Recently an old school-friend of mine asked me to help her friend to find cool and interesting places to stay in Iceland. First I was afraid that there will come no decent priced ideas to my mind, but when I gave it a thought, the list quickly filled up. This list can help you find a special place to stay while exploring this already special place called Iceland.
The friend ended up opting out from travelling to Iceland this year. When asking for the reasons, I highly expected her to say “too expensive” since Iceland got more and more costly over the last five years – prices are in average 66% over the price level in Europe. But her answer kind of surprised me: They decided to go to Spain instead this year, because there were so many tourists in Iceland these days. I have to admit, she has a fair point with this argument. The tourist boom here brought a lot of people to this natural gem, making it more stuffed with travellers as one might expect. Another friend of mine which visited me briefly on a stopover from U.S. had the same impression: Everywhere in the states she was almost the only tourist, she described. Even in museums and at top sights. In Iceland she felt all the sights we visited were overcrowded. Note: I visited the rather less travelled Reykjanes peninsula with her. I don’t even dare thinking how it must have been on the South Coast or Golden Circle.
Anyway, since my list wasn’t needed any longer, I can now share it with you:
In Fljótsdalur we visited the Icelandic Wildnerness Center (Óbyggðasetur Íslands – not so catchy in Icelandic). But not only did we visit it, we also stayed over night IN it. We can only recommend you this lovely place. The hosts are amazing, as is their dinner prepared in a traditional farm kitchen and the surrounding hiking opportunities (see Waterfall Trail).
2. Stay in a former retirement home
In Blesastaðir close to the Golden Circle area you can choose an accommodation of the international HI Hostels association which used to be a retirement home. The interior, especially the common room and the winter garden are almost as they were when this place was still a retirement home – even the walking assist handles are still in the wall. This place has a nice homely atmoshpere – I especially loved the cozy winter garden.
3. Nighttime peace in middle of nowhere
Of course I can not forget mentioning my beloved Volcano Huts – the point where my Iceland Experiment started. Alone the approach is something special your average accommodation doesn’t require – crossing glacial rivers, passing glaciers and sleeping in a “triangle of fire” surrounded by three volcanoes.
4. Adventurous: On a glacial river island
How cool is that: Staying on an island within a glacial river in a Mongolian jurt. That you can do in TrausthóltshóImi in South Iceland. I have to admit, I never stayed there myself, but it is on top of my to do list. My colleague stayed there last summer. She said it was gorgeous. The host is growing everything organic with his own hands on the island and catching the fish out of Þjórsá river personally. On the river bank he will prepare the freshest salmon sashimi you have ever tried in Iceland (or probably … ever).
5. Cow farm turned into hotel
Hótel Natur near Akureyri (only 10 minutes from Akureyri) in the scenic Eyjafjörður once was a cow farm, run by the charismatic Stefán and his family. Once I visited the hótel with my parents, he came with his tractor to fetch our luggage. The old silo was turned into a Northern Lights watching tower. We highly recommend you to stay there for one or two nights and take in the scenery, serenity and hospitality.