The concept of the "boutique hotel" is thought to have been devised in the 1980s. The world's first "boutique" hotels opened their doors in 1981. These were Blakes Hotel in South Kensington, London, and the Bedford in Union Square, San Francisco.
Tallinn offers a wide range of urban boutique hotels that vary in price and style. Some prefer to highlight well-preserved historical elements of Tallinn's Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, while others feature more modern styles and themes. St. Petersbourg Hotel
Posh 5 star hotel, recently refurbished
St. Petersbourg Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Tallinn. Styled to reflect the town's rich history with Russian Empire merchants, this boutique hotel acts as a gateway to the past but still provides all the modern conveniences one would expect.
Located in the heart of the city and based in a 15th century building, the hotel features classy unique designs in each room.
One restaurant serves Estonian cuisine, while the other serves Russian cuisine.
Use of the sauna is free, and service standards are high.
The convenient location makes it easy to see all of Tallinn's attractions during your trip. On the other hand, it's also usually crowded with tourists and is barely 200 meters away from the Tallinn Christmas market, which opens in winter and is known to be a very noisy place (Medieval Market, which operates in spring and summer, is less noisy).
It is a wonderful place to stay, but you may want to give it a miss if you are looking for a quieter place to stay. The Three Sisters
Luxury boutique accommodation in a medieval style hotel
The Three Sisters provides luxury accommodation in a 14th century building.
Each room features a unique design that combines a taste of history with a modern style. Every detail from the furnishings to the works of art in the room add to the eclectic ambiance. Wood and natural materials feature strongly in the rooms' decor.
There are small peculiarities to be discovered in several of the rooms. Some may have a rounded wall, others may feature a niche. Some may come with a tiny balcony, a second floor, or a wooden balk. I think this is the best part of the hotel, marking it as one of my favorites for a true historic experience in Tallinn.
There is also a tiny courtyard, a feature I personally adore in hotels, especially when there are rooms that can be entered through the yard instead of the lobby.
Since each room has its own flavor, you may have to look at a few to find one that you really like. Not every room will be convenient or will suit everyone's taste. For instance, I generally don't like mansard rooms, and the split-level rooms with stairs are not suitable for families with kids or for some of the older guests.
The hotel has a small restaurant, Bordoo, plating up Estonian cuisine and making use of local produce.
5-star hotel, housed in 13th and 14th century buildings
Schlössle is a unique, classy 5-star hotel, housed in 13th and 14th century buildings in central Tallinn.
It features spacious rooms with a unique design that makes use of the highest quality wood and fabric. The large windows here are a nice touch since medieval buildings tend to have very small windows. Murals decorate the old stone walls in the lobby, which is lit up by tiny lamps and a warm fireplace.
As a boutique hotel, individual quirks are a must. Here, it comes in the form of a private bath butler. The restaurant, MC Grill, serves excellent European cuisine, and there is a unique cigar lounge, where one can enjoy a cigar and a glass of cognac.
There is also a very pretty small terrace, decorated with lots of flowers.
The Schlössle is run by the same management as the St. Petersbourg Hotel.
The CRU Hotel
Luxury boutique hotel in the Old Town
Luxury boutique CRU Hotel is housed in a 15th century building on the main street of Tallinn's Old Town. Its rooms offer wooden accents and antique furniture. Many of the rooms are actually very interesting, just staying at the hotel, with its winding staircases and hallways, is part of the attraction in Tallinn. A Jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room can be booked for private use.
Because of its central location, there is a noise factor to consider because of the tourists milling around. There isn't much vehicular traffic to contend with since only the locals drive around on these streets and there aren't too many of them living in this neighborhood.
The hotel's restaurant is well worth a visit. Run by a chef holding European and international awards, it offers delicious French and Estonian cuisine.
The Savoy Boutique
Savoy Boutique is the top hotel of a local hotel group, beating a range of other hotels in the group's line-up from budget hotels to luxury hotels. Personally, I don't much appreciate the business model it represents and always tend to question whether such hotels can really lay claim to being classy, as opposed to being a cheaper brand of the group.
However, I believe the Savoy is an excellent, first-class hotel.
I especially like the fact that it has a unique style compared with Tallinn's other boutique hotels.
All of the rooms feature an art deco style and offer plenty of natural light.
Despite being so close to Tallinn's town center, there are many rooms available that face away from the city's nightclubs, offering a quieter experience for those who are easily disturbed. This is especially helpful if you have young children in tow.
The in-house restaurant offers varied cuisine, with appropriate wine pairings. The generous breakfast options each morning are guaranteed to suit every palate and come with a glass of champagne.
While offering one of the best guest experiences and luxury accommodations in town, the Savoy is moderately priced and offers excellent value for money. The Merchant's House
Great value boutique hotel
The Merchant's House is another medieval-style hotel in Old Town, giving you a taste of history. Many travelers are pleasantly surprised by the interior design in some of the rooms, with their abundant use of wood and other natural materials.
The service here is excellent, and you'll love having free access to the very good sauna. The restaurant serves delicious food.
On the down side, the neighborhood is quite noisy, so this may affect light sleepers.
The Baltic Hotel Imperial
Enjoyable stay on a small budget
The Baltic Hotel Imperial also has a great location right on the edge of Old Town.
Joggers will enjoy the small park nearby.
The hotel has a good restaurant, and many of the rooms offer a wonderful view of the city.
The rooms are very stylish, in keeping with the medieval essence of Tallinn, and the furniture is very comfortable. The Von Stackelberg
Eco-friendly spa hotel
The Von Stackelberg can be found at the foot of Toompea Hill and just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Toompea Castle and Nevsky Cathedral.
Despite its central location close to the Old Town, it is not a very crowded area.
The historic building dates back to 1875 but offers the best modern amenities, including a well equipped spa with a Japanese pool and a stylish French restaurant located in the renovated cellar.
The hotel was awarded a Green Key certificate in recognition of its concern for the environment.
The open courtyard at the hotel is a beautiful place to sip a cocktail and relax.
The park nearby is ideal for early morning jogs, and travelers with children will love walking through the park as well.
St. Bridget's Convent Guesthouse St. Bridget's Convent Guesthouse
, for instance, is a cozy, quiet hotel, located near the ruins of the medieval monastery St. Birgitte.
The sisters of the order have a long-standing tradition to meet and greet guests, regardless of their religious beliefs. The unique atmosphere of a medieval monastery, with its authentic historical context, make this a wonderful choice. The hotel has all the necessary comforts, and there are often cultural events and concerts to attend.
It is quite far from the city center, though, so you'll need to find transport to visit any attractions in the city (city bus station is nearby). The Baltic Sea and, of course, the monastery itself are the only nearby attractions.
It's not a very pricey hotel and tends to find favor with people who wish to enjoy the spiritual side of Tallinn or those who need a calm, serene place to stay. The guesthouse is an active convent, and you can attend religious services here if you choose. Guests are asked to be mindful of this and to avoid making too much noise and disrupting these services.
Boutique Hotel Standards
Boutique hotels have been growing in popularity over the years, so much so that even large luxury-brand hotels sometimes have a boutique wing or a branch bearing their boutique brand label. Where it's difficult to strictly define the term, boutique hotels have a few distinguishing features that make them easier to spot.
The biggest giveaway is typically the size of the hotel. Boutique hotels rarely offer more than a hundred rooms. Their intimate size allows them to focus on the needs of individual guests to a greater extent than a larger hotel could manage. The ambiance is warm and homely compared with that of a grand luxury hotel with constant foot traffic through the lobby.
That said, the hotel needs to have a minimum of 10 rooms, or it would be classed as an inn or a B&B instead.
Boutique hotels often are or feel like they are independent hotels, offering unique decorating themes or services. The hotel may be independently owned or part of a luxury hotel association. If it's part of a larger hotel brand, it may just operate under their label. If it's actually a boutique wing of a larger hotel, it will often have a separate reception area and lobby and distinctive decor. In fact, all luxury boutique hotels ensure that their decor doesn't appear cliché or trite in order to attract a more varied clientele. Bold colors and stark palettes are often employed to create a sleek, contemporary style.
You won't find tassels and brocade furniture here, though the decor does typically reflect the history or heritage of its location. In some cases, every room is decorated in a different style, creating a new experience for repeat guests each time they visit.
Some boutique hotels offer private butlers or a valet; others take the time to learn your name and hometown and your likes and dislikes and take the initiative to personalize their services with treats they know you'd like or plan ahead to offer things you may need, based on your itinerary. They also tend to offer unique little surprises that add a light-hearted, humorous flair. For instance, you may find soap bars with a chocolate or margarita fragrance, or you may be given temporary business cards that don't look very business-like.
Boutique hotels often place great emphasis on its F&B offerings and typically have one or more extremely popular restaurants and bars. You can often find celebrity-chef-branded restaurants at these hotels to draw in the trendy crowd.