Where to Stay:
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In Iceland the very ground you walk on is alive, hissing and crackling with energy, spewing steam from vents deep beneath the earth’s crust, pushing boiling water into mountain streams, creating new volcanic islands in the middle of the ocean. After my most recent trip, I was delighted to discover a series of Iceland hotels that capture the country’s primordial presence.
My Picks: Iceland Hotels
Reykjavik is the epicentre of Icelandic cool, and there are plenty of high-concept design-driven hotels. We generally stay at the Hotel Borg, where classical architecture and old-world elegance blend seamlessly with contemporary flair and sophisticated service. It’s superbly located in the heart of the old city, so you can walk out the door and be in the middle of urban life, but far enough away from the club scene that you can actually get some sleep.
The first hotel on our Iceland Walking trip is Hotel Budir, which sits serenely in the midst of a lava field on the tip of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Perched in a dramatic location on a river estuary near the ocean, it exemplifies the country house hotel: built to a modest and approachable scale, furnished with a sort of relaxed-chic aesthetic, and graced with an ambitious chef in the kitchen and a knowledgeable man behind the bar.
The Hotel Ion is one of the newest and most fashion-forward of Iceland’s design hotels, built out as a cantilevered glass-and-concrete box sitting on stilts at the base of an active geothermal valley. The two-story, three-sided glass walls of the hotel bar create the sensation of floating on the valley floor, while the lap pool style thermal bath below offers the real thing, and the spa services range from facial glows to foot bathes.
The Hotel Ranga sits on the banks of the country’s best salmon fishing river, and its low-slung luxury log-cabin style construction fits comfortably into the landscape. The owner, Fridrik Palsson, is one of the most gifted hoteliers in the country, and it shows in every aspect of how the place is run, from the professionalism of the front desk staff to the creativity of the kitchen and the rustic-chic guest rooms