Ever thought about visiting Riga? Latvia’s capital is a beautiful city on the Baltic Sea, with long, white summer nights, good food, cheap prices, a UNESCO-listed old town and more cool Art Nouveau buildings than anywhere in the world.
If you do go, I recommend staying at Homestay Riga, a unique bed&breakfast in a large wooden villa next to Mežaparks.
I’m not normally a big fan of B&Bs, and have a slight fear of overly chatty hosts. But I couldn’t help but be charmed by this place. It’s run by an unconventional couple: Diga Daga, a Latvian artist and her Kiwi husband Ric.
Diga with her gorgeous work
Entering the large three-storey timber house, we’re taken through to a large lounge with comfortable sofas and lots to look at. There’s Diga’s gorgeous colourful stained glass artwork, a small library, a satellite TV, large plants and heaps of bright, warm colours everywhere. The house has a light and warm atmosphere. It’s full of creativity and generosity, laughter and lively discussions on everything.
The B&B is about 20 min from the centre of Riga (located next to the German embassy), and easily accessible by a frequent and super cheap tram line.
I’m staying one night with my oldest daughter, Alexandra; en route to Moldova and Transdniestr. For LVL 40 (ca 55 EUR/80 USD), we have separate bedrooms (spacious, high-ceilinged and very clean), and a huge breakfast consisting of whatever we want. Diga’s mum, by the way, is jam-maker extraordinaire. Nom nom!
Breakfast is at a large communal table, a nice opportunity to chat with other guests and exchange plans and ideas for the day.
Being comfortable around animals is probably a requirement for staying here. A beautiful stray German Shepherd and two cats have somehow found their way into the house to stay. The cats wander freely about and occasionally end up in the bedrooms. However, they’re both fairly laidback about being kicked out.
Outside, there’s a terrace and a pretty garden. If you want even more space to roam, Riga’s historic and beautiful Mežaparks is right there with heaps of gorgeous ancient buildings, including a fisherman’s cottage, a 150-year-old farm house, many Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Bauhaus homes, as well as a bit of Soviet chic.
The old German name for Mežaparks was Kaiserwald, meaning The Emperor’s Forest. On the western shore of Lake Ķīšezers, it’s more woodland than park, really. You can walk (even take that lovely dog for a walk), fish, bike, or sail on the lake in summer (bikes, boats, canoes and windsurfers can be rented) – or do a brisk round of cross-country skiing in winter.
Homestay Riga has free Internet, laundry and parking. And there’s always a cold beer in the fridge.
Stokholmas iela 1 Mežaparks