On the east side of the Daugava River sits the Old Town of Riga. A labyrinth of cobbled streets which hide secretive coffee nooks where you can relax and read the day away; a medieval town of towering churches and wide-open squares where accordion music can be heard – and danced along to, if the mood takes you. Allow the winding streets of Old Town to carry you further away from the river until you reach Bastion Hill: a central park which divides the Old Town from the baroque buildings which define the centre of Riga. At the edge of Bastion Hill is The Freedom Monument, a dedication to those who lost their lives in the fight for Latvian independence. Turn left at the monument and walk the avenue for a single block, then you’ll find yourself at the doors of the Grand Poet Hotel, a stunning and tranquil building in the beating heart of Riga. Staying at the five-star Grand Poet means feeling the literary and poetic blood of Latvia flowing through you. Also, the gym is nice and quiet.
Related: The Best Things to Do on Your Trip to Riga.
Review: The Grand Poet Hotel
Refined luxury with a literary spin is the atmosphere felt when you enter the Grand Poet Hotel. The lobby of any hotel is a vital first impression, and the Grand Poet’s lobby does not disappoint, as its decor soothes you into just the right kind of excited calm that you want when staying at a hotel like this one.
The reception staff are proud of their city, and more than happy to share with you all the secrets of Riga. During our stay, we were informed of all the best bookshops and cafes to hunt down in Riga, as well as where to enjoy the true local delicacies and how best to enjoy the incredible National Library of Latvia (which is found just across the river from Old Town).
While it’s not overflowing with literary themes, the Grand Poet is more subtle than that. The hotel has little nods here and there to writing, reading, and the beauty of the written word, including ‘do not disturb’ signs which ask visitors if they are the muse you’ve been searching for – a nice touch! The rooms are perfectly-sized for couples staying for a few days, with the most luxurious beds we’ve ever had the pleasure of sleeping on! The showers as well; after a week of travelling through the Baltics, it was a heavenly experience to enjoy such a blissful shower. The rooms feature a velvety wingback chair to sink into for an hour of reading, and a writing desk which, coupled with the romantic atmosphere and decor, is the ideal inspiration for any budding writer who might feel struck by the urge to pen a story or a poem of an evening during their stay.
The Hedonic Spa
Hedonic is certainly the word! The basement spa and gym of the Grand Poet Hotel is a fantastic place to work out all your stresses and exhaustion after a day of exploring Riga. The swimming pool is perfect for a relaxed swim or a few intense lengths. And, once you’re done there, you’ll find a hot tub with some powerful jets that feel like a massage all on their own. There are both saunas and steam rooms to sooth yourself in as well, and showers that will help wash away the last of the muscle pains we had developed during our weeks of travelling.
The gym is small and quiet; we stayed for three nights and every evening I had it all to myself. Treadmills, bikes, free weights, everything you need to work out your stresses and keep healthy while living such a hedonistic life in a soothing hotel. You can easily spend an hour alone in the gym refreshing yourself before heading out to see the sights of Riga or to wind down at the end of a long and exhilarating day of discovery.
Oh, the breakfast! Honesty, we don’t always travel this luxuriously so perhaps we were more overwhelmed than most guests. But this was the finest, most exciting breakfast experience of our lives. Champagne and Bloody Marys with your croissants and omelettes? Yes, please. There is a massive range of cheeses and meats, with various mustards and sauces to combine, as well as porridge, toast, full English breakfasts, and even fish. It was honestly overwhelming, an absolute treat, and our favourite part of the entire Grand Poet Hotel experience. The breakfast room was abuzz every morning with people speaking every European language while they excitedly stacked their plates with meats and omelettes, and generously topped one another up with the best champagne or a cup of fresh coffee. The breakfast offered at the Grand Poet Hotel is reason enough to stay all on its own.
They also have their own Grand Poet Cafe, an elegant spot that’s perfect for getting lost in a book with a coffee and pastry. You’ll also find the restaurant Snob and Bar Snob each featuring an extensive menu of food and drink (including fabulous cocktails).
The Grand Poet Hotel truly makes its guests feel like bohemian ladies and gentlemen during their stay. The food, decor, spa, and furnishings all work together to create a design that could truly be called poetic. For people who prioritise feeling good and healthy during their hotel stay – guests who are wanting a good swim, a quiet gym, and a diverse breakfast – that’s exactly what the Grand Poet Hotel delivers. If you want a hotel experience that is truly conducive to both reading and writing, in-between all your daily wanderings of Riga, this is the hotel you’ve been looking for.
Jess is the creator and editor of Books and Bao. She's passionate about the world, it's literature, food, culture, and people. She enjoys sharing her travel tips with others and capturing those perfect moments.