UPDATE MAY 2017: I have been contacted repeatedly by the new management of Olde Hansa, asking that I take down this post. I have chosen not to, since it is simply a personal experience and a review – one of just many that exist all over the internet. Still, I am adding the following disclaimer.
This post was written about an experience that we had at the Olde Hansa in 2014. It may or may not reflect the current policies of the restaurant or the experience you will have there. As always, you should go and judge for yourself. Something we will also do if we ever make it back to Tallinn.
It’s hard to miss Tallinn’s Olde Hansa restaurant. It’s a huge white building, smack dab in the middle of the city’s historic centre. If you’re blind as a bat and happen to miss it, various people dressed in medieval costumes will chase you down and offer you a free drink (non-alcoholic) from the cart situated outside the restaurant, to entice you inside.
We didn’t need to be lured in, since we’d already planned on having a meal there. I’d read glowing reviews on That Backpacker, and was all set to give it a shot.
It was a big mistake.
I’m not sure what’s happened since Audrey visited, but the service was terrible, the food was either too salty or tasteless, expensive, and the whole medieval experience thing? Ok I’ll give the decor of Ye Olde Hansa a thumbs up, but everything else was worse than a roadside diner. The service was negligent, slow and terrible…and forget about any medieval character or ambiance from the servers…unless of course, they’re angling for an extra tip, which they so obviously do, right from the beginning of the meal, to the very end.
Actually, I take it back. I’ve easily had much kinder, efficient service from the servers at Denny’s.
But never mind the too salty or too bland food, the over-the top prices, or the fact that they charge you 2 euros for a glass of tap water. Forget that they tried to give us the worst table in the restaurant, and attempted to prevent me from looking in the other room to see what else was available (it was empty by the way, and I hesitate to call it discrimination, but that’s sure what it felt like). It was only when they saw us (and our money) possibly leaving, that they seated us at a “better” table, after which we waited 15 minutes for the server to acknowledge us in the 50% empty restaurant.
No, the real problem for me, was that Olde Hansa really just didn’t seem to care about it’s customers (unless they were part of a tour group). Maybe they did at one time – after all, they didn’t get all those positive assessments by accident – but they sure don’t anymore. Maybe they’ve been coasting for so long on Tripadvisor reviews from the past, that they don’t feel the need to bother with a worthwhile experience for visitors anymore. Or perhaps, there’s so much business coming in from tour groups (of which there were many), that the individual customer walking through the door is not worth their effort.
Who really knows? And it really doesn’t matter.
What does matter, is that you don’t waste your money there. Take it to one of the many restaurants nearby, that while still touristy, do not take you, and your business for granted.
If not, Olde Hansa, could be the one dark spot in an otherwise worthwhile and enjoyable tourist destination.
It was for us.
Have you ever been terribly disappointed by a “tourist trap” on your travels? Make us feel better and share your horrifying tale below. 😉