Design hotels in Tallinn

Design hotel. Photo credit: xy, Fotolia

Here, we define Nordic design hotels as a type of hotel that has placed great importance on introducing chic, contemporary, stylish decor. Boutique hotels tend to be best known for this. In any case, the hotels in this category that we've chosen are only those that one would consider memorable and would recommend to others.

In general, Tallinn's contemporary hotels reflect a Nordic or Scandinavian influence in their design, tending to be mostly simple, low-cost, ecological and functional. Colors tend to be bright while accentuated by natural earthy colors, and artwork is minimalist. The design was developed in the 1950s as part of an attempt to make beautiful, functional everyday objects more accessible to the working class, rather than having these restricted to the wealthy. The average homemaker could draw a sense of the concept from renowned Swedish interior decor supplier IKEA, which provides cheap but functional and yet stylish items that most people can afford. Tallinn's contemporary hotels will have been decorated along similar lines, though with different suppliers.

For the most part, Tallinn’s best hotels are historic buildings that fall into a completely different category for design. So it is rare to find any truly cutting-edge designer hotels, as one would expect to find in London, Amsterdam, or New York.

There are, however, a number of peculiar options that may just take your fancy. Try the following hotels for a quick sample.

The Nordic Hotel Forum, Swissôtel Tallinn, and Casa Kalamaja all feature Nordic design.

The Nordic Hotel Forum is typically chosen by business travellers and companies hosting conferences. The four-star hotel offers every modern convenience, while the classic, beautifully appointed rooms and public spaces never disappoint. With over 250 rooms on offer, guests are spoiled for choice with a variety of elegant rooms featuring contemporary bathrooms with mosaic floors, hidden from view by frosted glass with floral patterns. The spacious rooms are equipped with satellite TV, air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. They generally feature colors of dark rosewood, whites, light browns, and burgundy and soft lighting, as well as randomly tiled floors.


Staff across the hotel are very accommodating and can assist with a range of requests. The summer terrace and the lobby bar, which features an open fireplace, are very popular. The indoor pool seems to stretch forever, appearing as if the room were flooded, and looking out onto the city through a giant picture window. The hotel's chic facade features dark panelled glass with a white floral pattern spreading across it like bougainvillea. Although floral patterns appear everywhere from the walls to the floors to the leafy pattern on the headboards of the beds, there aren't many floral arrangements (of real flowers) to be seen in the hotel, except in the main restaurant.

Swissôtel Tallinn, a luxury hotel, is the tallest structure in the entire town, offering breathtaking views of the harbor or sea or of Old Town from the guest room's picture windows. A panoramic view of all of Tallinn can be enjoyed at the hotel's Horisont Restaurant & Bar, which serves dinner and cocktails and is decorated in classic colors of white, black, and brown. In contrast to the rest of the Tallinn's medieval-style hotels, this hotel is very chic and offers modern furnishings, making it an excellent venue for weddings and private parties. The design is simple and functional enough to be useful for business conferences and product launches as well, with all the necessary equipment and facilities available on request.  This hotel has the largest ballroom in Estonia. The comfortable air-conditioned guest rooms and suites offer both flat-screen cable TVs and free Wi-Fi for in-door entertainment. Special kids' rooms adjoin parents' rooms, featuring child-friendly decor, including Disney and Pixar themed items, and a bedtime room service option with milk and cookies.


The hotel's glass-panelled facade is striking during both daytime and night-time. The aquamarine waters of the indoor pool perfectly sets off the dark brown the carved wooden panels surrounding it. The elevator areas include large picture windows with a view of the city perfectly framed by the understated black and white of the indoors. Although some rooms can be small or oddly shaped, the space is used to its best advantage and are always accompanied by large windows to enhance the sense of space in the room.

Casa Kalamaja's luxury apartments are housed in a wooden building, dating back to 1901. It was recently renovated and meets strict safety standards. The one-bedroom self-contained apartments have access to the gardens and a free parking area, as well as a private back yard with a playground (featuring a sandpit with toys). Four overnight guests can be accommodated per apartment. Although meals are not provided, each apartment has a fully equipped kitchenette. The apartments have central heating, and their bathrooms have heated floors. Casa Kalamaja is typically described as cozy and practical, and the rates are very reasonable. All of the rooms are bright white from the paint on the walls to most of the furniture, accentuated only by light wood in the form of cabinets, flooring, and the dining table and chairs. The silver refrigerator and other kitchen equipment lend a splash of vibrant color in the kitchenette. The outside is painted a pleasant green and looks much like a large town home.


For more historic rooms featuring just a touch of chic decor, try the Von Stackelberg or The Three Sisters.

The Von Stackelberg was built in 1875 as a family home and converted into a 4-star hotel, retaining its historic style. It is located on the estate of German-Baltic Baron von Stackelberg. Although it is a member of the Green Key program, it has not skimped on any modern conveniences. Each room is air-conditioned and includes free WiFi, tea and coffee-making facilities, a writing desk, and more. The bathrooms have heated floors, and guests can choose either a bathtub or a walk-in shower. The hotel's special Zen rooms feature Jacuzzi baths and aromatherapy accessories. High-quality fabrics and furnishings can be found throughout the hotel. Stone and brick walls feature randomly throughout the hotel, including in the spa, some bedrooms, and meeting rooms. Tiny alcoves with hidden lighting set off otherwise ordinary items, such as books or a bowl of fruit, to make them appear as works of art. Some rooms also have unusual features, such as a sloping roof above the bed or a window seat. Long staircases wind up toward the top floors.


At the on-site luxury day spa, guests have access to massages and beauty treatments, as well as a sauna and Japanese pool. Books can be borrowed from the hotel's library and taken down to the lobby bar, where guests can read by the fireplace with a cocktail at hand. Drinks are also served in the courtyard, which is an excellent place to unwind in the summertime. From the courtyard, the hotel appears rather like a grand country inn, adding to its overall charm.

Lastly, The Three Sisters was formed after the conversion of three merchant houses, dating back to the 14th century. It was renovated to assume its current style as a luxury boutique hotel in 2003 but retains its antique-style furnishings and wooden beams and floors. The artwork and patterns on furniture are elegant but minimalist. Warm colors abound throughout the hotel mixed with the occasional splash of cool colors from stained glass or the marbled walls of the bathrooms. Providing a look at both old and modern styles, this boutique hotel offers free WiFi across the grounds and spare computers in the lobby. Each room includes a TV set, minibar, air conditioner, and private safe and features large comfortable beds. The contemporary bathrooms include a hair dryer and bathrobe with a bathtub or shower option.


The hotel's restaurant, Bordoo, features a special chocolatier section, where guests can sample Estonia's world-famous chocolate. Meals can also be taken on the Courtyard Patio, and guests can take advantage of the terrace with its BBQ facilities.

Carolyn John, 2018