I had been planning to take a pampering spa break with my friend for some time . We were both keen to try the famous Hotel Haikko Manor & Spa, sitting in the midst of an impressive park by the sea, in Porvoo. Our break would include relaxing in the Spa, dinner at the prestigious Manor Restaurant, as well as trying out the beauty treatments in the Haikko Relax Center and the Super Cold -120° C treatment. Of course we would take some time to visit the idyllic Old Town in Porvoo. We had three days of luxury, history, and exploration of the Finnish archipelago ahead of us.
Historic Manor Ambiance
It was gloriously sunny when Pauliina and I arrived at this majestic, bright pale blue manor. I took a moment to appreciate the stately elegance of the manor’s facade, it is easy to see why it was so popular with north European nobility and Tsars. Next to the Hotel Haikko Manor we saw the Haikko Spa Hotel, a modern edifice housing with all the treatments that we were so looking forward to experiencing.
Inside the manor we were greeted by another friend, Elizabeth, in the historic Yellow Room, where we admired the original paintings by 19th century Finnish master, Albert Edelfelt. From there we moved on to the sunny Manor terrace, where we sipped our coffee and enjoyed the truly magnificent view out over the park and archipelago islands.
Imperial Luxury in Haikko Manor & Modern Elegance in Haikko Spa
I checked in to the Haikko Manor, welcomed by a butler who kindly helped carry my bags to the Imperial Room, with chic golden drapes. Past them, my private balcony offered a fine view over the Manor park and the sea. Standing there in the warmth of the summer sun, it was easy to imagine the olden days, when nobility and servants would walk through this grassy parkland, past the fountains, and on to the seashore. The spacious balcony was blessed by both morning and evening sunshine.
Meanwhile my friend Pauliina settled in to the Haikko Spa Hotel, in a spacious Deluxe room, also with a sea view. The room was modern, yet elegant, and provided easy access to the adjacent Spa and Beauty centre, where we would enjoy the pampering treatments and the Anti-Age Clinic.
Pampering Spa Treatments
I changed into bathrobe and slippers, and headed to the Spa to meet my friends there. The Japanese-style Yorokobi Pool section was particularly inviting, and we didn’t hesitate to dive into the main pool. Elizabeth, who was joining us for the day, was particularly taken with the calming Finnish forest scenery reflecting from the big windows onto the water. Shortly after we were relaxing in a beautiful turquoise jacuzzi. Near the jacuzzi I discovered the cold well, a real treat for an enthusiastic ice-swimmer like me!
The Spa also boasts plenty of options besides the traditional Finnish sauna: there was an infra-red sauna, a Turkish-styled steam bath, and my own personal favourite, the aroma sauna. The whole experience was totally relaxing and refreshing. We retired to the comfortable Spa Lounge to savour some lovely refreshing strawberry drinks, and to plan our evening.
Haikko Manor Restaurant – Dining with the Tsars
Our dinner was served in the elegant Romanov dining hall, named in honour of the Russian Tsar and his family. Tastefully decorated in gold, blue and dark red, the walls had paintings of the Imperial family’s summers spent in the manor and the archipelago.
Haikko’s chefs have created a wonderful, manor style menu, with wine recommendations to perfectly complement the fine food. Friendly and efficient staff guided us through the current menu based on Scandinavian cuisine, which followed the natural seasons of local food.
As an appetizer, I chose the venison carpaccio with juniper berries and aioili, a delicious combination of flavours that worked perfectly. My friend was equally delighted with her snails à la Haikko, and we all got to dip our homemade bread into the rich sauce they were served in. Elizabeth chose the Manor’s signature dish of smoked fillet of beef – “since 1966” – with a herb butter sauce.
The meal was complemented by high quality wines that were recommended by the waiter. For dessert we had strawberries à la Romanov, local handmade chocolates and a Blueberry porridge of Malmgård’s local rye. The entire meal was a festival of tastes, scents and colours! After a wonderful tasting experience and a relaxing day spent together, we said goodbye to our friend Elizabeth who headed home.
A Bubbly Breakfast & History Lesson
The following morning I woke up rested and refreshed. I enjoyed the morning sunshine on my private balcony, before dressing and making my way to the Manor for breakfast.
My friend greeted me in the Clock Room, already sipping a breakfast sparkling wine in the cabinet reserved for us. I took a moment to check out the beautiful couches and the spectacular antique clock for which the room had been named. The breakfast buffet featured a wide range of delicacies to choose from, making me wish I could have breakfast here every day!
After our breakfast we explored another dining room, the Louis Sparre Room. It featured impressive Jugendstil birch furniture, designed by Count Pehr Louis Sparre. Then it was time to begin our second day with a selection of pampering spa and beauty treatments.
Pampering Spa Treatments & Relax Center
We received a comprehensive consultation on Haikko’s Relax Center services, which offers beauty treatments and massages.
My friend had selected from Haikko Spa’s numerous massage options the classic neck and shoulder area massage. We figured that it was just right for my friend who spends a lot of time working at her computer. I moved on to the Queen of the Manor facial treatment. It had been a long time since I’d had a facial – my 50 plus skin was given a gentle peeling exfoliation and a moisturizing power mask.
We peeked into the luxurious Pampering room, where you can have treatments in candle light, with strawberries, a fruit basket and bubbly champagne – great for romantic treat or for smaller groups.
After the treatment, we went for lunch at the Spa Bistro, which is convenient for all spa guests. The soup and the salad buffet were a suitable light lunch before we ventured outdoors.
Enjoying Porvoo’s Fantastic Archipelago
In addition to the Haikko Spa, gym, park games, and fitness classes, there are fantastic opportunities to engage in outdoor activities in the nearby area. The roads here are tranquil, passing through spectacular rural landscapes with excellent hiking trails around the archipelago. Nearby there is also a public campfire, as well as three different saunas, of which the smoke sauna is definitely worth a visit!
We rented bicycles and rolled along the coastal roads down to Haikko Beach, taking in the sights on the way. We could have continued our cycling tour on to the Old Town in Porvoo, but had already decided to visit that historic area the following day.
Feeling the Big Chill – The Super Cold -120° C Treatment
I was very keen to try the refreshing Super Cold -120° C treatment. This safe treatment has been used for centuries to ease pain and treat certain illnesses. Having put my protective mittens on, I stepped gingerly in to Cryo-cabin, and spent the next 3 minutes cocooned in -120° C temperature. I made it, and felt both relaxed and energetic afterward – an extreme experience that will not be forgotten!
Champagne in the Bollinger Bar
My evening began in the Bollinger Bar where I met with Pauliina and we enjoyed a glass of champagne. The fascinating history of the Manor, and its residents down the centuries, could be found on the walls. I learned that the first mention of Haikko Manor dates back to 1362. In the past the old mansion had belonged to a Dominican priory of Vyborg, and in later years to the von Etter family. Once again we finished our night by indulging our taste buds with selections from the magnificent menu of the Manor Restaurant, accompanied by carefully selected wines.
Panorama Cliff’s Breathtaking View
Haikko Manor Hotel is surrounded by incredibly beautiful nature. Waking up rested to the sound of birdsong, I decided we would dedicate the day to seeing the attractions near Haikko Manor and Porvoo.
We had been told about the famous Panaroma Cliff nearby, reached by a peaceful nature trail, and set off to explore. We strolled up the scenic trail, through a pine forest typical of Porvoo’s archipelago nature. At times the rocky path was interrupted by rugged roots, until finally we reached the viewing platform. A magnificent view over the treetops towards the sea opened up before us. From this height the scenery was simply breathtaking.
A Day Out in Porvoo
But first Haikko had one last treat for us – a visit to the studio where Albert Edelfelt, one of Finland’s most celebrated artists, lived. We had previously admired some of his work in the manor’s Yellow Room, and there were a lot more to be discovered in his studio museum, just a few minutes away by car.
Inspired by Porvoo and its people, Edelfelt would come to paint a total of 220 paintings in the 26 summers he spent there. This small, wooden studio was like a second home to him. The Atelier was cozy, and felt imbued with an old-fashioned romantic mysticism, and we could have spent longer but the Old Town was waiting to be explored. We drove directly from the Atelier to the old city of Porvoo, but it can also be easily reached via a 6km cycling path.
Another way of arriving to Porvoo from Helsinki is by taking the historic steamship R.L. Runeberg on a relaxing cruise through the archipelago. In fact, many of Haikko Manor’s guests manage to combine this delightful archipelago cruise with a visit to Porvoo and a night in Haikko Manor Hotel – a complete stopover experience!
Porvoo Old Town – Living History Around Every Corner
Porvoo Old Town spreads gently up the hill from the riverbank, a web of cobbled streets with small wooden houses, shops, boutiques, and cafés, in gentle pastel tones. However, before exploring the charming Old Town of Porvoo, we walked over one of the bridges, knowing that the view from there is one of the most iconic in Finland. We took some photos of those delightful ochre warehouses, with the cathedral rising up in the background.
The best way to explore the old town is by foot through its mosaic of winding streets, past the numerous galleries, house museums, the delightful open market place and its fine Town Hall building, and up to Porvoo Cathedral. The town has been ravaged by fires numerous times in its history, yet the stubborn citizens always rebuilt on the same plots, maintaining a system that originated in the Middle Ages, and ensuring today an “olde world” ambiance.
Having taken in the magnificent 13th century Porvoo Cathedral, we continued to explore the Old Town for the rest of the day, cruising the small streets and doing a little shopping while sightseeing. We tried some lovely handmade chocolate delicacies and cakes at the PetriS Chocolate Room.
A Fond Farewell – And Promise of Return
As the day came to an end we felt that there was much more of Porvoo that remained undiscovered, and we know we will be returning soon to explore it more. Delighted with our luxury break, we prepared to head for home. The past three days had been so filled with new experiences and sensations that the energy would last a long time, thanks to Hotel Haikko Manor & Spa and thanks to Porvoo itself.
This small town, less than an hour from Helsinki is the perfect destination for a summer holiday, as a destination for culinary treats, and for exploring its unique archipelago landscapes. The highlights of our own experiences here were the impressive historical milieu of Haikko Manor, the high quality spa and beauty treatments, and the fine fare of the highly recommended Manor Restaurant.
A Three Day Luxury Break By Elina K & friends