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Finnish flair is always in Helsinki's hotels

Special to The Los Angeles Times

Finnish design isn't confined to shops and museums. You'll find prime examples in Helsinki's hotels too.

Sokos Hotel Torni is the city's first skyscraper (built in 1931), and at 14 stories it is still the tallest building in Helsinki. Recent renovations of its 152 small rooms pay tribute to the building's three phases of life: Art Nouveau (handsome tile bathrooms with shiny chrome and green marble), Art Deco (with nubby gray wallpaper enlivened by yellow bedcovers and lampshades) and 21st century (bathrooms with glass walls that let you peer through the bedroom to faraway inlets and rolling hills). Ateljee, the industrial-aura top-floor bar, is worth a stop on its own.

26 Yrjonkatu; 011-358-20-1234-604, Doubles from $272.

The Klaus K, on the edge of the Design District, was renovated in 2005 and is now thoroughly 21st century. Look for minibars that say "bar" in giant letters, corrugated wood ceilings in the bathroom and hallway carpeting stitched with the words of the "Kalevala," the Finnish national epic.

2 Bulevardi; 011-358-20-770-4700, Doubles from $330.

The Palace Hotel, across from the harbor, occupies the ninth floor of what looks like a Soviet-era office building (it was built at the time of the 1952 Olympics), but it feels like a cruise ship inside its 39 rooms: rounded corners, wood paneling, sconces, narrow twin beds. The water views alone are worth it, from your room or over breakfast or afternoon snacks in the lounge.

10 Etelaranta; 011-358-9-123456-660, Doubles from $160.

Hotel GLO, near the Esplanade shops, opened in March 2007 in a renovated office building and is filled with warm colors more Spanish than Finnish. A diagonal, 25-foot-long bar table cuts a swath through the lobby, wrapping around a column in the center, and oversized photos decorate the doorways and hallways. In the rooms: a stuffed tiger on the bed and a "Glo Box" that includes a relaxing eye mask and herb balsam candies.

4 Kluuvikatu; 011-358-10-3444-400, Doubles from $184.

Scandic Grand Marina, a former harborside warehouse, opened as a hotel in 2002, to dramatic effect. At 462 rooms, it's one of the city's largest and gets its share of business and group travelers, but design fans will love the exposed bricks and columns, the Modernist lobby furniture framed by giant pavilion windows and the numerous, tiny windows on the upper floors, originally for more ventilation.

7 Katajanokanlaituri; 011-358-9-16661, Doubles from $163.

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