Review of Katajanokka Hotel in Helsinki. “Escape the Ordinary”. Under this motto, hotel guests can discover this unique accommodation in a former Finnish prison on Helsinki’s island Katajanokka in a privately owned, gay-friendly lifestyle hotel. We were invited to test the extraordinary hotel in a prison setting paired with a luxurious and chic design and the famous kitchen of The Linnankellari restaurant with its diverse menu, including meat and vegan options. Our mission was to discover what you can expect from this gay-friendly hotel in Helsinki. Enjoy our hotel review of the ‘Gay-friendly Katajanokka Hotel’ of the former Finnish prison and see the 4-star hotel in Helsinki through a couple of men‘s eyes.
– in paid collaboration with Katajanokka Hotel –
It was an interesting and exciting experience to stay in a modern and spacious hotel room in Helsinki. The building was built to be the living and sleeping space for prisoners who had to serve their prison terms since the early 19th century. After all, the oldest parts of the prison date back to 1837. But the history of Katajanokka, with its remarkable red brick buildings, ended in 2002. After a long and extensive restoration and renovation, Katajanokka transformed into the luxurious Finnish accommodation of today that re-opened in 2007.
Gay-friendly stay on Katajanokka Island
Impressive from the first moment on! We entered the hotel grounds that are surrounded by a red brick wall through the main gate which opened up to a wide, green, and well-maintained garden, almost like a park area with small flower and planting boxes. At first sight, nothing gave us the feeling of entering a former jail ground, except the wall, of course. Even the reception area with its modern stylish furniture and very friendly and welcoming receptionists did not give us any hint that we just checked in for our stay at a former pre-trial detention center.
To reach our room on the highest floor, we had to enter the main building, taking a left turn from the entrance area. And there we were in the middle of the three-floor main complex with an iron staircase, skylight, and the narrow and small doors to the former prison cells wrapped up in a state-of-the-art design and modern luxury. Definitely, a “wow” moment, especially imagining that this was for over 100 years in a Finnish prison. “Cell” number 419 was our designated room, showing off why the Katajanokka Hotel recently won the World Travel Award for being Finland’s Leading Boutique Hotel 2018.
In a word, the Katajanokka Hotel is gay-friendly, stylish, clean, Nordic modern, comfortable and equipped with everything modern LGBT travelers and gay couples need for a weekend trip to Helsinki, the Finnish capital city. Our tip for your gay-friendly stay: Try the dinner at The Linnankellari restaurant. The burger left Karl speechless…
Superior King Room at Katajanokka Hotel
We still could see the frames of the former jail cell doors from the hallway while walking on the 4th floor. One hotel room today has at least the size of three former jail cells. Our Superior King Room 419 was a treat for the eyes and the king-size bed a treat for our back. Solely, the small windows and transom windows in the room and bathroom are a reminder of the former purpose of the space. The bathroom was equipped with a bathtub including a shower, a freestanding design sink, and complimentary bath utilities. Free coffee and tea makers, a modern chaise lounge as well as Finnish and international books at the bedside table complete the luxury treatment of our Superior King room at the Katajanokka Hotel.
Linnankellari Restaurant & Breakfast Buffet
We had our first meal (breakfast) and LAST MEAL (dinner) at the Linnankellari Restaurant, the former mess hall for the arrested prisoners. The generous breakfast buffet left nothing to be desired to get fit for a day in the Finnish capital. But especially the dinner was something to remember, not only because of the special atmosphere and cozy vibe of the basement location. Karl is still dreaming of the best burger he ever had, seriously.
Good to know for all the non-burger lovers, the Linnankellari Restaurant offers a menu rich in variety with Finno-Scandinavian local and organic food prepared with local, biological, and fresh ingredients. Our Tip: Try a good glass of Finnish Gin with some fresh cranberries and a branch of rosemary with your dinner menu. Delicious!
Hotel Facilities of Katajanokka
The Katajanokka Hotel is an accommodation worth planning time to explore. We wandered around the hotel building, checking the photo gallery in the west wing of the former jail complex with pictures from times when Katajanokka still was a county prison and pre-trial detention center. One of the highlights of our stay was the visit to the preserved former jail cells in the basement. Once you are there, you can check the hotel’s sauna for a good Finnish way to warm up and relax all year round. Don’t forget to make a reservation or go to the public sauna times for men and women.
The small 24-hour gym is still open, but will be renovated and extend in the coming months. In general, the whole building is a perfect setting for Instagram photos, be it on the preserved stairs, the cells in their original condition, or the park and terrace around the building. When you are done with your explorations in and around the Katajanokka Hotel, jump on a rental bike or in the tram. After a short ride, you are in the center of Helsinki including the Uspenski and Helsinki Cathedrale as well as the Helsinki harbor area where you can jump on a boat for a trip to one of Helsinki’s Islands.
Kept as a secret, the citizens of Helsinki are more than proud to live in their wonderful city closely connected to nature. Recently, Finland has been elected to be the world’s most socially progressive country, as it is also legalized gay marriage officially in spring 2017.
Interesting Posts about Finland:
- All you need to know about gay traveling Helsinki >
- Tips for a perfect day at Linnanmäki Theme Park >
- Best of Gay Pride Weekend in the Finnish Capital City >
- Wellness & Relaxation: A day at the Finnish Design Sauna Löyly >
- Tips for Finnish nature: Top Outdoor Fun in & around Helsinki >
- Reviews of Hotels around the world: Gay-friendly tested Hotels >
Gay-friendly Katajanokka Hotel in Helsinki
Katajanokka Hotel Helsinki
00160 Helsinki, Finnland
Good to know:
Included in all rates and room categories are free Wi-Fi access (10MG), a generous breakfast buffet, free 24-hour use of the hotel gym, and complimentary access to the weekend sauna. Don’t forget to check the preserved former prison cells of the Katajanokka prison.
This review post was made possible in partnership with Katajanokka Hotel Helsinki to promote its gay-friendliness. Anyhow, our photos, texts, and opinions are 100% our own, as usual.