The 120-year-old Imatran State Hotel is a castle in the middle of nature

The Imatra State Hotel, celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, is a completely exceptional place to stay in Finland.

Jugendlinna near the rapids

Imatran Valtionhotelli, located near Imatrankoski, is not quite an ordinary chain hotel.

The hotel, which is now part of the Scandic chain, opened as early as 1903 and has a long and colorful history. The romantic atmosphere of Valtionhotelli, which resembles a castle, is underlined by the rapids scenery, which is considered the first tourist attraction in Finland.

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Valtionhotelli is one of those places that are just as wonderful in real life as they are in photos. When the Jugendlinna suddenly opens up in front of the eyes right next to the center of Imatra, a first-timer might have to rub his eyes. What exactly have we reached?

The design process of the state hotel was quite exceptional compared to today, because the architect Trust Nyström were given a free hand. Imagination was not limited by tight budgets or schedules, and it shows in the many details of the building with its balconies and towers.

ShutterstockThe architecture of the state hotel
There are always new details to admire outside the Valtionhotelli.

There is also a suspected wall painting next to the hotel entrance Axis Gallen-Kallela made by Even the hotel manager Joni Erinko says that he is constantly finding new details in the building that he has not noticed before.

During its history, the building has also functioned as a military hospital, as a residence for the army staff, and as a military administration center. Traces of the past can still be seen in various parts of the hotel.

After the wet 70s, the hotel was also owned by Oy Alko Ab in the 1980s. The retro nightclub found on the basement floor reminds of the party years. Inside these walls, you can only imagine what has happened in the hotel.

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Valtionhotelli became part of the Scandic chain in 2018.

Aristocrats started a tourism boom

Imatra’s reputation as a travel destination began as early as the 18th century, when Empress Catherine the Great traveled to see Imatrankoski. Word spread quickly among St. Petersburg’s aristocrats: Finland’s first tourist attraction was born.

ShutterstockImatrankoski is Finland's first attraction
Valtionhotelli is located right next to Imatrankoski.

Before the completion of the Valtionhotelli, the first inn was already on the same site in 1846. The only two-room inn was replaced in 1871 by a two-story wooden hotel, which was built for tourists arriving from St. Petersburg.

Twenty years later, the hotel was joined by another wooden hotel called Hotel Cascade, which was destroyed in a fire the following year. Imatra’s accommodation operations were really put to the test, as the original wooden hotel also burned down in the early 20th century.

Shutterstock / Alexanderphoto7A castle hotel in Finland
The hotel building should be viewed from all directions.

After Valtionhotelli opened, it was strictly a meeting place for the upper class. Ordinary people from Imatra had nothing to do with the hotel: only the butler and the pharmacist were welcome.

The more valuable the guest, the lower the floor. If there was a rush to leave, there was an escape route nearby and a car waiting in front of the exit.

Accommodation in a castle or park building

When making a reservation, you should note that Valtionhotelli consists of two different parts. Imatra’s own saddle castle is connected via an underground corridor to the park building completed in 1985, which also has hotel rooms and meeting rooms.

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If you want to stay in the more famous part of the hotel, make a reservation in the castle building.

Scandic HotelsState hotel rooms
Atmospheric corridors lead to the hotel rooms.

Due to the personal shape of Valtionhotelli, the rooms are different in size and features. Their shape may differ from a standard modern hotel room, and the window may also be like a decoration.

Valtionhotelli is the choice of many for a romantic vacation, but it is also suitable for families with children. There are rooms for up to four people, and the castle milieu is exciting for all ages. Don’t forget to ask the hotel staff if they have encountered Valtionhotelli’s ghosts.

Of course, the most beautiful scenery from the hotel opens up to the side of the rapids. In the best case, you can watch the rapids show from your own balcony, which are organized regularly in the summer season and occasionally in the fall and winter.

Scandic HotelsHotels in Imatra
In the old building, all the rooms are slightly different sizes and models.

Valtionhotelli’s rooms are decorated in a classic style, so you shouldn’t expect the latest trends from the accommodation. In some of the rooms, the bathrooms have been renovated for years. It’s up to the visitor whether they find them sympathetic or old-fashioned.

The rooms range in size from 15 to 45 square meters, and can accommodate one to four people. The suites in the castle building are 70–80 square meters and offer great views of the rapids.

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Scandic HotelsAccommodation in a state hotel
The decoration of the hotel rooms follows a classic line.

You can also vacation in Valtionhotel without barriers. People with reduced mobility are well taken into account both in the rooms and in the common areas, and the building has an elevator.

Hotel prices start at around one hundred euros. You should make reservations for a popular hotel well in advance, especially during the summer holiday season.

In the castle hall, we eat by the rapids

Valtionhotelli’s restaurant Linnasala serves buffet-style hotel breakfast and dinner from the à la carte menu. The restaurant’s windows open onto the rapids.

There are also a few private cabins connected to the restaurant. The name of the Imperial Hall refers to the hotel’s famous and distinguished guests. Did you know that aristocrats were once served only in French in these premises?

Scandic HotelsImatra's restaurants
Non-hotel guests can also visit the restaurant to eat.

The restaurant’s menu includes traditional dishes such as reindeer roast, muikkus and tenderloin. Among the starters, borscht soup is a classic that will never disappear from the list. The dish prepared in the house’s own way is a reference to the hotel’s history and the guests who arrived from the east.

Scandic HotelsImatran Valtionhotelli's restaurant
The restaurant’s wonderful cabinet space has great details.

In October 2023, the building’s 120th anniversary will be celebrated at the Imatra State Hotel. The hotel will host a gala dinner on October 14, but a party menu consisting of classics will be available until the end of the year.

In addition to the castle hall, the hotel has a cozy lobby bar where you can order drinks throughout the day.

Scandic HotelsKeisarinsali of Imatra Valtionhotelli
The name of the Imperial Hall refers to the hotel’s important guests.

Often, guests also want to enjoy their meals at the hotel, as the castle milieu is the main reason for many to travel to Imatra. Hotel manager Joni Erinko says that many come to the hotel to realize their long-term dream.

The hotel attracts travelers interested in architecture, history and special places. Sometimes the reasons for wanting to see the castle with your own eyes are personal. A hotel guest spending the afternoon in the lobby bar says that he came to the hotel because his late parents were there once on their honeymoon.

Open all year round

Valtionhotelli’s busiest season is during the summer months, but you can vacation at the hotel all year round. In winter, you can find particularly good deals there.

You shouldn’t spend an actual spa vacation at Valtionhotelli, but there is also a small pool section on the new side of the hotel. In addition to saunas, guests can use a swimming pool, two jacuzzis and a wading pool for children.

Scandic HotelsValtionhotel's swimming pool
The small swimming pool in the park building is used by all guests.

The pool section also has heated beds where you can relax.

Scandic HotelsValtionhotel's swimming pool
The pool section of the park building from the 80s is in neat condition.

Activities around the hotel include hiking, cycling, tennis and frisbee golf. You should plan your trip in such a way that you can watch the rapids display, during which the water of Imatrankoski flows freely.

After the summer months, screenings are organized during autumn holidays, Independence Day and New Year’s Eve, for example.

From the hotel, you can descend directly to the Kruununpuisto bordering the rapids, which is Finland’s first nature reserve. By following the outdoor trail, you will also find trivia about the history of the area as well as name tags and years engraved on stones and rocks.

ShutterstockImatra in winter
The state hotel is spectacular in all seasons.

In the winter months, Imatra is calm compared to the summer. Then, with a clear conscience, you can leave the activities to less and focus on enjoying the possibilities of unique accommodation. If you stay in a castle once, you should make the most of it.

Valtionhotelli’s staff knows the historical landmark in its entirety. Don’t be afraid to ask the hotel employees about the history of the building or funny stories related to it.

Read also: Do you know Finland’s first tourist attraction? This is how Imatrankoski became a hit of its time

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