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Hotel St. Petersbourg Tallinn
The history, photos and a review of the four-star hotel in the Estonian capital

Article added on November 3, 2006

The building of today's Hotel St Petersbourg Tallinn was converted into a hotel by the architect Christian August Gabler as early as from 1846 to 1850, which makes it the oldest continuously functioning hotel in the Estonian capital. The history of the property can even be traced back to 1373.

The first written records of the property at today's Rataskaevu 7 date from 1373. They show that the house belonged to the widow of the former mayor (Bürgmaster) Peter Stokstrop and was part of a craftsmen's district in Tallinn, the city at the time and for century's to come to be known as Reval. The widow handed over half of the property to Gosclac Kalle.

In the following centuries, the property changed hands on a regular basis. In 1500, the house came into the hands of another Bürgmaster, Johan Rotert, whose three sons handed over the property to their brother-in-law in 1531. Later that year it became the property of the master organ maker Peeter Smed. Only from 1608 to 1702, their are no records about the owners of Rataskaevu 7.

1702 was the year in which the property took its present form of a main building with a side building attached. Among the following occupants were a school teacher and two traders.

In big step towards the present came from 1846 to 1850, when the property was converted into a hotel by the architect Christian August Gabler who opened Hotel de St. Peterbourg in 1850. It seems that the Old Believer merchant Moisey Proklov commissioned Gabler to construct a home in order to entertain guests in a lavish style.

In 1857, the property next to the hotel on Dunkri street was added. From 1867 onwards, it all belonged to Elisabeth von Landesen. In the 19th century, especially regional aristocrats seemed to have stayed at the hotel. Unfortunately, no records about these former clients seem to have survived.

From 1899 to 1902, her children co-owned the property together before they distributed it among themselves. In 1917, it was bought by Oskar Seisler and Heinrich Väljamäe. Seven years later, the Seisler family bought Väljamäe's part. In 1921, Hotel St. Petersbourg catered to the first Russian ambassador to Estonia.

From 1931 to 1934, the hotel underwent a major reconstruction executed by the architect Karl Burman, giving it today's size and late classicist facade. In 1934, the Seisler's sold the hotel to the entrepreneur Johannes Jannsen Janson.

In 1940, when the Soviet Union annexed Estonia, the small country's first phase of independence came to an end after only 22 years. By the end of 1941, the Nazis took over Estonia for three years before the Soviets returned again to rule the country.

The private ownership of Hotel St. Petersbourg ended on November 22, 1940 when the hotel was nationalized by the Soviet Union. It was fortunate to survive the bombings of the Second World War.

Subsequently, Hotel St Petersbourg was owned by the government and used exclusively for the visits of government officials. Kosygin and Brezhnev stayed in the hotel when they visited Tallinn. In addition, it was renamed Hotel Rataskaevu. In 1986 the hotel was renovated and updated by the Polish company PKZ, using the architect Karl Burman's blueprints as a guide and also to upgrade the hotel.

In 1999, it was renovated and refurbished again to its current state and renamed Hotel St Petersbourg. Situated in the heart of the medieval Old Town of Tallinn, its an ideal location for tourists and businessmen alike. Among the famous guests were Hilary Clinton and Ray Charles.

The most welcoming and relaxing part of the hotel is Restaurant Nevskij. It gives the hotel a Russian touch, which is currently lacking in the rooms. Luckily, the new Spanish owners of the Schlössle Hotel Group (since 2006) plan to turn the entire Hotel St. Petersbourg into a luxury hotel with a Russian design touch. Since parts of the building are very old and the street is descending, some of the rooms have extremely high ceilings of up to five meters.

Restaurant Nevskij opened in 2002 and serves breakfast as well as Russian cuisine to up to 25 guests. The under-plates were in the Russian Khokhloma style, especially made for the restaurant. For breakfast, the hotel does not only porridge and scrambled eggs, but, for the additional Russian touch, also blinis (pancakes) with maple syrup and melted butter.

A tested the restaurant in early 2006 under its previous owners and under a different chef (Toomas Leedu, *Tartu 1974) However, the new chef continues the previous concept of a Russian cuisine. I remember a lunch with a sparkling Odessa dry brut wine and a glass of ice-cold vodka. Incidentally, Russian men die on average at the age of 55. Therefore, try to avoid too heavy vodka drinking - for your own sake. I had my glass of vodka with my Russian appetizer, pickles with honey as well as a beetroot and carrot salad on a hot sauce to combine contrasts (salt, sweet and sour).

In early 2006, Restaurant Nevskij served traditional Russian soups such as una and borsch, boeuf à la tartare, beef stroganoff and of course caviar. As a main dish, I tried pelmeni, cabbage rolls with sour cream as well as pelmeni filled with mushrooms. The white wine to accompany my main dish came from Georgia (Old Tbilisi, Rkacitely from Khaketi). Given the current political situation, it is pretty unsure that you can still get this wine in Russia. As a dessert, I tried some syrniki, delicious cottage cheese pancakes with lingonberry jam and sour cream as well as a unique pine syrup from a small producer.

With its 27 rooms, including five junior suites and two one bedroom suites, Hotel St. Petersbourg is a heaven of piece with an Estonian sauna under the roof. If you would like to taste Estonian cuisine, which is most popular among tourists, head down to the hotel's Kuldse Notsu Kõrts, an Estonian country-style restaurant which serves traditional food and local beer in a rustic atmosphere. Estonian cuisine is influenced by German and Russian dishes and not very vegetarian-friendly.

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An old photograph of the hotel. Photo © Hotel St. Petersbourg, Tallinn.


The entrance fireplace with the reception in the background.
Photo © Hotel St. Petersbourg, Tallinn.


Restaurant Nevskij. Photo © Hotel St. Petersbourg, Tallinn.


The fassade with the Nevskij Restaurant. Photo
© Hotel St. Petersbourg, Tallinn.


View of a bedroom. Photo © Hotel St. Petersbourg, Tallinn.
 

View of a bathroom. Photo © Hotel St. Petersbourg, Tallinn.


The bar in Restaurant Nevskij. Photo © Hotel St. Petersbourg, Tallinn.


Restaurant Nevskij. Photo © Hotel St. Petersbourg, Tallinn.

Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
Français Politique Histoire Arts Film Musique Artdevivre Voyages
Google
 
Web www.cosmopolis.ch
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 © Copyright 1999-2006 www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber All rights reserved.