A light summer rain rattles against Hotel Pariisin Ville’s wine bar’s marquee. Some soft tunes of jazz mingle with the hollowness of Porvoo Cathedral’s bells from few blocks away: Morning is turning into noon, and the boutiques nearby have opened for business. Just another ordinary Thursday in Porvoo.
But I am keeping the everyday aspects of life at bay, enjoying the bourgeously hedonistic atmosphere in Hotel Pariisin Ville.
My first, too many times postponed trip to Porvoo has turned out to be a magnificent surprise: the old town was bigger than I had imagined, its cobblestone streets prettier than I had expected and there were so many coffee shops that I couldn’t even visit all of them on my 24-hour trip. Luckily, I had chosen a fitting base for my visit, as Hotel Pariisin Ville (Hotel Ville from Paris) offers any Porvoo visitor a good location combined with picturesque atmosphere: for I am sure all travellers know the feeling, when a new town has completely charmed you end elevated your soul in a traveller’s bliss, which, when returning back to a soulless hotel room in a soulless hotel, can be ruthlessly crushed.
The light blue wooden house of Hotel Pariisin Ville is located close to the river that defines the old town area. There are several antique shops, design boutiques and cafés and restaurants on the same street and nearby blocks: all in charming wooden and stone houses in different colours. The terraces of the restaurants are full and tourist groups snap their photos here and there. Heatwave caresses the cobblestone streets, and I cannot resist the temptation to pop into Café Postres for their homemade gelato on my way to the hotel.
Invigorated by the coffee and refreshed by the gelato, I step around the corner, where high above my head an old fashioned sign announces: Hotel Pariisin Ville.
The reception area is long and narrow: a light summer sunshine mingles with the French tunes of the loudspeakers rendering the space into a time capsule to olden times’ glamorous spheres. Laura Ashley’s countryside romance oozes from the elegant décor and an employee in a dress with floral pattern welcomes me smiling: Welcome to Pariisin Ville!
Ah, I have found a soul mate.
For “Ville From Paris” is a real life Finnish character. Carl Wilhelm “Ville” Vallgren was born in 1855 in Porvoo, and died in 1940 in Helsinki. He married thrice and spent a good portion of his life in Paris, first as an art student, then an esteemed artist: in Finland, his most famous work is Havis Amanda – an Art Nouveau nude statue located in Helsinki. Apart from art, Ville from Paris dedicated his life to good food and drink: he wrote a culinary book and was known as a good winemaker. He was known as a red-cheeked entertainer, a hedonistic epicurean:
“The meaning of tasty and healthy food and beverages is that we are able to match the foods we eat with the drinks we drink in such a good manner that they suit our tastes perfectly, and every single day we live, we feel healthy and happy.”
And from this attitude of enjoying good food and life the Stenroses, the owners of the hotel, take their inspiration. The Stenroses are, in fact, some kind of hotel and restaurant moguls in Porvoo, as, apart from Hotel Pariisin Ville, they own a few restaurants, the afore mentioned Café Postres and another hotel, Hotel Onni, in town.
The ten rooms in Hotel Pariisin Ville are located in two storeys: the rooms downstairs align the reception area and the wine bar, the rooms upstairs are next to the breakfast room. The wine bar, decorated with light coloured armchairs and old-fashioned nick-nacks, closes at six p.m. so I believe the rooms here are quiet enough even during the busiest season.
Each room has a little living room – or a “writing salon” as I named these atmospheric little spaces –, a bedroom and a bathroom. The Etonian, stripy wallpaper in my room fitted perfectly my and my sidekick’s tastes, but all rooms are decorated differently, and you can sleep in a midst of countryside romance too, surrounded by red rose wallpapers. I also learnt later on, that dogs are allowed in a room with wallpaper printed with little terriers – maybe next time I will travel with my furry companion, Ernesti the Westie.
The components of the room’s bar followed the hotel’s general theme: that is, they were just a nudge higher quality than the common hotel stuff. In fact, my stay in Hotel Pariisin Ville felt more like a visit to acquaintances with good taste than a night in a hotel. And these acquaintances’ really took into consideration their guests’ needs to the fullest: as I was writing in my dimly lit “writing saloon”, I was half expecting the butler’s light knock on the door, announcing the masters return from their automobile expedition, and that the pre-dinner drinks were soon served in the salon.
Hotel Pariisin Ville might appear slightly un-Finnish in its open embrace to hedonism. And why shouldn’t it? Why should a drop of luxurious elegance in a working day be a bad thing? Why should a well-slept night, in a dark and air-conditioned room make you feel guilty? Why should ignoring your alarm clock be considered such a bad deed?
What harm can a late, long breakfast with chocolate cakes do to you?
What harm can it do to enjoy a regular day as it was an eternal Sunday?
None what so ever, answers Hotel Pariisin Ville! Here, the traveller can throw oneself into the caressing hotel elegance and dwell in it. So, thank you, Hotel Pariisin Ville, for the hint of elevating elegance in this traveller’s first-time visit to Porvoo, I could not have dreamt of more.
À bientôt, Ville de Paris!
P.S. I wish to thank Hotel Pariisin Ville for the opportunity to stay in this elegant and historic hotel. Hotel Pariisin Ville is part of my series exploring Europe’s historic hotels. The collaboration does not affect the content of my writing, as I choose only culturally or historically significant hotels for the series. By this, I wish to ensure inspiring and atmospheric moments not only for myself but for my readers on their travels. Historic hotels are an integral part of the history of European travel, and with the series, I wish to support this part of our travel history.