Old Town Hostel Alur is situated as the name suggests in Vana Tallinn - Old Tallinn. Well just about, 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. Alur's sign is rather modest and as it has no windows at eye level you could easily miss it.
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. If we left our backpacks in reception the next morning, they would put the bags in the new room when it was ready.
The top floor room was one not normally in use except for occasionally acting as a store room. There was nothing wrong with it really although it was more basic than the room we later stayed in. There was 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 was that although there was a toilet on that floor there was no shower and the next morning we had to go downstairs to the floor below for a shower. This was hardly a hardship though.
The other room we had there was a double with two single beds, a desk and a coat rack for hanging clothes. It was still very sparse but the nice new laminate floor and the soft furnishings made it look less basic. On this floor there were two showers and two toilets close to our room and I think there were more in another part of this floor.
As well as doubles there are dormitories but I didn't see myself so I can't comment.
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; 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 was well equipped with plenty of pots and pans, plates and cutlery. However the fridge was crammed with food stuffs of questionable age and the worktops were virtually unusable as they were covered with packets of cereal, loaves of bread and half-drunk bottles of wine. This, I 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 wasn't really the issue here, it was just difficult to do what you needed to because of the clutter.
If you do wish to buy food to eat at the hostel then 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.
In summary Old Town Hostel Alur offers good value budget accommodation in a great location. Approximate prices 2009
Dorm beds around £6-7 depending on size of dormitory Double room - £28/per night