No matter the season, visitors to Koli National Park in eastern Finland, tend to have a common goal of getting outside. Located within the park boundaries, Break Sokos Hotel Koli makes enjoying the outdoors easy. With downhill skiing essentially in its backyard, and hiking and snowshoeing trails steps away, it’s hard to imagine a better location for exploring.
The hotel has 73 rooms available in a number of categories ranging from Superior Suites with saunas, to Standard rooms. A majority are Standard rooms that are clean and comfortable, but not particularly flashy, with all of the basic necessities are covered.
My Standard Twin room had two twin beds (that could easily be pushed together) made European-style with a duvet but no top sheet. There was also a loveseat sofa, small refrigerator, and a long shelf on one wall that held the phone, television, and coffee and tea making supplies. Since there was no desk, I moved the tea kettle so I could use the available electric plug to charge my phone, camera and other various electronics.
The view of Lake Pielinen was the biggest perk, but all Standard rooms do not have a lake view. To guarantee a lake view, reserve a Superior room.
The bathroom was tight, but made good use of its available space. The small vanity had a single sink. Soap that doubles as shampoo is provided in a push dispenser near the vanity and inside the shower, but be sure to bring your own lotion and hair conditioner if needed. The shower head was adjustable, but in typical European style, there is no separate shower floor, or shower pan. Water flows through a drain in the bathroom floor, so anything left on the bathroom floor has the potential to get wet. But even wet, the heated floor feels nice on bare feet.
Breakfast, included with every stay, is served on the 2nd floor at Grill It!, not far from the front desk. Along with hot items like eggs, bacon, and sausage, there’s breads, fruit, yogurt and cold cuts. If you have a sweet tooth, the chocolate fountain complete with cookies and marshmallows for dipping will jump start your day. Grill It! is also open for lunch and dinner. In addition, Kahpitsa Pizzakahvila serves pizza and local pastries throughout the day.
Complimentary Finnish-style saunas, one for men and one for women, are heated every day from 4pm to 9pm on the 3rd floor of the hotel. (Swimsuits are not allowed. Guests must be naked when in saunas.)
For a fee ranging from $29 to $44 depending on the season, guests can use the Koli Relax Spa. The co-ed spa (wear your swimsuit here) contains multiple saunas, hot tubs, warm and cold soaking pools, and themed, massaging showers. A few hot tubs are located on an outside terrace with primo views, but Koli National Park and Lake Pielinen are within eye sight from just about every spot in the spa. Entrance includes a selection of Finnish skin care products that can be used while enjoying the spa.
Although lingering longer is an attractive option, the hotel’s location, inside Koli National Park, is its biggest perk. Nature Centre Ukko, a staffed park visitors center and gift shop is located next to the hotel, with entrance to the trail system just steps further behind it. The hike to the Ukko-Koli lookout point is a fairly easy hike. It’s Lake Pielinen views are arguably Finland’s best-known scenery.
Wi-Fi and parking is complimentary. Parking is restricted to a lower parking area, but a free cabin lift brings guests up the mountain without breaking a sweat. Designated rooms are pet-friendly. There is also a room on the first floor of the hotel reserved for guest’s ski equipment storage during the winter season.
Koli is about a six-hour drive from Helsinki. To lessen time behind the wheel, visitors can fly from Helsinki to Joensuu. From there the drive only takes about an hour.
Review and photos by Dana Rebmann. Her stay was hosted by Visit Karelia, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.