Sign Up for Our Monthly Europe Newsletter
It’s not often that I can blissfully languish in a sauna and, through a fogged-up glass divider, spot the same cozy bed that I had rolled out of less than an hour prior. At the newly opened Lapland Hotels Bulevardi in Helsinki, Finland, however, it’s a rarity that’s indeed possible — and, in fact, encouraged.
In the spirit of sticking to its Finnish roots, the majority of Lapland Hotels Bulevardi’s 182 accommodations, such as my Mystique Deluxe guestroom, include an en suite sauna that is operated the traditional way — by a bucket of water that must be poured over heated rocks, thus producing steam. (Although there’s no spa on property, guests can place an order via the front desk for sauna packages that feature a variety of massage stones, face masks and creams from the popular Nordic brands Lumene, Rento and Hukka Design.)
The entirety of Lapland Hotels Bulevardi is an elegant tribute to the surrounding locale. Lapland is the country’s northernmost region, and its allure includes vast stretches of unspoiled nature and a sparse population that mostly consists of the indigenous Sami people. Sami music — considered the “official” music of Lapland — pealed through speakers as I first stepped into my guestroom, and a dim light (activated by motion sensor) illuminated my path.
Add in a moody color scheme that includes slate-gray walls and dark-wood furniture, a state-of-the-art lighting system and natural elements such as sustainably collected reindeer antlers, and the result is a calming, almost mystical ambiance. Other desirable in-room amenities include a Nespresso machine; complimentary Wi-Fi access; Rento toiletry products specially designed for Lapland Hotels Bulevardi; and artisanal snacks and locally made wool socks available for purchase. (Note: Only the Northern Comfort and Arctic Deluxe room categories do not have a sauna, and my room also had an adjacent, spacious rain shower.)
The boutique hotel is a newcomer to Finland’s capital of Helsinki — so new that I had checked into the property on its opening day — Jan. 15, 2019 — hence becoming the first guest to stay in room No. 513. However, the hotel’s parent brand, Lapland Hotels, already operates 16 other properties throughout Finland, including 14 in Lapland and two other urban hotels. As a result, I found the new Lapland Hotels Bulevardi to be already running like a well-oiled machine.
In public areas, including hallways and the lobby, guests will hear a playlist of soothing or energizing Sami melodies. They’ll also find other special touches evocative of Lapland, from wooden reindeer sculptures used as toys by Sami children to soft reindeer hides and pine cones seamlessly integrated throughout the decor. More than 180 unique art pieces by renowned Finnish artist Anu Pentik decorate the hotel, as well; the selection includes a vibrant plate — each one uniquely designed and painted by hand — on the wall of each guestroom.
Clients staying at Lapland Hotels Bulevardi may notice old glass bottles decorating the walls by the main staircase — the only items remaining from the building’s original purpose as a 1952 office structure, before it became a bank, then a restaurant, then a bakery and now, for the first time, a hotel.
But perhaps what most cements Lapland Hotels Bulevardi’s dedication to Lapland is its culinary offerings. Open all day, Kulta Kitchen & Bar prides itself in serving fare that utilizes Finnish ingredients, especially those sourced from the north. During my stay, I learned Tero Mantykangas, the executive chef of Lapland Hotels, even goes as far as handpicking amber-colored cloudberries while in Lapland. He then grinds the cloudberries into a powder for the yogurt and toppings station at Kulta Kitchen & Bar’s buffet breakfast.
Outside of the standard breakfast items, other Finnish dishes available range from charred whitefish and reindeer liver pate to root hummus paste and smoked cheese. I indulged in all of the above, as well as local refreshments, including spruce sprout green juice and sea buckthorn orange juice.
“We love playing with all the senses,” a hotel employee had told me when I first checked in.
That effort certainly did not once go unnoticed.
The DetailsLapland Hotels Bulevardiwww.laplandhotels.com