City Guide: Reykjavík, Iceland

Reykjavík is the world's northernmost capital: in the summer, the sun doesn't set on the Icelandic city. With rainbow-coloured buildings set against an alabaster landscape, the city is uniquely placed close to some of nature's great wonders - including the Northern Lights and the Blue Lagoon. "Reykjavík" means "smoky bay" and, as the word suggests, the weather can be tempestuous. Still, that doesn't stop this tiny city drawing the crowds.

Reykjavík is fast becoming one of the popular capital cities and has a defiantly cosmopolitan buzz: it's clean, green and compact. With a progressive culinary scene, surprisingly lively nightlife and an air of nonchalant Nordic cool, this city has personality despite the cold. Where else could spawn eccentrics such as the celebrated musician Björk or have a bar dedicated exclusively to The Big Lebowski?

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Hotel Borg

Reykjavik, Iceland

The oldest and grandest hotel in Iceland, Hotel Borg is known for its art-deco style and high-flying clientele – the building has become a city landmark in its own right. Located in the heart of Reykjavík, each of its 99 rooms is different, customised in the hotel’s signature style down to the smallest detail. It’s rumoured that modern-day royals Beyoncé and Jay-Z stayed here. It’s the place to stay if you want to be among the trappings of luxury.

Address

Pósthússtræti 11 101

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Kex

Reykjavik, Iceland

This biscuit-factory turned hip hostel is the definition of Icelandic cool: Kex has its own brewery, excellent restaurant and regularly hosts live music. It’s an ideal place for those seeking for a good vibe without breaking the bank. The private rooms are minimal but have a distinctive aesthetic, lots of them come with a sea view. Don’t miss a meal in the gastro pub where dishes are inspired by Icelandic heritage and local produce.

Address

Skúlagata 28 101

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Hotel Kvosin

Reykjavik, Iceland

Located in the heart of city, the historic building of Hotel Kvosin mixes old and new. Rooms are spacious and open plan, with living areas and kitchens done up in think white with touches of blue. The Klaustur bar is a great place to start the night – afterwards move to Reykjavík’s nearby bars and restaurants.

Address

Kirkjutorg 101

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Reykjavík Residence

Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavík Residence is a cross a between hotel and guesthouse in a well-located (and rather beautiful) building. Sleek, mini-apartments mean you can really make yourself at home, while breakfast delivered straight to your door in the morning is the stuff of dreams.

Address

Hverfisgata 45 101

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Canopy by Hilton

Reykjavik, Iceland

It might be a Hilton but Canopy is actually one of the city’s coolest hotels, offering a design-led stay where exposed volcanic brickwork is softened by velvet in shades of ocean. The hotel is set across six connected houses in downtown Reykjavík, making it the perfect place to start exploring the city and beyond, while a variety of rooms will suit all kinds of travellers. Don’t miss the fresh fish in the restaurant.

Address

Smiðjustígur 4 101

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Black Pearl

Reykjavik, Iceland

Luxurious and well-located in the old harbour area of the city, Black Pearl offers some of the best apartments in Reykjavík. Spacious and bright with ample living space, the deluxe suite even has its own private lift. Black Pearl pride themselves on service and making guests feel special – book yourself an in-room massage just because.

Address

Tryggvagata 18 101

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Oddsson Hotel

This constellation of turquoise tiles, pastel-blue floors and pink sinks sums up heavenly designed 1940s warehouse-turned-hostel Oddsson. Combining local touches with international design, the newly opened spot represents what we love about Nordic countries: offbeat, forward-thinking and ahead of its time. At Oddsson, the luxury is in the details: custom-made furniture (most of which has been locally manufactured), integrated wardrobes, colour compositions à la David Hockney and views over Faxa Bay. Thanks to stripped-back surfaces and exposed pipework, the industrial-chic vibe is channelled throughout the bistro, Italian restaurant and communal lounge, complete with vintage chairs and sofas. For budding singers and cinephiles, you'll find a movie and karaoke room – why not practice by singing along to the music wafting out of the lift? Don't miss a trip to the rooftop hot tub.

Address

Grensásvegur 16a,108, Reykjavik, Iceland

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The Retreat at Blue Lagoon

The otherworldly eloquence of the Icelandic lava fields, all moss-green rocks and slate-grey skies, is amplified by the addition of the The Retreat. As part of the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, guests have access to a private cloudy blue lake where they can slather on a mud mask, grab a green juice and float around in the state of existential bliss Iceland is prone to inducing.

Address

Nordurljosavegur 11, 240 Grindavík, Iceland