High design in the design district
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NEW YORK, March 18 — The Hotel Lilla Roberts, a stylish 130-room property, has brought new energy to a landmark building whose previous tenants include a power station and the Helsinki Police Department. Built in the early 20th century in classic Finnish Art Nouveau style, the building has been renovated by designer Jaakko Puro, who drew on influences spanning a century of Nordic design. Opened in August 2015, the hotel has a welcoming entrance with its distinctive Art Deco typeface. The lobby dazzles with its gleaming checkerboard floor and midcentury-style armchairs. And beside the reception desk stands a sculptural, look-at-me lamp — a giant black horse with a lampshade on its head — by the cutting-edge Swedish design firm Front. Inspiration for the hotel’s name came from the street address, which in Swedish (the other official language in Finland) is Lilla Robertsgatan.
In the central Design District, the hotel is a 10-minute walk from the main train station. Several tram lines stop in the immediate vicinity, but most sights are within walking distance.
My fifth-floor “Comfort” room, the lowest of five room categories, lived up to its name with its plush furnishings. Large windows along one wall were dressed with gauzy black curtains and thick beige blackout drapes. Dark hardwood floors were covered with a soft sand-colored rug, and a large TV hung on one wall above a long, slim desk. The king-size bed — so high I had to literally hop into bed — was topped with fluffy duvets and a furry black throw. The bed was flanked by bedside tables, and above the headboard hung a pair of abstract art prints. There was also a brown leather bench at the foot of the bed and a cozy, tufted armchair clad in beige fabric with a traditional Finnish equestrian print.
Luxuriously large, the bathroom had glossy white-tile walls and, on the floor, a geometric mosaic of small black-and-white hexagonal tiles. A spacious shower stall with regular and rainfall showerheads was separated by a glass partition. There were also two large mirrors framed in black tile, one above the toilet and another above the vanity where bath amenities were arrayed beside a fragrance diffuser. A top-of-the-line ghd hair dryer was also provided.
There is a minibar in the room and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel. In the basement, a bright, well-equipped gym with weights, kettlebells and multiple cardio machines is open 24 hours a day.
The kitchen is open all day at the hotel’s Nordic restaurant, Krog Roba, where the design — curvy pendant lamps, deep velour sofas, mosaic-tiled floors — has been considered as carefully as the menu. An abundant breakfast buffet (included in the rate) featured Finnish specialties such as juniper-smoked salmon, crusty rye sourdough and tangy yogurt with raspberry or gooseberry jam. The rest of the day, the restaurant serves pan-Nordic plates such as smoked whitefish smorrebrod and malt cake with cloudberries. Select menu items are available for room service all day, including breakfast (€20; RM95.44 delivery fee). Creative cocktails are also served in the lobby bar, called Lilla E.
The bottom line
Exemplary Finnish hospitality at this stylish hotel translates into regional cuisine and glossy design, all overseen by a professional, on-the-ball staff. — The New York Times
Hotel Lilla Roberts, Pieni Roobertinkatu 1-3; 358-9-689-9880; lillaroberts.com.
Rates: From €199 (about US$210).