The power of points is the one and only reason I stayed at the Holiday Inn West Ruoholahti in Helsinki during a recent trip to this Nordic capital and I’m not ashamed to say it as paying with points beats paying out of pocket.
As a quick background Holiday Inn is one brand within the larger Intercontinental Hotels Group, or IHG for short, and operates what it calls the world’s largest hotel loyalty program IHG Rewards where guests collect points on their stays and redeem them for merchandise or hotel award nights. I’d built up a molehill of points over the last few years but not enough to redeem for all four nights in Helsinki, or not enough that is until IHG Rewards released their Summer PointsBreak promotion which halved the number of points required for hotel award nights at this Helsinki hotel and left me with just enough available in my account to redeem for the four nights. As this hotel normally is around EUR100/CAD$150 per room per night redeeming points can be a significant savings but requires some time and attention to manage your account, follow periodic promotions and read the fine print to maximize your value. If there is a catch it’s that you don’t often have much choice of available hotels in some cities for the lower promotional award night hotels so have to be somewhat flexible and willing to compromise on amenities, brand and/or location.
Location is a very good place to start with this hotel as it’s a 30 minute walk west of the downtown core so not a preferred location for sightseeing but that said there is a metro stop two short blocks away and the ride down the escalator to the platform is almost as long as the ride a few stops to the city center so good public transit helps minimize the suburban location. A one day transit worker strike midway through the stay made access a little more difficult but luckily front desk staff had warned me in advance so was ready for a walk to the downtown. The second stop on the metro is at the city’s main railway station which is a 5 – 10 minute walk from there to most of the city center sights and while trams and busses are also available are a little harder to navigate easily so would recommend sticking to the Metro. The metro stop is in front of a large shopping complex with ground level K-market smaller grocery store that was open weeknights until 11 PM so made for a handy stop to pick-up sodas and snacks cheaper than in the central district.
The room itself was comfortable enough with a queen bed on a higher floor with a view of the next office building.
The décor seemed a little dated but functional minus a bundle of wires beneath the nightstand.
The TV being out throughout the whole hotel for a day was a drawback as was the warm room temperature which started at 77 F but luckily cooled off to a less sub-tropical norm after it was mentioned to the front desk staff.
The bathroom featured user-friendly touches such as a well placed hook above the vanity for toiletry bags and a shower stall with nice adjustable shower wand holder that could be extended to around 7 ft. making it seem like a fancier rainfall showerhead. This feature no doubt comes in handy as I’d noticed the Finns are taller than average North Americans. The one quirk about the bathroom was no fan but water pressure was good especially in the shower and the hot water was quick and plentiful even at peak times so overall a very useful space.
The award rate excluded breakfast so didn’t eat on-site or use the hotel sauna but did use the free computer access in the business center to send some emails and do my airline check-in. I would however ask at the front desk or bring your own blank pages if wanting to print your boarding passes as none were in the printer on in the desk.
Having researched this Holiday Inn and knowing its location I was willing to trade a convenient central hotel for the savings the point redemption represented so in that respect received full value but wouldn’t otherwise recommend this hotel as its in a suburban business district and for leisure travellers to Helsinki there are a number of locally owned and operated hotels within the city center of comparable quality and price.