48 hours in Helsinki
It's not that far -- a three hour flight from London. Nonstop by
Finnair (tel. 0171-408 1222 or 0990-997 711) and British Airways
(tel. 0345-222 111). With Scandinavian Airlines (tel. 0845-60727727) one stop at Stockholm or Copenhagen. Special fares from £200.
A major handicap for a discerning traveller is that Helsinki still lacks an original boutique hotel. We bet there will be one soon, but in the meantime our choices are:
Tel. 131 181
Ask for a room with a view, either facing Kiasma museum or Railway Station. Rooms from £67 weekends, £120 weekdays.
Tel. 618 911
Comfortably at the hub of things. Ground floor deli (Tony's Deli) is a popular meeting place for locals. Rooms from £64 weekends (£105 weekdays).
Tel. 131 131
A traditional hotel, good quality and a central location. Rooms from £65 weekends (£123 weekdays).
Restaurant scene has improved significantly within last few years.
A new breed of young innovative entrepreneurs is challenging the corporate chains, which means that Planet Hollywood is struggling, individual design conscious ventures are flourishing.
TTK or "Motti"
Tel. 409 659
Contemporary cuisine meets contemporary environment. This smart bar and restaurant attracts a mixed clientele. Off the beaten track, but easily accessible. Highly recommended.
Tel. 647 255
A classic. Art meets commerce in this old school establishment. "Soixante-huitants" mix with bankers and new media players. Reliable menu and a good all-around service.
Tel. 278 2700
Contemporary restaurant and bar. Designer-friendly, bustling place that attracts creatives, models and media folks. Hip and happening.
PLACES TO VISIT
Tel. 09-1733 6501
The Museum of Contemporary Art by American architect Steven Holl. Shape of things to come, fascinating architecture. If one building defines Helsinki at the end of this century, it would be Kiasma.
Originally built for the 1952 Olympics. This modernist building was recently restored as a Film and Media Centre that houses creative industries, a high quality cinema, library, restaurant, internet coffee shop and much more.
Stockholm by ferry
Take a ferry to Stockholm. Leaving from Olympialaituri (Silja Line) or Katajanokka (Viking Line). Postmodernity gone horribly wrong, a mix of a Loveboat and floating shopping mall. Leave Helsinki at 6pm, arrive in Stockholm next morning. Spend a day people-watching and strolling among the perfect and beautiful Swedes, take the evening ferry back to Helsinki. Highly recommended, but only to be done once.
20 August - 5 September 1999
Tel. 6126 5100
An ambitious classical music programme to stage a premium line-up of Finnish conductors Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Osmo Vänskä, Sakari Oramo, Okko Kamu, Paavo Berglund and Leif Segerstam. Art Goes Kapakka fringe festival integrates local restaurants and bars into this worthy two-week urban festival.
00-358-9 -- a prefix for Helsinki telephone numbers when calling
from the UK
700 700 -- Taxi service while you are there
91.1 FM -- Groove FM, while in Helsinki tune into this local radio station specialising in Soul and Jazz.
- The City in the Magic Mirror: Geographical interpretations of Helsinki films as mindscapes by Sirpa Tani (December 1996)