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“Good hotel in a lovely neighbourhood” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Best Western Premier Hotel Katajanokka

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Best Western Premier Hotel Katajanokka
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Merikasarminkatu 1a, Helsinki 00160, Finland (Vironniemi)   |  
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Ranked #5 of 64 Hotels in Helsinki
Vancouver BC
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Good hotel in a lovely neighbourhood”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 1, 2013

My wife and I stayed in Hotel Katajanokka from September 12-16 and found it generally very good.

Others have pointed out the fact of this hotel being a converted prison. Apart from the striped shirts on some of the staff, the prison architecture makes it wonderfully quiet; the walls are three feet thick. Those walls also make wifi in the rooms problematic, but access is good in the basement restaurant and in the guest lounge just off the front desk.

Arriving late after a long trip from Vancouver, we got a cordial welcome. We found the staff cheerful, friendly and professional, with fluent English (like Stockholm, Helsinki seems full of English speakers).

A rather narrow basement holds the breakfast room, which turns into a restaurant in the evening. The breakfast buffet was good, though a bit limited compared with others we've seen, with the Nordic emphasis on cold cuts, cheese, and vegetables as well as fruit, cereal, bacon and sausages. You could ask the cook for eggs prepared as you wished. We had dinner in the Jailhouse restaurant only once--a very good chicken Caesar salad.

The real strength of this hotel is its location in the Katajanokka neighbourhood, a peninsula divided the north and south harbours. It's a beautiful area of quiet streets and impressive apartment buildings designed in the Jugendstil style, and a pleasure to walk around in. The view over the north harbour is especially fine; the south harbour is dominated by the giant ferries to Stockholm and Tallinn.

You can also walk easily into downtown Helsinki and Market Square and Senate Square, though the #4 tram right outside the hotel entrance will get you there faster. In good weather, which we had, Esplanadi Park is a great place to hang out or enjoy lunch. (If lunch is too liquid, the WCs in the basement of City Hall, nearby, are reputedly the best in the neighbourhood.)

If you've come back from a long day of sightseeing and shopping, and don't feel like dinner in the Jailhouse or going back downtown, go out the side entrance of the hotel onto Vyökatu and walk north a couple of blocks, then turn left on Luotsikatu. Halfway down the block is the Mount Everest Nepali restaurant, where we twice enjoyed excellent dinners. (Again, staff speak English and the menus include English.)

All in all, we enjoyed our stay at the Katajanokka and if we ever return to Helsinki we'll book there again...and go for more walks in its wonderful neighbourhood.

Room Tip: On the top floor, the wide hallways are illuminated by skylights, making them very bright, airy, and...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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715 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (65)
Date | Rating
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  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Korean first
  • Polish first
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  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
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English first
Belmont, Australia
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 30, 2013

What a great & fun experience we had staying in this converted gaol! We were greeted by the happy staff donned in their striped uniforms, complete with serial numbers, with "Welcome to prison!" The atmosphere is terrific. From the halls it looks like a prison with carpet, but once inside the rooms all the modern conveniences of a good hotel appear. The 'Jailhouse' restaurant is in the basement where the old isolation cells were & they have kept a couple of these as original - so interesting. The grounds are extensive with their own vege patch & the original high wall all around. There is a tram stop right outside the main gate which is very convenient to take to the station. The harbour & harbourside markets are easy walking distance. Clean, comfy & well worth a visit!

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Salem, Oregon
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 28, 2013

My wife and I stayed three nights in Hotel Katajanokka, and truly enjoyed the experience. The hotel is well located, within walking distance of the city center and a tram line stops right in front. The hotel is unique in that it is a converted prison and has preserved some of those features, such as three foot thick walls, some bars in the corridors, and the employees wear striped prison shirts with a number on the front! The rooms were comfortable and clean and quiet with the thick walls! The staff was very friendly and helpful with maps and advice about sites to see in the city. We enjoyed having a drink in the bar in the courtyard and had great conversations with the bar attendant, Koevacs who was so knowledgable about the history of Finland. We had breakfast and dinner there every night and the food was delicious and well presented.. We toured the city by tram, visited the Fortress of Suomenlimma with its preserved WWII submarine, enjoyed the open air market on the waterfront, and admired the architecture of this beautiful city. We found the people to be very friendly. We highly recommend this hotel to anyone visiting Helsinki.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
zoe17
Top Contributor
115 reviews 115 reviews
109 hotel reviews
Reviews in 106 cities Reviews in 106 cities
97 helpful votes 97 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 19, 2013

The hotel is conveniently located next to a tram stop in a nice area of Helsinki, probably a mile from the cathedral. We used trams extensively in Helsinki, including from the boat docks to the hotel.

Hotel staff was cordial and friendly. They let us into our rooms around 11 am, provided us with maps and other travel advice.

The rooms themselves were very well-equipped and comfortable. The prison decor was evident in the hallways and in the breakfast room, but the only reminder in the rooms was the smallish windows.

The breakfast had a large variety of foods, including eggs, pastries, cheeses and sausages. The coffee was great.

I appreciated the free computer for guest use in the room off the lobby. Staff offered to print out boarding passes as well.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 11, 2013

By now, I'm sure you know this is a converted prison and as such a very unique place to stay. I have bumped up my rating by one for that reason. Other reasons for a rating of 4 include:

* Room configuration: The size of the windows in most of the rooms is extremely small (not as shown in most of the pictures) and even at that, most of the windows start at 6-7' above the floor. As such, you do not get a lot of light in these rooms and they do feel quite claustrophobic, particularly if you're used to having a room with some sort of view (however minimal) or you're staying for more than one or two nights. I reduced my rating by one for that reason.

* Location: Although the number 4 Tram stops right in front of the hotel, this hotel is not by any means in the centre of the action in Helsinki. You're in the middle of a residential area about a 15-20 minute walk to most restaurants that are open late and this is something you should definitely consider if you like eating late because the 18 Euro late night burger option at the hotel may not be too appetizing for too many people. Other than that, your dining options in the area are pretty much limited to a Toastie at Poseidon (local bar) after 10 or 11 p.m. Bellevue (Russian) and Everest (Nepalese) are really the only other two dining choices on the island earlier in the day or evening. Having said that, if you're getting a transport pass for the duration of your stay or don't mind paying Helsinki's high taxi fares, this may not be an issue. For that reason, I reduced the rating by half.

* Services: We arrived at the hotel relatively late on the first night, around 10:00 p.m. There was no shampoo / body wash in the room, which occasionally happens, but to our surprise there was nothing available at the front desk either! Apparently the cleaning at the hotel is subcontracted out and the night staff does not have access to toiletries! They asked me to use hand soap instead and there was nothing open in the general vicinity. In all fairness, they did offer to compensate us the next morning (I was a little shocked and did not ask for anything) and there was already a note on the account to shower us - pardon the pun - with toiletries and they did. But that type of mishap should not happen at a 4* hotel and for that reason and I reduced my rating by another half.

Overall, it's not a bad place to stay if you don't mind the location, or the size of the windows, but just be on the safe side, make sure you bring your own soap to drop! ;)

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pipsa K, Director of Sales at Best Western Premier Hotel Katajanokka, responded to this review, October 7, 2013
Hello Beh007,
sorry for the late answer. We usually have soap at the reception but for some reason not this time. We apologize and promise to keep eye on it in the future. Thank you for your feedback!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Top Contributor
69 reviews 69 reviews
33 hotel reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 9, 2013

This hotel was remodeled from a former prison site, I can honestly say it is the first time I’ve ever spent the night in a prison and I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. The rooms are comfortable and very well equipped, the staff is very friendly, helpful and we enjoyed breakfast at the restaurant downstairs. There is a very nice courtyard, perfect for enjoying the weather and a cocktail. The tram has a stop just steps away from the hotel and is convenient for seeing the sights anywhere in the city, the waterfront is only a short walk away. I highly recommend this hotel for anyone spending time in Helsinki.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Marietta, Georgia
Top Contributor
57 reviews 57 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
53 helpful votes 53 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 28, 2013

The hotel is unique being modified from an old prison. The rooms are spacious. The staff friendly. The hotel has free WiFi but you cannot access it in the rooms (probably a result of the old prison walls). You can go outside the room and access it OK in the hall but there are no seats or tables - you have to make do sitting on the floor which is not easy for we in our 70s. You can access it at the Terrace Bar but, at least while we were there, they played constant loud noise (my wife described it as music befitting the drug culture). I asked the barkeep to turn it down but he said he had no control. The patrons were like us, either trying to carry on a conversation with their tablemates or using the internet. It was nigh on impossible to concentrate with the noise/"music." If they must play music, turn it down and make it soothing not annoying.
We had lunch in the restaurant. The food was very good and the prices reasonable. We were taking the Viking Line Ferry to Tallinn and the landing was only a few blocks away. Walking into the main part of town took a good 20 or so minutes but there are streetcars that will take you there. Buy the Helsinki Card if you've never been there. You can take a free tour of the city by sightseeing bus and use the local transportation system gratis. This includes he ferry to the old fortress island of Suomenlinna.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Best Western Premier Hotel Katajanokka

Address: Merikasarminkatu 1a, Helsinki 00160, Finland
Phone Number:
Location: Finland > Southern Finland > Helsinki > Vironniemi
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Best Value Hotel in Helsinki
#4 Romantic Hotel in Helsinki
#5 Business Hotel in Helsinki
#5 Luxury Hotel in Helsinki
#6 Family Hotel in Helsinki
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Best Western Premier Hotel Katajanokka 4*
Number of rooms: 106
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Best Western Helsinki
Helsinki Best Western

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