1927 – Kämp's 40th and 50th anniversary

In 1927, Kämp celebrated 40 years in business. The jubilee-year marketing material underlined the establishment's role as Finland's No. 1 hotel, and favorable comparisons were made with the great grand hôtels of the world's metropolises. On the hotel's reaching middle age, Kämp's history to date was chronicled in small publications, memoirs, collections of funny anecdotes, press articles, and interviews, and the hotel received numerous accolades to underscore its strong presence in the urban landscape. By this stage, at least two Kämp myths had come into being, and a certain way of narrating the hotel's history. The first myth contained the idea of an immortal Kämp that enjoyed a central position in the life of the capital and in the mind of the Helsinki public at large. The other myth put about the notion that Kämp was the meeting-point of choice for the Helsinki business community.

In much the same fashion as with histories of nation-states, Kämp's history was seen as intricately linked with the hotel's great leaders. The lives and achievements of former managers were covered in detail in newspaper articles and in the 50th anniversary volume. The intrepid managers Kämp, Gummesson, Lundblad, and Weman – not forgetting their intrepid wives - were each figuratively lifted onto the podium for general applause. They shared star-billing with the architect Theodor Höijer and the grand-daddy of the entire venture, the building's original owner F. W. Grönqvist. In the shamelessly nostalgic articles and chapters of the 1937 book, the writers – almost certainly loyal and regular customers of the hotel and restaurant – went through Kämp's good times (renovations to the various bars and restaurants, the joys of the variety shows) and the tougher moments (the political upheavals just after the turn of the century, the anxieties of the Civil War and the spring of 1918), as well as documenting the many innovations and improvements to the building made during the first half-century.

In the Finnish Tourist Association's Hotels in Finland directory from 1934, Kämp is listed as boasting all the comforts: central heating, hot & cold running water, ensuite bathrooms, telephone in the room, and a licensed restaurant. It was still one of Helsinki's largest hotels, with 80 rooms and 110 beds. A separate half-page advertisement in four languages provided the information that Kämp offered guests: “Rooms with cold and hot water and telephone from 30 markka. Luncheon and dinner from 15 markka”. During Weman's time, Kämp was in a constant process of renovations and upgrades. Smaller repair work, renovations, paint-jobs, and adjustments were carried out on an annual basis in a building that was, after all, approaching its fiftieth birthday. Competition had grown from the days of the late 19th century, but Kämp's reputation remained intact, as the 50th anniversary volume was not slow to point out:

“Kämp has preserved its place in the public's affections. When leafing through the visitors' register it is impossible not to notice the many illustrious names that have signed in – from Generals Ernst Linder and Maxime Weygand to Mr. Charles Lindbergh and Miss Sonja Henie – and in the dining rooms one always encounters well-known faces from different walks of life.”

Aviator Charles Lindbergh and his wife stayed in Kämp in September 1933, and the following morning a crowd had gathered outside the hotel in hopes of seeing the great man. Lindbergh had hit the headlines in 1927 with his 33-hour solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic from New York to Paris. The Lindberghs had come to Helsinki at the invitation of Aero Oy, as the airline wanted Lindbergh's views on where to place Helsinki's first international airport. They did not go with his suggestion, but chose a site in Malmi, which housed the airport until the present-day Helsinki Airport opened in 1952.

The stories are compiled from Laura Kolbe's book Kämp – The Hotel and Its City (2015). Get your own copy at the hotel reception.