Something For Everyone
As the popularity of Estonia as a travel destination has grown, so has the number and variability of lodging options throughout the country. Tallinn in particular has become a top travel destination in Europe. Party goers, cruisers and backpackers alike flock to the city for its impressive old town, excellent restaurants and cosmopolitan bars and clubs. The tourism industry has responded accordingly. In Tallinn you will find no shortage of hotel options, anything from guesthouses to luxury accommodations. Whatever your budget, travel style, or preference, you are sure to find an option that meets your needs in Tallinn.
Outside of the capital city, you will still find plenty of accommodation options in touristy areas. The Estonian Hotel and Restaurant Association is a great resource to find a list of larger hotels or chain accommodation options. If you're looking for something more affordable you can refer to the Estonian Youth Hostel Association and in rural areas refer to the Estonian Rural Tourism, which can give you a list of options.
Balancing Price and Quality
While Estonia, and Eastern Europe in general, is no longer the wonderful budget destination it once was, you can still find some great deals, and your dollar will go farther than it does elsewhere in Europe. Hostels abound throughout the country. Many young Europeans and backpackers flock to Tallinn, so while some hostels can be crowded and loud, if you look for less popular or well known options, you can find a place that will offer you some peace and quiet as well as sleep.
If hostels aren't your style, consider renting a room in someone's house. In rural areas and on the island of Saaremaa, there are many locals who rent out rooms to travelers at very fair prices. If you're not in the area during the summer months, which are peak season, you can generally negotiate the price down to a very fair rate. If you're staying longer than a night or two you can also use this as a negotiating point. If you do end up in the area in the winter months, most places will be closed and you will likely struggle to find a place to stay outside of the cities.
A Range of Choices
Estonia generally has the same type of accommodation that you will find elsewhere in Europe. There are hotels of all levels, many hostels, bed and breakfasts, and rooms you can rent in homes. The quality is generally high, but it is always wise to read reviews before you commit to a place.
A unique and interesting option in rural Estonia is "turismitalud." These are tourism farms that have been converted from what were previously Soviet collective farms. They are generally inexpensive options where you can experience nature and stay in a former farm house.
Tallinn, the capital city of the country, is easily the most popular destination. This popularity means there is no shortage of options for travelers, whatever their budget or travel style. Many of the larger hostels are set up as "party" hostels. These are great places to meet other backpackers and are a good option if you're looking to go and out have a good time every night. Many of these hostels also offer evening pub crawls, in house parties, and many other entertainment options for guests. If you're not in town for the party scene but still want to stay somewhere affordable, then a smaller hostel might be more your style. Stay in a rooms with only four or six beds and you'll likely enjoy a more peaceful nights sleep.
If you're traveling with a larger group, confirm in advance that the hostel accepts groups. Some hostels limit the size of travel party's to eliminate some of the noise and chaos these may cause.
Many of the most popular hostels are located in the Old Town area. Location wise this is your best option. You'll be surrounded by beautiful architecture and will be walking distance to all of the best sights. If you want to save a few bucks you can stay outside of the Old Town, but often the cost savings will be lost to paying for transportation. It is quieter in some of the more residential areas, but there is the added inconvenience having to and from the Old Town. Weigh your options and strongly consider what your priorities are before committing to a specific place.
Hostels in Tallinn, and throughout Estonia, are generally well equipped with wireless internet access, cable television, and comfortable common areas where guests can socialize. Some hostels have their own bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a cheap drink or a quick meal. Beds in dorms are often bunk beds and in many cases linens and towels are included in the price of the room. This should be confirmed however. In private rooms you often have a choice of either twin or double beds. Most hostels also have kitchens available which are fully equipped with pots, pans and dishes. Preparing your own meals is a great way to save some money, and is a major perk of staying in a hostel.
It's also possible to arrange any number of tours and excursions at many hostels. Transportation is provided to national parks that are otherwise difficult to reach. This is a great option for guests who don't want to go through the hassle of negotiating the public bus system, although it can be somewhat more expensive than going it alone.
Hostels are a great option in Tallinn and throughout the country because many people head to this area to socialize. These facilities offer a great setting for meeting other guests, learning about the city, and finding the best night life. If you're looking to meet some people from around the world then staying in a hostel can be a perfect option.
Tartu has the feel of a university town. You'll find many of the hostels are actually housed in university dormitories. They're rather large and seem to be integrated into the campus. Most have access to a kitchen and the rooms are quite clean and sterile, similar to a dorm room. Many also have laundry facilities you can use which is quite convenient if you're traveling long term.
You'll find many of the hotels in and around the old town. The city is very walkable and most of the sights can be reached on foot, regardless of where you stay. It's a wonderful place to explore for a few days. If you're in town during the school year look in to what student activities are going on as this will give you and idea of what's happening in and around town.