Review: Grand Palace Hotel Riga

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Review: Grand Palace Hotel Riga
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After three great nights in Tallinn we were spending two nights in Riga. While Riga’s population is about 50% bigger than Tallinn’s, it doesn’t have as many major international hotel chains. I’m generally a Marriott/Starwood and Hyatt loyalist, and there were no brands belonging to those groups in Tallinn.

So I decided to look at what independent hotels there might be in Riga, and came across Grand Palace Hotel Riga, which is the only Virtuoso property in the city.

We booked through Virtuoso and paid a rate of 195EUR per night, which comes with the following benefits (copied directly from Virtuoso’s website):

  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests served in restaurant
  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • A complimentary lunch or dinner for up to two people per room once during stay, excluding alcohol, taxes and gratuities
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Access to Sauna and Gym
  • One-way VIP transfer from airport, train stations, port or bus station
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

The 195EUR rate was identical to what the property was charging when booking directly with them.

Much like in Tallinn, the city of Riga was pretty close to the international airport. We were picked up by a driver from the hotel in a Mercedes C-Class, and the drive took about 15 minutes.

Grand Palace Riga is a charming hotel with just 56 rooms, and it was located right in the heart of the old town. The location really couldn’t have been any better, as we could walk everywhere.


Grand Palace Hotel Riga exterior


Grand Palace Hotel Riga exterior

As you might expect, the lobby was quite small. There was a small set of stairs leading to the main lobby level, and there was no real lobby seating, though there were a couple of restaurants and a bar.


Grand Palace Hotel Riga lobby


Grand Palace Hotel Riga lobby

Just inside the entrance and to the right was reception, where there were two tables, so check-in formalities could be completed while sitting down.

The problem is that there was only one person working, and she was very slow and taking her time with everyone. There was only one guest ahead of us, and it took the front desk agent over 15 minutes to check him in. Not only did check-in take forever, but she proactively offered to give him a very detailed orientation of the city. That’s something I like in theory, but when there’s only one person working, it’s not ideal.


Grand Palace Hotel Riga reception

Our room wasn’t quite ready yet, so we first walked around town for a bit, and then within 30 minutes we were informed our room was ready. Rooms can be accessed either by the hotel’s charming/tiny elevator, or by the beautifully maintained staircase.


Grand Palace Hotel Riga elevator


Grand Palace Hotel Riga stairway

We were assigned room 404.


Grand Palace Hotel Riga hallway


Grand Palace Hotel Riga room exterior

In retrospect I actually don’t think we got any sort of an upgrade, but rather this was a standard room. The room had an entryway with a closet to the right and the bathroom to the left.


Grand Palace Riga room entryway

The room had a bed that had two separate duvets, which I quite like as a feature, no matter whom I’m traveling with.


Grand Palace Riga room

In the corner of the room was a desk with a chair, and a circular mirror.


Grand Palace Riga room desk

Then on the opposite side by the window was a chair with a side table.


Grand Palace Riga room

The TV was on a dresser that almost looked like a luggage case.


Grand Palace Riga room


Grand Palace Riga room

The bathroom was small but beautifully appointed, with a shower/tub combo, a toilet, and a sink.


Grand Palace Riga bathroom


Grand Palace Riga toilet


Grand Palace Riga shower


Grand Palace Riga toiletries

The room had a minibar in the closet.


Grand Palace Riga minibar

Given that the hotel very much blended into the neighborhood and we were only a few floors up, the views weren’t anything out of the ordinary, but rather looked out over a side street.


Grand Palace Riga view

Later in the afternoon we were presented with a welcome amenity of bottled water (one still and one sparkling), as well as a couple of sweets.


Grand Palace Riga welcome amenity

While we never did order anything from the room service menu, the daytime menu read as follows (as you can see, it’s a pretty simple menu):

Wifi in the room was fast and free.

Because we booked through Virtuoso we received complimentary breakfast, which was served daily at Restaurant Orangerie between 7AM and 11AM. The restaurant was such a beautiful old-world space with plenty of natural light.


Grand Palace Riga Restaurant Orangerie


Grand Palace Riga Restaurant Orangerie

Breakfast consisted of a buffet with fresh juice, fresh fruit, muesli, cereal, croissants, pastries, all kinds of bread, cold cuts, cheese, and more.


Grand Palace Riga breakfast buffet


Grand Palace Riga breakfast buffet


Grand Palace Riga breakfast buffet


Grand Palace Riga breakfast buffet


Grand Palace Riga breakfast buffet


Grand Palace Riga breakfast buffet

Then there were a couple of hot options, including scrambled eggs, sausages, and bacon.


Grand Palace Riga breakfast buffet

In addition to the buffet you can order custom made waffles, pancakes, or eggs. I ordered a well done veggie and cheese omelet, which was excellent.


Grand Palace Riga breakfast omelet

We were only able to have breakfast in the restaurant one morning since our flight was departing at 6AM on our second morning there, though they were gracious in offering to prepare us whatever we wanted for our 4:30AM departure. We just asked for coffees and croissants, and those were prepared as requested.


Grand Palace Riga breakfast to go

Also off the lobby was Pils Bar, which was oh-so-adorable. There you could have drinks or snacks throughout the day.


Grand Palace Riga Pils Bar & Restaurant


Grand Palace Riga Pils Bar & Restaurant


Grand Palace Riga Pils Bar & Restaurant

My dad hung out there a bit in the afternoons while I was working, and I joined him there one afternoon for a cappuccino.


Grand Palace Riga cappuccino

The hotel doesn’t serve dinner in the breakfast restaurant. I find that strange since it’s such a grand and beautiful space. Rather dinner is served in Pils Restaurant, which is a small restaurant in the back of the bar. It has just a total of nine tables.


Grand Palace Riga Pils Restaurant


Grand Palace Riga Pils Restaurant

Since we booked through Virtuoso our rate included a dinner one night. The dinner was spectacular, and consisted of an excellent three course menu. I’m not sure how much it would have usually cost, since there were no prices.

The dinner menu read as follows:

To start we were offered a selection of bread and an amuse bouche.


Grand Palace Riga dinner — amuse bouche

For our starters I chose the sautéed scallops with buckwheat noodles and sweet pepper sauce, while my dad chose the salad with tiger prawns, avocado, cherry tomatoes, citrus fruits, lettuce, and mango-coconut dressing.


Grand Palace Riga dinner — appetizer


Grand Palace Riga dinner — appetizer

After that we were offered palate cleansers.


Grand Palace Riga dinner — palate cleanser

For the main course I chose the I chose the crispy salmon fillet with green peas puree, cauliflower pickled in beet roots and green asparagus sauce, while my dad chose the tuna fillet with green asparagus, sautéed spinach, cherry tomatoes, and white wine-octopus sauce, while .


Grand Palace Riga dinner — main course


Grand Palace Riga dinner — main course

Then for dessert I had the marzipan and amaretto cake with wild strawberry sauce and pistachio moss, while my dad had the chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream.


Grand Palace Riga dinner — dessert


Grand Palace Riga dinner — dessert

The food was truly exceptional, and was probably the best meal we had on this trip, so I have nothing but good things to say in that regard. We also had the restaurant to ourselves the entire time we were there, which is funny, because when we checked in the front desk agent stressed how important it was that we make a reservation.

On the basement level of the hotel was the gym, sauna, and steam room. The gym could be accessed 24/7, and was super basic/disappointing. I realize this is a boutique hotel, but this was embarrassingly bad, in my opinion.


Grand Palace Riga gym


Grand Palace Riga sauna

Grand Palace Riga bottom line

Obviously I’m addicted to loyalty programs and do everything I can to stay at major chain hotels for the points and elite benefits I receive. However, it’s also really lovely to stay at a property that feels as local as this one.

Being able to receive Virtuoso benefits at a property as cute as this one really is a joy, and I highly recommend this place. Grand Palace isn’t cheap (by Riga) standards, but has nice rooms, an excellent location, and is truly charming. The food at the hotel was top notch as well.

I’d recommend this property in a heartbeat if returning to Riga. For that matter, I had a really great time in Riga, and shared my thoughts on our time here in this post.

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Comments

  1. This is an outrageously priced property considering the price range in the Baltics. Riga has good hotels, for instance some of the Accor properties there.

  2. I don’t like being tied to a chain and my preferred hotels tend to be high quality independent luxury properties. To that end, it’s nice to see you do a review of an LHW property. When searching for hotels in a new destination, my go-to is to avoid the chains but look at what LHW, Preferred LUX/LEGEND, Relais et Chateaux and other smaller luxury hotel consortiums (ie. Auberge, Belmond,Capella, Dorchester Collection, Montage, Oetker Collection, Rocco Forte et al.) are offering. I’ve had a lot of great experiences especially with Preferred LEGEND.

  3. Given how empty the restaurant was for dinner, I’m guessing the reservation was required so that they prep some food for you. I wouldn’t be surprised if the kitchen was closed on nights with no reservations.

  4. I was in Riga for a couple of days late last year, and I have to agree with Ika – although there is a relative lack of chain properties there (Radisson Blu excluded), there are enough inexpensive options there that spending nearly EUR200 at the Grand Palace seems excessive to me.

    My wife and I stayed in a suite at one of the Wellton properties near the Central Market (on the edge of Old Town), which was not only convenient to transit and Old Town, it cost half the price. Sure, the Wellton Riga Hotel isn’t as fancy, but not everything in life has to be fancy.

  5. This was vastly more interesting as a review than the usual chain hotels. Thank you. More like this please.

    As to the hotel itself, personally I dislike those rooms up under Mansard / Gambrel roofs and as a Virtuoso upgrade very disappointing but otherwise it looks like a decent hotel especially if the food was great.

  6. Your hotel quality and the price you paid for the hotel just doesn’t make any sense. Plus I am sure you are already Gold or Platinum member with Radisson Hotel. Radisson has the best views of the city and is far more economical than the hotel you chose.

    Riga is a beautiful city. However, they don’t get as many cruises as Tallinn does.

  7. Stayed there last year when the Kempinski was not open yet… took a tour of the new hotel and I would totally stay at the Kempinski next time I visit

  8. I’m generally a Marriott/Starwood and Hyatt loyalist, and there were no brands belonging to those groups in Tallinn.

    So I decided to look at what independent hotels there might be in Riga, and came across Grand Palace Hotel Riga, which is the only Virtuoso property in the city.

    I think you mean Riga in the first sentence?

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