Q: What is it? A: A very decent place to stay in the heart of Estonia’s capital. Correct, this hotel looks and feels a bit traditional but is a nice choice nevertheless.
This is Estonia.
A tiny country with 1,34 million people. Until 1991 it was a part of the evil empire known as the Soviet Union. Still, 19 years later, gloomy remains of the Soviet occupation are to be found here and there, most commonly in post-war architecture. On my first visit to the country, the streets were littered with boozed-up lads. Thanks to less-than-sophisticated organizers like Pissup Tours, (sadly they’re not just merely a joke), the country had gained a reputation for being the ultimate stag-party destination where you could get 36 imperial gallons of beer for 1 Euro and the young women were rumoured to be, how to put it… ahem, loose. Thankfully, on my second visit to the country, the intoxicated young gentlemen weren’t visible; also the public view of this country seem to be changing.
This is Hotel Telegraaf.
Built by the Revaler Handels Bank in 1878 and designed by Peter Schreiberg of St. Petersburg. Forty years later it became the exchange station for the Estonian Telegraph company, hence the hotel’s name. Honestly, it still feels a little like entering a bank. Spaces are not exactly cool and airy. Well-fed bisnismen would feel more like at home in this environment. As to challenge this, the hotel is listing Lenny Kravitz, Enrique Iglesias, Morrisey and… (drumroll!) Rod Stewart among its famous guests. Well, OK then…
Rooms are on the classic side…
Hotel Telegraaf is by no means offering a spectacular design experience. I enter a clean, pretty comfortable and traditionally furnished little space (it’s certainly not huge). It’s just a nice room and I honestly needed to look at my own photos in order to remind myself of ever having stayed there. No major flaws, although the hot water seemed to be elsewhere for a while, but apparently it only needed a little time to heat up. I was a bit puzzled – when would this place start to collect points? The reviews I’ve read before heading to Estonia were all praising this place. I didn’t find that much worth praising.
First; breakfast. Then the spa…
The hotel’s Tchaikovsky restaurant has been rated in the top-three of Estonian restaurants. No, I didn’t have dinner there as I went for something more… contemporary, but they delivered a hotel breakfast that was way better than expected. Then a walk to the end of a corridor and down the stairs. Just when you think that you’re about the enter the garage through a backdoor, you’re at the front desk of the Elemis Spa. It’s quite a nice facility. There’s a 3×10 meter pool (+27 °C) and a jacuzzi (+35 °C). There’s also a steam sauna and a regular sauna. These are all free to hotel guests. Of course you’ll also find all the treatments you’d ever be able to afford.
After writing all this…
I feel a little sour awarding the Hotel Telegraaf with only three stars. The rating could have been higher if there had been a special rulebook for reviewing hotels in quickly emerging countries that only recently were behind the iron curtain. But, naah… I’d better use the same scale as for any other hotel. However, if you’re about to spend some time in gorgeous Tallinn, this is a very nice choice. The hotel is not a bustling place, booming with activity 24/7. It’s more of a… nice choice. Nice and traditional and yet still not so traditional as this is Tallinn, baby.