September 18, 2014

Big Blog Exchange 2014 - Meet the Winners!

The day we were waiting for finally arrived! 16th of September Hostelling International published the 16 lucky winners of Big Blog Exchange who are swapping lives, blogs and cultures for ten days around the world. Winners were selected amongst hundreds of bloggers and they will start their adventures on 31st of October.

Brianda Lopez, Sustainability Manager and project leader says “We are just as excited as our bloggers to announce the winners of the project. The Big Blog Exchange is all about giving the opportunity to bloggers to experience different cultures and meet new people; which has been Hostelling International’s mission for over 100 years.”

And we can’t wait to read about their adventures! Stay tuned #bigblogx

September 3, 2014

Pori's Hostel River has been internationally recognised for its high quality

Hostelling International (HI) has awarded its HI Quality Light certificate to Pori’s Hostel River. The certificate shows that the hostel meets HI’s strict quality standards. 

There are now five HI-Q certified hostels in Finland. The certificate has previously been awarded to Stadion Hostel in Helsinki, Dream Hostel in Tampere, and Hostel Borea and Hostel Turku in Turku. Hostel River is the first hostel in Finland to receive the Light certificate.

HI Quality (HI-Q) involves Hostelling International’s specially developed quality-management system, designed by hostel professionals. It has been created specifically for the use of hostels and other hostelling organisations. HI Quality Light is a scaled-down version of the HI-Q system, and it is aimed at smaller hostels. The HI-Q system is used at Hostelling International network locations all over the world. The HI network includes around 3,500 hostels, in 90 countries.

The quality-management system is based on high-quality management of all aspects of the day-to-day running of the hostel: the general management, the reception, cleaning, catering services, and property maintenance. Clear guidelines and consistent practices improve the efficiency of communication between hostel staff and managers.

‘Since the introduction of the quality-management system, we have started to plan and organise our work more efficiently, and I would say that we are now more professional in what we do. This means that we can provide even better service to our customers,’ explains Hostel River’s proprietor, Sirkka-Liisa Peni.

‘When everything is running smoothly, customers notice the professionalism and efficiency. Our customers must be at the heart of everything we do – that is the only way to success,’ says Hostelling International Finland’s Hostels and Quality Officer Ninni Lumme.

Back to nature! Hostelling International Finland's tips for lovers of the great outdoors

HI hostels offer a wide range of accommodation all year round for visitors who want to experience the unique Finnish nature. Whether you want to enjoy the best of the great outdoors without giving up modern comforts or embark on an unforgettable hiking trip on the fells of Finnish Lapland, our hostels offer accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets. We have picked some of our favourites that are perfect for nature‑lovers.

Photo credits: Vitaliy Glushchenko, Visit Finland 

Timitra Hostel, Lieksa

Timitra is a unique design hostel located in a former training centre of the Finnish Border Guard and surrounded by beautiful nature. The view from the beach sauna of this family-owned hostel opens out over the magnificent Lake Pielinen, and, true to Karelian traditions, the hostel offers a warm welcome to everyone and has won accolades for its tasty menus, which use locally sourced, organic ingredients. The clean and spacious rooms guarantee a peaceful night’s sleep, ensuring that you will be ready for the next day’s adventures.

The Lieksa area offers excellent opportunities for diverse outdoor pursuits, including canoeing, bird watching, fishing, white-water rafting, hiking, and skiing. Koli, Ruunaa, Patvinsuo, and the Karhunpolku trail are only a few examples of what the area has to offer for hikers and walkers. The Rukajärvi road, starting in Lieksa, and the beautiful Änäkäinen area offer a lot to see for visitors interested in Finnish military history.

The hostel has single and double rooms and dorms sleeping 4–5 people. Some of the rooms are hotel standard with en-suite bathrooms. You can book breakfast in the hostel bistro or use the hostel’s shared kitchen. The hostel is around 1.5 kilometres from the Lieksa town centre and ideally situated for convenient use of its services.

Hostel Visatupa, Raudanjoki

Hostel Visatupa, named Hostel of the Year in 2012, is situated in an idyllic lakeside location in the village of Raudanjoki, in the southern part of the municipality of Sodankylä. While Visatupa is a working dairy farm, the proprietors also have several decades’ experience of providing accommodation services.

There is a lot to see and do at Visatupa all year round. In the autumn, for example, guests can go cloudberry-picking in the nearby bogs. The hostel’s friendly service and tasty home-cooked food have won accolades from visitors from all over the world, and guests also have an opportunity to see how a modern dairy farm works. In the summer, you can go fishing on a bike, and in the winter, you can go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing under the Northern Lights. After a busy day, you can relax in the beach sauna and make pancakes in a traditional Lapland-style hut. The staff at Visatupa are also happy to arrange trips other to nearby areas, such as the Pyhä-Luosto area, the Arctic Circle, and Rovaniemi, on request.

Accommodation is available in three separate buildings, and you can choose from rooms sleeping 2–4 people and apartments sleeping 4–6 people. All apartments have a kitchen, fridge, shower, toilet, and sauna. Guests staying in the rooms have access to a large lounge, a kitchen, and bathrooms in the common areas. Visatupa offers accommodation on a full-board or half-board basis.

Hostel Ahopää, Saariselkä

Hostel Ahopää is a dream destination for all lovers of the great outdoors. Right at the edge of the Urho Kekkonen National Park, the hostel offers an ideal base for exploring the unique fell landscape of Finnish Lapland. Whether you are visiting to enjoy the midnight sun or to experience the polar night, the Kiilopää area offers lots to do all year round. The price of accommodation includes use of the sauna in the evenings. And why not try a refreshing dip in a fell river after the sauna? For those who are after a more exotic sauna experience, a traditional smoke sauna is available three times a week, for a separate fee.

Photo credits: Suomen Latu Kiilopää

This area is suitable for a wide range of outdoor activities, and the hostel has a selection of equipment, including GPS devices, available for hire. The accommodation price includes participation in weekly hikes in the Kiilopää area. You can also choose from the many clearly signposted trails and go for a walk or hike on your own or go geocaching.

The hostel has rooms and dorms sleeping 2–6 people. The dorms for male and female guests are separate, with shared toilet facilities just outside the dorms. All guests are welcome to use the shared kitchen, bathroom, and sauna facilities in the main building.

Hostel Hirvikoski, Toholampi

Hostel Hirvikoski is situated on the upper reaches of the River Lestijoki in the village of Sykäräinen, in the Central Ostrobothnia region. At Hostel Hirvikoski, you have the great outdoors on your doorstep, and the surrounding area offers plenty to see for visitors who love beautiful, untamed wilderness, white-water rapids, and bogs. 

More than half of the municipality of Toholampi is bog land, and the beautiful Ostrobothnian heritage landscape is best explored by bike. There are several lean-to shelters in the area, so even longer day hikes can be completed comfortably. The River Lestijoki, which flows through the entire municipality, is a dream destination for anglers. The river is also popular with canoeists.

The hostel has single and double rooms, with shared toilet and shower facilities. The price of a room includes breakfast, so you don’t have to worry about preparing breakfast. Other meals can be prepared in the shared kitchen or booked in advance from the restaurant.

Book your stay directly from the hostel or at