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After touching down at Keflavík Airport a 50km coach journey through lava fields and along a jaw-dropping coastal road will take you to the capital. Iceland is notoriously pricey for tourists, but there are hotel options that won’t break the bank or damage the environment – here are a few picks both in Reykjavík and beyond:
GRAND HOTEL REYKJAVÍK Sigtún 38, 101 Reykjavík +354 514 8000
A modern, four-star hotel in the heart of the metropolis. Popular with businessmen and tourists alike, the Grand Hotel has been given the ‘Nordic Ecolabel’ – a gold standard for green hotels in Scandinavia. Located 2km from the centre, Iceland’s largest hotel commands an impressive view of Faxaflói Bay, perfect for a luxury break (with a matching price-tag). Try the delicious Icelandic seafood served in their restaurant. For those in need of pampering, the hotel spa also offers great treatments and therapies, including a decadent Icelandic hot stone massage.
REYKJAVÍK DOWNTOWN HOSTEL Vesturgata 17, 101 Reykjavík, +354 553 8120
Having received its Ecolabel in 2010, this hostel is one of the most highly recommended members of Hostelling International. The Downtown Hostel offers clean, cheap and functional rooms to adventurers on a budget, and what it lacks in elegance it makes up for in activities and atmosphere. Located on Laugavegur, Reykjavík’s main shopping street, the hostel is a stone’s throw from the shops, restaurants and clubs downtown, and the ground floor bar is a key location in the city’s buzzing nightlife. I like this hostel so much that I recommended it to my mother – clear evidence, if any were needed, of a seal of approval.
GREAT ESCAPE HOTELS
Iceland has 320,000 inhabitants spread out over 40,000 square miles, which happens to be the lowest population density in the continent. Add to this the fact that two-thirds of Icelanders live in Reykjavík and its surrounding suburbs, and what you are left with is a whole lot of empty countryside. Luckily for us tourists, Iceland’s nature, shaped by glacial and volcanic activity, is some of the most beautiful in the world. If you feel the call of the wilderness, but don’t fancy sleeping in a tent, then help is at hand:
COUNTRY HOTEL ANNA Moldnúpi, 861 Hvolsvelli +354 487 8950
Situated in Moldnúpur at the foot of the Eyjafjallajökull glacier (yes, that one), Hotel Anna offers a solid base outside of Reykjavík for those wanting to explore the stunning South Coast. The three-star hotel uses entirely renewable energy and, endearingly, it also claims that woollen goods, made by the “closest kin” of the owners, are sold on site. Every guest of the hotel is granted free access to the geothermal sauna and open-air hot tub, and the onsite restaurant serves traditional Icelandic food sourced from local farmers and fisherman.
HOTEL HELLNAR 356 Snæfellsbær +354 435 6820
This hotel, 6km from the Snaefellsjokull National Park on Iceland’s beautiful West Coast, prides itself on being located “at the heart of the glacier.” Certified as ‘renewable’ by the Icelandic government since 2001, Hellnar is popular year-round with hikers and mountain climbers. The nearby glacial region is tectonically active, and the park is filled with geothermal vents and lava rock formations. It is also on the oceanfront, so if you’re feeling brave try out the new Icelandic health craze for ocean swimming. Staying in for 20 seconds is a good beginner’s time, which doesn’t seem like that long until you consider that in winter ocean temperature can dip to -2°C. Book your stay online through Icelandic Farm Holidays.
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