Helsinki is luxurious even by Hollywood standards

“We are so privileged in Helsinki!”

This is what actor Jasper Pääkkönen has often realised when he has shown his home city to foreign friends and watched their delighted reactions.

“Every one of my guests in film and TV is amazed by Helsinki´s unique atmosphere. One Hollywood agent who has travelled here and there as part of his job fell in love with the city so much that he is planning to buy a holiday apartment in the centre of Helsinki,” boasts Jasper.

In his view, Finns frequently suffer from the “grass is greener elsewhere” syndrome, although Helsinki´s safety, cleanness and closeness to nature, for example, are pure luxury for many foreigners.

“I was unable to notice the uniqueness of the city myself until I saw it through the eyes of foreign visitors,” he admits.


Waterfronts are the plus of summer in Helsinki

Jasper Pääkkönen´s favourite places in Helsinki are the parks and terraces located close to water. “For example, Mattolaituri, which so many loudly objected to, is a pleasant and stylish café where you can enjoy a cup of tea or a glass of wine while watching boats gliding past. The more Helsinki´s waterfronts are developed, the more the city´s summer focus moves from the centre towards the sea – exactly where the focus should be,” he says.

Recently, Jasper has had a lot to discuss with the owner of Maitolaituri, which is located on the Kaivopuisto waterfront. At the end of May, the men are opening a joint business on the waterfront of Hernesaari. In addition to a wood-heated sauna and smoke sauna, a café/restaurant seating 100 and a terrace seating 600 – the biggest of its kind in Helsinki – will be built on the waterfront.

“At the building site, the finishing touches are currently being put to the masonry work for the one-time-heated stoves that weigh thousands of kilos and to the wooden shell of the building. Soon construction will begin on the terrace extending eight metres from the shoreline out to sea,” Jasper says.


Tourists and locals in communal saunas

Responsibility and environmental friendliness are the basis for everything at Löyly. For example, the timber used in construction is FSC certified and the electricity is eco-electricity. Moreover, the restaurant´s menu features only responsibly caught fish. “Through our example, we also want to encourage our competitors to switch their electricity agreement to certified eco-electricity and to think twice about whether serving endangered fish is the right solution nowadays,” Jasper Pääkkönen says.

The sauna will be built close to Hernesaari harbour, where 400,000 cruise tourists visit each year. Jasper is pleased that once Löyly has been completed, tourists will be able to experience the Finnish sauna culture alongside the locals and take a dip in the hole cut it the ice for winter swimming.

In the actor´s opinion, it will be worth while paying a visit to Löyly.

“There will be exceptional views out to the open sea from Löyly´s two roof terraces. I would argue that there is no finer sea view to be found from any terrace in Finland,” he boasts.


Scheming and power play

In addition to the sauna business, Jasper Pääkkönen´s life includes scheming and power play – although in a fictional context. Namely, Jasper is currently filming the final episode of the fourth season of Vikings in Dublin. Last summer, he moved to Ireland to film the series that is set in the world of the Vikings, but he will soon be able to enjoy a few months´ holiday.

“This has been a splendid job, and I have not been stressed even by having to wake up at four in the morning or working 15-hour days. This says a lot about the enthusiastic atmosphere among the whole team,” Jasper says.

At the moment, it seems that a fifth season of the series will be made, in which case Jasper will return to Dublin for 11 months.

Jasper currently has no other plans for the future but, with regard to the development of Helsinki, he still has one dream that has not been realised.

“I hope to see the day when the dam at Vanhankaupunki Rapids is demolished and the historical Helsinki Rapids are revealed under the dam basin.

He points out that the dam prevents most fish from swimming up the River Vantaanjoki, which causes problems for more than a dozen municipalities above the dam. This annoys Jasper, who is also an enthusiastic fly fisherman and a fish activist.

Then there are landscape-related reasons.

“Demolishing the dam would return an area of rapids more than a kilometre long to the centre of the city, thereby providing the residents with wonderful recreational opportunities. Flowing water attracts like a magnet.”


Text: Venla Pystynen
Picture: Juuso Syrjä


Risto Elomaa nominated Jasper Pääkkönen as a future maker of Helsinki.