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Hotel Kämp

© Text & Photo by Amazing Magazines

(Arkivmaterial - Del av reportage publicerat i magasinet Amazing Editions)

 

If you want to turn your visit to Helsinki into an extraordinary experience, then you must absolutely check into the famed Hotel Kämp, one of Finland's oldest and most talked-about luxury hotels. Centrally-located on Pohjoisesplanadi along the Esplanadallén, the famous park promenade, guests are close to all the cities best restaurants and shopping areas.

Today, Helsinki is called the new meeting point between East and West, an exciting place where the sea meets the countryside. A modern capital city which, thanks to its architecture, design and fascinating technology, is regarded as an attractive name in the international arena.

With a constant stream of tourists, the Helsinki Tourist Board can report a figure of about 220,000 guests for March this year, an increase of about 30,000 nights over the same month in 2006. This higher figure may be attributable to the 3,000 or more events arranged here every year. This year, for example, Finland hosted the Eurovision Song Contest, for the first time and it is reported that the event was a wonderfully popular festival in the Helsinki Arena, which was full to overflowing, largely due to the win by the hard rock group Lordis in Athens last year.

If you are interested in history and allow yourself to be captured by cultural literature, you can read how the city was founded in 1550 by King Gustav Vasa at the mouth of the Vanda to compete with Reval, now Tallin, for the important trade in the Baltic region. Helsinki was moved to its present location, closer to the sea, in the middle of the 17th century. In 1809, Finland was conquered under bestial circumstances by Russia, and some years later, in 1812, Helsinki was named as capital of the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland. At the same time a number of monuments were erected in the city to symbolise the absolute power of the Grand Duke and the Czar. A little more than a century later, in 1917, Finland became an independent republic and a new city plan was drawn up for the city, with classical and functional components. However, the great breakthrough for Helsinki was in 1952, when the city hosted the Olympic Games and Helsinki gained an international reputation as a welcoming and well-organised capital city.  It also signalled the start of a new era of commissions of trust and global conferences such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe summit meeting in 1975 in the well-known Finlandia building. In 1995 Finland became a member of the European Union, and since then has served as President twice, in 1999 and in 2006.

But let us leave the cultural aspects for a moment and focus instead on the luxury hotel, Kämp. After all, my main task is to convey to you selected readers of Amazing Editions the fantastic accommodations available to you as business or family travellers.

Hotel Kämp is without doubt one of Helsinki’s most interesting names for the initiated traveller. A stately building which at first glance suggests a pleasant visit, not only because of its imposing facade, but also because of its advantageous geographic location. From here it’s a comfortable walk to most of the attractions.  The surrounding neighbourhood houses a wide selection of shops, pulsating nightlife and reputable restaurants.

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When we arrive in front of the imposing main entrance we are given a hospitable reception by the hotel’s entrance host. He gives us a hearty welcome while the staff take care of our luggage and park the car in the hotel’s private garage.  Inside the sumptuous lobby the architecture and unusual lighting provide an exclusive reception of continental proportions. Surrounded by majestic columns and a characteristic decor I can almost feel the spiritual presence of the hotel’s world famous founder, Carl Wilhelm Kämp, the local innkeeper who just over a century ago realised his dream of giving Helsinki its first real luxury hotel.

Our sumptuous Junior Park Suite has everything you might expect of a first-class hotel that is part of “The Luxury Collection”. In addition to a wonderful view across the Esplanade Park there is a generous desk with Internet connection, a separate sofa group and a comfortable divan. There are also two comfortable armchairs for relaxed moments in front of the TV before it is time to creep into the large double bed with its down quilts. But best of all is the spacious bathroom in rich marble decor with a separate bath tub and shower cabinet.

The hotel, which has 179 rooms, including Deluxe rooms, Special suites and the famous Mannerheim suite, offers all guests a comprehensive 24-hour room service, including laundry, dry-cleaning and pressing. The hotel also has good amenities for large scale party and conference events in one of its six well-equipped facilities on the second floor. If you want to enjoy a delicious meal, just book a table in one of the hotel’s fine restaurants. In the Kämp Café, which is once again a popular meeting place for both private people and business customers in Helsinki, you can relax in the welcoming bar before moving on to the dining room for a superb meal. Another alternative is the new Japanese restaurant, Yume, which not only serves an interesting menu, but also has a modern and inspirational environment.

To bring a little clarity to the hotel’s varied history, I meet Mrs Tiia Sammellahti, the hotel’s Communications Manager. While she is giving me a guided tour of the hotel she gives me a detailed account of its complex history.  It all began in 1884 when Carl Wilhelm Kämp, a local hotelier, found out that the goldsmith Ekholm’s plot of land in the Antilopen block on the corner of Glogatan and Norra Esplanaden, was for sale. His first thought was to build a world-class hotel, and although he arranged both a loan and building permission from the Senate of the time, his financial resources were not sufficient. Luckily, Carl was helped by the municipal councillor F.W. Grönqvist who bought the land and had the hotel built in return for a 20 year lease. The beautiful building was designed by the architect, Theodor Höijer who placed the main entrance of the hotel facing the Esplanade Park. From the stately entrance hall the decorative, columned main staircase led up through the five-storey building. When the hotel was opened in 1887, it was regarded as the most modern hotel accommodation in the whole of Helsinki. A lot has happened since those days, says Tiia and opens the great salon doors into the hotel’s impressive Mirror Hall. Unfortunately, he never had the chance of enjoying his project to the full because he suddenly passed away two years after the hotel opened. Surprised, I nod and look out across the richly-decorated room.

I also find out that the hotel was run for a while by his wife, Maria Kämp, who in 1917 chose to sell the business to a major bank, KOP (Kansallis-Osake-Pankkis). As time passed, the property fell into some disrepair and through the 1950s the deterioration was so extensive that the hotel had to close completely in 1965. Having invoked an old building permit and attempted to revive the legendary hotel, the bank failed to find a new tenant. Instead, the building permit was modified to convert the property into offices. In 1969 the building came into use again and KOP had its own head office there. That was the position until 1995 when KOP merged with another bank, Föreningsbanken Merita Bank. This left the building empty again and in 1996 the Merita Group announced that it intended to revive this legendary Helsinki hotel. The new hotel, that was planned by the Petri Blomstedt firm of architects and built by the Skanska-Heinänen consortium, had its grand opening on Friday May the 28th, 1999, a date I believe is permanently etched in the memory ofevery proud citizen of Helsinki.

But on the other hand I can understand their joy and pride, as I believe I have never visited a hotel with such joie de vivre and passion. Here it may truly be said that everyone does their utmost to ensure that you has a guest have a memorable experience.

Inspiring.se - © Text & Photo by Amazing Magazines