Family-friendly places to stay in Tallinn

Family in a hotel room. Photo credit: 2015 Joana Lopes, Fotolia

Travelling with young children typically requires careful planning to keep your fun-filled, much-longed-for family vacation on track. The journey alone can be stressful enough what with checking on all baggage, keeping track of one or more children with a tendency to wander, finding your way through unfamiliar airports or train stations, and finding a cab or rental car agency to take you where you want to go.

Once you arrive at your hotel, you’ll want to relax and start enjoying your vacation. If you’ve planned well and chosen a good hotel with family-friendly facilities, this will not be a problem.

Best family-friendly hotels in Tallinn

In Tallinn, Estonia, tourist families of all sizes and budgets in every range have numerous options at their disposal. For instance, St. Bridget’s Convent Guesthouse is a budget hotel offering a very nice special family room for a very reasonable price. Although it is quite a distance from Old Town and most tourist attractions, families with young children will find it ideal for the quiet, which means they’ll be able to fall asleep easily after a long day of traveling to see the sights.

For something in between budgets, you could try Kalev SPA as much for the family-friendly facilities as for its famous spa facilities, giving you a chance to kick back and relax while the kids are asleep or playing. It’s not very expensive and isn’t very far off from Old Town. Kids will have a ball at the waterpark and there are even special swimming classes with trained instructors there for them. There are special offers at the hotel for families, but the waterpark and spa might be crowded with locals on weekends, another testament to its popularity.   

The Radisson Blu Hotel is quite close to Old Town as well as some of the largest shopping malls in town. This is very convenient if you need to shop for emergency items for the children, such as diapers or clothes. The hotel has numerous special offers as well as services available for families with children.

The Swissôtel is also close to Old Town and the shopping malls. Guests with children can request adjoining kids' rooms, which have been styled especially for young ones. The hotel also delivers milk and cookies to the room as part of the turndown service. Not only Swissotel rooms and suites are great for families, but also their Cafe Swiss is the nicest place to dine with kids (plenty of space, friendly staff, highchairs available).

Telegraaf Hotel, located in the Old Town, has a wonderful history attached to it. Families can also enjoy this slice of history by taking advantage of some of the special offers and services available. Mothers will be pleased to find a fully equipped spa and wellness facility available to them as well.

The Von Stackelberg is similarly located in Old Town and also has special offers and services available to families, as well as a spa and wellness center for mothers. A special package is offered to mothers and daughters to enjoy a day at the spa together, but advance booking is required.

Family apartmens

For guests seeking stylish apartments, Baltic Boutique Apartments were built in the 1930s. Each apartment has its own living room and kitchen. Although the location is not very glamorous, this is a good base location for a family of four or more.

Central Apartment Kalamaja offers a range of self-catering apartments. The wooden building, built in 1901, is some distance away the Old Town. Again, the location is far from glamorous, but the establishment does offer some very reasonable prices for a moderate to large family. The facilities on offer here are highly appreciated by its guests, you will even have a private back yard, with a playground for the children.

Romeo family apartments is another great option, located in Old Town. This places lacks style, but the prices are reasonable and the reviews are generally favourable, also you will get a nice view from the windows.

Many more private apartments in Old Town are, of course, available, but these tend to vary in price and are typically not very spacious or in the best of conditions. For this reason, we would recommend you to select one of the tried and true options above to ensure you will enjoy Tallinn and make memories for a lifetime.

Family-friendly hotels in Tallinn

by Hotelstars Superb score on Booking.com

There are 86 modern rooms, designed in Modern Art style with Art Deco touches and offer refined and elegant decór: 34 Executive rooms, 44 Superior rooms, 4 Junior suites, 4 suites. The hotel has rooms for allergic and disabled guests and non Smoking, located on the 2nd and 4th floors. In 90% of the rooms have a bath; in one room Suite features a sauna. Each of the air-conditioned rooms provide free Wi-Fi, so guests can remain online at all times, if they choose. A flat-screen satellite TV is also available for entertainment. While all the rooms are spacious and well-decorated, up to three standard suites and a presidential suite are also on offer. The elegantly appointed bathrooms have bathrobes and slippers standing by, waiting to be slipped into, and laundry and dry cleaning services are available, upon request.

150 to 749 $
127 to 856 $
127 to 856 $
by Hotels.com Very good score on Booking.com

The spa hotel, built in 2005, boasts up to 100 comfortable rooms facing either the Old Town section of Tallinn or Kanuti Park, with its show fountain, well-trimmed foliage and children's park. All rooms have a hair dryer, bathrobe, a strongbox, a phone, an LCD TV and comprehensive information about the services at the Kalev Spa. All rooms are allergy-free. One of the floors was designed specifically for people with allergies. Families and kids are welcomed and will enjoy the famous waterpark. There is a play room for children in the lobby and a room for changing nappies. Swimming classes are available for kids. The Kalev Spa Hotel and Waterpark provides a unique opportunity to get both convenient accommodation and family-friendly entertainment in one spot. Well known across Tallinn for its active holiday packages, both locals and tourists flock to the Kalev Spa in search of either a relaxing experience at the luxury spa or family fun at Estonia's largest waterpark.

66 to 235 $
by Hotels.com Very good score on Booking.com

This hotel offers 280 rooms and suites with elegant décor and beautiful plush furnishings in a combination of earthy and bold colors. Non-smoking and allergen-free rooms are available, on request. The hotel offers free high-speed Internet and room service. All rooms feature coffee and tea making provisions, an in-room safe, and an iron with an ironing board. A Standard room spans 30 square meters and can accommodate two adults. The suites are perfect for families or long stays, offering a wide living space. Executive suites offer two bedrooms and an elegant living room. Up to 4 adults can fit in the 60 square meter suite. All suites offer a bathrobe and slippers, individual climate control, a Nespresso coffee machine, a separate seating area and access to the Super Breakfast Buffet or breakfast served in the room.

116 to 270. $
116 to 267 $
by Hotels.com Superb score on Booking.com

Swissotel Tallinn offers 238 rooms and suites. Each has gorgeous views of the city, free Internet, and state-of-the-art entertainment systems. Guests also receive free access to the spa and sports facilities. For the business guests, executive rooms offer large work desks, an ergonomic chair, and access to the executive lounge, which serves free snacks and cocktails and provides meeting facilities. Each room has an espresso machine, tea-making facilities, walk-in rain shower with or without a bath, heated bathroom floors, a minibar, an electronic safe, a radio, a hairdryer, and more. There's a special kids' room featuring Disney or Pixar decor, kids' bathrobes, age-appropriate toys, DVDs and video games, a play corner, and special bathroom amenities. There are 11 one-bedroom suites and a Presidential Suite.

127 to 535 $
116 to 535 $
116 to 503 $
by Hotels.com Fabulous score on Booking.com

The Von Stackelberg features a total of 43 guest rooms and suites. There are 19 standard rooms, 18 ZEN rooms, 6 ZEN Deluxe rooms, 2 unique suites. The hotel's Standard Rooms have recently been renovated. They are all spacious and elegantly decorated. The rooms are air-conditioned and have writing desks with a flat-screen computer monitor and free Internet access. The rooms also include coffee and tea making facilities as well as digital safes. In the bathrooms, you can find heated floors, a hairdryer, and exclusive walk-in showers or baths. The décor of all rooms has been chosen to showcase an elegant style that matches the brick walls and wooden floors. All natural materials have been used in the ZEN rooms. The bathrooms have natural stone tiles and a Jacuzzi bathtub or power shower. Bathrobes and slippers are also provided, along with extra bathroom products. All other facilities and features are the same as those offered in standard rooms. ZEN Deluxe rooms are similar, except they come with a pillow menu to choose the right pillow for a good night's sleep and vary in size.

64 to 193 $
64 to 193 $
64 to 193 $
by Hotelstars Fabulous score on Booking.com

The Nordic Hotel Forum is a popular choice among business travelers and companies hosting conferences in Tallinn, it holds its own against the likes of the world-class Radisson hotels and Swissotel, which also have a presence in Tallinn. The spacious rooms are equipped with satellite TV, air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. A number of facilities are available free of charge to hotel guests, including a sauna, steam baths, gym, and hot tub. Children can play in the Children's Club, designed for pre-schoolers. They can play games, draw, or read books. Childcare services are available. The easy access to town and free amenities make the Nordic Hotel Forum a good choice for more than just businessmen, even though it is advertised as a business hotel. Tourists in particular will enjoy being close to the town to explore during the day before retiring to comfortable quarters at night.

97 to 305 $
97 to 319 $
97 to 319 $

Babyproofing your hotel

First of all, you’ll want to consider the hotel’s location based on your holiday itinerary. Kids can get quite fidgety if they’re forced to spend a lot of time cramped in a car while traveling between attractions. Cut down on your traveling time by choosing a hotel that is close to the largest number of attractions to which you’ll be taking the kids. Even if you have a few adult-only adventures planned, you’ll want to be close enough to return to the hotel quickly, if necessary.

A hotel close to your chosen outdoor activities will also be a blessing at around the kids’ nap time, which also gives you a chance to unwind before you head out again for the evening’s attractions. There should be a park or a playground nearby where your children can wear off any excess energy if you decide to relax by the hotel for the day or if you plan to try out any of the spa treatments on offer at the hotel or in Tallinn.

Instagram

To check on the structures available at any playgrounds listed on a map beforehand, you can try viewing it via Google Maps’ satellite view, which provides a pretty good idea of what you can expect when you get there. This is also a good way to check out the general neighborhood of a hotel you’re thinking of booking. Also keep an eye out for nearby cafes, restaurants, and shops since you’ll likely be visiting these quite often during your trip. Yelp can provide good reviews for eateries in the area if you’re looking for options beyond those provided by your chosen hotel.

When considering the room itself, space is an important factor. Some hotel rooms are barely large enough to accommodate a bed and a writing desk. This may be fine if your child is an infant but can be a problem for a family of four or more with older children. Hotels in Tallinn Old Town often have very small rooms for the low-budget range. A slightly more expensive room that offers more space or a suite is sometimes a better option to keep everyone from getting in each other’s way. Plenty of unexpected circumstances can spoil a vacation but a lack of space needn’t be one of them. Suites are especially convenient since they offer two or more rooms and a separate living room, where adults can relax while the kids are asleep.

Facebook

You should ask for adjoining rooms if your older children will be sleeping separately, so you can have some peace of mind while you’re resting and they also have easy access to you, if necessary.

If your children are very young and rambunctious, it’d be best to avoid cheaper hotels and B&Bs where the walls are very thin. If the other guests are constantly disturbed by the noise coming from your room at all hours- particularly if you have an infant who awakens to be fed in the early hours of the morning - you may be subject to complaints. If you can’t find a soundproof room that fits your budget, speak to the hotel staff in advance in case they can make arrangements to place you in a room that is closer to other families or in an area that is generally noisier than the rest of the hotel, so other guests can’t complain. A soundproof room would be much better though, since noise from the rest of the hotel could keep infants awake later than they need to be.

Families with babies may need to “babyproof” their hotel room to an extent to avoid any nasty accidents. Although it won’t be possible to secure temporary living quarters as well as you would your own home, there are many precautions that can be taken using only duct tape, blue painters’ tape, and twist-ties or pipe cleaners. These can be used to tie cords out of the way and to secure any unsafe furniture in the room.

To make your life easier, request a room that has already been baby-proofed (if one is available), so that you have less to do when you arrive, but be aware that this may attract an extra fee. Anything in the room that is within reach of the baby and that may be dangerous should be removed by the housekeeping staff or kept hidden in a closet. Loose cords and wires can be tied out of reach, while electrical outlets can be covered with duct tape (or blue painters’ tape if they are wallpapered) when they are not in use.

Facebook

Dresser drawers can also be secured with painters’ tape. Furniture with sharp corners can be cushioned with mounds of paper and duct tape. Request a crib so that you have a safe place to put the baby in lieu of a playpen while you’re distracted with other things. Check that the crib is safe first though, especially if your child is old enough to stand up and climb out of it. Move it away from any furniture that may encourage such adventures. Another worry is that babies can sometimes get trapped between the extra stuffed mattress and the bars of the crib, so check that the mattress fits tightly in the crib. Be sure that the crib isn’t directly in line with heating or cooling vents. Make sure all windows and balconies are locked and furniture is moved away from them to avoid having children climb up and fall out.

Another thing to look for when choosing a room is a refrigerator where you can place your personal items, such as baby bottles for feedings or quick meals and leftovers from takeaways. A minibar is typically present in most hotel rooms, which can double up for this purpose. An in-room coffee maker or teapot will be useful for heating water. Some rooms may even have a microwave oven for added convenience. Apartments of course come with a fully equipped kitchenette, which gives you the advantage of choosing to eat your own homemade meals when you want a break from the local cuisine.

Facebook

Most hotels have one or more restaurants of their own, but these sometimes cater only to adults. You can check reviews to see if any of the hotel’s restaurants, including the one catering for room service, serve reasonably priced kid-friendly meals. Some of these hotels will even include a baby chair. If you decide not to join the other guests for the breakfast buffet in the morning, there’s often a convenience store in the hotel lobby where small snacks and breakfast items can be purchased.

Many hotels only offer a shower, so if your kids are still very young and need your help for bathing, you may want to ensure you get a room with a bathtub.

Traveling with a family

If you plan to have a rather long vacation, you’ll need to consider laundry services at some point. The hotel’s in-house laundry service may be expensive, but most offer discounts for families with children. If not, you can check the local neighborhood for laundromats (not common in Estonia) or dry cleaning services, but obviously, this will need to be checked in advance.

Families who aren’t traveling on a budget or who have chosen to splurge on their vacation may opt for a luxury hotel experience. As part of this, guests with a family in tow can expect a welcome gift, which can be a small, stuffed toy or a few activity sheets. Some rooms come with a diaper genie or even a stepstool for your convenience. As part of the turndown service, families staying at luxury hotels are typically presented with a tray of milk and cookies.

If the hotel has a swimming pool or spa that accepts children, they may even have child-sized robes. You can enquire about these at the front desk.

Instagram

If you have a particularly large family, then a regular room won’t provide adequate space. A suite is a must in this case since they often come with a sofa pull-out bed. Up to six people can be accommodated in the average two-room suite. Many rooms also offer a rollaway bed for extra guests for a surcharge, but you should confirm in advance that the room has sufficient space for this. A crib is typically offered as well, sometimes for no extra charge, for children under a certain age. You may prefer to bring a crib-sized sheet of your own since hotels sometimes don’t have one available, offering instead a king-sized sheet that has been folded.

If you foresee needing the babysitting service, you should plan for this in advance since they typically require 24 hours’ notice. If you ask well in advance, the hotel may be able to arrange for the same babysitter to work with your family throughout your stay.

Another thing to watch out for are hidden fees. Various hotel services may indeed be available, but some don’t state upfront that there is a surcharge attributable until after you’ve booked it or at the time you attempt to pay the bill. You’ll need to find out if surcharges are applicable so that you can make a fair comparison between hotels that offer similar services. For instance, there is often a surcharge for parking on the premises since space is limited compared with the number of rooms available. The WiFi in the rooms is sometimes charged per device rather than being a standard rate for the whole room. Even in hotels where free WiFi is advertised, you should check whether this applies to all devices or just to the first two or three device connected. Spa or pool fees may be applicable in some cases.


Carolyn John, 2015

UNIQUE VACATION