Riga’s position on the Daugava river, just a few kilometres inland from its mouth in the Gulf of Riga, facilitated centuries of cosmopolitan trade. Today, it’s the largest city in Latvia and in the Baltics – the medieval Old Town is a charming Unesco World Heritage Site, with sufficient bars, cafes and restaurants to keep dedicated punters going for days. The best accommodation in the city matches that variety, and the last few years have seen many high-calibre openings and refurbishments.
The Tsarist grandeur and finesse in the heart of the charming Old Town will likely appeal to your inner bourgeoisie. Expensive rugs, vases, chandeliers, candelabras, framed wall paintings and vintage wallpaper dominate the almost theatrical public areas of this former Bank of Latvia building, built in 1877. Maritime-themed prints depicting 19th-century city scenes and dark retro furniture, including travel chest cabinets and drawers, temper the more modern feel of the bright rooms.
Art Nouveau fans will enjoy this former apartment building, reconfigured into a 55-room boutique hotel by the original owner’s descendants. From the entrance topped with a sculpted face and flowing tresses segueing into a pillared archway, more subtle Art Nouveau features percolate the interior. Stucco coving, immaculate parquet floors and elongated arched windows are melded to contemporary furniture, groovy ceiling lamps and graphic wall art.
The modern steel and glass facade of the Elizabete Hotel, emblazoned with calligraphic Latvian poetry, conjures a hipster vibe beside Vērmane Garden near the Old Town. Inside, a lofty atrium filled with shrubbery and patio-style furniture lends a sophisticated edge. The Tardis-like property holds over 200 rooms and suites with stripped floors, contemporary styling and floor-to-ceiling windows – some have bucolic park views. The gargantuan buffet breakfasts will keep you going all day.
Upscale travellers are drawn to the Opera Hotel’s late-19th-century facade and gently updated interiors overlooking central Opera Park, one of the most famous parks in Riga. Superior rooms are a fair cut above the standards with mustard-yellow decor and burgundy accents, while panoramic Old Riga prints above the beds reinforce the vintage vibe. The in-house Franco restaurant specialises in Italian and Mediterranean plates, while the circular spa pool features a cascade.
Opera lovers won’t find a grander or more stately hotel this close to the National Opera House. The handsome facade disguises the original building’s destruction during World War II. Resurrected shortly after the war, the then-Hotel Riga reputedly made history by having the first bar in Latvia and serving the first cocktail in the Soviet Union. Today, a major refit sees supremely elegant and large rooms with sepia stave-notation artwork behind beds, and a restrained decor of panelled wood with softly-patterned drapes and carpets.
Horse lovers can make hay at the Pullman. The loose equine theme, from statues in the lounge lobby to artwork in the rooms, derives from the Equus restaurant allegedly once being the stables of German nobleman Hieronymus Karl Friedrich, inspiration for the literary Baron Munchausen. Behind the pristine Old Town facade stands an award-winning pair of modern buildings and atriums with swanky rooms to match. The open kitchen at Equus features Latvian and Scandinavian cuisine with an ample wine list.
Reputedly the first five-star design hotel in Riga, Grand Poet references Rainis, a 19th-century Latvian literary prodigy lending his name to the prestigious boulevard running alongside Bastion Hill and Freedom Monument. Opened in 2018, the refurbishment injected bohemian pizzazz into this smart but staid neighbourhood. The imposing buildings suggest little of their bold, almost whimsical, interiors. Almost every inch drips with striking design and decor – from herringbone parquet floors to zigzag carpets and tiled floors, elaborate lighting and furnishings swirling with patterns and colour.
Opened in 2019, the AC – a clinical high-rise facade, crowned with a steel-framed glass canopy housing a gym and meeting spaces – likely appeals to corporate types. Rooms are smartly functional with desks, matching chairs and espresso machines, all wrapped in a muted palette of greys and browns with framed monochrome prints. The AC Restaurant, which doubles as a relaxed lounge and bar, specialises in Spanish tapas – while abundant nearby restaurants provide other dining options.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.