As the first hotel of my Baltic Explorer trip, I scored the Holiday Inn Helsinki West Ruoholahti during IHG Reward Club’s PointBreaks for only 5,000 points per night (worth $35!). It was a little bit outside of downtown Helsinki and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a nice stay at a bargain price – worth considering, especially if you stay longer in Helsinki!
Location: The Holiday Inn is West of the city center, two stops on the Metro from the central train station and a five minute walk from the Metro station. While that’s not as convenient as strolling out of your hotel to the harbor, it’s no big deal: the metro runs frequently, is convenient and I even walked back from the center in the evening. There is a mall between the hotel and the metro station with stores, a supermarket, a cafe and some restaurants, ATMs and pretty much everything you might need. The hotel is set back from the main road and close to the water, making for a quiet location!
Service: The front desk was friendly and quick and was able to give me a room well before the official check-in time. They recognized my IHG status and even upgraded me to an “Executive Room” – which they don’t have to do on a award reservation, so I really appreciated it. They were helpful with my touristy questions and check-out was equally quick and easy. Housekeeping was thorough, quick and pretty much invisible – as good as you could expect and I had no issues during my stay.
Room: The Executive Rooms are on the top floor and, similar to other European Holiday Inn I’ve stayed at, they are the same size as the regular rooms, but slightly better outfitted. In addition to the TV, iron and safe, I had a bathrobe and slippers, complimentary water and chocolates and coffee/tea facilities. The room seemed recently renovated with dark wood closet, bar and work desk and a bright red bed headboard as well as some artwork. The bathroom looked like pre-renovation – the green floor tiles, orange’ish wood and pink-brown sink would not have been my first color choices! All of it was in good condition and clean though. The shower with glass doors was a little small for my taste, but workable with good water pressure. In addition to the Euro-style soap/shampoo dispensers, there were little bottles of shampoo, soap, conditioner and lotion, so you could choose to your liking.
Amenities/Restaurant: The hotel has a full-service restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It looked nice, but I didn’t try it. There is also a small gym, really, really small with just one bike, one treadmill and one crosstrainer. In fairness, they call it a “mini gym”. I find these tiny gyms depressing and didn’t try it. Of course, as a proper Finnish hotel, they had saunas, separate for men and women and I did try that. It consisted of a changing room with lockers, towels and water, showers and a large dry-sauna. It was working very well and a pleasure to relax after a long day of sightseeing!
Conclusion: Overall, the Holiday Inn was a pleasant surprise: the rooms were nice and the service was very good. While the location was not ideal, it was close enough to the city and the much lower price (5,000 points or $107) than the city center hotels made it great value. If you find the hotels in the city to be too expensive for your budget, the Holiday Inn is a great alternative!