Let's Spend The Night Together: Nordica Hotel, Reykjavik

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The Independent Travel

Nordica: it sounds like some ghastly breeze-block hotel with rabbit hutches for rooms, set a little too close to a ring road for comfort.

Nordica: it sounds like some ghastly breeze-block hotel with rabbit hutches for rooms, set a little too close to a ring road for comfort. True, Nordica is housed in a nine-storey modern slab and it is a stone's throw from one of Reykjavik's busy thoroughfares, but that is where the comparison ends.

Following major refurbishment, the hotel, formerly known as the Esja, reopened in the past year year with smart minimalist interiors. Some of the bedrooms were revamped (not the standard grade, which will be overhauled this winter) with parquet floors and Italian furnishings. A spa, gym and executive lounge were added.

The hotel centres on a vast multi-purpose lobby, dark-wood panels giving warmth to its stark white walls. Just beyond a sweeping staircase is a low-lit bar, and a door at the far wall leads through to Vox, one of the best restaurants in the city.

Unless you're booked into an executive room or better, it will cost you ISK2,500 (£20) to use the spa and gym. But the facilities are impressive with personal trainers on hand. There's no chance of buying your way into the Executive Lounge on the eighth floor. This is where guests staying in executive rooms and suites can get away from the hoi polloi and enjoy breakfast or an afternoon snack with views of the sea and Mount Esja.

LOCATION

Nordica Hotel, Sudurlandsbraut 2, 108 Reykjavik, Iceland (00 354 444 5000; www.icehotel.is). The hotel is just over a mile from the centre of Reykjavik. If you can't be bothered to walk, a complimentary bus service does the 10-minute hop throughout the day and evening.

Time from international airport: Keflavik airport is a 45-minute drive. Airport buses call at most hotels. On arrival, request your hotel stop at the Flybus desk in the airport. The day before departure, inform the hotel reception that you want to be picked up by the bus. Beware, the transfer between the hotel and the bus terminal on the return journey could add a further half hour to your trip. A return ticket costs ISK2,000 (£16). Contact Reykjavik Excursions (00 354 562 1011; www.re.is). Expect to pay ISK8,600 (£68) one way if you take a taxi.

COMFORTABLE?

There are 284 rooms at present, but the final stage of the renovation will bring the number down to 248. Choose from six styles, from standard to the presidential suite. The minimalist theme continues in the bedrooms, with parquet floors, plain tones and Scandinavian-style light wood dominating the décor. The rooms feel cosy, especially when you're tucked up in one of the warm, supersoft beds - these Icelanders know how to beat the chill. Bathrooms may have just a power shower or a bathtub too, depending on size. In the suites you can wallow in your own Jacuzzi. Book a room at the front of the hotel for those views of the mountain.

Freebies: Unfortunately nothing of note to squirrel away into your sponge bag.

Keeping in touch: All rooms have satellite TV and telephone with voicemail. All but the standard rooms include internet terminals and the suites contain CD and DVD players.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Doubles cost from ISK12,900 (£102) per night to ISK120,000 (£952) for the presidential suite. Breakfast costs an extra ISK1,400 (£11) per person.

I'm not paying that: Try the recently refurbished three-star Hotel Metropolitan, downtown. It offers 31 rooms from ISK11,000 (£88) including breakfast and taxes. Hotel Metropolitan, Ranargata 4a, Reykjavik 101 (00 354 511 1155; www.metropolitan-iceland.com).

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