9.9.2009

By Nikko Lencek-Inagaki

When summer inches north in June to Finland, put sleigh-bells, reindeer and naked ice swimming out of your mind. When the Nordic summer sun rises it stays out exhilaratingly late, a formula Finns seem to mimic with their nightlife.

Long hours of daylight notwithstanding, pack a raincoat! And, if you are in Helsinki, make sure it is stylish. The seaside capital, long a cozy alternative to neighboring, jet set Stockholm, is shedding its  famously shy exterior and seeking deserved attention for its top notch design industry, chic hotels and lounges, and unpretentious -- but surprisingly edgy -- art.

 Located in the heart of the city’s Design District, the Klaus K hotel (where I've been staying this past weekend) is a good example of this new Finnish face. Exceedingly hip but pleasantly friendly, this design hotel includes two restaurants -- one Italian (Toscanini) and one more traditionally Finnish (Ilmatar) -- alongside Ahjo, a cool, all-white lounge with a streetside terrace and an intimate, similarly high-design club in back.

Late into Saturday night, well-heeled young Finns in designer suits and dresses poured out of taxis and  into Ahjo's live, pounding house. Thankfully, I couldn't hear a thing from my room when I, too, finally called it a night.

A small city, it still helps to stay near Helsinki's center and -- if you're going to frequent the gay nightlife -- as close to the Design District as possible. Around the corner from three of the city's most popular gay spots, Klaus K is hard to beat for this.HugoRoom

Two blocks south of the hotel is Hugo's Room , Helsinki's newest gay lounge. Impeccably cool -- although somewhat pricey -- Hugo's Room is great for dressing up, claiming a window-side booth and watching the busy street outside.

Crowded by 10pm (especially on weekends), folks tend to drift out of Hugo's Room by midnight, either  going directly across the street to Don't Tell Mama -- DTM for short -- or stopping by Hercules first, a dance club one block north of the Klaus K hotel. None of these venues charge a cover, but entry is supposedly restricted by age -- 20 at DTM, 22 at Hugo's Room and 24 at Hercules. Local Finns, however assure me that no reasonably-aged young man is denied entry.

By 1 am, the crowd really picks up at Hercules, a fun and well laid-out club that spins roaring pop remixes and dance tracks. There's a spacious back lounge where conversations can actually be heard, too. Until recently, when the city closed them all, Hercules maintained an appreciated dark room, but its absence hasn't dampened the club's popularity or the mixed patrons' forwardness!

DTMDTM is Helsinki's most iconic gay place. A friendly café with an outdoor patio by day, a bar by evening, and a busy club later on, DTM is more or less open 24 hours a day. Locals grumble a bit that it's cool factor, multiple dance floors and good music have begun drawing a sizeable straight population, but all agree that it is still the place to be seen, to bring your female friends, to dance all night, or just to have a quiet afternoon coffee.

Nikko will be reporting from his travels in Helsinki, Stockholm, Paris and Berlin this month. If you have a tip on a new place he should visit, e-mail him here.

When summer inches north in June to Finland, put sleigh-bells, reindeer and naked ice swimming out of your mind. When the Nordic summer sun rises it stays out exhilaratingly late,
a formula Finns seem to mimic with their nightlife.

Long hours of daylight notwithstanding, pack a raincoat!
And, if you are in Helsinki, make sure it is stylish. The seaside capital, long
a cozy alternative to neighboring, jet set Stockholm, is shedding its  famously
shy exterior and seeking deserved attention for its top notch design industry,
chic hotels and lounges, and unpretentious -- but surprisingly edgy -- art.

 Located in the heart of the city’s Design District,
the Klaus K hotel (where I've been staying this past
weekend) is a good example of this new Finnish face. Exceedingly hip but
pleasantly friendly, this design hotel includes two restaurants -- one Italian
(Toscanini) and one more traditionally Finnish (Ilmatar) -- alongside Ahjo, a cool,
all-white lounge with a streetside terrace and an intimate, similarly
high-design club in back.

Late into Saturday night, well-heeled young Finns in
designer suits and dresses poured out of taxis and  into Ahjo's live, pounding
house. Thankfully, I couldn't hear a thing from my room when I, too, finally
called it a night.

A small city, it still helps to stay near Helsinki's center
and -- if you're going to frequent the gay nightlife -- as close to the Design
District
as possible. Around the corner from three of the city's most popular
gay spots, Klaus K is hard to beat for this.HugoRoom

Two blocks south of the hotel is Hugo's Room
, Helsinki's newest gay lounge. Impeccably cool -- although somewhat pricey --
Hugo's Room is great for dressing up, claiming a window-side booth and watching
the busy street outside.

Crowded by 10pm (especially on weekends), folks tend to
drift out of Hugo's Room by midnight, either  going directly across the street
to Don't Tell Mama -- DTM for short -- or stopping by Hercules
first, a dance club one block north of the Klaus K hotel. None of these venues
charge a cover, but entry is supposedly restricted by age -- 20 at DTM, 22 at
Hugo's Room and 24 at Hercules. Local Finns, however assure me that no
reasonably-aged young man is denied entry.

By 1 am, the crowd really picks up at Hercules,
a fun and well laid-out club that spins roaring pop remixes and dance tracks.
There's a spacious back lounge where conversations can actually be heard, too.
Until recently, when the city closed them all, Hercules maintained an
appreciated dark room, but its absence hasn't dampened the club's popularity or
the mixed patrons' forwardness!

DTMDTM is Helsinki's most iconic gay place. A
friendly café with an outdoor patio by day, a bar by evening, and a busy club
later on, DTM is more or less open 24 hours a day. Locals grumble a bit that
it's cool factor, multiple dance floors and good music have begun drawing a
sizeable straight population, but all agree that it is still the place to be
seen, to bring your female friends, to dance all night, or just to have a quiet
afternoon coffee.

Nikko will be
reporting from his travels in Helsinki, Stockholm, Paris and Berlin this month. If you have a tip on a new place he should visit, e-mail him here.

When summer inches north in June to Finland, put sleigh-bells, reindeer and naked ice swimming out of your mind. When the Nordic summer sun rises it stays out exhilaratingly late,
a formula Finns seem to mimic with their nightlife.

Long hours of daylight notwithstanding, pack a raincoat!
And, if you are in Helsinki, make sure it is stylish. The seaside capital, long
a cozy alternative to neighboring, jet set Stockholm, is shedding its  KlausK1 famously
shy exterior and seeking deserved attention for its top notch design industry,
chic hotels and lounges, and unpretentious -- but surprisingly edgy -- art.

 Located in the heart of the city’s Design District,
the Klaus K hotel (where I've been staying this past
weekend) is a good example of this new Finnish face. Exceedingly hip but
pleasantly friendly, this design hotel includes two restaurants -- one Italian
(Toscanini) and one more traditionally Finnish (Ilmatar) -- alongside Ahjo, a cool,
all-white lounge with a streetside terrace and an intimate, similarly
high-design club in back.

From the stairs

Late into Saturday night, well-heeled young Finns in
designer suits and dresses poured out of taxis and  into Ahjo's live, pounding
house. Thankfully, I couldn't hear a thing from my room when I, too, finally
called it a night.

A small city, it still helps to stay near Helsinki's center
and -- if you're going to frequent the gay nightlife -- as close to the Design
District
as possible. Around the corner from three of the city's most popular
gay spots, Klaus K is hard to beat for this.HugoRoom

Two blocks south of the hotel is Hugo's Room
, Helsinki's newest gay lounge. Impeccably cool -- although somewhat pricey --
Hugo's Room is great for dressing up, claiming a window-side booth and watching
the busy street outside.

Crowded by 10pm (especially on weekends), folks tend to
drift out of Hugo's Room by midnight, either  going directly across the street
to Don't Tell Mama -- DTM for short -- or DSC_0039stopping by Hercules
first, a dance club one block north of the Klaus K hotel. None of these venues
charge a cover, but entry is supposedly restricted by age -- 20 at DTM, 22 at
Hugo's Room and 24 at Hercules. Local Finns, however assure me that no
reasonably-aged young man is denied entry.

By 1 am, the crowd really picks up at Hercules,
a fun and well laid-out club that spins roaring pop remixes and dance tracks.
There's a spacious back lounge where conversations can actually be heard, too.
Until recently, when the city closed them all, Hercules maintained an
appreciated dark room, but its absence hasn't dampened the club's popularity or
the mixed patrons' forwardness!

DTMDTM is Helsinki's most iconic gay place. A
friendly café with an outdoor patio by day, a bar by evening, and a busy club
later on, DTM is more or less open 24 hours a day. Locals grumble a bit that
it's cool factor, multiple dance floors and good music have begun drawing a
sizeable straight population, but all agree that it is still the place to be
seen, to bring your female friends, to dance all night, or just to have a quiet
afternoon coffee.

Nikko will be
reporting from his travels in Helsinki, Stockholm, Paris and Berlin this month. If you have a tip on a new place he should visit, e-mail him here.

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