Hotel Arthur's history

Hotel Arthur’s oldest rooms are located principally in the main building of the Young Men’s Christian Association of Helsinki, at Vuorikatu 17. The building was owned and constructed by the Helsinki branch of the worldwide youth movement, the YMCA, which was established in 1889. Nowadays, the YMCA movement involves more than 58 million people in over 130 countries. The founders of Helsinki’s YMCA were, among others, state councillor Sakari Topelius and theology student (later professor and YMCA chairperson) Arthur Hjelt.

A glimpse of history: See this clip from 1965, where a family visit’s Helsinki. The part conserning Hotel Arthur starts at 04:28.

Initially operating in different rented premises, the YMCA acquired its own plot of land at the corner of Vuorikatu and Puutarhakatu in 1905. Already in 1898, the association board had appointed a committee to prepare and advance the implementation of the building project; the committee comprised, among others, architects Eliel Saarinen and Vilho Penttilä, who drew up the construction plans of the building. The foundation stone of the building was placed on 28.6.1906. The inauguration of Helsinki own YMCA building was held on 3.11.1907, in the ballroom of the new building. The house was inaugurated by Bishop Herman Råbergh. Already only a couple of years later, the house began to expand towards the Kaisaniemenkatu side and where the current ballroom is, according to sketches by Vilho Penttilä, the new building was completed in 1912. In 1956, the foundation stone was at last laid for the new YMCA building, where nowadays, most of the Hotel Arthur hotel rooms are located, as well as the restaurant at Vuorikatu 19. The building was inaugurated on 6- 8.12.1957.

Accommodation activities have played an integral part of YMCA’s activities around the world. Therefore, also in this building, built in 1907, accommodation and dining halls have taken place in the association’s premises from the beginning. The Christian boarding house was given the name Hospiz, according to an example from corresponding YMCA traveller homes and hotels. In 1912, thanks to the expansion, already 60 rooms were used for accommodation purposes. In 1957, upon completion of the building at Vuorikatu 19, the number of hotel rooms increased significantly, to incorporate over 100 rooms and a restaurant. The building at Vuorikatu 17 experienced an extensive renovation during the 1980s, providing the conditions for diverse meeting and conference activities. The hotel operated under the Hospiz name until 1993, when the hotel company’s name was changed to Hotel Arthur. The name concerns Professor Arthur Hjelt (18.10.1868-13.3.1931) who was one of Helsinki YMCA’s founders and its chairperson for three decades, until his death. In the period 2006-07, 24 new comfort rooms and the wonderful Sir Arthur Suite were completed on the 7th floor. At that time, the number of hotel rooms came to a total of 167. In 2011-2012, additional Art Nouveau style rooms were built on, among others, the 9th floor. In 2017 another dozen rooms were added to the accommodation portfolio, and the current number of rooms is 194. In 2018 hotel got 9 more rooms on the fifth floor and the total number of room is now 203. The hotel has 12 conference rooms of various sizes, with a total space for more than 500 people.

Over the decades, the hotel has provided a comfortable home for travellers in the heart of Helsinki. For a long period of time, a regular guest of the hotel was, among others, the writer Aino Kallas, whose name now graces room no 543. Many other regular guests had their favourite room. Well known foreign guests include Bill Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mathias Rust.

Warmly welcome to Hotel Arthur!

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