Riga's Art Nouveau Gem
Arriving in Riga, Tallinn Arts has found a new home. On a cold and windy winter day, through the Christmas market and on to Jauniela street in the Old Town, faces frozen, ruddy, there was warmth, history and beauty waiting at Hotel and Restaurant Neiburgs. In many ways, Neiburgs's past is that of Latvia's itself; in its struggle and cultural development. It is also the story of a family.
What the visitor will notice immediately is the art nouveau facade. For those unfamiliar with the art nouveau aesthetic, it was a late 19th and early 20th century international movement in the arts centered around ornamentation, long sinuous lines and stylized forms taken from nature. This movement found its most frequent expression in graphic design, the decorative arts and architecture. Riga has more art nouveau buildings than any other city in northern Europe and so in a sense Neiburgs is exemplary of the best of Riga's modern architecture heritage. But there is more. Neiburgs uses this tradition as a foundation and takes newer components from lighting, art and design to create a contemporary and fresh atmosphere.
Each room of the hotel is like a small apartment with comfortable chairs which you can actually appreciate sitting in while working, eating or watching the flat screen TV. A great bonus is that you can cook in the apartment if you wish as there is a stove, refrigerator, pots, pans and utensils. There's a mini bar if you need a drink. There are nice views from all rooms to enjoy. There is excellent lighting, with stylish lamps and comfortable bed. The rooms are inviting and relaxing.
The structure which houses Neiburgs was designed by the Baltic German architect Wilhelm Bokslaff at the behest of building contractor and civic activist Ludvigs Neiburgs, a man responsible for many important buildings throughout Latvia before and during the country's interwar independence. Constructed in 1903 the building which now houses the hotel was at first made for shops on the ground floor, with upper levels designated as rental flats. The distinctive facade remains from the original design as a fine example of art nouveau or, as it is also known, Jugendstil architecture in Riga's Old Town.
History interrupted the lives of the Neiburgs and the destiny of the property. World War II brought with it the Soviet occupation of Latvia. Ludvigs Neiburgs died in penury at his country house in 1948 and his family was scattered through immigration, deportation and confinement in a Siberian gulag. The building at 25/27 Jauniela street became a "business hotel" for Soviet functionaries as well as communal flats. The ground floor housed the beer garden Pie Kristapa which later become an important meeting spot for liberal reformers of the 1980s.
The Neiburgs family finally had their properties restored in the 1990s after Latvia's independence. It was decided to make this building a luxury hotel in the entrepreneurial spirit of Ludvigs Neiburgs and to use the family name as an homage to their struggles and rebirth.
The ground floor is no longer a beer garden, but a fine restaurant. The breakfast buffet is served there and it was excellent and low key, the perfect thing for starting your day. Restaurant Neiburgs is a noteworthy eatery in Riga. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, local ingredients, Latvian classics and modern European cuisine define the menu. Artworks from Kristiāna Dimitere adorn the walls and light music creates a special calming atmosphere.