Best hotel breakfast buffet 2019: Helsinki, Finland

Breakfast buffets, I’ve had a few in this job. But this morning’s buffet at the Lapland Hotels Bulevardi, in Helsinki, was one of the best.

I’m currently in the Finnish capital, about to head even further north to Kuusamo, on the border of Russia and Lapland, which is why I chose to stay in this new hotel in Helsinki – to warm up to the Lappish way of life.

It was a mix of the stylish, handmade ceramics by Anu Pentik, the moody setting with its reindeer pelts and the exciting food – much of it drawn from Lapland, where the group is dominant – that makes it an absolute standout.

Top of the list was the most humble dish, an exceptional organic oatmeal porridge, slow cooked in the oven for three hours: I’m not usually a salty porridge girl, but with cherry jam and a swish of Lappish honey, it sung to me.

I couldn’t eat it all, I had to leave space for the spruce sprout smoothie and the sea buckthorn smoothie, the warm smoked salmon and the ice-cellar pickled salmon. Then the smoked reindeer and oyster mushroom omelette, a little of the reindeer blood sausage with lingonberry jam, cloudberries, blackberries, blueberries from Muonio, lingonberry pie and smoked cheeses from Kuusamo (where we head tomorrow). It took a while.

Small Girl tested the mini cinnamon rolls (korvapuusti) and hot chocolate, and declared them perfect.

The chef on the breakfast shift admitted that Lappish cuisine is protein-heavy. “Hearty,” was his diplomatic word for the array of meats, fish, cheeses and cakes that lined the buffet.

The devastating news is that because we are leaving so early tomorrow, we will miss breakfast, which rolls in until 1pm on Sundays.

No wonder Finns are so happy.

Travel deals: New Zealand

Matakauri Lodge, New Zealand
GO NOW

NEW ZEALAND
Live well at the prestigious Matakauri Lodge, near
Queenstown, and get the third night free on stays until July 31. Get
cosy in a deluxe suite, with gourmet dinner and all lodge facilities,
not to mention the views. From $1895 a person, three nights, twin share.
matakaurilodge.com.


WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Stay three nights, pay for two at the dictionary definition
of “glamping”, Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef’s beachside eco-tents. Save $750 a
person on stays July 20-31, when the whale sharks are in town. Includes
meals and wilderness trips. From $1500 a person, twin share. 1300 790
561, wildbushluxury.com.

Trilogy Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia

GO SOON
QUEENSLAND
Stay three nights, pay for two, saving $255 at the four-star
Trilogy Surfers Paradise. Deposit only $5 and pay the balance 28 days
before check-in. Stays in a self-catering, one-bed apartment cost from
$510, three nights, until October 19. 1800 359 769, lowcostholidays.com.au.
USA
Go after-hours into MOMA, backstage on Broadway or see the
Yankees on a six-night custom tour of New York. Book by June 30, get a
$215 voucher at 5th Avenue’s Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. Departs May
22 and August 28, 2015. From $4320 a person. (03) 9029 1193, see insiderexperience.com.

GO LATER
FINLAND
Save 5 per cent on 20 winter small-group journeys, including
the five-day family tour of Finnish Lapland to meet Santa, take a
reindeer sleigh ride and go ice-fishing. Book by June 30, travel
December 23. Save $160, from $3197 a person, quote BRTWEB5%. 1300 100
410, backroadstouring.com.au.
TASMANIA
Take a luxe three-day walk on historic Maria Island and save
$100 when you book and pay by June 30, for travel until April 2015.
Expect your bags to be carried, tents erected and wine poured for you.
Low season (September 20-October 30) from $999 a person. (02) 9913 8939,
lifesanadventure.com.au.

TALKING TURKEY
Feed your stomach and your soul on a gastronomic and
historic cruise through Turkey. Group size ranges from eight to 18
sailing a wooden gulet along the Carian coast visiting ancient sites,
foraging for wild food and hitting the markets. Learn to cook Turkish
in a family home and eat in traditional restaurants. Departs September
20, 2014 and May 23, 2015. From $3875 a person. petersommer.com.

KIDS
GO WILD IN MELBOURNE
Take the kids to see the wildlife in Melbourne this winter.
Ibis Melbourne has family-friendly deals for DreamWorks Animation: The
Exhibition in Federation Square and the Melbourne Zoo. The DreamWorks
offer includes accommodation, breakfast and two adult tickets to the
exhibition (kids 4-15 years, $10). From $183 a night, until October 5;
1300 656 565, accorhotels.com/melbexhibition.
The zoo offer includes accommodation, breakfast and two adult tickets
to the zoo. From $129 a night, until September 25; phone (03) 9666 0066,
see ibis.com.

This travel deals column by Belinda Jackson is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper every Sunday.