With its huge glaciers, temperamental volcanoes, powerful waterfalls, bubbling hot springs and acres of wild untamed scenery, Iceland’s lonely lands are a nature lover’s paradise. Its very cool and trendy capital is also known for its love of design, partying and its unique view of life. While staying in Reykjavik we scouted out some of the best places to stay in this fantastic small city. From kitsch hostels to a unique guesthouse promoting peace, here our are favourite 10 cool, quirky and unusual hotels to stay in Reykjavik…
Kex Hostel – vintage budget cool
This beautifully kitsch hostel has quickly become a Reykjavik institution. Kex (the Icelandic word for biscuit), is a social hostel built in a former biscuit factory, and like any biscuit barrel, you’ll find a variety of flavours, shapes and tastes. It has a very trendy industrial feel, and the designers have beautifully combined reclaimed retro decor with modern touches to create a very unique look. Kex Hostel offers dormitory accommodation as well as private rooms, all decorated in the unique house-style. The cafe and bar provide hot and cold drinks and home-baked biscuits and there’s a guest kitchen if you fancy trying your hand at a few Icelandic home-made dishes. With a heated outdoor patio, wifi, an on-site vintage hairdressers and barbers (complete with a 1933 barber’s chair) an old-school gym (with retro boxing gloves) you’ll have to find a seriously good reason to leave! Also don’t miss their regular music, comedy, karaoke and open-mic events.
- Prices from $80 a night.
- To book, check prices or availability for Kex Hostel
101 Hotel – hip and achingly cool
Once named as the ‘Leading Boutique Hotel in the World’ in a travel awards, the 101 Hotel is small, unusual and perfectly formed. With its own art gallery, gym and spa, there’s also plenty to occupy the mind within the hotel walls. Rooms at this cool Reykjavik hotel feature freestanding baths, with rows of crisp white warmed towels, Aveda toiletries, in-room boutiques, books, clothing, a BOSE iPod sound-dock – and to keep those pinkies warm in the cool Icelandic temperatures – underfloor heating. If you can bear to tear yourself away, there’s a modern and sleek bar and restaurant downstairs. Also expect plenty of arty features including high ceilings, walls of glass and bespoke handmade pieces like tables made of tree trunks nestled fittingly by a roaring log fire.
- Prices from $120 a night.
- To book, check prices or availability for 101 Hotel
Kerlingarfjöll – for a taste of the wilderness
Although not based in the city, this accommodation offers a ‘cosy-up and snuggle by the fire’ break within the stunning mountain areas of Kerlingarfjöll (in an accessible location from Reykjavik). Formed after a volcanic eruption, Kerlingarfjöll is Iceland’s largest geothermal area, is home to some breathtaking hiking routes and is said to be a perfect location to view the famous Northern Lights. Mountains huts and cabins form the accommodation Kerlingarfjöll, and many have large communal spaces, so they’re perfect for travellers, or even big family-getaways. Cabins at his unique place are comfortable and come with double beds, bathroom and kitchens. With a restaurant on-site, guests can sample the local Icelandic fare as well. After a long day’s hike most guests retire to the outdoor hot pool which reaches a more-than-pleasant 42 degrees.
- Prices from $110 a night.
- To book, check prices or availability for Kerlingarfjöll
CenterHotel Thingholt – hip and stylish
Originally a printing factory in the 1940s, the Centerhotel Thingholt was a great boutique hotel find. Located right in the centre of the city, this hip Reykjavik hotel makes the perfect base for shopping and sightseeing. It mixes the style and sophistication of the forties with a contemporary Icelandic design to form a really unique, stylish look. Deluxe rooms features beds laden with cream and white chunky fabrics, stark white walls and art gallery prints on the walls. Black and white hide rugs and reclaimed-wood furnishings give the hotel a striking look which definitely fits in with the city’s creative ideals. The staff are both welcoming and friendly and an added bonus is that breakfast is included in the room rate – a rare find these days!
- Prices from $75 per night.
- To book, check prices or availability for Centerhotel Thingholt
Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina – quirky chic
Located in the downtown harbour district (nestled into the marina), Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina is the capital’s latest ‘on trend’ hotel. The café, bar and restaurant are the hub of this fun Reykjavik hotel, with cuddle-up cozy seating and roaring log fires all overlooking sea and mountain views. The hotel owners have scoured antiques shops to find a collection of very interesting pieces and have created their own unusual style by pairing bright flower wallpaper and vintage prints with bright seats and low lighting. Bedrooms follow this cool Nordic-style, adding a hint of the maritime history in for good measure, whilst balconies with sea views, and showers powered with geothermal hot water, add a little extra.
- Prices from $90 per night.
- To book, check prices or availability of Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina
Hotel Reykjavik Centrum – for the history buffs
Hotel Reykjavik Centrum pays homage to Iceland’s past. Located on one of Reykjavik’s oldest streets, Adalstraeti, the building has recently been renovated to a very high standard. Parts of the building date back to 1764 (and further adding to the historical interest) during the restoration archaeologists found human remains from AD 870, and the shell of a Viking long-house (which is now held in a museum under the hotel). Rooms are styled in a contemporary Icelandic manner and feature all the usual extras. The hotel also has an on-site well-regarded French restaurant – perfect for romantic meals for two.
- Prices from $90 per night.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Reykjavik Centrum
Hotel Borg – classic Art Deco
Sitting next to the Icelandic Parliament is this cool and unusual Reykjavik hotel which originally opened its doors in 1930 but has now undergone a complete restoration. As you step through the classic rotating-doors, wander past candlelit hallways to the grand ballroom (complete with gilded walls and elaborate chandeliers) it leads on to the stylish breakfast room or the Silfur restaurant. The restaurant is superbly decorated offering a modern take on the Art Deco style and serves French cuisine by an award-winning chef. Each of the 56 rooms at Hotel Borg feature custom-made wood, leather furnishings, veneered parquet flooring, period globe lamps, Deco murals, and photographs of Reykjavík in the 1920s and 1930s – transporting you back in time to an age of complete sophistication.
- Prices from $100
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Borg
Hotel Glymur – for breathtaking views
This resort is located only 45 minutes from downtown Reykjavík and provides – amongst other things – breathtaking views of Whale fjord. Inspired by nature, the owners have created cabins which make the views of the Fjord and mountains centre stage, whilst providing a luxury outdoor experience at the same time. There’s a choice of themed cabins at Hotel Glymur – creativity, couture, elegance, cuisine, nature, family, romance and nature. Nature’s cabin is next to a small stream where you can skim stones, or just sit and ponder, where as the romance cabin is tucked away to ensure complete privacy. All cabins come with hot tubs overlooking the mountains and the lack of light pollution makes it an ideal place to spot nature’s most awesome winter display – the Northern Lights.
- Prices from $110 a night.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Glymur
4th Floor Hotel – budget boutique
The 4th Floor Hotel hotel occupies just one floor of a large central building, and holds 19 rooms, each with their own unique style. This funky Reykjavik hotel offers anything from deluxe pads with en-suites, to apartments for large groups and families, providing an inexpensive form of city accommodation. The hotel is a family run business, and as such has a friendly and amiable feel. Interiors in the rooms and in the hotel’s bar and café, where a hearty breakfast is served each morning, are contemporary, with shiny black floors, wood furnishings, and zebra-striped fabrics. It’s an inexpensive, interestingly decorated hotel within easy reach of the city’s museums, art galleries, shops and restaurants.
- Prices from $55 per night.
- To book, check prices or availability for 4th Floor Hotel
Peace Center Guesthouse – for a slice of tranquility
This lovely place is located on a residential street not too far from the city centre. The Peace Center Guest House is a non profit organization which promotes peace and organises humanitarian projects but also offers cosy guesthouse accommodation. This part-funds the work of the centre and also creates a tranquil holiday base for travellers. The house is built in the artistic area of the city and is surrounded by artist’s homes and studios giving the place a bohemian feel. Great for a unique Reykjavik budget break in relaxing surroundings, it features communal lounges, a reading area, a library, kitchens and very handily, free WiFi.
- Prices from $55 per night.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Peace Center Guest House