Hotel St. George opens in Helsinki
The heart of Helsinki sets the stage for the capital’s newest landmark–Hotel St. George. Set in an historic building just across from the Old Church Park, and rooted in a thriving neighbourhood, the 153-room hotel, which opened May 2nd, is a re-imagination of the ‘grand hotel’ in the most contemporary sense. With a concept and script that combines various elements and touchpoints—from alchemy and science, to culture and enlightenment—Hotel St. George presents a new vision of luxury, crafted almost entirely by Finnish creatives, and framed by an unprecedented dedication to art.
With the concept of transformation being a key component in Hotel St. George’s story, it’s perhaps fitting that the hotel is carved from a former newspaper printing house that was designed by Onni Tarjanne and completed in 1840. Now, the seven-story building—also once home to the Finnish Literature Society—has been sympathetically reinvented and connected to an adjacent five-story structure, which together encompass three contemporary food and drink outlets, a modern spa, a series of individually decorated rooms and suites, and several remarkable public spaces, all without losing sight of the building’s heritage.
Everything is bound together by an impressive art collection that rivals many of the city’s galleries, the most prominent piece being an awe-inspiring sculpture by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, which takes centre stage in the entrance gallery. The huge, floating polycephalic dragon, entitled Tianwu, is crafted from bamboo and clothed in white silk, and is the only piece of work by Ai Weiwei to be displayed in a public space. Its presence is suitably underwritten by a curated art program that manifests in the form of over 300 pieces of art displayed throughout the property.
The 148 guestrooms and five suites span six categories and are bathed in natural light and alternating hues of soft mint green, pearl grey, and delicate browns—an invaluable asset in a city often cloaked in darkness and for guests travelling between time zones. These elegant palettes provide a fitting frame for furniture design classics from Vitra, Classicon, &tradition and Sibast; artwork by Finnish pioneers of abstract modern art; Poulsen lighting fixtures; and herringbone parquet flooring. The resulting mood is sophisticated and conducive to a harmonious experience. The five suites are uniquely connected to the history of Finland, Helsinki, and the building itself—the Finlandia Suite, for example, honours Finland’s 2017 centenary, while the sixth-floor Coupole Suite’s tower and accompanying rooftop reveal some of the most significant parts of the building’s architecture.
The ground floor and basement level present a series of spaces for guests and locals alike. Restaurant Andrea, the brainchild of Mehmet Gürs, is a contemporary destination restaurant that explores the connection between Nordic and Mediterranean flavours in an atmospheric space lined with wall-mounted sofas and wooden chairs. George Bakery, meanwhile, is a small subterranean grocery store and deli that offers high-quality fresh bread and coffee to support breakfast and lunch menus, and also includes the first ever Monocle Shop in the Nordic countries. The pièce de résistance is undoubtedly the Wintergarden, an expansive space linking the hotel’s two wings under a glass-roofed inner courtyard that harks back to the great 18th-century interior gardens. Theatrical and grand, yet unmistakably contemporary, the space is dominated by Learning to Fly, a sculpture commissioned from Finnish artist Pekka Jylhä, while walls are lined with a bespoke tapestry-like wallpaper designed by Klaus Haapaniemi, called Lightning In Tiger Woods. Playing host to a monthly changing schedule of events, as well as being home to the Garden Bar and Antto Melasniemi’s Wintergarden Restaurant, this dramatic room embodies Hotel St. George’s commitment to sensory experiences and art.
Capitalizing on Finland’s reputation for wellbeing, the St. George Care spa brings together fitness, massages, and treatments in a way that pays homage to the country’s philosophies and resources. Finland’s drinking water, for example, is deemed the cleanest in the world and as such takes prominence in many of the treatments offered, while the Hintsa Performance concept, a holistic program focused on building a more balanced lifestyle, can be tailored to guests. Two saunas—one traditional and one steam room—nod to the country’s deep-rooted sauna culture, while a swimming pool, a cold plunge pool surrounded by oscillating mosaic tiles, and an all-white relaxation area complete the hotel’s definition of new luxury, where a successful combination of creativity, privacy, well-being, and serenity are a tangible reality.