Many rural accommodation options open only in summer, and ski areas book out in winter – reserve well ahead. Most properties don't have 24-hour reception.
- Hotels Chains such as Sokos and Scandic dominate, but boutique and/or designer hotels are emerging. Most rooms have twin beds that can be pushed together rather than double beds.
- Camping Campgrounds open throughout the countryside in the warmer months.
- Cottages In Finnish tradition, lakeside and coastal cabins are popular in the warmer months.
- Hostels Typically basic, even in larger cities.
- Student residences During the summer break, student residences often rent rooms to travellers. Facilities vary widely.
Finland’s campgrounds are a delight, and have much to offer to all types of travellers.
Most campgrounds are open only from June to August, and popular spots are crowded during July and the midsummer weekend.
Almost all campgrounds have cabins or cottages for rent, which are usually excellent value – from €40 for a basic double cabin to €120 for a cottage with kitchen, bathroom and sauna.
The Camping Key Europe (http://campingkeyeurope.com) offers useful discounts. You can buy it at most campgrounds for €16 per year, or online at www.camping.fi, where you'll also find an extensive listing of campgrounds across the country.
Finland’s jokamiehenoikeus (everyman’s right) allows access to most land, and means you can pitch a tent almost anywhere on public land or at designated free campsites in national parks.
A growing, and often ecologically sound, accommodation sector in Finland is that of farmstays. Many rural farms, particularly in the south, offer B&B accommodation, a unique opportunity to meet local people and experience their way of life. Plenty of activities are also usually on offer. Home-cooked breakfasts are typically included; evening meals are also usually available. Your hosts may not speak much English; if you have difficulties, the local tourist office will be happy to help arrange the booking.
ECEAT (www.eceat.fi) lists a number of organic, sustainable farms in Finland that offer accommodation. Local tourist offices keep lists of farmstay options in the surrounding area; the website www.visitfinland.com links to a few, and Lomarengas also has many listed on its website.
A Finnish matkakoti (guesthouse) is a no-frills spot offering simple but usually comfy accommodation with shared bathroom, typically for travelling salespeople. It can be pretty good value, usually includes breakfast and sometimes rises well above the norm: check out places such as Naantali and Hanko for some exceptional options in this class.
Hostels & Summer Hotels
For solo travellers, hostels generally offer the cheapest bed and can be good value for twin rooms. Finnish hostels are invariably clean, comfortable and very well equipped, though most are in somewhat institutional buildings.
Some Finnish hostels are run by the Finnish Youth Hostel Association (SRM), and many more are affiliated. It’s worth being a member of HI (Hostelling International; www.hihostels.com), as members save 10% per night at affiliated places. You’ll save money with a sleep sheet or your own linen, as hostels tend to charge extra for this.
From June to August, many student residences are made over as summer hostels and hotels. These are often great value, as you usually get your own room, with kitchen (bring your own utensils, though) and bathroom either to yourself or shared between two people.
The majority of hotels in Finland belong to one of a few major chains, including the following:
Omenahotelli (www.omena.com) Offers good-value unstaffed hotels booked online.
Hotels in Finland are designed with the business traveller in mind and tend to charge robustly. But on weekends and during the July summer holidays, prices in three- and four-star hotels tend to drop by 40% or so.
Superior rooms vary in value. In many places they are identical to the standard and your extra cash gets you only a bathrobe and a fancier shampoo. In others an extra €20 can get you 50% more space, views over the town and a private sauna. It’s worth asking. The discount for singles is marginal at all times, so you may prefer to pay the little extra for a twin room, which is usually much larger.
Most hotel rooms have tiny Nordic bathrooms. If you want a bath-tub, this can usually be arranged. Many hotels have ‘allergy rooms’, which have no carpet and minimal fabric.
Nearly all Finnish hotels have a plentiful buffet breakfast included in the rate and many include a sauna session.
One of Finland’s joys is its plethora of cottages for rent, ranging from simple camping cabins to fully equipped bungalows with electric sauna and gleaming modern kitchen. These can be remarkably good value and are perfect for families. There are tens of thousands of cabins and cottages for rent in Finland, many in typical, romantic forest lakeside locations. Local booking agents are mentioned under individual destinations. Local tourist offices and town websites also have lists.
Lomarengas is by far the biggest national agent for cottage rentals.