My wife and I stayed at the Old City Boutique Hotel from Friday 28th Jan to Tues 1st Feb.
We flew from Gatwick, south terminal. Booked Meet and Greet parking with Meteor (though it was through the purple Parking website) which went smoothly both ways, as per usual. We had checked in online and had prepaid for our luggage. We thought that we had read that Baltic Airlines staff were lacking somewhat in customer service skills but we found them to be both courteous and efficient. The flight took approx 2hr 50mins both ways.
We had booked a transfer to the hotel through Expedia when we booked the trip at a cost of around £32 although on return we booked a taxi through the hotel which cost us only 10 Lats (around £12). We know which to do next time!
On arrival we were quickly checked in - great staff at this hotel.
Our economy room was number 24 and had everything we needed including a decent sized bathroom and shower, TV, plenty of wardrobe space and two lovely and warm radiators!
We didn't seem to have a safety deposit box or any tea/coffee making facilities but this didn't bother us. The bed was VERY comfortable. They also have a small but cosy bar selling reasonably priced drinks/cocktails. Breakfast was available up to 11am and, although not extensive, was well prepared and fresh. The coffee is pretty good. This Hotel is very well situated to visit all the sights in Riga, particularly those in the Old Town. We enjoyed our stay here and would not hesitate to recommend it. We shall be doing a separate review for this.
After we had unpacked and wrapped up well we promptly got lost within less than a hundred yards despite having brought several maps! Riga Old Town is a bit of a maze with narrow winding streets everywhere making it difficult to pick out any reference points or see the end of the street (that's my excuse anyway!). It was snowing slightly and very cold, we were both glad we had new winter clothes for this trip.The next bar we came to turned out to be Bon Vivant, a belgian bar/restaurant. They had a great selection of beers and the food smelled lovely, shame we never got around to eating there.One of the squares (can't remember which one) has a large Ferris wheel in the middle all lit up.
The first night we ate at Salve. The Restaurant is vey cosy and warm. Service was good but we found the food to be a little disappointing but this was probably down to our choices - we decided to eat Latvian but the sausages were just a bit too tasty for me.
I had been making a note of where we ate and how much the bill had come to but unfortunately lost my notes so can't remember exactly what we paid for what and where but I think we paid around 32 Lats that first night for two main meals a shared desert and two drinks each. Good Value.
The next morning the first thing I had to do was buy a decent hat as the one I had brought wasn't quite up to scratch and made me look stupid! I bought one from a stall in the square for 17Lats. I still looked stupid but at least I was warm! It was still snowing slightly and extremely cold. There is a lot of snow on the ground in places and thick ice on parts of the pavement and roads but mostly its easy to get around if you take a bit of care.
We had planned to do the free Riga city tour and waited outside St Peters church for the guide along with a few other people but nobody turned up. No Problem, the Occupation Museum was just across the square and was on our to do list so we spent an hour or so in there. This is a really well put together exhibition detailing the last hundred years or so of Latvian history and told of their long struggle for independence and how they had been brutally occupied for most of the last century. Both moving and inspirational really. I didn't realise how harshly their country had been treated.
Lunch was at Domini Canes - a really nice restaurant with good service and delicious food. We ate here the next two lunch times as well.
After a go on the big wheel (The views were great) and a stroll around the Old Town to get our bearings we fancied a few beers.
We ended up in the Cinema Bar. Very cheap here, 0.7 Lats for a pint and 1.20 Lats for a shot of vodka.
Later that evening we ate at Vecmeita Ar Kaki after getting lost again on the way! The food was excellent - try the crispy pork chop.
The next day, sunday, was a brilliantly clear day with a bright sun but still very cold. We were determined to do our sightseeing tour and picked up a hop on hop off bus from outside the Opera House, which is very close to the hotel. We paid 8 Lats for the one ticket and 10 Lats for the other as this came with a CD of pictures of Riga (haven't checked it out yet). This is a good trip that takes you all around the city and has a good commentary available in many languages. we were the only people on the bus and stayed on it to do the whole tour. The driver was very friendly and helpful despite not speaking any English.
Had a think about where to eat lunch and both voted for Domini Canes again.
We walked over to the Radisson around 4pm for cocktails and to see the sun go down over the city from the 26th floor and we were not disappointed with the views. The cocktails were great also.
That evening we ate at the Steiku Haoss on the square with the big wheel. Well, I have to say that I had one of the best steaks that I have ever eaten here and my wife loved the chicken dish that she had. This was the priciest meal we had in Riga at 45 Lats for two mains, two beers, a carafe of house red and a shared desert but we both thought it great value for the quality.
Mondays weather was as clear and crisp as sundays, a perfect day for hitting the beach! So we got the train from the central station - just a couple of Lats each - and 30 minutes later were in Jurmala. Wow! The snow covered beach and partly frozen sea looked fantastic on such a bright day and we got some great photos. Anyone thinking of visiting Riga should definitely put this trip in their itinery, well worth the (little) effort. Not a lot seemed to be open there but it was worth it for the stroll on the beach.
Lunch (again) at Domini Canes.
Didn't do a lot this afternoon as my wife had a bad stomach, not from the food I hasten too add, she seemed to think it was the beer although she hadn't drunk that much. I thought it was down to the fact that she had been drinking a lot of the tap water at night. Whatever it was was it wasn't anything serious.
That evening after some hot wine in front of the roaring log fire in the tented bar in the square we ate near the hotel. I forget the name exactly, as I said I lost the notes I had made, but it was something like Meilnieuku Maku. The food here wasn't particularly good or cheap and we were both disappointed with our meals. Ah well you can't get it right every time!
Tues morning was cloudy again and it looked like it might snow later. Our Taxi arrived promptly at 9.30am and we started our journey home to Cardiff.
Sorry this JBR was a bit long winded but we both thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Riga and wanted to share.
Anyhoo, anyone out there thinking of visiting this beautiful city, we highly recommend that you do so. Anyone who has already been will surely, like us, be looking forward to returning.