Just about every popular tourist hotspot around the world has gone through a mega makeover to make it more modern and give it all the glamour that most 21st century tourists expect and demand. There are a few exceptions to this rule and the Old Town of Tallinn in Estonia, popularly known as Vanalinn in the local language still retains its ancient 13th century charm.
Visit the Old Town of Tallinn to get a feel for the past and experience the rich history and architecture of Estonia. The Old Town of Tallinn has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site
and much of its ancient city structure has been successfully preserved.
Tourists will be able to take in the majestic sites of these historic buildings by slowly walking through the town and capturing large portions of the old city wall which still has a number of guard towers. While walking around the Old Town of Tallinn, tourists will be able to treat themselves to some authentic Estonian cuisine as there are numerous bars, restaurants and cafes located in the city center, the Olde Hansa must not be missed.
While Vanalinn draws tourists from all parts of the world, the city is not just a museum that displays its ancient history. The Old Town has a vibrant population who live not too far from the medieval town and one can see a number of buildings that are used for educational, business, religious and living purposes. Since Vanalinn depends heavily on the tourism industry, there are a number of splendid hotels and guests houses that offer guests a comfortable place to stay. Some hotels have deliberately retained their historic charm in order to give guests an experience of what it was like living centuries ago and create an experience they will always remember.
If you are not one of those tourists who prefer the quiet and slow paced life of Vanalinn, then you should try visiting during the peak tourist season which is around Christmas. Thousands of tourists plan their vacation during the holiday season and the Old Town becomes a place of hustle and bustle.
Tourists visiting during the Christmas season will do well to book their hotels in advance as they tend to get filled up pretty quick with the holiday rush. Do keep in mind that the partying and clubbing in Vanalinn can go well into the early hours of the morning and if you are staying in a hotel in the Old Town, you are likely to be kept awake as the noise can often be heard in the hotels.
Tourists who prefer to visit during the holiday season and still need a quiet night's sleep can opt to stay away a little away from the Old Town and choose hotels like the Radisson Blu Sky Hotel
or the Nordic Hotel Forum
There are a mix of old school and upgraded hotels listed below with brief descriptions on what they have to offer in order to help guests decide which hotel will meet their needs during their stay in Vanalinn. There are some fantastic hotels like the Schlossle, St. Petersbourg Hotel, The Three Sisters and the Telegraaf Hotel.
5-star hotel, housed in 13th and 14th century buildings
One of the biggest factors for most tourists, especially those with young families in choosing a hotel is its location. If location is high up on your list when it comes to choosing a hotel, then you will do well to stay at Hotel Schlossle as it is situated on the corner of Vene street and Pühavaimu. Vene street, the Russian street in Estonian language, is one of the most popular streets in the Old Town. The street was used in times of old by merchants and their caravans from all over the Baltic region, especially from the Novgorod merchant republic.
They would not only frequent Vene street but also set up storehouses and shops to conduct brisk business. The Schlossle Hotel's website has a great write up on the cobblestone streets and the history of Vene
. The hotel was once used as a storehouse for these wealthy merchants and some of the noble families of Tallinn. The hotel building was upgraded during the 18-th century and is now referred to as one of the "baroque-gothic" houses of Tallinn.
The Tallinn city museum is located very close to the hotel. There are some fantastic exhibits on display featuring medieval artefacts, merchant house model and a great display at the Valiuta stand of Estonian soft power in the former USSR.
Tourists will be able to spend around 2-3 hours going through the entire museum and can then exit to take a quick lunch at one of the nearby cafes or restaurants. There are loads of good places to sit down and have a bite on Vene street.
If you are spending a few days at the Hotel Schlossle then you can try out some of the below places located in Vene street. If you are interested in fine dining, then the Tchaikovsky restaurant
is a must as it serves us some aristocracy styled Russian cuisine. Then you can try the popular Italian restaurant Trattoria La Bottega
which is owned and run by an Italian chef who relies on his family recipes to cook up some of the best Italian cuisine in Tallinn. Those looking to taste some homemade Estonian chocolate can visit the Chocolats de Pierre café, while those looking to sample some great wines can stop at Dominic
a place which also serves great French cuisine.
If you would like to go shopping and pick up some handicrafts or souvenirs to remind you of the Old Town of Tallinn, then you visit the Master's Courtyard
. There is a lot on offer at the Courtyard including traditional Estonian jewelry, house apparel and also sweets and coffee found at the de Pierre. If you are looking for some great apparel and textile products then a visit to Katariina Gild
. A number of local craftsmen display their designs at the Gild and the products on display are not very expensive.
While the location of the hotel is a great advantage, the hotel by itself is extremely impressive. The Schlossle as the name suggests has German roots to it as the name was derived from a merchant of German origin whose family settled in Old Tallinn. This five star property is a great choice for the sophisticated traveller or businessman who wants to spend some time in Tallinn. The hotel is currently closed for renovating during the time of this write up but is expected to open during the Spring of 2016. The group that runs the Schlossle also runs other hotels in the region including the St. Petersbourg Hotel which is covered in detail below.
The Schlossle has a fantasic ambience and highly trained staff who make guests feel very welcome and are always at hand to take requests and be of assistance. The hospitality and ambience combined can give guests the feeling of being a wealthy Reval (Tallinn was called Reval from the 13th century right until 1918) merchant from the 18th century. The hotel has retained quite a lot of the ancient materials and structures.
Guests will discover that the living rooms and public spaces have a number of wooden beams, wall niches and irregular rooms that are symbolic of the past. This coupled with the number of paintings, designs and decorations on the walls give the Schlossle a special atmosphere. The living rooms have been carefully decorated to give off an Estonian vibe and the bed linen also have colourful Estonian designs. Do keep in mind that you will have to climb the stairs to get to your room and it is quite an exercise depending on which floor of the hotel you are staying in, you might want to request for a room on the first floor.
Guests who are busy or tired after a day of sightseeing around the Old Town, can relax in the hotel and have their meal at the popular M.C Grill Restaurant. While the food and beverage industry is extremely competitive in the Old Town, the M.C Grill Restaurant continues to be a popular spot with its live band most weekends.
Estonia can get really cold and during this time, guests will be able to warm themselves up at the Sauna which is a big part of Estonian culture. If you stay at the Schlossle, then do make a trip to the Sauna or pay a visit to the spa and indulge yourself in some relaxing massages.
The hotel also makes use of its small and cozy garden during summers to serve food and drink. Since the Old Town is flocked with tourists and dining at a restaurant or bar can be quite noisy, this quiet garden dining experience is something that guests can try. St. Petersbourg Hotel
Posh 5 star hotel, recently refurbished
The St. Petersbourgh Hotel derived its name from an Imperial capital city and is situated close to the political center of the Town, between the Raekoja plats and Toompea hill. The town hall is also situated in the same location and has been since 1322 while Toompea hill is where the government and parliament of Estonia is situated.
The building was originally constructed back in the 14th century and went through a redesign during 1850 after which the St.Petersbourg Hotel was opened to the public. The hotel is officially the oldest hotel still opened to the public in the Old Town of Tallinn. When the Soviets were in power, the hotel name was changed to the Hotel Rataskaevu, since the communist regime did not want the name to refer back to the Imperial history. The hotel was once again renamed to St.Petersbourgh and renovated in 1999. This popular hotel once again went through an elaborate makeover between 2013 and 2014, after which it was given a five star status by the Estonian Hotel and Restaurant Association.
Bang opposite the St.Petersbourgh hotel is the popular Cat's Well
and also visible from across the street is the Rataskaevu 16 building which gained popularity for hosting the wedding of the Devil
. This has now been converted into a fine restaurant which "has no real name"
Guests who would like to have a drink at the bar and experience some of the nightlife of Old Tallinn, can take a walk to the Beer House. This popular beer hangout also serves up some great food and is a hit with both tourist and locals. There are a number of local brews on offer and one of the best is the House's Honey Beer. After enjoying a couple of cold beers and some snacks, one can take a slow walk and visit any of the nearby restaurants for dinner.
If you want a unique dining experience, then you might want to venture into the Korsaar
, which is a pirate themed restaurant. This unique restaurant does not attract a lot of tourists but is extremely popular with the locals. The restaurant and the Beer House share a common lobby and door, so if you plan on dining like a pirate, keep your eyes open once you enter the Beer House as the way to the Korsaar can be easily missed.
If you prefer to dine in-house at the St.Petersbourgh hotel, then you can visit the Hermitage restaurant which or go to the Kuldse Notsu Kõrts which serves up some of the popular Estonian dishes.
When it comes to the comfort and ambience of the hotel rooms at St.Petersbourgh, you will find that you get more than your value for money. The rooms have been designed by a design house in the U.K known as Andrew Martin
and incorporates a chic and modern look while maintaining an aristocratic spirit that is very Russian which can be seen in the huge bedcovers, table lamps and paintings. The rooms give guests the best of both worlds as the hotel rooms are considered to be the chicest in the Old Town of Tallinn.
While the St.Petersbourgh hotel is a lot smaller than some of the other five star properties around, it still has a number of amenities including a wonderful sauna. Guests who would like to use the sauna are encouraged to book in advance in order not to be disappointed.
While the hospitality industry is supposed to be known for good service, some of the hotels in the Old Town of Tallinn have staff that can appear cold and a bit aloof but that's mostly because Estonian people are not very emotional in public. However the hotels that we recommend on this site have exceptional customer service and right up at the top is the St.Petersbourgh hotel as their staff have been very well trained to make the guest feel at home and attend to all their needs no matter how small they may be. The Three Sisters
Luxury boutique accommodation in a medieval style hotel
Guests who are looking for peace and quiet will do well to book themselves into the Three Sisters, the hotel is situated in one of the less noisy parts of the Old Town. The oldest building was first constructed in 1362 and its ownership has changed hands a number of times through the centuries but the history of all the owners has been carefully recorded and maintained till this day.
The hotel went through a massive renovation phase from 2000 up to 2003 but the owners made sure that the makeover did not interfere or compromise any of the old medieval architecture or ambience that has made the Three Sisters popular over the years. While the hotel cannot be compared in terms of amenities to the likes of the St. Petersbourg and Schlossle hotels, it maintains a charm of its own that makes it an interesting place to stay.
None of the hotel rooms at the Three Sisters are the same as they are all unique in size and ambience.
The hotel also has a nice courtyard that tends to get very busy in the summer months as both locals and foreigners tend to arrive to have a quick bite and a quiet drink.
The Three Sisters have hosted some of the top celebrities and VIP's from around the world including Queen Elizabeth II, Emperor Akihito of Japan, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Mihail Baryshnikov, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sting.
The staff at the Three Sisters has been trained exceptionally well to cater to tourists from all over the world and will provide guests with top quality service. The hotel is situated on Pikk Street and while there are a number of restaurants and cafes on the street, they are not the best in the Old Town. Guests are advised to visit the Bordoo restaurant at the hotel as it is the finest dining place in this vicinity.
The place to have a beer and chill is at the Hell Hunt pub. This is easily the most popular pub in the locality and is reputed to have the biggest beer menu in Tallinn
which includes some of the pub's own beers.
There are quite a few places to visit that are not very far from the hotel. St Olaf's church is hard to miss and a stopover at the Estonian Maritime Museum
is also advised. The museum is located at the Fat Margaret tower which is also a part of the museum. Families with children will enjoy the trip and the museum which has a nice café and a pretty cool gift shop as well (the museum also has another facility which is bigger, but situated pretty far from the Old Town). The Telegraaf
5 star spa hotel
The Telegraaf Hotel is located not very far from the Schlossle, the hotel draws a large crowd of both tourists and locals to its popular Tchaikovsky restaurant, which is considered to be one of the top fine dining restaurants in Estonia.
The hotel is yet another piece of ancient architecture in the Old Town of Tallinn and the building was once used by Estonia's postal and telephone services. The building was damaged during World War II but the new owners made a number of repairs to the building in 2005.
The hotel is considered to be one of the bigger hotels in Vanalinn and has a total of 80 rooms available. Guests will be able to join the fine courtyard of the hotel where drinks and food are served during the summer months. There is also a luxury spa available at the hotel for guests to pamper themselves with some therapeutic massages.
The Elemis Spa which is part of a British brand is considered to be one of the best spas in Tallinn. If you are short on time and cannot get an appointment at the spa, you may try the sauna or the pool. The Elemis Spa also sells their own cosmetic products and guests staying at the hotel will be able to sample them as the toiletries are by the Elemis brand
Just like it is important to make a reservation to not be disappointed at the Spa, it is advised to make a reservation for dinner at the popular Tchaikovsky restaurant as there is generally a rush for dinner.
The rooms at the Telegraaf Hotel may not be as stylish as the St. Petersbourg or Schlossle's considering the fact that these hotels were recently renovated. However it does have a unique twist to its rooms due to the fact that the hotel has a 5th and 6th floor that give guests better views of the Old Town. The Merchant's House
Great value boutique hotel
If you want to stay right in the center of the Old Town, then the Merchant's House Hotel is the place to be. Guests who stay at the hotel have a choice of both modern or medieval style rooms to choose from.
Business executives will find this a great hotel due to the hotels location and also because the hotel has a number of business and conference rooms with excellent modern facilities. Companies in Estonia often book their business or conference meetings at the Merchant's House Hotel and then wind up by having a drink at the bar. Guests can also make use of the sauna and massage parlour that provide a number of relaxing treatments. St. Olav Hotel
While the St. Olav Hotel is not recommended on our BeautifulStay website as one of the best hotels in Tallinn
, it is certainly not one of the worst. This hotel is not as expensive as some of the other hotels that we have listed on our website and as a result guests should not be looking for the same kind of benefits and amenities. However if you have a tight budget but still want to have a good time at the Old Town, then staying at the St. Olav Hotel is definitely one of the options. The hotel is situated not too far away from the Raekoja Plats and has continued to maintain its historic look.
The hotel has gone through a number of makeovers over the years and all of the rooms are filled with modern amenities and technology. The hotel has a number of different rooms to choose from depending on the number of guests, tastes and preferences.
The St. Olav Hotel serves up a fantastic breakfast and gives guests the options to choose either a continental breakfast or a traditional Russian breakfast. There is also a beauty parlour attached to the hotel and ladies can get a discount at the parlour.
The Baltic Hotel Imperial
Enjoyable stay on a small budget
The Baltic Hotel Imperial offers 10 single rooms, 18 double rooms, a junior suite, two deluxe rooms with a kitchenette and a suite with a private sauna and Jacuzzi. Special rooms are available for disabled guests and guests with allergies.
Part of the original structure built against the original city walls can still be viewed at the hotel due to restoration efforts to preserve them. Historically, this was once the location of the Soviet embassy. The building's ground floor had been used as a beer restaurant until 1980.
The guest rooms are stylish and spacious, featuring natural wooden furniture and high-quality fabrics.
While some suites have their own kitchenette, guests can choose to dine at Imperial Pub for breakfast and lunch or just enjoy a round of cocktails. Restaurant St. Michael offers a departure from the norm by styling its entire menu around the world's best cheeses.
For guests who didn't opt for a suite, a private sauna can be found in the basement, along with a Jacuzzi and a sitting room with a fireplace.
Luxury boutique hotel in the Old Town
The four-star CRU Hotel is housed in a 15th century merchant home. The 15 rooms feature both modern conveniences and antique furnishings with wooden accents. To avoid making disabled guests struggle around the winding hallways and staircases, special rooms have been set up for them on the ground floor. For those who can make it to the top, the panoramic view of Tallinn is well worth the effort.
From its base on Old Town's main street, the hotel is within easy reach of all the best local attractions from museums and shops to restaurants and cafes.
For a brilliant street-level view of the city while dining on authentic French and Estonian cuisine by award-winning chefs, guests can head to Restaurant Cru. When they need some rest and relaxation, guests can enjoy the use of a private Jacuzzi, steam room, and sauna, but these must all be booked in advance.
The Savoy Boutique
Savoy Boutique is an art-deco style hotel that holds its own in the luxury hotel market in Tallinn, everything from the service arrangements to the interior decor is top notch.
The Mekk restaurant is very popular with the locals and is listed as one of the top restaurants in Estonia. The Meriton Old Town Garden Hotel
Travelers on a budget, however, needn't feel left out. There are plenty of options for lower-priced hotels. The Meriton Old Town Garden Hotel offers small rooms as well as spacious apartments, depending on your needs. In fact, this 16th-century former merchant house boasts up to 50 unique rooms.
Guests can use the aqua and sauna center or the gym free of charge at the Meriton Grand Conference & SPA Hotel nearby, which also provides a range of spa packages.
The Estonian Dining Room provides authentic Estonian cuisine, as one would expect for such a name, in a very homey setting. A small cafe at the hotel offers freshly brewed coffee and pastries during the day. Both of these dining venues can also be converted into meeting rooms.
A Stone's Through From the Old Town
Tourists who prefer to visit during the holiday season and still need a quiet night's sleep can opt to stay away a little away from the Old Town and choose hotels like the Radisson BLU Sky Hotel
or the Nordic Hotel Forum