The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence -

Helsinki’s Ho­tel Lilla Roberts looks a lit­tle like a film set from Agatha Christie’s Poirot. That’s be­cause the new Small Lux­ury Ho­tels of the World re­cruit is housed in a land­mark, early 20th-cen­tury build­ing by one of Fin­land’s lead­ing ar­chi­tects, Se­lim A. Lindqvist, on a quiet side street in the cap­i­tal’s De­sign Dis­trict.

It might once have served as the city’s power plant, and later a po­lice sta­tion, but you’d never know it thanks to a smart Scandi makeover by Helsinki-based Jaakko Puro. Us­ing qual­ity ma­te­ri­als and a rich pal­ette of bur­nished gold, greys and plum, in keep­ing with the build­ing’s art-deco roots, Puro has de­liv­ered cosy but smart in­te­ri­ors with plenty of whim­si­cal touches, like the over­sized Moooi horse lamps in the lobby.

Ex­tra at­ten­tion has been paid to the de­sign of the su­per comfy king beds in the 130 gue­strooms, where hard­wood par­quet floors are com­ple­mented by rich fab­rics em­bel­lished with tra­di­tional Fin­nish prints and hand­some bath­rooms with a dis­tinct art­deco flavour. Ev­ery cham­ber fea­tures gratis Wi-Fi, big flat-screen tele­vi­sion and a wire­less Blue­tooth sound­bar, a sys­tem com­pat­i­ble with the TV or mo­bile de­vices.

The larger “Lux” ac­com­mo­da­tion fea­tures even larger TVs and Ne­spresso ma­chines. The twobed­room suite has views over Kasar­mi­tori Square; in­ter­con­nect­ing rooms are avail­able for fam­i­lies. The ho­tel also has a fit­ness cen­tre with tra­di­tional Fin­nish sauna.

DON’T MISS: A cock­tail in the lobby lounge, seated in cooler months by the crack­ling fire.

DIN­ING IN: The in-house bistro-style Krog Roba, headed by ex­ec­u­tive chef Karri Knaapila, cel­e­brates food from across the Nordic re­gion. Smor­re­brod with ju­niper salted-salmon and trout roe is a typ­i­cal ex­am­ple. Try the cray­fish soup or liquorice-sea­soned creme brulee with fen­nel and sea buck­thorn sor­bet. The res­tau­rant’s re­laxed at­mos­phere is best de­scribed as hygge, says ho­tel man­ager Elli Su­u­tari­nen, a word that has no di­rect trans­la­tion from Fin­nish but means “ev­ery­thing good, fun and warm in life”.

DIN­ING OUT: Ragu and Rav­in­tola Ju­uri, both nearby, are “ex­cel­lent choices”, says Su­u­tari­nen, and Kaf­fe­cen­tralen, just around the cor­ner, comes rec­om­mended as a good cof­fee shop.

ASK THE HO­TEL MAN­AGER: A stroll around the De­sign Dis­trict, vis­it­ing the gal­leries, shops and restau­rants, is an ideal way to spend a day in Helsinki. Another great way to see the city “in a lo­cal way” is to bor­row one of the ho­tel’s bikes.

CHECK­ING IN: Rooms from €169 ($270) in­clud­ing break­fast. More:­tels/ho­tel-lilla-roberts/.

ALSO TRY: Art Deco Ho­tel Mon­tana, Lucerne; The Chat­wal, a Lux­ury Col­lec­tion Ho­tel, New York; Hy­att Ho­tel Can­berra.

CHRIS­TINE McCABE A 40-room ho­tel in Paris’s once seedy but rapidly gen­tri­fy­ing Pi­galle precinct, on the south­ern slopes of Mont­martre, opens late Novem­ber; Le Pi­galle, a De­sign Ho­tels mem­ber, is a col­lab­o­ra­tive neigh­bour­hood ven­ture with in-room mu­sic com­piled by a lo­cal DJ and pas­tries de­liv­ered daily from a nearby bak­ery • South­ern Thai­land’s Aleenta Phuket has un­veiled 34 pool vil­las, the fi­nal phase of a $12 mil­lion up­date; each villa fea­tures an 8m pool ac­cessed via a slid­ing wall that seam­lessly com­bines in­door and out­door liv­ing ar­eas; overnight rates from about $355 for two • Ade­laide’s Ren­dezvous Ho­tel has joined the Pep­pers sta­ble; the 202-room, five-star ho­tel has been re­branded Pep­pers Way­mouth and lies smack in the heart of the city’s new­est res­tau­rant precinct • Hil­ton Ho­tels & Re­sorts will de­but in Pa­pua New Guinea in 2017; con­struc­tion of a 16-storey mixed-use tower to in­clude the 212-room Hil­ton Port Moresby starts soon • Christchurch has of­fi­cially opened the 264-room Break­Free on Chasel, five years af­ter earth­quakes dev­as­tated the South Is­land city; the $NZ30m ho­tel has a Grade A seis­mic rat­ing.

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