As if going home
17.12.2014 | Writer: VisitMikkeli bloggers
Warm, cosy, intimate, home-like... These are just a few descriptions by the people frequenting Apartment Hotel Marja. The mistress of the house, Marja Hämäläinen, has managed to establish accommodation that exhibits no traces of standard rooms.
Apartment Hotel Marja is situated in the grounds of former barracks, right next to the Infantry Museum. The beautiful timber house was built in 1882 and was originally used as a house for non-commissioned officers.
It was refurbished into an apartment hotel in 2012, when Marja Hämäläinen leased the house for her use. Now the house, situated in the beautiful woodland area of the barracks, houses business travellers, tourists and students alike.
Marja's hotel has 25 beds and, among other things, offers a suite for newly-weds and a mini home for singles.
Each room features a toilet, a bathroom and its own kitchen. The rooms are cosy, intimate and have their very own colour schemes. If a guest finds an item with a price tag in the room, it means that this item can be purchased if he/she wishes to do so.
Inspiration from abroad
The idea for the apartment hotel originates from Marja’s youth. "When young, I was backpacking in Malaysia among other places and slept in family-run accommodation. I even worked at that place for a short while. These were great places. Perhaps this became stuck in my brain somewhere,” says Marja, reflecting back to the original idea of her enterprise.
Although Marja does not come from a family of entrepreneurs, she has had a good mind for business ever since she was a little girl. "It was a ten-kilometre journey from Hankasalmi Station to the church. I travelled the distance by bike when I was 11 years old, so I could buy sugar candy for 10 pence. Then back at my home village I sold them for 20 pence,” Marja laughs.
Just the right size of hotel
Marja is a trained waitress as well as a trade technician. Playing hostess and entertaning are second nature to her.
Prior to the apartment hotel, Marja operated a Kotipizza-franchise and was running the Gasthaus Mäntyniemi. "Mäntyniemi was a hectic time; it was necessary to operate the restaurant and accommodation simultaneously and these two combined presented quite a task for one person," says Marja, thinking back to the busy times.
Marja has kept her current operation conveniently small, so that she has time for other things. Assistant hostess Mia helps Marja at the hotel. Marja's daughters are also doing their best to help their mother out.
"This is the right size of business for me, although I do look forward to doing slightly shorter shifts,” sighs Marja with a smile. "Even here I have had much more to do than I expected. If I'd known what I was taking on, perhaps I wouldn't have started it,” confesses Marja half-jokingly .
A house full of various strangers
In order to keep the apartment hotel the right size, Marja does not run a restaurant on the premises. Guests are provided breakfast upon prior request and also, when commissioned by customers, Marja is able to cater for various events.
Marja's place has been open for a year now and there have been plenty of travellers. The house has hosted participants of a conductors' training course as well as a volleyball team, as well as frequent independent travellers and families, from both Finland and abroad.
The farthest places that customers have hailed from have been Ethiopia and Israel.
Typically foreign visitors find Marja's place through the Booking.com service. "Foreigners fall in love with the atmosphere of this house as well as the fresh air. It is a particular kind of sleep that one gets in a timber house," explains Marja. "Also, many tourists value having their own kitchen".