February 6, 2015

HI Finland selects a rural hostel in Central Finland as its Hostel of the Year

Vaihelan Tila has been awarded the title of Hostel of the Year 2015 by HI Finland. The hostel, with its surrounding farm, is located in the village of Pappinen, in Joutsa. The owners of Vaihelan Tila, Birgitta and Juha Ruohtula, offer a diverse package of services giving travellers a genuine experience of life in the Finnish countryside. The farm has offered accommodation to travellers for five decades.

It continues to be active in forestry and arable farming, along with a mixture of animals from cats to wild boars. The farm buildings include a small farm museum with a display of historical agricultural items. A wood-heated sauna welcomes guests in the hostel grounds. A smoke sauna is also available on reservation, offering a different flavour of the Finnish sauna culture. The smoke sauna is located on the lakeshore, a short walk from the hostel. There is also a jetty for swimming. Swimming is possible even in winter – if you are brave enough to take a dip in a hole in the ice!

Birgitta enjoys her work in the hostel: “My work is so varied; every day is different. I get to meet people from all over the world. And the best thing is that the same guests keep coming back again and again.”

In the heart of Finnish Lakeland

Joutsa is a small rural town that offers travellers an unhurried experience and lots of local culture. Birgitta has her own favourite pastimes in Joutsa: “When I do my shopping in summer, I sometimes like to sit down in the market café to enjoy a cup of coffee. I visit the craft centre in the Taito Shop to get ideas and admire their colourful yarns. They often have exhibitions as well. The library in the town centre is a nice place to visit.”

For tourists, Birgitta further recommends Leivonmäki National Park, Haihatus Art Centre, and several local craft boutiques, such as Design Pylsy and Pikkupuoti. Joutsa also offers lots of opportunities for recreation, such as horse riding and motor sports.

Hostel Vaihelan Tila wants to offer a quality hostel experience

The Ruohtulas cultivate a high-quality customer experience by developing their hostel activities and participating in HI Finland’s trips to hostels in other countries to pick up new ideas. This year, the Ruohtulas will begin work on implementing Hostelling International’s HI Quality system. Their hostel offers accommodation for 14 people in rooms with 1-4 beds.

Every year, HI Finland awards a commendable hostel the title of Hostel of the Year. The selection criteria for this year’s award called for an active role in the development of activities along with positive customer feedback. The title has been awarded since 2004; Last year, the recipient was Laivahostel Borea in Turku.

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