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Helsinki in Finnair J for £250pp, Hotel Kamp and HEL lounges

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  • PeteM

    Getting there
    Some of you may remember a rather good deal that came up in March for J flights to Helsinki with Finnair. For a few pounds under £250pp we collected 160 TPs and I finally got to see Helsinki, having been through the airport a few times, but never venturing into the city.

    We had a very early start on Saturday and filled up with dim sum and soup in the CX lounge before jumping on a very empty A319. The crew were extremely pleasant and were very sorry for the fruit salad they served being completely frozen…! The WiFi didn’t work and there were no sockets or USB ports. We landed a good 20mins early.

    On arrival to HEL’s T2 we were surprised by how very dead it was – it felt very 2020! The terminal is brand new so a lot of the retail units haven’t opened yet, but it is quite impressive. With the closure of Russian airspace and only a handful of flights to China/Asia one can definitely tell Finnair is struggling. The immigration officer in the EU lane was very confused by being presented with a European and US passport by people living in the UK and it took him a while to work out what he actually wanted – although there was no queue and the whole process took under 5mins.

    A 30min 4 Euro train ride brought us right into the city centre to the very impressive main railway station, from where it is only about 10mins walk to the Hotel Kamp, where we had a truly excellent stay.

    Hotel
    We booked via American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts and this was recognised at check-in. The receptionist was friendly, extremely switched on and knowledgeable. Her lunch recommendation in the harbour was spot-on (Restaurant Story in Vanha Kauppahalli). We got a one-category upgrade from the entry-level room we had booked and were brought up to speed on all the hotel services and opening times.

    The room itself was of a decent size. The bathroom had clearly been redone quite recently and was in excellent shape (bathtub + shower). The room itself was a bit tired and the furniture could do with a spruce-up. The HVAC was rather temperamental and we struggled to get it to a pleasant temperature, but opening a window sorted this. The bed was very comfortable and sound-proofing excellent. Plenty of sockets and USB ports.

    The hotel is larger than it appears from the outside, but we hardly ever met anyone in the corridors, even though a fair number of rooms were clearly occupied.

    The spa was lovely, if rather small, and I managed to spend a good hour between the sauna and steam room.

    A three-course dinner was included as a FHR benefit, which was pleasant but not particularly amazing. The main chicken dish was very basic. A $30 bottle of New Zealand wine was 88 Euros, but I suppose Finland does have very high taxes on alcohol. We did book a table a week or so in advance and were given a lovely one on the winter terrace – brilliant for people watching. The hotel bar did get extremely busy in the evening.

    It was really nice to come back to a turned-down room with everything perfectly tidied up.

    Breakfast was excellent – a mix of buffet and a la carte, also included in the FHR rate. The staff were particularly attentive and nothing was too much trouble.

    The location of the hotel is superb, truly in the centre of everything. I would definitely stay again!

    The city
    Someone on here recommended visiting the Stockmann department store, which is really rather impressive!

    We also did a city tour booked on Viator on Sunday. It was about 5hrs and covered all the important bits. As there were only 6 of us it was very relaxed and we felt like we got a great overview of the city, as well as Suomenlinna.

    Helsinki is a super pleasant and lovely city – it did majorly help we had sun and blue skies for both days we were there!

    Coming back and lounges
    The new T2 Finnair J lounge is pretty impressive. It’s a huge space inside the terminal and has no natural light, which is a bit of a shame. There were acres of free space there on Sunday evening. The food selection was not particularly impressive, probably in line with BA’s T5 lounges – except replace curry with meatballs. There was a staffed bar with a selection of cocktails.

    We left the serenity of the Finnair lounge to try out the Plaza Premium, which does have runway views and tonnes of natural light. It was very very busy with Chinese students flying home and having to wait in HEL for all the various insane tests they need before getting locked up for three weeks in a government quarantine facility.

    The PP lounge is a lot smaller than the Finnair one, but the food selection is a lot better. They run an online ordering system and, in retrospect, it would have made a lot more sense to have gone there first to eat and then relax in the Finnair lounge. There is no free alcohol in the PP lounge bar beer.

    The flight back on an A321 was uneventful, but it was much busier which was positive to see. We landed 30mins early which obviously meant Heathrow wasn’t ready for us and we spent a while waiting for Safedock to be turned on, then for someone to become available to manoeuvre the jet bridge in and then for the doors into the terminal to be opened… But we still made it onto the Heathrow Express way earlier than anticipated!

    FFoxSake

    Great review – thanks.

    Will be heading there on the same deal (£239 RTN on Finnair J via World Airfares) over the Jubilee weekend.
    Hoping for similar weather!

    YC

    Hotel Kamp is also on one of the amex hotel offers. Otherwise the marriott U14 hotel was very decent (and also on amex offer).

    PeteM

    Very good point – it wouldn’t be hard to spend £350 there, especially if staying a bit longer and £100 back would come handy!

    JdeW

    A combo of Hotel Kamp and The Story restaurant is well chosen!. Another great Helsinki hotel is the Hotel Katajanokka, converted from a former prison (it even has one of the old cells retained as was!!). It’s in the Harbour area but only a very short walk from the centre. It is a Tribute Portfolio hotel by Marriott. Restaurant wise, Helsinki visitors can also try Baskeri & Basso Bistro, either of the Finnjavel Hall sites (depending on how flush you feel!) and Alexanderplats Brasserie & Pub

    https://www.myhelsinki.fi/en/eat-and-drink/restaurants/baskeri-and-basso-bistro
    https://finnjavel.fi/en/
    https://alexanderplats.fi/en/homepage/

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