Naughty Squirrel Hostel Review

Naughty Squirrel Hostel Review

Naughty Squirrel Bar

Latvia – sitting in the Baltic region of Northern Europe – plays host to one of the most historically interesting and charming cities on the continent.

With Russia to the east, Lithuania to the south, Estonia bordering the north, and the Baltic Sea and Sweden to the west, Latvia is a far cry from Mediterranean sun. But Riga, Latvia’s capital, may well be the new ideal place to explore some intriguing European culture; and The Naughty Squirrel hostel is a fantastic place to set up base.

First Impressions

Naughty Squirrel Football

The Naughty Squirrel is a typical hostel with a buzzer-door entrance, set in an unassuming street which leads you up a flight of stairs to the reception. A smiling face will greet you in English and book you into your room, give you instructions to the hostel and city, and give you a free map and a shot of Rigas balsaams (Riga black balsam), a sinister-looking black liqueur drink made with a variety of supposedly ‘medicinal’ herbs mixed with vodka. Just remember to smile and say “Prieka!”

The people at The Naughty Squirrel are super helpful. Anything you need to know about the city – just ask. English was comfortably and clearly spoken by the staff on our visit and any Latvian phrases will be provided on request. Such as, “I’ll have that cake, please.” (Seriously, Riga has some supreme and delectable-looking desserts.) The whole reception area is covered in kooky little posters and banners and writing and signs. The décor is just fantastic. Graffiti-style images cover the walls in the dorm hallways. The hostel is unique in a quirky sort of way and the whole place from top to bottom is full of character.

Location

Riga Buildings

Arriving at Riga airport, hopefully you’ll have noted down the clear instructions for the bus route to the hostel (to be found on their website: www.thenaughtysquirrel.com). It’s easy. It’s just a 20-minute trip. The hostel location is in the old town – and that, let us tell you, is a good thing. It’s the most authentic and charming part, with lantern-laced cobbled streets and plenty of varied facilities, all within walking distance.

Hostel Facilities

Naughty Squirrel Hostel Kitchen

The biggest facility that the hostel offers is a great sense of clean, comfortable common areas in which to hang out and meet people. At the hub of these little social nooks is the always-manned reception and little bar where you can get as many Rigas balsaams or reasonably-priced beers as you like.

The lounge area has a flat-screen TV with movies available to watch, as well as a line of computers in the corner offering free internet, and free wi-fi for those travelling with laptops. The kitchen is well kept with free hot drinks all day, a microwave and cooking appliances; sometimes it just makes financial sense to self cater, so this is useful.

The whole hostel has an air of individuality, security and comfort. We’re really hard-pressed to say anything negative about it at all.

Rooms & Rates

Riga Street

All rooms are very clean and comfortable, with solid wooden bunk beds. Prices range from €8.57 per person per night for a 10-bed dorm, to €37.14 for one person in a double bed in a private room with en suite. As mentioned, shared bathrooms are kept immaculately clean at all times. The amount of times you will encountered a freshly-cleaned bathroom during your stay here; it’s mesmerising.

We did note that there were not that many charging points for electronic devices. If you’re willing to sit in the common area and charge your cameras/phones/computers then that’s not a problem. But at night you may find yourself fighting for a plug socket in the dorm rooms themselves. Standard hostel procedure, to be honest, so nothing unusual here.

What are supplied, and much appreciated, are locker-cages which roll out from under each bed (free padlocks available at reception). So, while you’re out and about you know your belongings are as secure as possible. All areas of the hostel, including the rooms themselves, operate on an electronic key card system, providing top security and ease of access. The Naughty Squirrel have obviously gone to a lot of trouble to make their guests feel safe, as well as comfortable.

Extra Recommendations…

Riga - Latvia

Be sure to check out Lido restaurant for a huge range of Latvian and Eastern European food at supremely affordable prices. Black Magic bar for its wonderful, dark, medieval interior and intriguing beers, and be sure to get involved in the free walking tour to get to know the city’s resilient past. Tread the cobbled stones at night… street lights in full beam… the markets in song… You will be left wondering how Riga managed to fly under the radar for so long.

Conclusion

Not only is The Naughty Squirrel the 2009 and 2010 ‘Hoscars’ winner of Best Hostel in Latvia, and 2010 winner of the Best Hostel in Eastern Europe, The Naughty Squirrel plays host to a unique and charming little city in Riga. It really must be noted as one of the ‘hidden’ gems of Europe. Even better if you are travelling in a group as The Naughty Squirrel was also crowned the 2010 Hoscars winner of the Best Hostel for Groups, worldwide!

This is a funky hostel with oodles of character. But, crucially, the staff and services at The Naughty Squirrel ensure you don’t have to compromise on cleanliness or safety for the price. Absolutely top drawer, and a deserved winner of so many awards.

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