We stayed in a prison hotel! Check-in at Hotel Katajanokka.
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We stayed in a prison hotel! Check-in at Hotel Katajanokka.

We stayed in a prison hotel! Check-in at Hotel Katajanokka.

Our trip to Finland was remarkable, and the main reason why was the unique accommodations! First stop of our journey was Helsinki! We had the chance to stay at an extraordinary boutique hotel, the Katajanokka Hotel. Having a love for unique experiences, our stay at Hotel Katajanokka was undoubtedly the right choice for us. The hotel, which is a former prison combines elements of the past with the comfort of the future! Let’s take a tour of the only prison you would not want to escape.

Time for Prison Break!


Our arrival at Hotel Katajanokka.

We got a morning flight from Athens, and by midday, we had already reached Helsinki. We searched on google maps to find out how we can reach the hotel. A pleasant surprise, there was a tram stop right outside the hotel which made it very easy for us to arrive there. With almost zero stress level, we found ourselves at Hotel Katajanokka’s reception! The design of the hotel is very modern, and all the “signs” were positive for us.  After we completed our check-in quickly and easily, we went to our “cell,” ready to escape from the ordinary!

Our room or better … our cell!

The cell number 215 was going to be our home for the next two nights. Our room was a Superior King Double, and the truth is that it was quite spacious. This room was once three cells, and it was reconstructed to take the form it has today. The tall windows and the decoration, such as the old cell locks were an excellent beginning for the “former prison” mood. The room was the definition of chic! Those who love the modern style (like us!) will  appreciate it. Red velvet curtains, white and black tones and pictures from the past create a beautiful interior. The room facilities include equipped mini bar, ironing board, slippers, electric kettle for coffee & tea, spacious wardrobe, and hairdryer. Needless to say that the king sized bed is ideal for hugs and sweet dreams.

Details we liked: The bathroom was equipped with all the essential bath products, plus mouthwash, which is something we find for the first time in a hotel.

Read also “An honest guide to Helsinki”

Breakfast o’clock!

As we say in Greece “Bear that hasn’t eaten does not dance”. So a good breakfast is necessary to start exploring the city of Helsinki. Hotel Katajanokka offers a rich breakfast buffet. The breakfast area is at floor -1, and the hall has kept all these elements that remind a former prison. After all, this place was a jail until relatively recently, but we are going to talk about this later! So at breakfast, you can find everything you want, from a variety of cold meats and cheeses, delicious bread (generally you can find great bread in Finland), local delicacies, pancakes and, of course, healthy choices.

Details we liked: The hotel offers two categories of boiled eggs. Some are boiled in 4 minutes, and some are in 7 minutes, so you can choose the way you prefer it. There was also a sign saying “Take all you can eat but eat all you can take. Yesterday’s wastage was 5kg which can feed 25 people ». We found it a nice reminder to a “no waste philosophy.”

The story behind Hotel Katajanokka.

The hotel building dates back to 1888, and some parts go even further back in time. It was built to function as a prison, which of course happened. Its architecture is typical of the prisons of the time, where the red bricks dominate. The building operated as a jail until 2002, while in 2007 the Hotel Katajanokka opened. Interesting story: In 1946 a tunnel was found which was starting from the 3rd floor. However, this tunnel was not an escape one! It was a tunnel which connected the men’s floor (the 3rd one) with cell 13 which was the women’s cell. A sample of just how creative the prisoners could be. And since we are talking about prisoners, prison hosted from bank robbers to political prisoners!

What else can you enjoy at Hotel Katajanokka.

In addition to what we mentioned, the hotel has a restaurant & bar (as well as a summer terrace), which is called Linnankellari and you can visit it even if you do not stay at the hotel! It also has a gym as well as a sauna that operates during weekends. The location of the hotel is quite convenient as it has a tram stop right outside. However, we were moving on foot as it was only 7 minutes walking from the harbor! During the check-out, the girl at the reception told us that we can now escape! But well, when you find yourself at the Hotel Katajanokka, you do not want to escape.

Website: https://www.hotelkatajanokka.fi/en/

Read also “An honest guide to Helsinki.”


We were guests at Hotel Katajanokka, and this is a review based on our personal opinion and experience. We want to thank the hotel and the personnel for the warm hospitality!