My hotel room in Tallinn was on the top floor of a 450-year-old merchant house in the Old Town. Despite its medieval origins the room was nothing short of contemporary design at its best. From the steeply pitched roof with exposed timber beams to the larger-than-life bathtub in the middle of the living room, the place felt more like a contemporary art gallery than a space to sleep for two nights.
The Three Sisters hotel was just the first of many pleasant surprises to meet me in Tallinn. All over the city, external facades concealed interiors that were completely different from what I would have guessed. From the communist-looking shopping mall that housed chic Scandinavian chairs to the plain black exterior of the swanky boutique Hotel Telegraf that concealed a modern day-spa with all the amenities I was constantly coming across things that weren’t as they seemed.
One evening my boyfriend and I wandered down a flight of stairs to find ourselves in Gloria Wine Cellar, a maze of low-ceilinged caves lined from roof to floor with wine bottles from all over the world. Heavy wooden chairs with red velvet cushions made us feel like medieval kings as we sipped our wine by candlelight.
The next night we found ourselves drinking local Estonian beer in the bowels of the Depeche Mode Bar, an establishment set up by some die-hard fans of the band by the same name. Upon leaving, my boyfriend dryly remarked “That was nice, but I could have used a bit less Depeche Mode in there.”
One afternoon we took the tram out to Kadriorg Park to find ourselves in the middle of swan-filled lakes, Baroque palaces and a trendy new museum of contemporary art. Further along the road, we drove through an enchanting pine forest that opened into a sprawling botanical garden. Inside was a futuristic glass house crammed with every plant species imaginable. In the distance loomed a giant Soviet TV tower and the ruins of an old convent.
The one thing I didn’t see in Tallinn was a stag party. It was the only thing I had expected to see too much of, and I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised.