), but no need to worry about that at the Royal where not only do you get to choose from a wide range of fresh and crunchy breads and pastries, but also have a fresh waffle station, an omelet station, fresh fruit, a large selection of cheeses and cold cuts, salads and jams, cereals and nuts. If you don’t have time for an extended breakfast, you can take advantage of the Grab & Run takeaway breakfast – a great service for travelers who are in a hurry. I’ve already mentioned that the hotel is located very central, ideal to explore Helsinki’s sights and its culinary scene, but you don’t have to venture far for some of the city’s best food: the onsite steak restaurant Grill It! offers some of the best charcoal grill steaks in the city, and judging from the fact that it is Michelin-related and from the 4* rating on Tripadvisor, the restaurant seems to be a great choice for meat lovers.Luckily, there is a gym just outside the hotel which can be used for free by hotel guests and was much needed to offset all the breakfast croissants I couldn’t stop stuffing myself with. Travelers who are in need of relaxation instead of a workout will be happy to hear that there is a sauna in the hotel, making it easy to unwind after a day of sightseeing. If sauna isn’t your thing, you’ll be delighted to hear that you can purchase a movie package of 75 movies for only €5. How cool is that?! On a rainy day, I was seriously tempted to stay in my room all day and watch movies.
All these fantastic features come at an extremely affordable price tag, with nightly rates including breakfast starting at €139. Considering the prime inner city location of the hotel, the high-end amenities, excellent breakfast buffet, WiFi, gym and amazing Magic Dreams sleeping experience, this is a steal!
Take a tour
To get a better picture of the Radisson Blu Royal, which is also known for its architectural features, take a virtual tour of the hotel via this short video:
And if you’re planning to visit Helsinki, you can win a 2-night stay in a business class room for two persons including Super Breakfast – the details of the giveaway will follow in my free May 2015 newsletter on 15 May, for which you can sign up here, if you aren’t signed up already.
Amenities: free Wi-fi, breakfast buffet, sauna, gym, in-room NESPRESSO coffee machine or electric kettle (depending on room category), hairdryer and toiletries, parking (extra charge), flat-screen TV with movie packages, bar and restaurant on site.
Location: Runebergsgatan 2, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
Price: Standard rooms start at €162, packages incl. sparkling wine, fruit & chocolate plate, bath moods products start at €284
LGBT Friendly: Yes
Digital Nomad Friendly: Yes, definitely
Website: Radisson Blu Royal Helsinki