The Hotel Kamp, Helsinki -a hotel with 125 years of history
A member of the Starwood Luxury Collection, the Hotel Kamp has the best location in town - right on the esplanade. Tell a Finnish person you’re staying there and they tell you that it’s the hotel for the famous. Heads of state, dignitaries and flashy celebs have all slept in the Kamp’s bedrooms.
Little did they know, I had a commission to photograph the doorman and afternoon tea for The Most Famous Hotels in The World. The Kamp is a people-watcher’s paradise, with plenty of café space outside on the pavement terrace.
I do love luxury hotels with history, it’s a weakness of mine. As founder of The Most Famous Hotels in the World, Andreas Augustin, explains in his book on the hotel:
"The Kämp was instrumental as a meeting place for a group called Young Finns, a revolutionary circle that changed the social surface of the country. Here at Hotel Kämp conspiratorial meetings were held and many cornerstones of this young republic called Finland, founded in 1917, were laid."
From the genius composer Sibelius to the Spanish National Football team, who checked in on the day I checked out, they have all been here.
The chambermaid told me that the hotel has a ghost, the founder Maria Kamp, who walks around the corridors at night, and has been known to take the lift and lock hotel room doors from the inside. With its 125-year history, the establishment would not be complete without a spectral presence, and I sincerely hoped that I wouldn’t meet her (I didn’t).
When in Finland you have to check out the saunas, and of course the Kamp hotel has three saunas in their spa: full-on steam, light steam with eucalyptus, and a Hammam (steam room). I tried them all on my third night in Helsinki, and the eucalyptus one was my favourite. You can rest up between saunas in the warm stone reclining chairs. A perfect spot to collect your thoughts as I did on my visit, punctuated by yelps from Americans trying out the full-on steamy Finnish sauna.
The Parisian-style brasserie is open around the clock. Brasserie Kämp is where breakfast is served, beautifully presented, with porridge in heavy black pans with detachable wooden handles; smoked and poached fish; fruit; home-made cakes and pastries – it’s all there, and the service is top-notch.
This is one elegant European hotel for the discerning traveller, and if I ever visit Helsinki again, I will be checking right back in.