The KGB Bugged the Hell Out of Estonia Hotel Guests
Old Town Tallinn in Estonia feels like it should be on top of a wedding cake, the old city walls, church steeples, narrow cobblestone streets, and pastel colors putting forth a true Medieval vibe. Aside from aesthetics, the main draw of the city is the deep and relatively recent history – Estonia gained its independence from Soviet power less than 25 years ago, in 1991.
Men and women in their late 20s and early 30s can share stories of the communistic culture they experienced as children, including long lines at food markets and loss of property, all of which took place under the careful watch of the KGB. Estonians were forced to vacate or share their households with Soviets depending upon their income.
There are many hotels located within the Old Town walls to choose from, but if you want a true taste of KGB history during your visit, consider the Sokos Hotel Viru just outside Old Town. Opened in 1972, it's the largest hotel in Estonia with over 500 rooms, and during Soviet occupation, the KGB had an office on the top floor (the 23rd floor, which did not have a button on the elevator).
They always denied their presence, but they bugged the guests, literally.
The KGB tapped 60 rooms, installed mics in the plates in the dining room, instructed elevator attendants to keep track of guests’ comings and goings, and drilled holes through hotel room walls to take photographs and keep a watch on suspected guests, which included visiting journalists and Finnish visitors who would hold meet and greets with their families in the lobby (the visiting Fins weren’t allowed to visit their family in their homes under Soviet Law).
Even if you don’t stay the night, be sure to pop in for a drink and to check out the museum that allows you to tour the former KGB offices. Although none of the Viru's rooms face Old Town, there are balconies at the end of the halls and within the museum that offer great views and photography points. The photo at the top was taken at such a lookout.
Rates start at $111 per night.
[Photos: Will McGough for HotelChatter]