Estonia's first skyscraper (23 stories in all) began as a paradox: eager for a piece of the lucrative global tourism pie, Soviet "strategists" needed a way to let foreign visitors into Tallinn while keeping the Western world out. Completed in 1972, the Hotel Viru provided accommodation for travelers under close (but barely secret) government surveillance, and thus became a symbol of the free world to local residents. The mysterious 23rd floor has since been turned into a must-see KGB museum, where visitors can check out old surveillance equipment and hear tour guides' firsthand accounts of Soviet officials' most peculiar practices. Under the domain of Sokos Hotels, neighboring Finland's biggest chain, today's building has expanded to include an additional hotel, the Sokos Estoria, as well as the sizable Viru Keksus shopping center, beauty salons, multiple restaurants, a rooftop cinema, and a full-blown basement nightclub (guests staying on the lower floors should expect to be lulled to sleep by the dulcet tones of Estonian techno).
While the Hotel Viru caters mainly to Finnish tourists and offers bunk beds for families, the newly opened Estoria falls under the Sokos company's "Solo" category, designed as a "peaceful retreat" for business travelers in need of comfort and space. And it delivers on that promise: doubles are quite spacious and include entire lounge areas complete with couches, chairs, and a desk, as well as a TV and Cupsolo coffee machine to rejuvenate weary business-trippers. Tempur-Pedic mattresses and an amusing "pillow menu" make for a lovely night's sleep, while a buffet breakfast designed by nutritional experts offers a healthy (if bland) start to one's day. The walls of each room are decorated with a "story" about Estonia; some are more interesting than others. Bright colors and nauseating patterns evoke the sort of aggressive cheer one might encounter in a hospital waiting room and are sure to both some guests, although magnificent views of the Old Town and Bay of Tallinn provide a welcome distraction.