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“The comforts of home in the beauty of the wilderness” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Helsingfors Hosteria

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Helsingfors Hosteria
4.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Ruta 21 km 80 el Calafate Santa cruz, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina   |  
Hotel amenities
New York City, New York
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
“The comforts of home in the beauty of the wilderness”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2013

Stayed at Helsingfors in December. This was the best part of our trip to Patagonia (surpassing even our trek on the Perito Moreno Glacier). Helsingfors offered the comforts of home in the beauty of the wilderness. We had a great time filled with outdoor activities, but we also knew that we were expecting an active vacation, not a resort by the lake. The location is very remote, about 3 hours from El Calafate, but the hotel offers free transportation on certain days and can arrange transportation on other days. Along the way to the hotel, there are numerous photo opportunities to capture the beauty of the vast landscape. Since the hotel is situated in the middle of a national park, right by a lake, you will feel like you are in small speck of civilization in the middle of the vast wilderness.

We had considered other high end hotels in the region such as Eolo, Estancia Cristina, and Los Notros as well. We picked Helsingfors because the hiking trails and scenery offered much more variety than the others, and also the reviews on the service level was high. It seemed that Eolo, while close to El Calafate and seemed to offer a very high level of service and amenities, but really did not offer much in terms of the scenery as its immediate surroundings seemed single dimensional. We thought that Estancia Cristina was just too remote as it required a long boat ride with repetitive scenery. Los Notros seemed beautiful in the middle of the Perito Moreno Glacier, but only offered glacier activities and the reviews on the service seemed subpar (later we found it that it was closed during the time that we would be there).

We also chose to do hiking activities with Helsingfors because the hikes were guided with experienced guides, and because we could return to the comforts of a hotel at the end of each day. The alternative would be to do hikes in El Chalten, for example, which would have been too much camping and wilderness.

The surroundings are amazing, and there are several hiking trails that start out from the hotel. All hiking activities were included. There is also an opportunity to ride horses, either on the hike or to a neighboring ranch. At the hotel, there were views of Lake Viedma, Mount Fitzroy (near El Chalten) in the distance, and views of the vast snow-capped mountain. One hike that we enjoyed very much was a hike to a Blue Lagoon which took 6 hours round trip. Along the way of the hike, we went through different ecological climates as the trees and shrubs were varied according to the air moisture in the immediate area. Because of the climate and the strong winds, there weren't very many insects at all (I didn't see any spiders, unlike in Buenos Aires where the weather is much more temperate). I was also told that there are no snakes in that area, so I felt very safe. The guide was so knowledgeable and knew so much about the plants and animals in the area. We saw animals such as condors and guanacos (similar to an antelope), but most of the time we just enjoyed the views.

Our room was very clean, but not too fancy, which was fine for us. The decor had the feel of a mountain or lakeside lodge. Because the location is so far south, the nights were cold, but the hotel provided space heaters for the rooms that are not in the main building, and therefore the room temperature was perfect.

The food was tasty, healthy, and filling enough, but not considered fine-dining gourmet, which was fine for us. It is amazing that they are able to serve a variety of food, given the remote location. They are very good about respecting your dietary restrictions. For breakfast, they have a good variety of fresh fruit, eggs, bread/pastries and cereal. For lunch, on the day of our full day hike, we were given the opportunity to make our own sandwiches with the variety of cold cuts, turkey, roast beef, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. I made 3 sandwiches because I have a big appetite. For dinner, they served a good 2 or 3 course meal depending on the meal. On the first day of arrival, they also served a charcuterie platter during cocktail hour.

All the staff the Helsingfors were so enthusiastic, genuine, and did a great job--everyone including the kitchen staff, the manager, hiking/horseback-riding guides, and the driver. They really make the stay a fun and pleasant one.

Because of the remote location, internet was unreliable. I was able to access email from my smartphone sometimes, but it was difficult to do much internet surfing. I think it was dependent on the number of other people on the internet at the same time, so I think it was better early in the morning, late night, or when others were busy with other activities.

We stayed at the hotel for 2 1/2 days, which was about the right amount time. This was probably one of the best vacations I've had. It was a perfect vacation for a couple, friends, or family with older children (there were several families there, with children who were at least in their mid-teens to early twenties).

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 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.
Dyno-ba, Propietario at Helsingfors Hosteria, responded to this review, June 4, 2013
Thank you for take time to write this review and for your kind words, we are really pleased you enjoyed your stay in our lodge.
All the Best
The Helsingfors Staff
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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39 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (3)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Kentfield
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2013

You can't adequately describe how special this place is, you have to stay there and let your own thoughts describe it for you. Located on Lagos Viedma with a remote setting thats stunning. It is even more spectacular when you hike up the surrounding mountains and look at it from on high. Staff are are all wonderful and do everything they can to make you feel as if you are living there and are a close member of your family. Food is incredible especially considering the remote location. I caught fresh trout from a remote lagoon (8 hour hike round trip) and had it for dinner that night. Not staying here would be a mistake.

Room Tip: room outside main lodge closest to the lake
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  • Stayed February 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kailua, Hawaii
Top Contributor
142 reviews 142 reviews
31 hotel reviews
Reviews in 51 cities Reviews in 51 cities
63 helpful votes 63 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2013

Recent 2 night stay. Location is stunning and indescribably beautiful. Facilities remind one of a quaint Swiss lodge, with cozy furniture and fire place. Food was outstanding, with a chef recently trained in Italy. Rooms were large with comfortable beds, but 3-4 star furnishings and bathroom fixtures.
One downside was they no longer have a boat to facilitate hikes to the forest directly opposite the lake, even though it is still advertised.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 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.
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 16, 2013

Stayed 4 nights based on a friends recommendation. The location is breath taking, and the remoteness is very special. You are in the national park, but because of its remoteness, you don't see anyone other than the hotel guests.
The staff were fantastic, being very warm and genuine. The food was also excellent.
Were first time horse riders - was great as their horses are very well trained. The ride up into the mountain to see the " blue lagoon" was a highlight.
Would highly recommend.

  • Stayed February 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 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.
Annapolis, Maryland
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 14, 2013

Helsingfors is inside Argentina's Glacier National Park, three-and-half hours by car from the nearest town, so you wouldn't want to go there unless you like the outdoors. If you do, though, it is a trip well worth taking. The resort is tiny, accommodating only 18 or so guests, with a full-time staff of ten. The accommodations are truly first class, the food is excellent (a good thing, since there is nowhere else to eat) and, best of all, the staff are the friendliest, most helpful, most efficient, I've experienced anywhere on the planet. Most speak excellent English, and in some cases other languages, as well, so non Spanish-speakers will feel right at home. The available activities are all outdoors-oriented, mostly hiking and riding. But the scenery to be experienced, on foot or on horseback, is nothing short of spectacular. You wouldn't want to come here for fishing or boating on the lake, as, notwithstanding contrary suggestions on the website, they're not really set up for that. The only good fishing is three to four hours away by foot, and the lake is subject to the famous Patagonian winds, which would generate small craft warnings many days. But if you want excellent accommodations in a beautiful spot, this one is worth the trip.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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.
London, United Kingdom
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 9, 2013

Loved it so much. The location is staggering - you have a glacial lake and vast Andean vistas all to yourself. The lodge itself is a perfect response to the rare beauty of the enviromnent - simple but very comfortable, and the people who run the place are the most delightful, charming, knowledgeable bunch of people you might ever hope to meet - they quickly feel like old friends. They offer marvellous walks and horse treks that take you to places few others will have the chance to visit (especially Laguna Azul) - dont fail to avail yourself of all of these if you can. If you want some swanky minimalist overdesigned posh arrogant over-affluent spa type place, then look elsewhere. But if you relish the absolute privilege of spending time in the real Patagonian land - then come here. It does your heart good.

Room Tip: We loved room 9, a cabin a little on its own with a nice seating area...
See more room tips
  • Stayed January 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2012

Prior to my trip to Argentina, I labored over the decision of whether to stay at Eolo, Estancia Cristina, or Hosteria Helsingfors while in the Patagonia region. I was looking for total seclusion, a variety of fun outdoor activities, good food, and a nice place to propose to my gf. It was the most difficult decision of the most complicated vacation I've ever planned (5 flights in 3 weeks covering the southern, middle, and northern parts of country).

Eolo and Estancia Cristina were my initial favorites, but for a variety of factors, I went with Helsingfors in the end. One of the factors was price. It is cheaper (though far from cheap), than the other two and all the activities are included (which is also true of cristina, but not eolo). Staying at H would also allow me to see the largest amount of different types of landscapes in Patagonia, since I could spend 3 nights at Helsingfors but do a day trip to estancia cristina out of el calafate and still see the icebergs, upsala glacier, and the really beautiful location Cristina is situated in, as well as the stuff at Helsingfors like the lake and Laguna Azul.

The trip:
We had private transfers both to and from Helsingfors. They picked us up from the Esplendor and both times we were alone (although that's not guaranteed). The driver was friendly and explained a lot of things along the way. H is very secluded within the national park, but you can all read maps...

Names are escaping me now, but upon arrival we were greeted and shown to our rooms. There wasn't any check-in, per se, as they know who is coming, being a very small lodge. There's only 8 rooms or something... Either way, everyone introduced themselves and told us to ask if we needed anything and then we were immediately offered food and beverages and told the guide would be back from an excursion soon to explain our itinerary. So we unpacked and for the afternoon of day 1 we just explored the area on our own until dinner, during which the guide came to introduce himself (Martin, for short). We were already in love with the place. Not being a writer, it's hard to describe how beautiful the location is.

The service was excellent throughout our entire stay and the food was very satisfying, but doesn't pretend to be a Michelin-rated place. It's worth understanding that this place is pretty far removed from civilization, so options are more limited than you would get closer to el calafate, and it's not so focused on being an uber-luxury hotel like Eolo is. There's no menu. They serve what they serve, but if you don't like something you can have it swapped. I'm not a fish eater, so on fish night, they swapped it out. The food was very good, and we ate very well 3 times a day, sometimes with tea and various treats in the afternoon in front of the fire, or charcuterie with wine or other drinks at the bar closer to dinner.

The activities are very fun, and it's a good idea to be in decent shape for them. You don't need to be an athlete, but if you're in poor physical condition, you might struggle at times, but that shouldn't stop you enjoying the place. The guides are really nice and will make sure you make the most of your time there.

We did hiking and horseback riding excursions. Some of the time we were alone with the guide and other times in a larger group. The full day trip up to the Laguna Azul is tons of fun and the lake itself is an unbelievable turquoise. It's absolutely beautiful and I proposed to my girlfriend once we got there and found some privacy, which was easy to do.

Upon returning to the lodge, the woman at reception - I wish I could remember her name, but it's been too long - ask my fiancée how the day went, to which she predictably responded "fantastic" while showing off her ring. After returning from dinner we found a bottle of chilled sparkling wine and chocolate desserts in the room, neither of which I asked for. This was the level of service we experienced during our entire stay there. It's rare that I can say an experience/service was flawless, but it was at Helsingfors.

One unexpected benefit of staying here was the other guests. Now I'm not a super social guy, but we had a lot of enjoyment meeting the other guests, which it is basically impossible not to do given that there is a common sitting area in front of the fireplace and that the restaurant is so small. We met mostly older couples (40+) that could afford the $650/night here, but they were all very interesting and nice people. We loved an old German couple that had visited over 100 countries and hiked in pretty much every part of the world. I met a swiss couple that also offered me a comparision between Helsingfors and Eolo (he preferred Helsingfors) and a French family with their 3 very polite and well-mannered kids. We also met two American couples, one of which was full of suggestions for our later trip to Iguazu. The guests added quite a lot of enjoyment to the stay, which is not usually the case, and is usually what I pay the big bucks to get away from!

Comparison to Eolo and Estancia Cristina:
Eolo was my initial favorite because I felt the beauty and luxury of the hotel was above and beyond the other two. In actual fact, it probably is the most luxurious, if that's what you're after. The photographer for Eolo did a superb job of presenting its beauty. But, as I later learned, there's not much to do at Eolo itself except relax, and both Estancia Cristina and Hosteria Helsingfors sit among far superior surrounding landscapes. Eolo is secluded from El Calafate but you have to see Estancia Cristina and Helsingfors in person to really understand the difference. And all the good excursions at Eolo are extras and require getting up early and travelling. It's also about 30 minutes outside of El calafate, which is good for seclusion, but bad if you want to see some different landscapes. And I actually did drive by it and see it from the street on one of my day trips from el calafate. If you have really deep pockets and can afford the $700+/night, it would be an ideal base from which to do Perito Moreno, the big ice hike, and an estancia cristina day trip, but for us, we couldn't afford both Eolo and Helsingfors, so while we were in el calafate, we stayed at the Esplendor. And I do have to say that we were glad to be closer to town for that time.

It was tougher to choose between helsingfors and estancia cristina. Both were all-inclusive (meals and excursions). Cristina was more expensive. Both are nestled among beautiful mountains and close to a lake. Cristina probably has better rooms and views from the rooms but there was nothing wrong with the rooms at helsingfors.

The key reasons I went with helsingfors were 1) the room wasn't that important to me. Most time is spent outside of it. And beyond that, the rooms at H are nice but just not super-luxe or modern. The beds are comfortable, the sheets soft and clean, they have hardwood flooring, and soft lighting that gives you a nice and cozy ambiance that is perhaps more akin to a rustic home (and it goes without saying that everything is spotless) 2) by going with helsingfors, I'd be able to see more variety. Cristina is beautiful but they don't have the laguna Azul or the lake the Helsingfors has (you can see mount fitz roy on the other side of the lake). 3) Cristina has day trips so that you can see the surrounding area without committing to an overnight stay 4) cristina has tons of people going through it each day. I've read that they keep them away from hotel guests, but I wanted total seclusion and didn't want to be doing activities with large groups.

  • Stayed February 2012, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Helsingfors Hosteria

Address: Ruta 21 km 80 el Calafate Santa cruz, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina
Location: Argentina > Patagonia > Province of Santa Cruz > Los Glaciares National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Shuttle Bus service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty Lodging in Los Glaciares National Park
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Helsingfors Hosteria 4*
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
At the beginning of XX century an adventurous Finish man, called Alfred Ramström, adopted Patagonia South as his second hometown. He settled down at the base of the Andes mountains, on the South West side of Viedma's Lake, eith a spectacular view of Mount "Fitz Roy" ("Chalten" in Tehuelche dialect). Remembering his homeland, he named the ranch with the name of the capital of his country" at that time , "Helsingfors". ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Helsingfors Hosteria Hotel Los Glaciares National Park
Helsingfors Hosteria Argentina/Patagonia

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