ALUR Hostel Tallinn Old Town, this bright, modern hostel, is housed in a modernised old building and as a result, you have the best of both worlds - some quirky features combined with modern facilities. Entrance is by door buzzer and reception is on the first floor, so it's straight up the stairs when you arrive. The reception area is tiny; squeeze in more than two backpackers with rucksacks and you'll be falling over each others' legs and luggage.
We hadn't booked and wanted a double for three nights and they offered us a room on the top floor -- basically in the eaves -- for the first night, after which there would be a better room on the first floor for the other two nights (they would allow us to leave our backpacks in reception the next morning, and they would put the bags in the new room when it was ready).
The hostel is situated, as the name suggests, in Vana Tallinn -- Old Tallinn; well, just about, as it's within the old walls and is two minutes' walk from the main square, Raekoja Plats. There are one or two hostels nearer the centre, but it's nothing worth quibbling over. The hostel's sign is rather modest and, as it has no windows at eye level, you could easily miss it. We had arrived in town by ferry from Helsinki and walked to the Old Town -- it took about fifteen minutes with our rucksacks. The central bus station is a tram ride away, but the stop to catch it is nearby.
If you do wish to buy food to eat at the hostel, there is a small deli/gastronom in the Russian style just on the next corner. They sell some delicious, sliced, cured meats and excellent cheeses as well as fresh bread and other grocery items. They sell alcohol until mid-evening.
Rooms and Bathrooms
The top floor room is one not normally in use except for occasionally acting as a store room. There is nothing wrong with it really, although it is more basic than the room we later stayed in. There is a double bed, but no hanging space and no table. It didn't bother us; we intended to be out most of the time anyway and we would happily have stayed in that room had we been able. The only downside is that although there is a toilet on that floor, there is no shower, and the next morning we had to go downstairs to the floor below for a shower. This is hardly a hardship, though.
Our other room, a double with two single beds, also has a desk and a coat rack for hanging clothes. It is still very sparse, but the nice, new laminate floor and the soft furnishings make it look less basic. On this floor, there are two showers and two toilets near the room; we think there are more on another part of this floor. The private rooms and dorms are on the same floor. There's always lots of noise coming from the dorms, so it would appear that this is quite a noisy hostel, popular with groups.
ALUR is not a hostel brimming with facilities. However, guests can access the internet using the laptop in reception for up to twenty minutes a day. If you bring your own laptop, you can get free Wi-Fi access in this area, too. There are no posters advertising trips or tours or special offers or discounts at local bars or restaurants; this suited us, as we just like to be able to get basic, value-for-money accommodation and aren't interested in the whole "meeting fellow travelers" experience. So, if you are the sort of backpacker who likes to hook up with like-minded travelers, this may not be the hostel for you; perhaps it's easier to do this if you stay in a dormitory, however.
In the basement, there is a kitchen and adjoining lounge/dining room with television. The kitchen is well equipped with plenty of pots and pans, plates, and cutlery. However, the fridge is crammed with food stuffs of questionable age and the worktops are virtually unusable, as they are covered with packets of cereal, loaves of bread, and half-drunk bottles of wine. This, we find, is a common problem in hostels, as people often leave unused food behind in the hope that others will use it -- and invariably nobody bothers and the food just stays where it is. Being responsible people, we washed what we used immediately, but other guests didn't and left dirty pans in the sink. Cleanliness isn't really the issue here; it is just difficult to do what you need to because of the clutter.
ALUR Hostel Tallinn Old Town offers good value, budget accommodation in a great location.