I don’t tend to write many “Where to Stay” and “Where to Eat” posts, because frankly I’m usually staying in total dumps and eating a monotonous diet of whatever is cheapest. But as I’ve mentioned before, this trip was a total treat because it was sponsored by My Generous Mom™. Reykjavik was the absolute perfect destination for such a luxe trip because we really got to experience some of the style, design, and flair for the unique that makes the city famous.
While Reykjavik is brimming with accommodation options, two really stand out as “design hotels” — Hotel 101 and Centherhotel Thingholt. Both boast similar amenities and style, though Thingholt is about 60% of the price, which made our decision infinitely easier!
Um, can you say gorgeous? I was completely enamored with Thingholt’s sleek design and innovative use of materials like leather floors and cork side tables. This might be one of the most chic hotels I’ve ever stayed in and reminded me slightly of the brilliant Witt Hotel in Istanbul — though, you know, they’re both mainly competing with threadbare hostels in Southeast Asia.
We stayed at Thingholt for four nights and it’s downtown location was perfect for exploring Reykjavik on foot. As three of us were sharing a room, so we stayed in a split-level Loft Suite. By American standards, the room might be considered a bit cozy but I think it was a fair representation of Icelandic sizing! A major plus at Thingholt was a delicious hot breakfast was included, which seems to be a rarity in Iceland.
One thing to keep in mind for any downtown hotel in Reykjavik in the summer months is to bring an eyemask and earplugs. The sun is 24 hours and blackout curtains are hit or miss, and on Friday and Saturday nights downtown Reykjavik turns into one massive nightclub and revelers will go until at least 6am. My mother, who is very sensitive to light and sound, was reduced to waking my sister and I up in the middle of the night and asking us to do shots of vodka with her. We responded with polite refusals and furtive smartphone searches for the Betty Ford Clinic. Highly recommended.
Centherhotel Thingholt, On Aðalstræti, 101 Reykjavik, +354 595 8500
After a three day roadtrip around the Northwest coast of Iceland, we swung back through Reykjavik for one final night and decided to shake things up by staying somewhere new. Our selection, Hotel Borg, is less of a boutique-y design hotel and more of a historic landmark. The art deco style is accented by enormous rooms and luxurious bathrooms.
Best of all, the blackout curtains and noise insulation were the best we experienced in all of Iceland, which meant we were well-rested for our flights out the following day. Recommended.
Hotel Borg, On Posthusstraeti, 101 Reykjavik, +354 551 1440
We had read ahead of time that dining in Iceland is a costly expenditure, but wow — they weren’t kidding. Across the board, our meals in Iceland featured small portions (fine with us!), high quality ingredients, creative presentation, and high prices.
We were lured into Höfnin by the brightly colored turquoise exterior — and we weren’t disappointed.
The charming upper and lower dining rooms provide excellent views over the harbor and a setting for the most delicious homemade bread in all of Iceland. The menu was, appropriately for the location, heavy on fish, but also had standout chicken, beef and lamb dishes. Highly recommended.
Höfnin, Harbor front, +3545112300
Yes, we are the kind of family that goes to an Italian restaurant in Iceland. What? With fresh and familiar homemade pastas and relatively reasonable prices, this place won us right over.
The incredibly adorable and cozy interiors didn’t hurt the case, either! Recommended.
Hornið, On Hafnarstraeti, +354 551 3340
Iceland has a kind of hilarious obsession with their own special brand of “fast food” — mostly hot dogs, which are the food-of-choice for late night revelers or those on a budget. Before hopping on a whale watching boat, we sampled a similar level of cuisine — burgers, fries and shakes to go — from this charming little one room hut in the harbor. For value and convenience and yes, charm! — Recommended.
Hamborgarabullan, Harbor front, 011-354-511-1888.
Blogger-favorite cafe Laundromat was on my list before we even landed in Iceland. Though a long wait and huge crowds could have been a turn off, we were still swooning post-brunch thanks to a cheerful and colorful interior, and indulgent breakfast menu and a jovial atmosphere. Highly recommended.
Laundromat, On Austurstræti, +354 587 7555
Perlan was our big dining splurge. Sitting atop the city’s water tanks, Perlan won us over with it’s revolving dining room and beautiful views over all of Reykjavik. Don’t worry about getting motion sickness — the entire rotation takes two hours.
The setting was sublime, however our service experience at Perlan kind of summed up all of our dining experiences in Reykjavik. When we walked in the servers all kind of stared at us like, “What are you doing here?” until we awkwardly asked for a table. I know there are a lot of flaws with the American tipping system but I do appreciate the ensuing service with a smile!
The dining room was very formal, not at all like the more casual and funky places we had been dining. But the food was delicious and the chef sent out complimentary appetizers, which was a nice touch.
Throughout the meal, however, we could barely tear our eyes away from the view! After dinner we sprinted out to the deck for a photo shoot before our cab arrived (this was the only instance of our entire stay in Reykjavik that we took a cab — it’s a super walkable city!)
Perlan is definitely a splurge and a tad stuffy for my taste, but worth it for the fun experience of the revolving dining room and the superb views. If you don’t feel like dining there, you could always have a drink from the bar instead! Highly recommended.
Perlan, Outside town, 011-354-562-0200
Have you been to Reykjavik? Where did you stay and eat?