Hotel Neiburgs – Old Town, Riga, Latvia **

Q: What is it? A: Constantly top rated. Beautiful building in the heart of Riga’s Old Town, but surprisingly non descript rooms. Also, some staff members should change careers to… ticket handlers.

Aahh, Art Nouveau! If you're a sucker for this style, you'll love Riga.

Hotel Neiburgs from the outside. The Art Nouveau building was constructed in 1903 from the designs of the well-known Baltic German architect Wilhelm Bockslaff.

When space isn't everything.

Lower floor: The surprisingly dull living room. Someone was hired to furnish a lot of space and didn’t really know what to do it. Kitchenette at one end. TV in the other.

The place where you'll take a shit if you're on the first floor.

A little WC next near the entrance of the rather spacious 2-Storey Suite. There’s also one on the top floor so you won’t have to stumble down the stairs if nature calls…

One of the sleepiest and most quiet parts of Riga.

Upper floor: Not too airy but it comes with its own air conditioning. From the foot-end of the very comfy bed, the room extends to the reading corner pictured below.

Anyone for Hemingway?

Upper floor: Instead of sealing off this part of the room, someone installed a roof window. Now it’s a reading space that on a hot day doubles as sauna.

Upper floor: Where the bathtub is.

Report from the upper floor: The ‘real’ bathroom of this 2-storey suite. To qualify as a real bathroom it has been equipped with a tub.

Fancy a book, eh?

A little library. Complete with an Archimoon Soft floor lamp (designed by Philippe Starck in 1998) and, what is that? Are those two Ingo Maurer half-domes?

Hotel management must have done their internet homework.
When this is written, this hotel is listed on TripAdvisor as #2 in the Latvian capital. The hotel prides itself to be a ”Brand new 55-suite luxury hotel in the heart of Old Riga” as well as boasting ”friendly and hospitable service”. Behold, hotel management! It may have been one of the least enthusiastic greetings from front desk I’ve experienced in a decade. Wooosh! Star gone. I’m sent to my room with a key. ”Thanks”. Nobody cared to explain how the climate control worked. ”Thanks”. No attempts to assist with the luggage. ”Thanks”. Not even a ”Have a nice stay with us!” To be greeted is not a luxury. It’s common sense for anybody who rent out rooms per night.

The room is not a room but a suite and it’s quite ginormous.
First of all; this stunt had been impossible to pull off in, say New York or Amsterdam. This is a 90 square meter, two-storey suite at the price of a tiny bunk room in London. But it’s safe to say that they let quantity rule over quality. No exposed wooden beams can compensate for the dull-Scandinavian-business-to-business-advertising-agency-circa-2003-feel. The upper floor is cozier with a super-comfy bed and wall-to-wall carpets. However, I’m still puzzled by the reading corner at the end of the attic, (see picture above). In the summer it’s a solar-heated area where pineapple and mango would grow nicely. All in all, design is not what will attract the masses to this hotel.

At breakfast, this hotel rises from the ashes:
A nice and generous buffet! Attentive and friendly staff! A pleasantly designed space! Hadn’t it been for the loud-mouthed Russians across the restaurant, I might even have enjoyed eating there. Those folks made the phone an unnecessary invention, shouting at each other (and in their phones), just like teenage boys do. Cute. In all fairness, no hotel could insure themselves against loud guests, but every hotel manager could ask them to kindly shut their gobs. I would have intervened immediately as tattoos and ugly Dolce Gabbana jeans don’t scare me.
Some say that ”with a few more hotels of this caliber, Riga could be next in line for ‘next Prague’ status”. I don’t think so. Not yet. And if front desk at Hotel Neiburgs is a sign of the times, there may be another decade until smiles come automatically.

– – – –

And while we’re at it: Dolce Gabbana jeans. Russians seem to have a choice between a) stone-washed/almost-torn-to-pieces or b) ‘funky’ with four zippers on each leg. How could the denim market be so different? Could somebody please explain?

Hotel Neiburgs
Jauniela 25/27
LV 1050 Riga


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