Following the post holiday blues at the beginning of the month, we decided to book a quick trip over to Helsinki. It was just an overnighter, with only a bit of time on the ground. You could say that we went there to get some dinner and champagne.
To maximise my working time, we travelled down the night before and stopped at the Crowne Plaza Heathrow. At the reception desk the lady was surprised when I said it was 8 years since I'd stopped at the hotel. Plane tickets are just much more cost effective from Dublin. Our room was an executive, so I was able to get some hours of work in before we had canapes in the lounge.
The lounge is small and has 2 work stations with printers and internet access. Although open all day, only soft drinks are available until 6pm when they server wine and beer with the canapes. From 7pm you can spirits. The alcohol and food lasts until 9pm. We only had a small starter and a couple of glasses of wine as our restaurant reservation was 7pm.
We ate at the hotel in the indian restaurant, one of the two restaurants that the hotel boasts. We had the set meals, I chose spicy whilst my wife chose what we thought would be a milder one. She often has Chicken Tikka Masala but found this one too hot for her. My madras and spicy poppadoms were very nice.
Following the meal another quick drink in the lounge we headed off to bed. Our flight wasn't early - 11.30am, but we decided to get to the airport for around 8.30 so we could have breakfast. We had lounge access and so made use of the facility to have some bacon rolls and a very strong coffee. As the time ticked through, we managed to make it until 10.30 before we thought we'd have an aperitif.
Boarding was slightly delayed and I was tempted to play the piano in the boarding area, but thankfully for everyone just as I started to get up we were called onto the plane. We were near the front, and were hand baggage only as this was a test for our trips later this year. Soon after take off the nice Cabin Crew were round with drinks from the bar. It's been a while but I thought I'd have a bloody mary (or two).
Arrival in Finland, we stayed at the Hilton on the airport. The hotel was nice, with a very impressive lobby and very welcoming reception staff. When I book rooms at hotels, I always like the highest floor possible and also to be away from the elevator. Thankfully, with Hilton's online check-in you can choose your room. We were in 584 for the night. The room was on the executive level, although I didn't plan on working whilst we were there. All rooms on this level come with a private sauna, which made my wife happy as she gets cold easily.
The bed was a king and I'd preordered some champagne - another perk of online check-in. We liked the room, although found much amusement on the placing on some of the attributes of the bathroom.
As we were on a flying visit, we enjoyed the lounge at the hotel before we went down to dinner. We had the Nordic Platter for a starter, which seemed to me to be aimed at the tourists. Small portions of a few Nordic dishes - including Reindeer - but to me overpriced. We had a burger for our main course and requested medium, but it came out rare. That was the only aspect of the hotel which let them down.
Next stop - I'm back down to Bristol, before seeing the sights of the Austrian capital.