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Review: Holiday Inn Helsinki Airport
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I had decided to spend a night in Helsinki, rather than continuing to London the same day. That’s because I noticed that Finnair was flying an Airbus A340 between Helsinki and London the following day, which is extremely rare. This is a plane they typically only use for longhaul flights, but for whatever reason they were flying it to London that day. I figured it was a good opportunity to sample their other business class hard product, given that it’s different than on the A350 I flew from New York.
For my one night in Helsinki I was initially going to book the Hilton Helsinki Airport, given that it’s connected to the terminal, which seemed convenient. I’m also a Hilton Diamond member, so my stay would have been pleasant enough.
But IHG has a really generous promotion right now, called the Accelerate Promo. Through it, I’d receive 45,000 bonus IHG points for staying one night with IHG in January.
I noticed there was a Holiday Inn near Helsinki Airport, and decided I might as well stay there in order to try and knock out that promotion.
The Holiday Inn Helsinki Airport was 83.60EUR per night, or I could have redeemed 15,000 points. The “catch” is that to earn all those bonus points I needed to book a specific rate type, which cost 120EUR. That’s quite a bit for an airport Holiday Inn, but I figured it was still worth it.
The Holiday Inn Helsinki Airport has a complimentary shuttle service between the airport and the hotel, which runs every 20 minutes with the following schedule:
This bus actually stops at several hotels, though the Holiday Inn is the first hotel on the route. To catch the bus you have to go to platform 10 if you’re departing from Terminal 1, or platinum 21 if you’re departing from Terminal 2. They don’t publish the bus schedule or where the bus leaves from online, so I had to find this out the hard way.
When I landed in Helsinki it was zero degrees Fahrenheit. I walked outside and it was so cold that I felt like I was suffocating. I actually couldn’t breath, it was that bad. So at the time I didn’t know where the shuttle left from or in what intervals, so I stood just inside the terminal looking outside constantly, until I finally saw the shuttle arrive. I sprinted outside, and felt like I was an icicle within about 15 seconds.
The Helsinki Airport hotel shuttle is more like a city bus than a hotel shuttle in terms of the design, and seems to run with great precision.
I arrived at the Holiday Inn shortly after 9AM. I would have grabbed my own picture of the exterior, except it was so cold and I didn’t want to catch a cold. So instead I’ll post the picture from the hotel’s website, which was apparently taken on a “sunny” day.
Holiday Inn Helsinki Airport
I was just thrilled to be indoors, even if it was a rather dumpy airport Holiday Inn.
The reception desk was located just across from the entrance, where I was quickly helped by an associate.
I handed over my credit card and passport, and said “I realize I’m early and you might not have rooms yet, but I’m hoping to check-in, if possible.” She started by explaining that the check-in time was 3PM and that I probably wouldn’t be able to check in, which I found to be a pretty odd response when I proactively acknowledged a room might not be ready.
She looked through their inventory and made a phone call, and said nothing was available yet, but something should open within 30 minutes.
So I had a seat in the lobby across from the reception desk.
Next to it was a bar, which seemed to be staffed by the front desk associates, as they’d switch regularly between the two.
Next to the bar was a self serve station with items for purchase, including coffee, soft drinks, sandwiches, fruit, etc. I appreciate a setup like this, especially at an airport hotel where I sometimes get hungry at weird hours of the day.
I opened up my laptop as soon as I sat down, and a minute later the associate came to tell me a room was in fact ready. At that point she processed my check-in, and as an IHG Platinum member offered me my choice between bonus points or a complimentary drink and snack. I chose the latter, since I figured I’d be hungry and thirsty at some point in my ~20 hour hotel stay.
She also gave me a letter thanking me for being an IHG Platinum member, and giving me the code for premium internet access.
She pointed me in the direction of my room, which was in the far building. There’s a set of elevators just past the reception desk, which weren’t for the rooms in my tower.
Instead I had to walk down a hallway to the next set of elevators.
From there I took the elevator to the fourth floor, and then turned left and opened the door to access the corridor with the rooms.
I turned right once inside the corridor, and my room was the second to last one on the left side.
I was assigned room 488, a standard queen room.
The room was… basic. It featured an entryway with a small closet to the left and the bathroom to the right.
The bed itself was comfortable enough. Not a Westin Heavenly Bed by any stretch of the imagination, but not too hard either. And I appreciated that there were four plush pillows. The bed also had two individual duvets, which I would have appreciated if with someone.
In the far corner of the room by the window was a lamp and chair.
On the opposite corner was a desk, along with the flat screen TV which was mounted on the wall.
On top of the desk was a kettle, along with coffee and tea.
Below that was an empty cabinet, which I assume housed a minibar or mini-fridge at some point.
The room unfortunately had a connecting door, which I only mention because I could hear everything going on in the room next to me. The sound insulation in this hotel is terrible, as I could hear everything in the hallway and next door.
The worst part of the room was the bathroom, though. It was compact, and featured a sink, toilet, and rather small and nasty looking shower.
The shampoo and body wash were in dispensers on the wall.
The view from the room was quite nice, at least for me, since it has been a while since I’ve stayed in a city with snow. It faced what seemed to be some warehouses, along with some trees.
I worked for a few hours upon landing, and then napped for most of the afternoon. I woke up at around 7PM, at which point I was hungry. I decided to go to Bistro Fiore, the hotel’s lobby restaurant.
The servers in the restaurant were friendly and well intentioned, though extremely slow. They were significantly understaffed, as the restaurant was quite full, but there were only two servers.
The dinner menu read as follows:
I ordered the mushroom risotto, and was offered some bread while waiting for it. I usually try to avoid eating just plain bread, but in this case was quite hungry.
The risotto itself was quite good. At least compared to what you’d expect from an airport Holiday Inn.
I had a cappuccino to finish off the meal.
Late at night I visited the hotel’s gym, located on the ground floor. It was pretty basic, though did the trick for cardio.
The following morning I took the 5AM bus back to the airport, which was surprisingly packed. Not just with Holiday Inn guests, but it got really full when guests from the subsequent hotels got on.
I got to the airport at around 5:15AM, and the cold was almost unbearable, even for the 10 second walk into the terminal.
Holiday Inn Helsinki Airport bottom line
I stayed at this hotel due to IHG’s super generous promotion, and it served that purpose well. However, the Hilton Helsinki Airport was actually cheaper and more convenient, and I suspect is also significantly nicer. Not that I plan on spending another night near Helsinki Airport (if I returned it would be in summer, and I’d likely stay at Hotel Kämp), but I’d probably stay at the Hilton next time, if in a similar situation.
I do love Helsinki Airport, so highly recommend it for transits in general. More on that in the next installment.
Am I crazy for paying more to stay at a Holiday Inn than a Hilton, in light of the promo I was taking advantage of?