In Turku, Scandinavian architecture and modern way of life prevails; but nestled between the city centre and the railway station, you will find Park Hotel Turku and a breeze of Central European atmosphere of olden times.
Park Hotel is located next to Puolala Park. The crown jewel of Puolala Park is the magnificent Turku Art Museum: from here, a vista down a wide street leads to Turku’s heart, the market square. Around Puolala Park and Park Hotel, you will find typical, early 20th century Art Nouveau buildings.
But Park Hotel was here before all these pink, green and yellow stone facades: Before Park Hotel, the area was a genteel wooden house district and Park Hotel’s building was the neighbourhood’s first stone structure.
The villa was built by John Edwards Eager and his wife. The Eagers arrived from Plymouth, England, when John became the director of the Crichton’s shipyard in Turku. The Eagers also had two horses who got their stables in the yard. Nowadays, this little building functions as Park Hotel’s sauna.
The villa was privately owned till the 1950s. In 1956 the Finnish Martha Organisation, providing advice in home economics, bought the premises and started their famous school in the house. “The Marthas” run their warm-hearted home economics school in the building till the 1980s.
The cheery beginnings of the building have created a welcoming foundation for the later hotel business, and in Park Hotel, a cosy feel-good atmosphere greets the travellers: this has been a happy people’s home.
Park Hotel was created in 1984 after a significant renovation, and it is one of Finland’s first boutique hotels. The current owners, Eva and Zbigniew Dziedzic with their son Saul Paavola, have run the hotel since 1988. After the transition, the style and the image of the hotel have not been touched as Park Hotel wishes to emphasise the homey atmosphere of a family business, which has drawn customers to its bedrooms for three decades. During breakfast, I draw quick conclusions of the other customers and deduct that most of the guests are in Turku for business, and seem to be regular guests.
Decorated by mismatching antique finds, the ample decor of the hotel oozes the feeling of an old-fashioned guesthouse. The plants flourishing on windowsills create almost a wall between the hotel interior and the outside world: Park Hotel feels like a little bubble in central Turku.
Park Hotel’s 20 rooms are located in three storeys – the top floor was added in the 1980s, when an elevator was also installed. My double room is for romantics as it has ample pink details, but as each room has its individualistic decor, Park Hotel has rooms varying from hunting themes in the attic to light, French countryside romance.
The breakfast contains vast options varying from fruits and yoghurts to breads, croissants and scrambled eggs. The atmosphere in the breakfast room is subdued and quiet – here you won’t find the hectic feel of big chain hotels. Some of the guests are slowly reading their newspapers, others are going through some memos with their colleagues.
I am trying to have an in-depth political analysis with my sidekick but the hotel’s mascot, Jaakko the parrot, has its own opinions, and keeps disturbing the train of my thoughts with her whistling – well, who needs politics to disturb a perfectly lovely breakfast anyways!
After the coffee, breakfast and admiring the parrot, it is time to return to the streets of Turku: Park Hotel has been an atmospheric piece of Central European guesthouse idyll in the centre of a Scandinavian harbour city, Turku.
P.S. I wish to thank Park Hotel for the opportunity to stay in this charming historic hotel. Park Hotel 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 and/or historically significant hotels for the series. By this, I wish to ensure inspiring and atmospheric moments for my readers on their travels. I hope you enjoy your stay in Turku and Park Hotel!