I’m starting the week with a bit of interiors and travel inspiration courtesy of Runo – a new boutique hotel designed by Helsinki-based Joanna Laajisto. It recently opened its doors in the southern Finnish city of Porvoo, and it’s a wonderful example of how historic spaces can be transformed without losing their soul or sense of place.
Porvoo is known for its colourful wooden cottages and the hotel sits on the edge of its picturesque old town, in an early 20th-century building that originally housed a bank and well-to-do apartments. Now renovated from top to bottom, it blends period features with contemporary Nordic design and gently rustic elements, creating a relaxed yet elegant haven that makes you want to sit back, put your feet up and unwind. What’s more, Joanna and her team approached the project in a holistic way, with every detail being carefully considered to ensure a harmonious and sympathetic feel.
The ground floor, once a labyrinthine tangle of small rooms, has been opened up to form one big space that encompasses a lobby, a restaurant and a lounge. A long bar counter ties the various areas together, and there are custom-made tables carved from the same travertine marble. Wooden shaker-style units run along the other side to enhance the homely feel, while classic ‘9602’ floor lamps, designed by Paavo Tynell in 1935, create inviting pools of light.
At the far end, behind a curtain that neatly divides the space in two, is a dining area with a mix of sociable banquette seating, minimalist Nikari chairs and cosy booths separated by half-height vertical screens. There are also several sitting areas, some with deep sofas, snuggly sheepskins and Hans J. Wegner’s iconic J16 rocking chairs, others with more contemporary leather-cushioned ‘Spine’ chairs from Fredericia. And dotted here and there are bespoke glass shelves stacked with books, as well as paintings and sculptures by young Finnish artists such Riku Riippa, Iisa Maaranen and Inka Bell.
The upper floors largely follow the building’s original layout, with only slight changes to walls and windows in order to maximise space and light in the 56 bedrooms. All have a refined and serene atmosphere, with pared-back wall panelling, a muted nature-inspired palette of stoney greys and beiges, and a wonderful mix of tactile materials such as oak, linen, marble, glass and leather. Custom-made cabinets hide TVs, minibars and storage, and most rooms have sofas or sink-into E015 ‘Embrace’ armchairs from Carl Hansen & Søn; there are also restored tiled fireplaces in a few of the larger ones. The lighting is particularly beautiful, with New Works ‘Material’ pendants dangling over bedside tables and sleek Örsjö Belysning ‘Minipoint’ floor lamps by desks and chairs. The ensuite bathrooms, meanwhile, were designed to have a spa-like feel and offset textured stone tiles with sleek white sinks and wooden towel ladders fashioned from old hay poles.
All in all, it looks like a stunning hotel – bang up to date, yet oozing with timeless style and historic character. Definitely one to add to my ever-growing list of places to visit!
All photography by Mikko Ryhänen for Runo Hotel
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