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The prestigious Original Sokos Hotel Vaakuna has accommodated and entertained guests in the heart of Joensuu since 1943. Standing steadfast by the market square for decades, the hotel building has always been a vibrant meeting place for locals and a beloved second home for travelers.

The story of Vaakuna begins when a five-story commercial building named Pohjois-Karjalan Talo Oy was completed in 1942 at the corner of Torikatu and Siltakatu. The functionalist building was designed by Paavo Riihimäki, an architect from Helsinki who sought additional education from abroad. During the wartime, the building was used for other purposes, but with the ceasefire, the 36-room Hotel Pohjois-Karjala with its restaurants opened in 1943.

Everybody's 'pekkakettunen'

The hotel's second floor housed the popular restaurant Pohjois-Karjala. During the war, the place was like a piece of paradise for soldiers at the front. It was a brief respite from the chaos of war. Officers dined in the restaurant and were entitled to enjoy alcoholic beverages. It was said that things could get a bit wild at times. The restaurant Pohjois-Karjala later became known among the locals as 'pekkakettunen'. Kettunen was a well-known local politician and member of parliament. Judging by the name, one could assume that Kettunen himself appreciated the services of this restaurant.

Siltakatu 8 has always been a renowned restaurant address in Pohjois-Karjala. Business ideas and operational models have changed over the years, but the popularity of the restaurants has remained throughout the decades. Thus, the vibrant nightlife on the second floor continued even after 'pekkakettusen'; the location has housed, among others, the popular nightclub Madonna and the evening restaurant East West. Nowadays, the place is home to the food and socializing restaurant Torero.

Hotel Vaakuna joins Sokos Hotels chain

In 1982, SOK acquired Hotel Vaakuna, making it part of the S Group's Sokos Hotels chain. In the 1980s, the house also got Rosso restaurant, immediately capturing the hearts of the locals, particularly with its pan pizza.

In 2001, Pohjois-Karjalan Osuuskauppa repurchased the hotel's business and the hotel property.

With the major brand renewal of the Sokos Hotels chain in 2012, we became part of the warmly Finnish Original by Sokos Hotels chain. Local influence is strong with us, from Sorsan Leipomo's Karelian pies to theme rooms reflecting local culture.

Room capacity doubled

In 2010, Pohjois-Karjalan Osuuskauppa conducted a major expansion in the hotel. This resulted in a whole block of services within Vaakuna building: a total of 144 rooms, a grocery store, a department store, and a staggering seven restaurants: Amarillo, Bepop, Coffee House, Hesburger, Rosso, and Torero. The city of Joensuu recognized this act as the 2010 city center act. The project cost 15 million euros and brought 30 new jobs.

Theme rooms - Omar Sharif, Ilosaarirock, and Joensuu

In 2017, during the room renovation, two themed rooms were created at Vaakuna - Omar Sharif and Ilosaarirock. In our hotel's 80th anniversary year in 2023, a new themed room was introduced: Joensuu Room.

Almost 60 years ago, a touch of American style came to Pohjois-Karjala when Dr. Zhivago was filmed Hollywood-style. A set resembling Siberia was built on the frozen Lake Pyhäselkä in Joensuu for the shooting. The movie was a grand production of its time and upon completion, it won five Academy Awards. The lead role was played by the Egyptian-born movie star Omar Sharif. During the shooting, he stayed at Sokos Hotel Vaakuna. We wanted to honor our famous guest and designed a room bearing his name.

The second themed room is Ilosaarirock. Due to the enthusiasm of young people demanding live music, the internationally acclaimed rock festival Ilosaarirock was established in Joensuu. The first Ilosaarirock was held on Ilosaari on July 29, 1971, and it is one of Finland's oldest rock festivals. Nowadays, it takes place at Joensuu Laulurinne every second weekend of July. Over the years, the festival has hosted all of Finland's significant pop and rock musicians and a myriad of international stars. Both artists and rock guests are always welcome to stay with us. This room has a rock-inspired decor.

Joensuu Room is our newest themed room. Following the slogan of Sokos Hotels city hotels "In the heart of the city - in the middle of life," Joensuu-themed room offers a splendid view of the Joensuu cityscape. The market square, market hall, city hall, and our hotel - right in the heart of the city. Welcome to experience authentic Joensuu.

Welcome to experience our themed rooms.

We promise to continue taking good care of our 80-year-old hotel hero and our lovely guests. With North Karelian hospitality and a big heart. Warmly welcome to the Original Sokos Hotel Vaakuna, your hotel home in Joensuu!