Contrary to all previous reviewers, I would give this manor house hotel three points only, rather than five. So I hasten to say that this is a very nice place and that I might have given it four were it not for the food. I should also point out right away that this is not a luxury hotel (no comparison with, say, Pädaste), but a nice, quite charming ***/**** country house hotel; for this it is adequate, but a bit on the pricey side.
The house was long in ruins and has recently been redone as a boutique hotel by the new owners, a very wealthy local couple. The style is Estonian chic, with its bric-a-brac a bit comparable somewhat to the Gloria restaurant in Tallinn orthe Ammende Villa in Pärnu. The stuffed dead animals are not everyone's cup of tea. There is a main house and some more rooms in the former stables, but these are, in spite of nice features such as glassed-in individual verandahs, tiny and cramped and more like a luxury hostel. It would not be nice to stay in them. The house is 55+6 km from Tallinn (down the Tartu road and then on right); this is not an especially exciting area, and for a longer tourist stay, I wonder how one would spend one's time. There is absolutely nothing in walking distance, no shop no pub, and there is also no manor park (contrary, for instance, to Vihula Manor hotel).
Wondering about the business model, beyond individual tourism, such hotels can either go for weddings and/or conferences. For the former, Kau is quite suitable (if booked in toto; it would not work well if there are individual guests in addition, so one better checks in advance if one belongs to the latter!); the conference infrastructure is, except the electronics, heavily improvable.
The rooms in the main house range from nice to very nice; they are very recent historicist in design with open beams and latticework etc., and the nicer, bigger ones are quite jolly. Beds are great, and bedding as well. According to Estonian standards, rooms don't have (or at least mine didn't) TV or phone, which are regarded here to be old-fashioned (tablet and smartphone take their place), and the free wifi is excellent. The bathrooms are more beautiful than practical (little shelf space; no hair-driers; no space to put things in the shower cabin; shower-floor threshold too high and invisible not to easily trip and too low not to flood the bathroom). The house is illuminated all night (I wonder for whom), and the curtains don't close tightly.
It is odd that a hotel of this kind, and in Estonia no less, has no gym and spa area; both are common and necessary for a place like this. There is a nice sauna/pool complex in the stables though; the pool is mid-size and not for lap swimming, but for dipping and splashing around in the sauna context. The sauna is huge and quite good, but weirdly, there is no social room, which for group sauna experiences for which this complex is made is crucial.
The really negative aspect of the hotel, as indicated, is, or was in my experience, the food, served in the quite nice dining hall with its octopus lighting fixtures. I had three meals there - lunch, dinner, and breakfast - and all were bad; dinner so bad that most of our group didn't eat the main course and had to make up later on cheese and sausage. (There was, interestingly enough, no feedback; no question why so many main courses were sent back basically untouched.) A salad with the grated cheese, in a lump, under it was a creative oddity. Breakfast selection is extremely minor, with just two kinds of bread as bakeries (same as for all meals as sides), and the "warm dishes a la carte by choice" consisted of exctly two: a plate of porridge or an omelette (which actually was very good); no possibility to get the eggs fried, for instance. This doesn't sound too horrible and is whining on a high level, but altogether, the bad quality, partially really bad preparation and narrow selection made the food the weakest point of the place.
The high point is clearly the personnel. The owner, who I was told was partially present, seems to be hands-off in the "I don't mind guests as long as I don't have to interact with them" way, and there was no apparent manager. But the young staff, apparently mostly from Tallinn, at the reception and generally in the hotel was superb, friendly, knowledgable and professional; if there were any glitches, they quickly and cheerfully tried, mostly successfully, to remedy them any way they could. This goes a very long way in creating a pleasant atmosphere.
In sum, if it can be somehow guaranteed that good, well-prepared food is served, I can recommend this place either for a wedding or for a short private trip to the country side, provided one has a car, gets one of the top rooms, and knows how to spend one's time in the context of the available infrastructure. There are, after all, options. :-)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Newly renovated Kau Manor offers an ideal change of scenery from the busy city life — whether as a concert, a play, family vacation, romantic outing, work-related seminar or a festive occasion — historic manorial complex, fresh air, beautiful nature and modern conveniences are waiting just a short drive away from Tallinn. ... more less
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