A new hotel and spa offering steamy saunas and medieval feasts on the picturesque shores of Lake Saimaa.
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Activity adventure | Natural world | Sports & activities
Located on the shores of beautiful Lake Saimaa in the eastern quarter of Finland’s vast and densely forested Lake District, the Hotel & Spa Resort Järvisydän is 320km from Helsinki and sits roughly equidistant between the towns of Varkus and Savonlinna. The latter is home to the 15th century Olavinlinna Castle, a well-preserved island fortress built to repel attacks from the Russians to the east. Now it provides the setting for one of northern Europe’s most important music festivals, the Savonlinna Opera Festival, which runs throughout July and is well worth seeing. The hotel also offers access to Linnnansaari National Park, created to conserve and protect the beauty of Finnish Lakeland.
Villas and cottages have been available here for some time, but the hotel itself is brand new, opening in July 2015. Beautifully constructed from stone and wood, Standard Rooms offer twin or double beds, stylish bathrooms and a private balcony. Suites have an additional bunk bedroom, small kitchen and living area, as well as a jacuzzi in the bathroom. Superior Suites are on the top floor of the hotel and offer wonderful views of Lake Saimaa. Sauna Suites have their own sauna built in. To really indulge, or if you’re travelling in a group, look to the larger VIP Suites or the Penthouse.
We love the sense of theatre and history that comes with dining at the main Restaurant Piikatyttö. Many of the dishes are inspired by recipes from the 17th century and are served on wooden boards, in pottery bowls or on sizzling iron skillets. Light is provided by candles and a roaring open fire, and meals are often accompanied by traditional folk music. The wine cellar, which is the biggest in the region and built into the natural rock walls, provides an additional dining venue for up to 200 people. There are some interesting local fruit wines to try as well as a wide range of international favourites. Last but by no means least is the Tepee Restaurant Savon Loitsu, situated in a spruce forest to the side of the hotel. The speciality here is game, served once again by candlelight round an open fire.
Even for Finland, the number of ways to heat, steam and soak yourself here is impressive. First there is Finnish Sauna World, complete with two Finnish wood-stove saunas, a smoke sauna, steam sauna and a wonderful open-air hot tub. Then there is the brand new Lake Spa. Opening in 2016, the spa will offer several treatment rooms and sauna areas, as well as outdoor pools that meander down to the beach at Lake Saimaa. There’s also an equally large number of ways to keep active at Järvisydän, including hiking, cycling, fishing and boat trips in summer; foraging for berries and mushrooms in autumn; and snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice skating in winter.
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