It was like déjà vu all over again.
I arrived in Riga, Latvia in mid-September – after three months of travel in Central Asia, visiting some of the most remote places on my itinerary and experiencing some of the most basic conditions. I longed for a taste of the West – literally and figuratively.
I felt very much the same way I did ten months earlier, when I stepped foot in Riga for the first time. Last December, I had just wrapped up three months of travel in Russia, including a month of traveling across the entire country on the Trans-Siberian Railway. After 28 days of sleeping on trains or shoddy hostel beds, I was counting on Riga to provide some welcome relief.
And like last December, I was not disappointed.
As I made my way from the airport bus stop a few blocks to the Funky Hostel & Apartments, things started feeling very familiar. Almost too familiar. I followed the directions copied by hand from my email confirmation – spotting the hostel sign, walking up the first flight of stairs and ringing a buzzer for the next door to open before climbing about five more flights.
And I realized why it all looked so familiar. I had been there before.
Yes, the Funky Hostel & Apartments (I stayed in the hostel, not the apartments) was where I sought refuge when I visited Riga the first time. The only difference in my stay the second time around? I had the extra luxury of a private room – with a full-size bed!
Everything I enjoyed about the hostel on my first visit had not changed and I found it very easy to feel right at home.
Key card entry for extra security? Check.
Free breakfast and coffee and tea all day? You bet.
Super friendly and helpful staff? Yep.
Free maps of the city? Of course.
A double layer of doors separating the common area from the sleeping area? Yes, yes, yes!
I stayed in dozens of hostels throughout my journey through the former Soviet Union and it was the rare hostel that provided all, if any, of the above. I especially loved the extra set of doors that made noise in the common area a non-issue. One of the biggest problems I encountered throughout my trip was that, with many hostels simply being converted apartments, the sleeping areas were adjacent to the common areas, resulting in a lot of noise at all hours, even if I had a room to myself. The Funky Hostel completely solved that problem.
I also appreciated the security of requiring a key card for entrance to the hostel itself and to the individual rooms (although I would guess the fact that it is about seven floors up might deter anyone from trying to break into the hostel itself). And, in the dorms, large lockers rolled out from under the beds, large enough to fit both my 55L backpack and my daypack. I can’t think of another hostel I visited that included full-size lockers!
Finally, the location is pretty great – the Funky Hostel is on a main street close to bars, restaurants and shops. It is walking distance from the bus station, train station and the stop for the airport shuttle. While it isn’t in Riga’s Old Town, it’s just a short walk away.
As much as I felt at home in Riga both on my first visit and when I returned in September, I didn’t have nearly enough time to explore! It’s on my short list of places I need to get back to sooner rather than later and I would definitely call the Funky Hostel & Apartments home for a third time (maybe I’ll check out the apartments next time??).
The Funky Hostel & Apartments and Hostelworld teamed up to provide my stay free of charge, but the opinions expressed above are mine and mine alone. If you want to stay at the Funky Hostel, or simply learn more, visit the Hostelworld site.
Funky Hostel & Apartments, Top Floor, Kr. Barona 25, Riga, Latvia.