We have just returned from a trip to Tallinn and Helsinki - the latter of which led us to spend 2 nights in this well recommended Hostel. We booked it through Hostelworld online and paid around £50 each for two nights in a twin bedded room (sharing bathroom and kitchen facilities).
In Helsinki EVERYTHING is expensive and therefore this place seemed like a bit of a bargain, the location is also good as it is literally a couple of hundred metres from the Ferry Terminal where you get off the boats from Tallinn, this meant when we arrived we could check in and leave luggage quickly and be in the centre of town by lunch time. The Hostel is on a small island connected to the mainland by a couple of bridges but you do not really notice this, it just feels like an extension of the mainland.
On getting to the Hostel I was pleasantly surprised to find that it feels and functions like a much less personal 'hotel' than a hostel (I hate over familiar hostels where it feels like you are lodging in someone's house). The lobby is large, light and has a big, professional looking reception desk at one end, there are also benches and tables, a lot of information in stands, a computer and some vending machines, a room at the opposite end to the reception desk is a bar and restaurant (which we never used).
Although we were early to check in (it was about 10.30am when we arrived) they let us have our room and provided us with info sheet and key cards (one each which was useful). Our room was on the 5th floor and was one of the 'hostel' rather than 'backpacker' level rooms (the only difference was a TV set we think). The rooms are clean and basic, two beds (make it up yourself from provided linen), table and chairs, wardrobes and plenty of hooks etc for hanging stuff on. Oh and a HUGE TV hanging from the ceiling in the corner on a bracket.
Bathroom facilities were at opposite ends of the corridor for girls and boys, the women's had two toilets and sinks in one room and then three showers and two more sinks in a separate room. There is a hair dryer attached to the wall which is great for a hostel and I never had to queue for anything, in fact both times I showered I had the shower room to myself - which I was pleased with as the showers have weird saloon style swing doors which do not quite meet in the middle and are also opaque - so no sympathy for the self conscious amongst you! I would advise to wear a swimming costume if you do not feel comfortable with this sort of thing.
Showers are also on a system where you activate them by waving in front of a sensor, this worked 90% of the time so was ok, water was consistently hot and powerful. The showers are also on a rather annoying timer system though so they go off every few minutes and you have to start waving again.
We did not use the kitchens (one on each floor) but they looked clean and tidy and were very popular with other guests, each night as we went out for dinner there would be lovely cooking smells from the one on our floor anyway!
You can buy wifi access here for Euro5 for 24 hours which I think is a bit steep, but everything is in this town. I did buy a pass and then got my moneys worth out of it and it was a strong signal and very easy to use.
From this Hostel you can get the number 4 tram straight into the centre of the city for around Euro3 - it takes about 5 minutes, we just walked it as you could walk along the harbours edge and get into the centre in about 15 minutes but it is a very nice walk.
My only gripe with this hotel is that both mornings I was woken up by maintenance staff making a huge racket on our floor, morning 1 they started at around 7.40am, hammering three rooms down, this carried on for about an hour by which point we had given up on a lie in and got up. Morning 2 they were dragging furniture about in the corridor and then hammering again (and started at 7.45am!). Surely if you have guests you should not start this kind of work until a later hour than this!?
I read Fizzywizzy's review (how did I just KNOW she would have been here!?) and agree with all she says - although we were lucky and had no such incidences with other guests - ear plugs are essential but this is a great value hostel and a brilliant budget choice for Helsinki.
Earlier this year a local news item caught my eye; it was about changes to youth hostels in North Yorkshire, though the changes have been taking place all over the country in Youth Hostel Association establishments. The reporter visited the premises, showing how there were no longer any dormitories but instead there were mainly twin or family rooms, many with their own bathing facilities. Instead of self-catering kitchens many now have cafes and bars and many of the rural establishments have been sold while new hostels have opened up in towns and cities instead.
This kind of change has happened in continental Europe too. While you can still find cheap dormitory accommodation the changes that have seen more and more private hostel rooms become available has stemmed largely from the proliferation of budget flights to a diverse range of destinations. Why stop at budget flights, you can have budget accommodation too!
I like to travel as much as I can and saving money by staying in cheaper accommodation means I can do more. I also believe that there's little point in paying lots of money when you spend only a few hours in the room. You have to be realistic, though; when does budget accommodation start to become just cheap and nasty?
We discovered Helsinki Eurohostel by searching a website where you can find hostel and budget accommodation all over Europe and booked through the site. Had we looked for a link directly to the hostel we might have saved some money as the Eurohostel website seems to offer a small discount for booking on line. However, we had made our booking easily and were pleased to find on arrival at the hostel that they were expecting us.
From the outside the building appears well maintained though without any character or particular distinguishing features, it may even be purpose built. It is situated about fifteen minutes walk from central Helsinki on an island called Katajanokka that is joined imperceptibly to the mainland by a road bridge. Trams number 4 and 4T stop next to the hostel and the journey from the downtown area takes about five minutes.
The international ferry terminals are five minutes walk away and from these you can make crossings to Sweden, Poland, Estonia and Latvia.There is a limited amount of public parking in the streets around the hostel.
The first thing you notice on entering the hostel is that this is a very businesslike and modern establishment - with the emphasis on business. During the same holiday I stayed in a hostel in Tallinn where one could use the internet free of charge for twenty minutes at a time; here there was one "internet kiosk" charged at crazy rates! There were two telephones, one to phone out, one to receive incoming calls.
The reception area was like a small tourist information office with plenty of leaflets, guidebooks (for sale) and maps available. You could also buy Helsinki Cards (if you had not included a discounted one in your reservation), make tour bookings and reserve accommodation at other linked hostels not only in Finland but also in St Petersburg and in Tallinn.
On the same floor was the hostel restaurant - "Restaurant Katajanmarja" - that is used as the breakfast room in the morning and then the bar in the evening although only a limited choice of alcoholic drinks is available. It was clean but not very comfortable to sit here in the evenings and had no character at all. Coming back to the hostel fairly early the evening before we came home I was pleased to see that the younger backpackers were not all congregating in the bar as often happens in hostels. I had imagined them to be out enjoying Helsinki nightlife but found them making a racket in the communal kitchens on our floor instead!
The only meal we ate there was breakfast and we paid for that at the counter each morning although you can pay in advance when you make your reservation. The hostel serves a breakfast buffet with cereals, different kinds of bread (the rye is excellent), eggs, sausages and fruit. It was possible to really fill up for just under 7 Euro which is a bonus because Helsinki can be expensive. The only negative was that there was only one member of staff in attendance at breakfast and so some things were not replenished as quickly as they should have been.
Breakfast was available between 6am and 10am weekdays and between 8 am and 11am at weekends. When the restaurant is closed its possible to purchase snacks and soft drinks from a vending machine.
Like most in Finland, the restaurant offers a special lunch menu with two courses and coffee for less than 10 Euro; however, we did not take advantage of this as we were never in that area during the day.
We were given a keycard each and told which floor our room was on. The room was sparse but always a comfortable temperature and very clean. It contained two single beds, a table and lockable clothes storage; simple, practical and sturdy. There two grades of room available - we stayed in a "backpackers room"; for a higher rate you can stay in what is supposed to be a more comfortable room though the only difference I can see from the website is that those rooms have a television.
There were two sets of shower rooms on each floor; one for men, one for ladies. In each set there were three toilet cubicles and two washbasins and two shower cubicles. I found the whole set up just a bit too communal. The shower cubicles have curtains rather than doors and they didn't pull across very well. There were pegs on the wall for hanging your towel and clothes but if you were using the shower cubicle furtherest away from the wall these were impossible to reach without stepping out unclothed. It might not bother some but I felt quite self conscious because I was alone and other bathers were in groups. While the water wasn't cold it could have been warmer and it was one of those annoying showers that lasts only a minute then you have to switch it back on again.
On our first visit we were close to the ladies facilities but at the other end of a long corridor to the mens. Two weeks later, the situation was in reverse. I don't think there were sufficient bathing facilities and I would imagine queues being likely in summer when the hostel is at its busiest.
At the end of the corridor on each floor was a communal kitchen with a fridge and cooking facilities. Cutlery and plates were available by paying a deposit at reception. The kitchen was meant to be closed at 10.00 pm so that people wouldn't be disturbed but this was never the case.
On the top floor is a sauna - well this is Finland after all! Use of the sauna was free between 6.00 am and 9.30 am and could be booked for use in the evenings. It can accommodate up to ten people and I can safely say it is the best thing about the hostel. Sauna use is a very reasonable 5 Euro in the evening though the whole sauna can be hired in advance for 45 Euro which includes refreshments.
Other facilities include a laundry room with coin-operated machines, a luggage storage room and wi-fi access in rooms for a small charge. Reception staff can organise car rental too.
Obviously the price varies depending on the grade of accommodation and the size of the room. Looking at the website there are more permutations if you choose to throw in the cost of Helsinki Card too or opt for one of the packages on offer. The packages include one that combines a visit to Helsinki with a day trip to St Petersburg or an overnight trip to Tallinn. Then there are packages for people with certain interests - there is one for people interested in sampling Finnish cuisine and another for people wanting to experience Helsinki's alternative music scene that includes nightclub entry.
We booked just a twin room, backpacker standard for which we paid around £34 a night (for two people). International Youth hostel Association members can make further savings on these rates and discounts apply to students too though not between the end of March and the beginning of October.
The standard was good and the facilities are excellent but the place was just too instituionalised for me. There were signs everywhere reminding to do or not do something and all the guests were forever saying hello and trying to engage you in conversation in the lift. I know that sounds miserable and unfriendly but there is a limit to the number of times in three days you can have the "Where are you from? What are you doing here?" conversation with a bunch of Aussie gap year students who've come to Europe to sample beers of the world.
And then there was the noise. The incessant scraping of chairs on the linoleum on the floor above and shrieking backpackers coming back in the early hours after a couple of lagers. On our final evening we retired early because we needed to be up early for our flight and a group of about fifty school children were playing football in the corridor. When I asked the teacher to tell them to keep out of the corridor she told me that curfew was not until eleven so they could make as much noise as they wanted. She refused to accept that after eleven there should be no noise though this did not prevent people being considerate to their fellow guests at any hour of the day.
Many of the rooms seemed to be occupied by long stay guests, perhaps international students there for a term. These young people propped open the doors of their rooms and played music well into the night with no regard for anyone else. When I asked the reception staff to speak the leader of the school group it had some effect but not for long. When I went to the shower room later to brush my teeth, I was unable to because four schoolgirls were dyeing their hair and all of the bathroom an hideous shade of mauve.
I would recommend Eurohostel Helsinki to people more tolerant than of noise than I am. I don't expect no noise, just a degree of regard for others. In a city that is not cheap (by British standards) this hostel represents excellent value and has the facilities you would expect of a modern establishment. It's location is fantastic, especially for those planning onward travel by sea but also for sightseeing generally.
Recommended - but take earplugs!
Linnankatu 9, FI-00160 Helsinki
Tel : +358-9-6220470