ICELAND | WHERE TO STAY

REKJYAVIK

101 HOTEL
Hverfisgata 10, 101 Reykjavik
+354 580 0101
This was the first (and one of the only) hotel that opened to fulfill the need of the new crop of Icelandic tourists looking for super luxe accommodations. The truth is that Iceland isn’t super luxe, and probably shouldn’t be – it’s not an authentic way to be there. But alas, there are those travelers who only feel comfortable when they are paying top dollar for exclusive locations, and 101 is one of those places. The décor is beautiful and super chic, but the hotel also shares a wall with one of the loudest clubs in the city, so I am told weekends here are unbearable. But, I’ve also been told that the service is wonderful, the rooms gorgeous and the location great if you want to party in Reykjavik, which is one of the city’s favorite pastimes.

BLACK PEARL APARTMENTS
Tryggvagata 18A, 102 - 101 Reykjavik
+ 354 527 9600
Many of you know that we love to stay in apartments when we travel. We didn't do this when we visited Iceland because we wanted the ease of hotels since we were so unfamiliar with the country, but Black Pearl is a perfect solution that I’m happy to now know about. These luxury apartments combine the best of both worlds: hotel amenities with apartment-style living. The suites are beautiful and spacious, complete with kitchens and heated floors, and the hotel is well located right in the harbor.

HOTEL BORG
Posthusstraeti 11, 101 Reykjavik
+ 354 551 1440
Hotel Borg is more old school than some of the others on this list, and the décor is more Art Deco than Icelandic, but people love it for its location (overlooking the beautiful square of Austurvöllur, and across from Althingi, the Icelandic parliament and the cathedral) and its elegance.

CANOPY BY HILTON REYKJAVIK CITY CENTRE
Smidjustigur 4, 101 Reykjavik
+354 528 7000
I have only been to Iceland once and have only stayed here, so what I’m about to say maybe isn’t fair, but I’ll say it anyway: The Canopy is the best place to stay. Maybe on Earth, but definitely in Reykjavik. And yes, it’s a Hilton, but the first in their new brand of Canopy hotels, which are sort of the younger, hipper version of the chain — like the Ace Hotels of Hilton, and it’s fantastic. The location is PERFECT – literally in walking distance to everything you could want to say and directly on the main shopping street and the design is a perfect blend of rustic chic and modern Scandinavian, which sounds weird but works perfectly. The public spaces, a café, a few lounges perfect for fireside reading (or drinking), the bar (complete with hipster bartenders who have such pride in their drink-making that they’re competing in this years’ world cocktail making championships) and the gym are all warm, clean, spacious and beautifully welcoming. The restaurant is fantastic (some say the Chef is the best in Iceland right now) and the breakfast, which is included with your room, is a bountiful buffet that will satisfy anyone and everyone. Oh, and the rooms are perfect, too. Comfy beds, gorgeous bathrooms (heated floors!) and great style (we stayed in a junior suite – room 414 – that came complete with a little sliver of the North Atlantic out of the window). And if you’re going, please ask for Viktor –he’s what they call a “Guest Enthusiast” (hipster for concierge) and he is truly the best I’ve met. He’ll plan your whole vacation for you if you need and give you the best restaurant advice. We were all sort of obsessed with him, actually. So yeah, I think you should stay here.

ICELANDAIR HOTEL REYKJAVIK MARINA
Myrargata 2, 101 Reykjavík
+354 444 4000
We happened on this hotel on our last day while taking a stroll through the old harbor, and I have to say it was REALLY cool. I guess Iceland air has stake in a number of hotels around Iceland, but this one seems to be the best. It’s ultra hip and modern with great lounge areas in the lobby, including a movie theater, a reading room and a bunch of communal areas. The gym, which they call the Boiler Room, is also off of the lobby, which is a nice change from the usual hotel gym relegated to airless, windowless room. There’s also a great café, bar and restaurant on site.

KVOSIN DOWNTOWN HOTEL
Kvosin Downtown Hotel
Kirkjutorg, 101 Reykjavík
+354 571 4460Another apartment-like hotel, Ksovin is more affordable than Black Pearl, and right in the heart of downtown. It’s in a historic building that was refurbished in 2013 and the 24 rooms (apartments) are spacious, well designed and comfortable. Plus Kvosin’s concierge team is great at helping with trip planning.

RADISSON BLU 1919
Posthusstraeti 2, 101 Reykjavik
+354 599 1000 The Radisson Blu is another hip offshoot of a big chain brand, and while we didn’t stay here I did meet a few people who did who were very happy. The location is right next to the harbor and the art museum.


OUTSIDE THE CITY

While Reykjavik is a fun city and fairly easy to day trip from, it’s also nice to spend a night or two outside of the city, especially if you want to try and see the Northern Lights (and who doesn’t?). As I mentioned before, the country only has a population of 320,000 and only about 100K of those live outside of Reykjavik, so there aren’t a huge number of hotels to choose from, but here are the few I know of.

HOTEL RANGA
851 - South Iceland
+354 487 5700
Located in South Iceland, about 2 hours Reykjavik, this hotel is the only 4-star hotel near the famous Seljalandsfoss waterfall, the East Rangá River and the Mount Hekla volcano, and it’s a great base for exploring the South Coast. The hotel feels more log cabin than sleek Scandinavia, but its cozy and boasts nightly viewing of the Northern Lights (which you can watch from the outdoor hot tubs)

THE ION ADVENTURE HOTEL
Nesjavellir, 801, Iceland
+354 578 3700
This is where we stayed, and it is perfect for a night or two (maybe more in the summer).  Situated in what can only be described as the middle of nowhere, about an hour outside of the city, this super modern hotel (the design is INSANE and must be seen) sits on a massive lava field with views across the Thingvellir National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), it’s the perfect location to tour the Golden Circle (the hot springs at Geysir, and Gulfoss Falls) and while the weather didn't cooperate when we were there, it is apparently a spectacular place to see the Northern Lights (preferably from the hotel’s Northern Lights bar – a cozy watering hall with floor to ceiling windows out of which you’ll see absolutely no light pollution). The rooms are cozy, the spa serene, the heated pool spectacular and the restaurants is stellar (get the lamb shank, you’ll thank me later. And the buffet breakfast is also pretty special). It’s isolated, though, and in the winter can feel really, really dark, especially if there’s cloud cover, so just beware of overstaying if you're not into total solitude. (a note about Ion: the hotel sits fairly close to a geothermal hot spring, which is cool. It also produces sulfur. So if the wind blows just right, you might find yourself smelling rotten eggs.)