Hotel Rīga (Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga)

Oh, if the walls of this hotel could speak! Recently, the luxurious Kempinski chain moved into the hotel, which was originally opened in 1954 as Hotel Rīga and was seen as one of the best hotels in the Soviet Union, and until 1970 was the only hotel in the city where foreigners stayed.

The hotel’s bar Skapis even gained cult-like status back in the day. The bar was frequented not only by the elite and wealthy foreigners, but also profiteers and ladies for purchase. It was rumored that the bar had hidden microphones set up, and during the National Awakening Movement era a listening room was actually found inside the hotel, which is now currently displayed at the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. There was also a small number of elite prostitutes working for the KGB who serviced only “especially important” foreigners, who were only able to take them to Hotel Rīga, which had rooms specially equipped with listening devices and cameras.

Interesting facts

Before Rīga, the Roma Hotel (1878-1944) was located here, which was seen as just as elegant a hotel as its successor. The hotel featured a telephone, electrical lighting, and the famous Romas Pagrabs restaurant. Many celebrities stayed at the hotel. Once, even the monarchs of Albania wished to stay at the hotel after Italy occupied the country in 1939, as they were looking for refuge in Riga, but in the end they stayed elsewhere.