Hotel enthusiasts trial the new Seurahuone Turku

A new boutique hotel has come to Turku, with the opening of the Solo Sokos Hotel Seurahuone Turku in spring 2019. We decided to lure a few seasoned hotel enthusiasts to give the new hotel a test drive. So, what did they make of the experience?

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Presenting the panel of enthusiasts

Janne Kunttu is a graphic designer, who has the knack of discovering unearthed diamonds in well known cities, with the help of the New York Times and Foursquare. More a ‘Lost in Translation’ type of local wanderer than a sightseeing operator.

Annemari Hongell is a speech therapist, who stays away from Instagram but loves visually well-designed entities. Her main selection criteria for a hotel: the breakfast and the gym. 

Rami Kangas is a communications entrepreneur, who willingly travels in search of culture. He appreciates a hotel with a clearly discernible concept more than its star rating, where thought and detail have been carefully considered.

Tanja Piha is an expert in business development, who at times has lived in hotels a bit too often. Maybe that’s why she especially looks for a homely experience and warm service where she stays.

The hotel experience starts in the lounge

Our judges begin their evaluations whilst gathering for pre-drinks in the lobby of Seurahuone. On the panel are four hotel enthusiasts, who each bring their own perspective to the test drive.

Annemari and Janne are a young couple, for whom a carefully selected hotel is an essential part of the travel experience. Rami represents the experienced culture tourist, whilst Tanja scans the environment from the standpoint of an international business traveller.

Whilst the panel introduce themselves to one another, they absorb their surroundings and get an immediate sense of the hotel’s style, look and overall atmosphere.

“First impressions are undoubtedly good, cosy but luxurious,” begins Rami and continues:

“I appreciate a design of this kind where old elements are used advantageously. The setting of the 1920’s building brings depth to the experience. I also like black and white and classic designs, it’s a style I’d like to see more often.”

  • Style points are shared

    The jury was positive about the general appearance of the hotel, although playing with different styles divided opinions. Also, the fact we are in Turku could have been more visible, like in the pictures on the walls for example.

    Location 4/5
    Service 3.5/5
    Style 3.5/5
    Individuality 3.25/5
    Local colour 2.5/5​​​​​​​
    Value for money 4/5

A hotel well-known for its rooms

When the rooms at Seurahuone were designed, the inspiration for the main architect Jaakko Puro was to create a fun hotel, where customers were of greater consideration than the cleaning process.

“Here you can certainly see they are taking a new kind of approach and prioritising specifically the guest’s enjoyment,” comments Tanja, before going on to say:

“I particularly liked that in my room there wasn’t carpet but really beautiful herringbone wood flooring. Also, the bright room was delightfully spacious, giving time to think and to breath. A good bed, a selection of pillows, and very peaceful. What I missed was perhaps a more homely atmosphere. Often times it’s the ingenuity and attention to detail that create that good feeling at a hotel, rather than money.”

Other panel members also praised their rooms. Rami was allotted a super-compact single person room, with a great design and featuring highly equipped functionality – a comfortable little luxury nest. In their double room, Annemari and Janne mixed together the hotel’s speciality drinks, the ingredients for which were all ready for them in a box they found on the table.

“Genuine attentiveness and inventive little details in the service are often the best ways a hotel can differentiate themselves,” Annemari points out.

“My first impression was based on the façade, which invitingly draws you inside,” explains Janne, who views Seurahuone as a big step forward in Turku’s hotel selection.

“But what style are they going for? On the one hand it feels Art Deco but on the other like we’re in Lapland. And the world of hotel design has already exploded the colour palette, so I’d prefer a bit more vibrancy here.”

All in all it was clear to the panel that the new Seurahuone will push Turku forward as a hotel and a city for tourists and therefore deserves a full and rigorous evaluative discussion. So, no room for sentimentality!

“In previous discussions we might have simply compared this hotel to others in Turku but now our comparisons warrant going international,” exclaims Rami before adding: 

“If this evaluation comes across as critical, that’s because it is. Individualised boutique hotels have different standards and requirements than normal hotels.

  • Good rooms, good scores

    The rooms at Seurahuone received a welcome reception across the panel. Beauty, comfort, functionality – and wonderfully quiet, right at the heart of central Turku.

    Room style 4/5
    Functionality 3.5/5
    Comfort 4.25/5​​​​​​​
    Value for money 4/5

What about the food?

The last check point in the evening for the hotel panel was to enjoy dining in Seurahuone’s own restaurant Gunnar, an experience focused on social dining, where the portions are shared amongst your party. The house champagne – Ayala, which is from the same champagne family as Bollinger – is poured into glasses from a large magnum bottle. A bigger bottle actually adds to the quality of the champagne. 

Reserved for the panel was a fun, individualised table, which had been carved from an old giant elm tree, felled in Turku’s nearby Brahe Park. On the table there was plenty more local contributions, from the table settings to the food itself, which pleased and drew fascination from the panel. The wines tasted were considered excellent but the food got a cooler reception.

“Great concepts and good looking dishes. However, the taste still left room for improvement,” commented Rami.

“I personally prefer individual portions more,” said Janne, with Annemari agreeing and continuing:

“For example, the special dish at breakfast, which included salmon, archipelago bread and a poached egg, was a satisfying and careful considered dish. Breakfast also received bonus points for the large croissants, yoghurt produced from local sheep’s milk, fresh porridge and coffee served to the table. 

  • How did Gunnar rate?

    In all honesty, there seemed to be a difference in quality between Gunnar’s food and wines. Fortunately, breakfast was better than dinner – and for many, this is an important factor when selecting a hotel.

    Milieu 3.75/5
    Dinner 2.25/5
    Wines 4.5/5​​​​​​​
    Breakfast 3.3/5

In summary

Seurahuone raised the hotel offering in Turku to another level and the average points tally reached 4.1/5.

What were the best and worst from the hotel experience?

“Well, with a name like Seurahuone, the company of course,” Tanja wittily remarks (‘seura’ being the Finnish for social).

“Nothing was very bad, everything here was either good or very good,” summarises Rami for everyone and adds:

“The overall look is of an international standard, with the first impression welcoming the traveller the flaming fireplace and plush lounge seats, along with the friendly and relaxed service. I would say that in terms of value for money, it gets a full 5/5.


In cooperation with TOK.
Text Liina Komi. Photos and video Kim Allen-Mersh.

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