In 1939, a young John F. Kennedy spent a week in Riga, Latvia. An undergraduate student at Harvard University back then, the former U.S. president was a guest of John C. Wiley who was the United States Minister at the time.
During JFK’s one-week vacation, he stayed at the former U.S. embassy building where a plaque now displays on Ausekļa Street 22. That same address today belongs to A22, or Riga’s most stylish boutique luxury hotel.
In contrast to Riga’s iconic Art Nouveau styles, A22 Hotel is somewhat an escape from the rest of Old Town. Situated in a tranquil part of the city – frequently referred to as Riga’s “Quiet Center” – this boutique haven boasts terraces that face directly toward the verdant Viestura Park which offers a calming air from outside to the hotel’s sleek and soothing interior. A few minutes away by foot, travelers can soon be encapsulated by a boisterous city center, and snap memorable photos of famous landmarks and breathtaking architectures.
One year before the Soviet Union occupied the Baltic States, JFK stayed here as part of an European tour. At the time, his father was the U.S. Ambassador in the United Kingdom, hence a youthful Kennedy’s Latvian trip was not taken lightly by locals and diplomats.
When the former president stayed at the embassy, an attic floor was added uniquely for him. Today, A22 Hotel’s Presidential Suite was originally a three-room accommodation specifically made for him before arrival.
Motivated by conceptual art and creative work, A22 Hotel partnered with CBP Design, a Latvian interior design company. The final result is the fusion of Art Nouveau inspiration integrated with mid-century components that deliver a refined and cosmopolitan setting. Plush carpets, deep maroons and greens with gold touches complete the harmony of boutique luxury.
In addition to bordering Viestura Park, A22 Hotel also overlooks Washington Square. For the hotel to pop with its dark exterior façade in midst of its majestic neighbors, the outer surface of the building is painted in black, highlighted by brass window frames in gold to exude a combination of old and new.
Inside the hotel; moldings, parquet floors and refurbished ceilings are reminiscent of the former embassy’s Art Nouveau roots. Though the use of marble, dark wood and brass provide contemporary poise. If anything, stepping inside A22 Hotel is like entering a world of sophistication, with hints of intimate exclusivity.
ROOMS & SUITES
Since A22 Hotel breathes a longstanding history, its 20 rooms and suites are nostalgic of an era when classic elegance and polished mod designs were fashionable undertones.
At the five-star hotel, rooms and suites are categorized by: Superior Rooms, Deluxe Rooms, One-Bedroom Suites and the Presidential Suite as mentioned above. Each room is elevated with premium technology and modern sound systems. A22 also features two-floor suites that separate the resting and living areas, so guests can indulge in ample space without feeling overly compacted.
Each room is unique but share calming dark hues bolstered by minimal yet glossy details. The sumptuous Presidential Suite, for instance, is a roomy two-bedroom; including a dining room, a bathroom and a walking closet. The 111-square-meter cozy space speaks of the past through retro details, upscale and clean lines that were popular during pre-war era. Ivory walls painted up the ceiling also juxtapose rich dark wooden floors, light charcoal marble tops and velvet textiles compose a gentle ambiance of subtle lavishness. Look outside the window and there’s a wide and luscious view of the oldest park in Riga.
RESTAURANT & BAR
Following the narration of Kennedy throughout the hotel, A22’s highly recommended restaurant is appropriately named JOHN, after the president who stayed here numerous decades ago. The 40-seat dining restaurant is where guests can order breakfast items from its tastefully curated à la carte menu which illustrates both Latvian and international flavors. But its lunch and dinner dishes are the buzzworthy items that attract foodies visiting the capital of Latvia.
Headed by a chef trained at Copenhagen’s NOMA, JOHN depicts changing seasons of the land. The Norwegian Arctic Cod, for instance, is often on the menu solely during springtime, meanwhile fishes migrating from the Barents Sea to Norway’s Lofoten and Vesterålen islands are always available to guests during winter months. This allows dining at JOHN not only a delightful experience but also one that celebrates the tastes of Latvia.
JACKIE cocktail bar, on the other, is the chic accompaniment to JOHN. The former First Lady was globally renowned for her immaculate fashion style and graceful etiquette. JACKIE bar’s cocktails recount stories of JFK’s famous lovers, but each drink also interprets an ultimate femininity, try: “Oh, Jackie!” (strawberry infused gin, blueberry, vanilla, lemon. Or “Marilyn Passion-Martini” (whiskey, passion fruit puree, vanilla syrup, pineapple juice, citron.) Reflecting upon Jackie O’s proper mannerism, there’s also Afternoon Tea available at the bar.
FITNESS & SPA
Additionally, A22 Hotel welcomes guests with a wide range of amenities including a fully-equipped fitness center, as well as a sauna open for guests to relax after a long day of either meetings or sightseeing.
Needless to say, A22 is the most stylish luxury boutique hotel in Riga. It glimmers as a standout, carrying on history. It’s even safer to say that if JFK stayed here today, he’d probably love it even more.