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Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel Riga
History, review and photos of the five-star hotel

Added on October 9, 2006
After three months of reconstruction works, Technogym Wellness Centre reopened it's doors for the first guests at the Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel on the May 1, 2006. It offers contemporary furniture, glass works, mirrors, selectively chosen colors for the relaxation area, a reception, a work-out area, aerobics classes, a Kinesis Studio, a Gym and a Cardiovascular Studio, personal training, medical testing, a 24m swimming pool, water aerobics classes, massages, a solarium studio and a juice bar.

Article added on December 1, 2005
Riga is booming, last but not least as a tourist hot spot. Since Easy Jet, Ryanair and other low cost carriers serve this destination, passenger volume has increased dramatically. However, hotel construction has not kept up with the rising demand. Riga lacks hotels of all categories.

One of the few existing five-star hotels is the Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel Riga. Currently, it is the only hotel with a pool in the Latvian capital - one in which you can actually swim, a twenty-one meter indoor pool with waves and hydro massage, not a paddling pool. The fitness center offers Jacuzzi, different saunas, massages and medical testing and a gym with the latest machines. I spotted a hairdresser and beauty center too.

The hotel offers 361 guest rooms, including 52 business class - all with river and Old Riga view and in one of which I stayed -, and 34 suites as well as 13 apartments, with a fully equipped kitchen for families and long-staying guests; one loyal guest has been living in an apartment for the past five years.

A short history

The hotel's history begins in 1967, when it was built for Soviet citizens who came to Riga to be near the West. Twenty years later, it was remodeled by a Polish construction firm, which doubled the number of rooms from 250 to 500. With the end of the Soviet regime in Latvia, Moscow turned an uncompleted hotel over to the city of Riga.

In January 1992, Polar BEK Daugava Ltd. was formed between Polar BEK and the state owned Rigas Viesnicas to own, complete and operate Daugava Hotel. In spring, the hotel was redesigned by Western architects and upgraded to a four-star hotel with 370 rooms, designed for both business and leisure travelers.

In the summer of 1992, a management agreement was signed with Radisson and Polar BEK began construction. In November 1994, it became a Radisson hotel and was renamed Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel Riga. July 1, 1995 marked the soft opening. The official opening was on October 1, 1995 with 361 rooms available.

A first casino opened at the hotel in 1996, replaced in early 2003 by the current Olympic Casino, a  Las Vegas style casino and Night Club, open 24 hours a day.

Water quality in Riga is poor. You should only drink mineral water. However, at the Radisson, with their extra filters and water supply, there is no problem drinking from the water tap.

One of the things that angers me in most luxury hotels are the fantasy prices charged for Internet access. One PR lady told me that they are a five-star hotel with prices according to their luxury status. To which I replied that this is a matter of value for money. You can get a monthly broadband Internet access all over Europe for about 30 Euros or less. Therefore, I cannot see why a hotel in Germany should charge me 15 Euros or why one in London should charge me up to 20 Pounds for a 24 hour Internet access? At Hotel Meurice in Paris and Hotel Adlon in Stockholm, they have been offering free Internet access for quite some time already. Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts is the first international hotel chain in Europe to implement free broadband high-speed and WiFi access for all its clients since 2005. This service is specially needed in Riga, because the city lies at the periphery of Western Europe. For instance, the Financial Times only arrives in the early afternoon.

Among the special services the Rezidor SAS, the parent company of Radisson SAS, offers in all its hotels are the Automated External Defibrillators (AED). In collaboration with Medtronic, the Radisson in Riga is currently the only hotel in Riga and the first hotel company in Eastern Europe to offer this proven tool in the event of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), together with specially trained staff. It is estimated that 95 percent of SCA victims do not survive. SCA is the world's number one killer, ranking above traffic accidents, AIDS and breast cancer combined. Chances of survival decrease by up to 10% per minute when SCA is left untreated. After seven minutes (without defibrillation) almost nobody survives. However, if a shock is administered within the first three to five minutes of the arrest, the chances of survival increase to 74%.

This may be one of the reasons why so many celebrities and dignitaries stay at the Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel. The hotel keeps a low profile regarding its VIP guests, but the Presidential Suite, easy to secure, has already hosted many Presidents.

Unlike some other Riga hotels, the Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel offers a large variety of foreign speaking TV channels, not only CNN and BBC, but e.g. Spanish, Italian, French and large variety of German channels (including ARD, ZDF, RTL, SAT1), which is rare, even for five-star hotels. It gave me the possibility to watch the Champions League game Juventus-Bayern live on SAT1. If you occupy a business class room - as I did - you have free access to pay TV.

The design of the rooms is rather sober, a bit too much for me. The color scheme will change in early 2006. The refurbishment will include carpets, curtains, blankets and other details. The furniture (in the rooms mostly birch in combination with flakeboard) and the lamps will remain the same, the sofas and chairs will be upholstered with the new design colors. I had the chance to have a look at two new showrooms, but cannot reveal more to you until the refurbishment has been made official. However, the new color scheme will be more masculine.

Among the special services of the Radisson, there is not only a complimentary scheduled hotel shuttle from and to the airport, but also to Old Riga, for people who do not wish to walk over the bridge to the other side of the Daugava river.

The Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel Riga may not be extremely fashionable in design, but it offers good service, a pleasant atmosphere, with a piano bar and live music, two restaurants (Restaurant Talavera with excellent live music), an outstanding fitness center and the city's only hotel pool. Last but not least, the hotel offers one of the best views of Old Riga, something I never got tired of enjoying from my room, day and night. The Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel is like a warm and welcoming ocean liner, to which one loves to return especially in winter.

View of the newly renovated pool. Added on October 9, 2006.
Photo © Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel Riga.

Photo © Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel Riga.

Photo © Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel Riga.

Photo © Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel Riga.

Photo © Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel Riga.

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One of the hotel's best assets: The view of Old Riga. Photo © Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel Riga.