THE BLACK SAUNA. Finland has about 2.2 million saunas: 1 for every 2.5 inhabitant. Helsinki is probably the only capital in the world in which you step out with friends after work, have a beer, and then take a sauna – in the same facility. The Villin Wäinön restaurant on Kalevagatan has a sauna that you can rent for a few hours; its sauna is totally black, with an incredibly well-stocked bar outside the door. We tried it out and worked up enough sweat to justify copious quantities of cold Lapin Kulta.
Helsinki’s trendy design district is home to the fashionable Lilla Roberts hotel, which is filled with modern art deco in a way that only a design hotel could do it. The hotel houses the Krog Roba restaurant with classic interior and Nordic cuisine, i.e., Danish, Swedish, and Finnish. All ingredients are locally grown. Friendly prices and service.
Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim (1867–1951) was a Finnish baron, officer, and statesman, who held the Marshal of Finland title. He’s best known for his leading role during the winter war, and he had a decisive influence on implementation of Finland’s independence, its political position among other Nordic countries, and ratification of Finland’s republican form of government in 1919.
Want classic food with a history? The Elite restaurant has hosted actors, writers, and Helsinki’s cultural elite for more than seven decades. And still does. Excellent fare. Outstanding service.
SINIRISTILIPPU. Artists Eero Snellman and Bruno Tuukkanen designed the Finnish flag in the early 1900s when the country declared its independence from Russia. The cross design symbolizes Finland’s role in the community of Nordic nations. White symbolizes the “white” Finland – the snow that covers the country. Blue symbolizes water within the land of a thousand lakes.
Tony, our friend and model, works as bar manager at The Cock – a resplendent restaurant bar that’s open from early morning to late evening and serves casual cuisine and exceptional cocktails. A place where you can cure yourself with Tony’s special Bloody Marys and some fine food. Richard, who modeled for us, owns the place.
Hagnäs saluhall, built in 1914, resides in Helsinki’s harbor. Back then, it was where locals came to break a healthy sweat in the saunas. Now it’s totally transformed. The owners recently renovated it and put in a proper food court with everything from locally brewed beverages to bread and meat. It also houses Story, a small café in the heart of the hall. Story serves really nice coffee, local lemonade, and pastry; it boasts one of the most Instagram-friendly interiors around.