Radisson Blu Hotel
Ravala Puiestee 3
10143 Tallinn, Estonia
tel 372 6823 000
by Ron Bernthal
The Viking Line ferry from Helsinki arrived at the port of Tallinn, Estonia, at midnight, but passengers who had booked private bedrooms were able to overnight on the ship until the next morning. It was a great benefit, since the ferry crowd was a lively, extroverted bunch of Finns and Estonians who had a make good use of the inexpensive food and drink onboard, and the disco and karaoke bars were busy until well after midnight. It was nice to catch a few hours sleep before disembarkation.
I left the ship promptly at 7:00 the next morning (it was mandatory, the ship was scheduled to return to Finland at 8:00, and passengers were already lining up in the terminal to board) and, instead of taking a five minute taxi ride to the Radisson Blu Hotel, I decided to walk, heading south through Tallinn’s picturesque Old Town, empty of tourists at the early hour, until I could see the Radisson’s 24-story glass tower, looming high above the city.
The property is just outside the medieval walls of Old Town, sitting on a busy boulevard in Tallinn’s new business district, where shops, banks and modern corporate offices are just minutes away from the narrow, cobblestone streets of the historic area. The lobby was bustling with out-of-town and Estonian business travelers, many attending on-site conferences, or lining up at the front desk to check out of rooms.
Even after my pleasant, slow walk from the port, it was still too early for my own room to be ready, but a very nice woman at the front desk had me complete the registration form and directed me to the Business Center on the 2nd floor, where several meeting rooms were already buzzing with badge-wearing attendees. I was able to check my e-mail with the house computers (Wi-Fi is complimentary for all guests throughout the hotel), have some coffee and snacks displayed outside the meeting rooms, and wait comfortably for my room to be ready.
About 30 minutes later another front desk staffer arrived at the Business Center to escort me to my room, a ‘Business Class’ accommodation that offered complimentary access to the fitness center and sauna, complimentary breakfast, robe and slippers, and a Nespresso coffee machine. The room size itself is the same as the Standard rooms. A work desk, arm chair, tall mini bar, and nice city views made the room quite comfortable. A 19″ older ‘tube’ style TV offered many cable stations.
The property offers two good restaurants, Seasons (breakfast buffet) and the Madissoni Grill and Bar (lunch and dinner), but the “must visit” dining/drinking venue has to be Lounge 24, the rooftop indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar with spectacular views of the entire city and the Baltic Sea beyond. Because it offers the best view in the city, Lounge 24 is popular with hotel guests, day visitors off cruise ships, and locals, anyone who enjoys a great view, an upscale ambience, and, as it is throughout Estonia, quite affordable food prices. The menu offers a good selection of drinks and appetizers, entrees and desserts.
Estonia, formerly under the control of the Soviet Union, is making up for decades of economic deprivation by becoming a vibrant part of the EU, and its economy is now flourishing with high-tech start-ups, an interesting avant-garde art scene, and small, privately owned restaurants, like Nano, where a young chef is wow’ing tourists and locals with his culinary creations. It was also in Estonia that Skype was created, and where officials in Tallinn have decided to make all public transit in the city free beginning in fall 2012.
This modern, glass tower hotel building, opened in 2001 as a Radisson SAS Hotel, became the Radisson Blu in 2009. With its modern rooms and conference facilities, Lounge 24 venue, and a very efficient staff, has captured much of the city’s post-Soviet era business and VIP travelers.