Once in a while it’s nice to escape the mundane by entering the exclusive Hotel Kämp, sitting down in one of its luxurious turquoise leather armchairs and surrendering to the luxury of being served where you sit. When your waiter serves you coffee in a silver pot, or a trendy cocktail from the bar, you will have achieved the illusion of freedom – that same feeling of intoxication you get when you’re on holiday at some exotic destination. You get the elusive feeling that good things are about to happen. Your thoughts take wing and your dreams are within arm’s reach as the rain that whips against the windows remains very much outside the cosy atmosphere of the bar.
The opening of the Kämp was celebrated in October 1887. The hall of mirrors in the neo-Renaissance building designed by Theodor Höijer made guests gasp as the crystal chandeliers and sconces made the hall “swim in light”. The history behind the Kämp continues to astonish one 130 years after it first opened. Carl Kämp, the restaurateur behind Oopperakellari and Kaivohuone, wanted to build a grand hotel. Since he only had the money to buy the land, the industrialist Fredrik Grönqvist financed the construction. Carl Kämp died at the age of just 41, but his legacy was continued by his widow Maria Kämp and the German actor Carl König.
If you think you can actually smell the money while sitting at hotel’s bar, you probably can. In 1918 the property transferred to the KOP bank. In the 1960s the bank wanted to demolish the old and outdated building, but in the face of strong public opposition, the bank was only allowed to erect a new building if it retained an exact copy of the original façade.
The building eventually reopened as a hotel in 1999. Its iconic bar also reopened in the same year. The nice thing about history is that it always leaves behind memories. The comprehensive drinks menu has its roots in the history of the local drinking culture in Helsinki. There’s a lot to be proud of, as the hotel’s wine list from 1890 include no less than 22 different Bordeaux wines.