Along with the northern Swedish city of Umeå, Riga is proud to be chosen as the 2014 European Capital of Culture. This designation by the European Union boosts each city’s culture, traditions, history, and importance; in short, Riga will have the whole calendar year of 2014 to be in the spotlight. As a Capital of Culture, Riga will have the opportunity to realize the benefits of increased focus on tourism to it. Each day of the year, multiple cultural and social events will take place, all which will help the city with tourism dollars much needed help the city regenerate and foster further growth. There’s no better time to go to Riga than now.
I visited Riga for my first time in the middle of October, 2013. The first two nights had me at Primo Hotel, a charming boutique establishment located right across the banks of the Daugava River from Vecrīga, Riga’s Old Town. Opened as its current place of accommodations in late 2009, the management seems to have been tirelessly renovating the hotel; while I was there, two entire floors were still under construction, so I stayed on one of the higher floors that had already been completed.
Pulling up to it in a taxi on a Saturday evening, I was slightly unsure if I had ventured upon the right place. As with the city itself, the exterior of Primo Hotel may strike you as a bit uninviting and cold; however, as with Riga, that changes almost immediately, as soon as you step inside and start making yourself comfortable. Riga is renowned for having a vast array of art nouveau buildings – the largest collection in the world – and the Primo Hotel occupies a century-old example of this architecture built by the Estonian Society. Part of the reason for my confusion upon my initial arrival was due to the fact that the building is set back from the street; a gate at the street opens into a parking lot (free for guests!) with the building about 25 meters from the street.
The few individuals at reception that I came across during my three days there were quite friendly and helpful. I was informed about the breakfast, the wi-fi, and the unique room keycard procedure as I checked in. The electronic keycard, used to open the door and to establish electrical and lighting functions whilst inside the room, is requested by management that it be checked in each time you leave the hotel; you simply pick it up upon returning, and that’s that – not at all a hassle. I was delightedly surprised when I walked in late one night and the receptionist handed me my key without prompt; she had remembered me and my room number, a warm touch during that chilly October night.
As I arrived with three friends, we were accommodated into a larger family room on the fourth floor. As I mentioned previously about the pleasantly-shocking contrast between the outside of the hotel and the inviting reception, the room upped the ante again; it was large and spacious and subtly elegant in decor. We were four guys, none of whom have any romantic interest in any other amongst us, so the four single beds worked out just fine. The room we had was partitioned into two by a wall, though no door completely blocked one from the other; two single beds were located in each.
Upon entering the room, there was a large dresser, more than adequate for the four of us to stow our belongings had we needed to. Opposite the beds was the bathroom, also quite spacious. Ample lighting and the large wall mirror allowed more than one of us to get ready concurrently, and the space between the standing shower and the toilet was adequate. An electrical outlet, hand soap, a hair dryer, and plenty of fresh towels completed the bath amenities.
On one side of the wall partition, there is a small nightstand for each of the two beds in that half; the television, a floor lamp, and a padded chair round out that part of the room. In the other half, a large desk is situated in one corner by the window, providing an excellent space to unpack your laptop and spread out any work materials.
The room featured all the necessary amenities, including free wireless internet, cable television with a good selection of channels, a telephone, and windows that open (ours faced the front of the building into the parking area). When you walk into the room, the entry keycard is meant to be inserted into a slot by the door that allows you to turn on and off the lights; not only did this help us not lose the key, but it adds convenience when it is time to leave the room, since removing the card from its electronic, wall-mounted cradle turns off all the lights in the room after 30 seconds or so.
Aside from this larger room which I stayed in, single rooms (for 1), twin rooms (for 2), and double rooms (for 2 with option to add 3rd bed) are available. The family room which I stayed in is normally configured with three single beds, but if you call or write ahead, the staff will happily add a fourth. The twin room has two single beds, while the double room has one double bed.
Dining Area & More
Breakfast is included in the already-reasonable price of the room, and it is available downstairs in an elegantly-adorned dining room opposite the reception lobby. The dark walls feel cozy in the morning, and there is a surprising amount of food on offer: cereals, bread, sliced meats and cheeses, jams and spreads, coffee, tea, yogurt, several juices, and a hot buffet area which offered bacon, pastas, and more. Breakfast is only available until 11am, something which I found out the hard way on my first morning.
Apparently, a massage room and its respective services are offered within the property, in a room open from 8 am until 9 pm. I didn’t use any of the services, but this offering seems like a nice touch to a hotel that already offers many great features and amenities. Online you can view an entire menu of different massages which Primo offers, averaging about 45€ for an hour.
Another unique feature on offer at Primo Hotel are some rentable group spaces. The bar area can be rented for 15€/hour or 85€/day, which can accommodate up to 30 people. Another, larger space is available on a higher floor, a meeting/conference room that can accommodate up to 100 heads, which can be rented for 21€/hour or 115€/day.
Past reception, one elevator is situated at the end of the hallway ready to take guests up to the higher floors; stairs are located right next to it.
My stay at the Primo Hotel ended on a Monday, but my friends and I were to continue on to our Tallink ship which wouldn’t depart until 5:30pm. Since checkout time is at noon, and we didn’t want to schlep our luggage all around as we toured Riga once more for those few hours, we were kindly offered to stow our luggage behind the reception desk, free of charge. We happily agreed, and picked it up later that afternoon.
As you can see here, Primo Hotel has a primo location; the hotel is located only about 3 km (under 2 mi) by car from the many attractions that await on the other side of the Daugava River over the Stone Bridge. This translates to a 5- to 7-minute taxi ride to must-see sites such as the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation and the St. Peter’s Church in Vecrīga, Riga’s Old Town. A short walk from there will lead you to the newer district as you pass the proud Milda, Latvia’s Freedom Monument.
The Primo Hotel lives up to its name. Both the kind and friendly staff and the warm, inviting interior go the distance to please any guests staying within, and I was completely satisfied with my stay. I will be back in Riga, and when I do, and if I am not staying with a local friend, I would definitely try to book a room again here. An increasingly-popular hotel, Primo Hotel is the perfect place to rest your head in this increasingly-popular city.
Primo Hotel | 62 Nometnu Street, LV-1002, Riga, Latvia | Phone: +371 25888777 / +371 67454571 | Fax: +371 67454572 | Email: email@example.com | Website: www.primohotel.lv | Checkin: 14:00 | Checkout: 12:00 | Visa/MC/Maestro Accepted
*Disclaimer: This stay was comped by the hostel in return for a written review on this site; however, I tried my best to remain unbiased and honest in my summation of this stay.