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 else in the world.
If you do go, I recommend staying at Homestay Riga, a unique bed & breakfast in the Mezaparks area. The B&B is away from the city centre a bit, but easily accessible by a frequent and super cheap tram line. I'm not normally very keen on B&Bs. I have a slight fear of overly chatty hosts, you see. But this place won me over completely.
It's run by an unconventional couple: Diga and Ric – a Latvian artist and her Kiwi husband – and Diga's mum. Entering the large three-storey timber house, we're taken through to a large lounge with comfortably worn sofas and chairs and lots to look at. Apart from Diga's gorgeous artwork, there's a small library, a satellite TV, lots of plants and bright, warm colours everywhere.
Homestay Riga has a light and warm atmosphere, it's full of creativity and generosity, laughter and interesting conversations. I stayed here with my teenage daughter. For a total of 45 lats/night (ca 64 euros – though this was a couple of years ago, so prices may have increased a bit), we got separate bedrooms (spacious, high-ceilinged and very clean), and a huge breakfast consisting of … well, whatever we wanted. Diga's mum, by the way, is jam-maker extraordinaire. Breakfast was at a communal table, a nice opportunity to chat with other guests and exchange ideas and plans for the day.
Being comfortable around animals is probably a requirement for staying here. A beautiful stray dog 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 laid back about being kicked out.
Outside, there's a terrace with chairs and a pretty garden. And if you want even more space to roam, Riga's historic and beautiful Mezaparks is right there with gorgeous ancient buildings: a fisherman's cottage, a 150-year-old farm house, many Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Bauhaus homes and embassies, and also some not-quite-as-picturesque Soviet era houses. Mezaparks is also excellent for walks (even taking the dog for a walk), for fishing, biking or sailing on the lake in summer (bikes, boats, canoes and windsurfers are for rent) – or for 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.
Address: Stockholmas iela 1 (1, Stockholm st.) Mezaparks Riga, Latvia
Phone: +371 7553016; mobile: +371 6464113
For more information visit Homestay Riga.
Review and photos by travel journalist and blogger Anne-Sophie Redisch of Sophie's World.