I planned a spur-of-the-moment side-trip to Tallinn, Estonia on the way back from my European adventure.
The thought process behind this trip was basically that I was flying LOT Polish Airlines business class on the way back to Toronto, but I had already been to Warsaw a few years ago, so I wanted to check out a new place that was close by. Tallinn had been tugging at my heartstrings, as many people had recommended the Estonian capital as a beautiful “small” place that could easily be explored within a day or two.
In picking the hotel for my one-night stay, I looked no further than the Hotel Telegraaf, a five-star boutique hotel housed within a historic building in the Old Town, and part of the Autograph Collection by Marriott.
The hotel is a Category 5 property within Marriott Bonvoy, meaning that a free night here costs 35,000 points. Meanwhile, cash rates tend to vary between $150 and $300 depending on the season; it was about $205 on my date in early October, and paying the cash price felt like a better deal than redeeming points.
The hotel is located on Vene Street, one of the key routes through Tallinn’s old town. Jessica and I arrived in Tallinn at 11am on a Wizz Air flight from London Luton, and took the city tram over to the Old Town boundary, from which it was a five-minute walk to the hotel. The cobblestone streets proved to be quite challenging on our suitcases!
The building’s exterior is quite visually pleasing, and you can tell from the sign above the doors that it once served as the main centre of communications of the city – hence the name of the hotel.
The Autograph Collection is visible on the side of the doorway, as is the “T” letter design symbolizing the hotel itself.
The hotel’s lobby is located a half-level above the ground. It’s an intimate and elegant space, with the dark walls, checkerboard marble flooring, and mid-century modern furniture bringing about a casual but refined look.
There was no wait at the check-in desk, where we were helped by a friendly older lady. As a Marriott Platinum Premier Elite (now Titanium Elite) member at the time, I was happy to be informed that we were upgraded to a junior suite, and that the suite was in fact available at this very moment, despite it being quite a few hours before the published check-in time of 3pm.
I was also offered the choice between complimentary breakfast at the restaurant or 1,000 Bonvoy points as my elite amenity, and I chose the breakfast vouchers.
We headed up to the room to drop off our belongings before heading out to explore Tallinn. A set of elevators and a spiral staircase provide access to five storeys of guest rooms.
Room 320 would be our home for the night, and it was located down at the very end of the hallway. That’s always a good sign that you’ve gotten a nice room, isn’t it?
I should also note that we seemed to have been assigned a room in the more recently renovated “Executive” wing of the building, as there was a separate hallway splitting off in the other direction from the elevators that looked much less modern. Looking at the website, those rooms seem to be advertised as “Cozy Comfort” rooms, with a more old-school European vibe than the Executive wing. It’s good to have this information on hand if you’d like to indicate a room preference in advance of your stay.
Stepping into my junior suite, the first thing that struck me was the eye-catching decor. The walls are finished with a vibrant shade of red, while the carpet features an ornate pattern inspired by handwriting, prints, and stamps, reflecting the building’s history as a post and telegraph centre in the heart of Tallinn.
I personally loved the decor in the room, though I recognize that it may not be to everyone’s liking.
The arrangement of the junior suite itself basically consists of a sitting area with ample room located opposite the king bed, and the television stand positioned to the side.
A welcome amenity of macarons and sweets had been placed on the coffee table in the sitting area, along with some complimentary bottled water.
The king bed was extremely comfortable and more than served its purpose for our one-night stay. Compared to other brands in the Marriott umbrella, the Autograph Collection tends to have a wider range of brand standards, since it mostly consists of once-independent properties around the world that have signed up to be part of the franchise. I’m therefore happy to say that in almost every regard, the Hotel Telegraaf Tallinn was one of the more impressive Autograph Collection hotels I’ve stayed at.
There’s a desk in the corner of the room, again decked out in a stylish modern art-inspired theme – look at all the crazy things going on with that mirror! Getting a bit of work done here made me feel like a bit of an evil mastermind plotting my next move.
I also loved the old-school telephone, and you can bet that I found quite a few reasons to call down to the front desk just to use it a few times!
The bathroom is a relatively no-nonsense affair, featuring a sink, toilet, and shower-tub combo. I continue to be puzzled by shower-tub combos that use a single pane of glass in place of a shower curtain. I get that it looks nice, but it simply doesn’t stop water from spilling all over the ground! Thankfully this one wasn’t too bad, but still – big pet peeve of mine.
The toiletries were provided by Elemis, the UK-based luxury skincare brand. I was also happy to see that bathrobes were available, and they were snug and comfortable.
The views from our third-floor Junior Suite overlooked the interior courtyard of the hotel, where a slice of Tallinn’s beautiful fall foliage could be seen. I would’ve preferred one of the rooms overlooking Vene Street, but it didn’t really matter since we spent most of our time outside the hotel exploring the Old Town anyway.
Overall, I was impressed by the Junior Suite and enjoyed the time we did spend in the room. While the plan was originally to drop off our stuff and head out immediately, we couldn’t help but sneak in a quick nap first, having woken up at the crack of dawn to catch our flight in London. And after exploring Tallinn for most of the day, we also retreated to the room to enjoy a bottle of wine, for which the capacious sitting area provided a nice ambience.
The next morning, breakfast was served in the Restaurant Tchaikovsky, the hotel’s main restaurant. In addition to a small breakfast buffet, there were also a handful of items you could order from the à la carte menu.
Naturally, Jessica and I took advantage of both options, sampling the hot items, charcuterie, and cereal from the buffet…
…before ordering some pancakes, bacon, and fried eggs from the wait staff.
However, we didn’t quite anticipate how large the à la carte portions would be, so we ended up with a huge breakfast, featuring four eggs, two servings of pancakes, and an absolute mountain of bacon, which took plenty of commitment to wolf down.
Speaking of the wait staff, I’ve found that there are some hotels in Europe where the staff seems to exude a holier-than-thou attitude, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth here at the Hotel Telegraaf Tallinn.
Everyone who helped us was friendly and attentive, and Jessica and I both took note of how hard-working they were in shuttling plates and dishes back-and-forth from the kitchen.
Before we left for the airport, I explored some more of the hotel’s nooks and crannies. The hotel building was originally built in 1878, and there’s plenty of the original brickwork on display for you to admire.
While the lobby lounge isn’t the most spacious, the hotel also has a separate lounge adjacent to the lobby, known as the Symphony Lounge. I didn’t see any guests in here, but it looked like a pleasant enough place to relax if your room isn’t available yet, or catch up with a friend over a coffee.
There was also an interesting sign in here expanding on the history of the Hotel Telegraaf. It turns out that not only did the building once serve as Tallinn’s centre of communications, but also the Estonian branch of the Stockholm Handelsbank in pre-war times.
Furthermore, the telegraph exchange station housed here had played a key role in the coup attempt on the Republic of Estonia in 1924, adding further historical significance to the name and locale of the hotel.
The hotel doesn’t have a fitness centre, but it does have a swimming pool and spa, although the operating hours are kind of odd. The Telegraaf Spa is only open from 3pm to 10pm, Monday through Thursday, and it’s only on Friday through Sunday that it’s open for the full day from 8am onwards.
I therefore didn’t manage to check out the swimming pool, although looking at the pictures on the hotel website, it seems like quite a nice one.
I had secured a 4pm late checkout as part of my Platinum Premier Elite benefits, so we went for a stroll through Tallinn’s Kalamaja neighbourhood in the breezy fall morning, before returning to the hotel to pick up our stuff, check out of the room, and head back to the airport for our return journey to Toronto via LOT Polish Airlines.
Located in the heart of the picturesque Old Town, the Hotel Telegraaf is a microcosm of Tallinn in many ways. Its intimate boutique vibes – brought about by a vibrant design palette inspired by modern art – reflects Tallinn’s stature as a “small” but beautiful national capital and channels the important roles that the building played throughout Tallinn’s history.
I greatly enjoyed my one-night stay in the hotel’s Junior Suite, and would have no hesitation in booking a return stay if I find myself in Estonia again.