BACKGROUND The hotel market in Estonia, and particularly its capital Tallinn, has increased dramatically following the country’s independence from Russia in 1991. In Tallinn itself, the promise of a cheap holiday and a good night out together with the city’s rich medieval history, has drawn in the tourists and steadily increased demand for rooms. That is until recently and the advent of the global financial crisis. In the last year or so, over-saturation of the market in terms of the number of hotel rooms online, coupled with falling demand and occupancy, has negatively affected rates. Fortunately, for the business traveller, this means five-star rooms can be had at very competitive prices.
For many years Radisson was the only international up-market hotelier in Tallinn. Nowadays there are more, but still only a handful and Swissotel Tallinn is one of them. The 238-room Swissotel opened just two years ago, and offers arguably the best views across Tallinn. Its Horizont fine cuisine restaurant is the highest in Tallinn, according to Swissotel.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? The Swissotel is part of a larger multi-use, two-tower complex that is also used for offices and residential apartments. The 30-floor twin skyscrapers are the tallest buildings in Tallinn, and scream of slick, capitalist grandeur. It’s hard to miss the towers, such is their impact on the Tallinn skyline. Inside, the hotel is of the contemporary up-market type, with tasteful neutral colours, lots of glass and modern art strategically placed throughout the lobby. Conveniently, there is what appears to be a small shopping centre accessible through a door next to the lobby bar, where I found a small bureau de change. The lobby itself, located on the ground floor of one of the towers, is large and open with plenty of seating.
WHERE IS IT? The Swissotel is less than a ten-minute walk from Tallinn’s picturesque, UNESCO-listed Old Town area. Also nearby are many of Tallinn’s corporate offices, all making for an excellent location for guests on business but with a little time to spend sight-seeing. The Swissotel sits on the crossroads of one of the city’s main roads, the E20, which goes on to Tallinn Airport just 4km away.
ROOM FACILITIES The Swissotel’s Swiss Executive Room is specifically aimed at the business traveller in that it comes with access to the Swiss Executive Lounge, where guests can have breakfast and make use of the concierge and business centre. The room also has a rather nice double-aspect window, which gives the impression that it’s more roomy and open than the lower tier rooms. The Executive Room comes with free internet access, an iPod docking station, complimentary use of the espresso machine and a daily newspaper. There’s also a safe and ironing facilities (the latter on request).
The bathroom was tastefully decorated in brown glass tiles, black slate flooring and chrome fittings, and came with a rain head shower and separate bath. The door to the bathroom is of an odd darkened glass, making for an interesting experience should anyone else be in the room.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS The Swissotel has three eateries: No3 Deli Lounge and Bar (part of the lobby), Café Swiss and Horisont, all of which double up as bars.
The Horisont restaurant and bar is worthy of particular focus, given its incredible views across Tallinn and out across the Baltic Sea. From the bar, guests can watch ferries arrive well into the night from Helsinki, just two-hours away. The Horisont is the Swissotel’s fine dining restaurant, and as such is ultra-modern with a contemporary menu, by no means experimental but excellently executed and of an exacting standard. All the ingredients are locally sourced, and a taster menu is available as well as the usual a la carte one. A feature of Horisont, if you’re a smoker, is its Cigar Lounge. This heavily ventilated lounge can get pretty crowded in the evenings, with cigarette smokers unwilling to travel the 20 or so floors down to the ground level.
Café Swiss, on the eighth floor, is rather a more relaxed affair, with more of an emphasis on breakfast, lunch and lighter meals.
The No3 Deli Lounge and Bar is located in the lobby and is a great place to relax while waiting for your airport transfer, or as a location for an informal or impromptu business meeting. Tea and coffee, as well as a large bar, are all available to guests.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The Swissotel has four meetings rooms, ranging from the 29sqm boardroom to the 481sqm ballroom (the largest in Estonia according to Swissotel). Of these four venues, the ballroom and the 111sqm “Tornimae” room can be divided into three and two smaller rooms respectively. The hotel lists itself as having seven spaces, consisting of ballroom 1, 2 and 3; Tornimae 1 and 2; Tartu and the boardroom.
LEISURE FACILITIES The Amrita Spa & Wellness centre, located on the 11th floor, is luxuriously decorated in a modern style that would appear to be influenced by the Middle East. The centre includes a sauna and steam room, a “contrast” aka freezing-cold shower (a must after the sauna), a decent size indoor swimming pool and a well-equipped gym. It is open from 0700 during the week, perfect for getting a swim in before the first morning meeting. A range of spa treatments are on offer, such as hot stone massages and aroma therapy.
VERDICT The Swissotel is modern and slick, and the Horisont restaurant is easily world class. All in all extremely good value for money.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? 238 rooms and suites made up of 192 Swiss Advantage Rooms (including Swiss Executive Rooms), 11 Suites and 1 Presidential Suite.
- ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The Swiss Executive Room’s espresso machine is free, as is the wifi. The double-aspect window gives a great view over much of Tallinn.
- PRICE Best available online rate for a mid-week stay in July starts at EEK2,347 (£122) per night. This includes spa and executive lounge access.
- CONTACT Tornimäe 3, 10145 Tallinn, Estonia; tel +372 624 0000; tallinn.swissotel.com