Review: Hotel St. George in Helsinki – A Marriott Design Hotel
My wife and I recently spent 3 nights / 4 days at the Hotel St. George in Helsinki. This property is a member of Design Hotels and participates to some degree in Marriott Bonvoy. How was our stay? Would we stay here again? I’ll cover our experience inside and out.
The Hotel St. George in Helsinki is a category 5 property. During standard pricing periods, it costs 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. (What it might cost when Marriott completely ditches its award chart is anyone’s guess)
We booked this property using 3 Marriott free night awards, which I had from Marriott co-branded credit cards. These awards are worth a maximum of 35,000 points each, so I was happy with the redemption.
Cash price at the hotel during our stay was $248.38 per night. 30k per night is a redemption rate of 0.83¢ per point. However, if you count that the free night awards could be worth 35k each, then the redemption rate is 0.71¢ per point. Either of those is above our average valuation of Marriott Bonvoy points.
I have several Suite Night Awards in my Marriott account. However, Design Hotels properties don’t participate in using Suite Night Awards.
Prior to Check-In
Two days before check-in, we received an automated email letting us know about reduced operations at the spa and reminding us of current requirements in Helsinki.
When we go off the plane at the Helsinki airport, I had another email from the Hotel St. George. It came around 9am local time on the day of check-in. We could fill out information online and complete an online check-in to maintain social distancing. The final step was to provide a credit card, which would be used for any charges to your room.
Between all of the stuff you need to do to get out of an airport, buying tickets for the train, and getting ourselves to the hotel, I didn’t complete this before arrival.
The Hotel St. George is located in central Helsinki and within walking distance of the train/bus station. This is likely how you’ll arrive into the city from the airport. However, there are some major streets in between.
Since those streets were covered with snow, we decided to take a taxi to the hotel — even though it’s about a 7-minute walk. Pro tip: standard taxis have a minimum rate of 25 euros in the city. We used Uber and got to the hotel for under 7 euros.
This may be the strangest hotel lobby and reception area I’ve ever seen. You enter through a very nondescript door (our Uber driver actually passed it). There’s no one at the door to say hello, and you enter into an empty space. To the left, you can take an elevator or a half-dozen stairs up to the reception area.
The reception area felt more like the area where you meet with your banker to open an account.
It didn’t seem like an issue that I hadn’t completed this online check-in process in advance. The woman thanked me for being a Marriott member (it seemed they don’t know what status level you are) and then mentioned that they don’t participate 100% in all of the benefits. She pointed out that I don’t get free breakfast, for example.
However, she did thank me for being a Marriott member and mention that our room had been upgraded. Rather than the standard “King Cozy Studio” room, she upgraded us to the “King Serenity Studio”. This room costs an extra $20 per night.
With our room keys in hand, she offered to walk us to the elevators. It was just down the hall, but the gesture is nice. Oddly, though, this woman was the only employee at the check-in desk, which meant she left other guests in the lurch while waiting for her to come back a few minutes later.
Public Areas of the Hotel
Instead of turning left and going up to the reception, you could go down and right. Here, you will find a restaurant (Thai themed) at one end of the hallway.
At the other end of the hallway, there is a bakery / café. It’s open only for breakfast.
The bakery seems to close pretty early, since we never saw it open.
Past the lobby (on the same floor), there is a living room-style area.
Further down this hallway (towards the 2 benches in the picture), there is a skylight bar.
Continuing further and down some steps, there is a spa. However, the spa was closed, due to Covid regulations in Helsinki during our visit.
This is a view from the outside, since it was closed.
Guest Hallways and Elevators
Instead of going towards the living room and the bar, turning right and going past the restrooms takes you to this landing area. Clearly, this building used to be an apartment building.
There are elevators are on each side. They’re not controlled by the same buttons, so pushing the “up” button for one elevator won’t call both of them.
The elevators are a bit on the small side, but for 2 people with backpacks + one suitcase, it was more than sufficient. For a family of 4 with multiple suitcases, it would be tight.
Inside the elevator, you need to tap your key card. Then, you can only activate the button for the floor you’re staying on.
When exiting the elevator, since you’re still on the landing from the stairs, you need to use your key card to access the hallway. This prevents people from taking the stairs to your floor and accessing the guest hallway. You can take the stairs to any floor you want — just not enter the guest areas.
Guest Room – King Serenity Studio at the Hotel St. George in Helsinki
We had room 507, which was immediately across from the security door to access our floor.
We could set “do not disturb” and “please clean the room” preferences from inside the room. These lit up red or green lights, respectively, on the panel next to our door in the hallway.
Upon entering the room, the bathroom and closets are to the right. Continuing further, the room opens up to the bedroom area.
We had a nice view over a park across the street. It contains a small church and a few gravestones that are hundreds of years old. This was a really popular spot for joggers and for people walking their dogs.
The bathroom was large and spacious. The door to the bathroom seemed to close of its own free will, but other than that the bathroom was awesome. It was also consistently the warmest part of the room, which was nice. You didn’t freeze when you got out of the shower.
A large counter with double sinks and a giant mirror lined the wall on the right-hand side. The toiletries smelled excellent, and a little basket held amenities like Q-tips. Under the sink, we had towels, a hair dryer, and a basket that hid a box of tissues.
In the corner, the toilet was anything but ordinary. This remote control on the wall has several settings for a warm water wash that you can use while still sitting on the toilet. The coolest feature, though, is the light inside the toilet. When stumbling to the toilet in the middle of the night, the light helps you find your way without needing to turn on the overhead light. Brilliant!
On the left-hand wall, there’s a bathtub and a shower box. The shower door closes with magnets. In order to not bump your head on this glass wall when laying in the tub, you can open the shower door and then push this glass wall away from the tub. What a concept.
Flanking the bathroom door, there are 2 closets.
The closet on the left has space for things you want to hang up. The closet on the right has shelves, a mirror, and some exercise bands.
Living Room Area
The TV in our room sat behind a movable privacy screen, which is something I’ve never seen in my hotel room before. While it wasn’t necessary for us, it was interesting.
Below the TV, there is a mini bar area, for lack of a better name. It had snacks for purchase, a safe, mini fridge, and a water filter system.
Next to this and by the windows, there is a desk with a chair.
On the desk, there’s information about hotel amenities, what Marriott Bonvoy benefits they do / don’t participate in, and some bottled water.
This bed was excellent. We slept very well. The mattress was comfortable, and a variety of pillows gives you a choice in what type you want to use. There’s also a bench at the foot of the bed, which we used for moving the extra pillows out of the way without having to throw them on the floor. It was also handy for putting on / taking off our winter boots.
Each side of the bed has a night stand. The night stands are excellent. Each has USB and Euro-style plugs, plus light controls for off / on / dim and reading lamps.
The night stand on my side of the bed also had a menu for room service. It’s quite extensive.
We also found this card on the bed. It contains a quote from Jim Morrison, which is not a common quote source at all.
Overall Thoughts on the Room
We really liked this room. I have nothing bad to say about it. The blackout curtains and the comfort of the bed are deceptive. We decided to “just close our eyes for a few minutes” one morning after we’d gone out for breakfast. We woke up at 12:30pm!
There’s ample space in the room, the features are excellent, and everything worked as expected. This is a great room.
Service at the Hotel St. George in Helsinki
Since we didn’t eat at the hotel at all (the breakfast is 29 euros per person, so we never even went to look at it), our interactions with staff were limited. Check-in was friendly but not the most efficient in the world.
We had the “do not disturb” sign on during our entire stay. However, each morning, we found 2 bottles of water waiting outside our room. To me, that’s great service — anticipating needs and meeting them prior to the request being made.
Our check-out experience was a bit odd. We checked out in the app and just needed to drop off our keys. However, given the…unique…setup of the reception desk, we needed to wait. There was no box to drop the keys in, and just going up to the counter while another guest was in the chair seemed super rude.
However, the employee at the desk was giving a very thorough explanation on what to do in a free, self-guided walking tour of the city. We waited about 10 minutes, and a line formed behind us. “We just need to give you the key”, dropping it, and walking out the door took us 10 seconds, once she finally acknowledged us.
Having more than one person at the desk or at least acknowledging those in line could help everyone — the guests and the employees.
The staff members are friendly and accomplish what’s needed in the end, but a little more vision about one employee handling multiple guests could improve.
Final Thoughts on the Hotel St. George
We liked this hotel. It’s centrally located, the designs are nice, and we thought the room itself was excellent. Staff members are friendly, though lacking a bit in efficiency.
You might pass the hotel without even knowing it’s there, given the way the entrance is set up. However, once you find it, I think you’ll have a great stay. I’d stay here again for sure.