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The best hotels in Reykjavik for Icelandic culture, local dining and a clean conscience

After exploring everything Iceland’s capital has to offer, rest your head in style

Katie Hammel,Jade Bremner
Wednesday 01 March 2023 12:55 GMT
<p>Hike between tectonic plates, bathe in natural steaming hot springs and walk on glaciers </p>

Hike between tectonic plates, bathe in natural steaming hot springs and walk on glaciers

Visitor numbers to Iceland grew in just one decade by 500 per cent as the backdrop of Game of Thrones revealed the wonders of this isolated nation. With accessible, otherworldly landscapes positioned like they’re in a geographical theme park, visitors can hike between tectonic plates, bathe in natural steaming hot springs, peer into volcanoes, walk glaciers and see more than 200 tumbling waterfalls.

If you’re looking for an icy adventure, Reykjavik is an ideal base for exploring the best of the nation. The capital is just outside the Golden Circle – a 190-mile route of Iceland’s three most popular natural attractions: Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall – and is just 50 minutes from the famous Blue Lagoon.

However, if you’d prefer to explore within the city limits, there’s plenty of places to eat, sleep and play. You could take a Reykjavik food walk and savour some of the most exquisite local cuisines – trust us, you’ll never go wrong by ordering the fish of the day – or immerse yourself in one of the city’s many parks (just remember to wrap up warm).

All this and more – we didn’t even mention the Northern Lights, whale-watching or puffin-finding tours – means there’s been a boost in visitors and a boom in places to stay. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best hotels Reykjavik has to offer.

The best hotels in Reykjavik are:

Best for a social scene: Kex Hostel

Neighbourhood: Mioborg

The bar area at the sociable Kex Hostel

Kex is branded as a hostel, but this renovated biscuit factory offers a range of stylish accommodation options, including private doubles with en-suite bathrooms and ocean views. Ample communal space – a guest kitchen, gym, barbershop and heated outdoor patio that fills up when the weather is nice – creates a buzzy atmosphere that encourages mingling; while the hostel’s gastropub attracts as many travellers as it does working locals who come for wifi, coffee and craft beer.

Best for luxury: Hotel Borg

Neighbourhood: Mioborg

The Art Deco Hotel Borg dates back to 1930

Located in the heart of downtown, the 99-room Art Deco Hotel Borg has set the standard for Reykjavik luxury hotels since it opened in 1930. It’s since been renovated, though many original fixtures, vintage accents and black-and-white photos of Reykjavik remain. Rooms feature lacquered tables, heated bathroom floors, high ceilings and stylish Bang & Olufsen TVs. There’s an on-site spa with a steam bath, sauna and hot tub.

Best for a clean conscience: Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel

Neighbourhood: Hlemmur

Sleep easy in the knowledge that the Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel is committed to environmental sustainability

Set a few steps off Laugavegur, the city’s main shopping street, is the 65-room Eyja. It's part of Guldsmeden Hotels, a Danish group with a focus on sustainability. It’s the first Icelandic hotel to be Green Globe certified. Rooms feel earthy and organic, with rough-hewn-wood four-poster beds, sheepskin throws and natural fabrics, such as cotton, wool and leather, throughout. Eyja uses at least 90 per cent organic produce in the food it serves and employs a 360-degree sustainability management system with an emphasis on environmental responsibility.

Best for dining: Hotel Reykjavik Marina

Neighbourhood: Harbour

One of the suites at the Hotel Reykjavik Marina

The quirky nautical-themed Hotel Reykjavik Marina is set on the edge of the downtown harbourfront, has rooms with sailing knot diagrams and maps as wallpaper, life rings on the balconies and a mini climbing wall in the gym. It’s also home to the chic bar and seasonal restaurant Slippbarinn (named after the adjacent dry-dock), a perennial favourite among locals. Serving breakfast, brunch and an all-day menu of modern Icelandic fare, such as langoustine flatbread and soup with the day’s catch, it’s a popular spot any time – especially during happy hour, when creative cocktails are served at a discount.

Best for Icelandic culture: Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre

Neighbourhood: Mioborg

Canopy by Hilton, Reykjavik City Centre, used to house a furniture factory

Composed of six interconnected houses that were part of a furniture factory from 1937-1963, the Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre has been fully renovated, but still nods to its past – and Iceland’s unique natural setting. Rooms are decked out in muted versions of the country’s natural colours: slate grey reminiscent of volcanic rock, pale blue the colour of the sea, and pastel green like the moss-covered countryside. Local artwork lines the walls, the snack shop sells Icelandic artisanal chocolate and the library is stocked with books from Icelandic authors.

Best for business: Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel

Neighbourhood: Mioborg

The Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel is ideal for business travellers to the city

The 88-room Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel is set in a century-old building in the heart of downtown, within easy walking distance to visitor attractions such as the Harpa concert hall and Reykjavik Art Museum, as well as the city hall, parliament and the prime minister’s office. Rooms offer all the modern trappings, and there’s a fitness centre, three meeting rooms and the Brút Restaurant, too.

Best for history: Sand Hotel

Neighbourhood: Mioborg

History buffs will appreciate the heritage of the Sand Hotel

The 67-room Art Deco-style Sand Hotel is built around three historic buildings on Laugavegur Street. Sandholt Bakery and Gudsteinn Eyjolfsson men’s clothing shop, which have been serving Reykjavik for more than a century, are on the ground floor; the former provides the hotel’s continental breakfast, while the latter offers in-room shopping with delivery to the hotel. Out front, a small plaque commemorates the most important historical aspect: behind the hotel sits the small house where Nobel Prize-winning author Halldor Laxness was born in 1902.

Best for a home away from home: Reykjavik Marina Residence

Neighbourhood: Harbour

The snowy exterior of the Reykjavik Marina Residence

Located next to the Hotel Reykjavik Marina hotel, the Residence offers a homey environment with all the conveniences of a hotel. Set in a 20th-century townhouse, it includes one two-storey suite and six one-room Residence Suites, each with balcony, minibar, Sóley Organics Icelandic toiletries and Lin Design linens. Breakfast is included and all suites share access to the Residence Lounge, where complimentary refreshments are offered every evening.

Price: Doubles from £367

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Best for budget travellers: Loft Hi Hostel

Neighbourhood: Mioborg

Reykjavik isn't cheap, but the colourful rooms at the Loft Hostel are a budget option

Another genre-crosser, Loft offers both hostel and hotel accommodation. The Double Deluxe Rooms are basic but cosy, with large windows overlooking Laugavegur, soft beds and small-but-functional tiled bathrooms. Guests also have access to the top-floor balcony cafe for breakfast and light bites, and a self-catering kitchen to save even more on the high cost of dining in Reykjavik.

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