A couple of weeks ago I was invited (as a travel business owner, not as a blogger) by Visit North Iceland on a trip around the surrounding areas of Akureyri. The aim of this trip was to introduce local businesses in the area to travel agents in Reykjavík in the hope that it will bring them some more business in winter. In the biz this is called a FAM trip where I think FAM stands for familiarization. But I could be wrong. .
Anyway, it was a great trip, even though the days were long and we hardly had time to breath between stops – there was just so much to see! I learned a lot, met new and interesting people and even some old friends I hadn’t seen in a long time – which warmed my heart. Heiða and Bjarni, who run the Dalvík hostel mentioned in the linked post, now also run a little café in Dalvík called Gísli, Eiríkur Helgi and they’ve become somewhat famous for their fish soup. Which we tasted, it was very yummy (you know how I love my fish soup)!
After starting the day at 6:30 am we spent the night at Sigló Hotel where I basically crashed on my bed with my laptop in one hand and my notebook in the other, around midnight, completely exhausted. I had read about this hotel and seen photos of it before, and knew it was supposed to be good, but was still very pleasantly surprised by just how nice it was. Which got me thinking about all the hotels I’ve stayed at in Iceland and my favorites among them.
I should warn you that these hotels are not necessarily the cheapest around but you can often find good deals in winter in particular and sometimes you’re just worth the splurge! It’s also worth mentioning that I’ve stayed at all these places in winter or outside of the busiest season and they might be completely different in summer.
Sigló Hotel – Siglufjörður
Like I mentioned before, I was pleasantly surprised by Sigló Hotel. First off, the town of Siglufjörður is beautiful and by the harbor front, where this hotel is located, there are a lot of old well preserved houses rich in history and charm. The hotel itself is new but it’s built in the same style as the houses around it and fits surprisingly well into its surroundings. I remember being a bit skeptical when I first heard of the plans to build this hotel but I really do think they did a great job with it.
Once you get inside you immediately notice that a lot of thought has been put into the design of the hotel. If feels old and familiar but contemporary at the same time. It is very welcoming and I liked it before I even saw my room. The staff was very attentive and throughout my stay I was very impressed with them. I know we got preferential treatment, seeing they probably wanted to impress us as potential customers and all, but they have a rating of 9.5 on booking.com so I don’t think it was just for us.
My favorite was my room though. I got a standard room with ocean view and it was very spacious. The bed was comfortable and the bathroom nice but my absolute favorite was the little bench by the window (that you can see in the photo below) where you can sit and enjoy the view of the harbor. I left the next day almost sad that I didn’t get to do exactly that, especially since it was snowing big beautiful Christmas flakes when I first got to my room. Another thing I didn’t do was to take advantage of the hot tub down by the ocean just outside the front entrance of the hotel. They even have a bathrobe and slippers available so you can go there in style (and without freezing your butt off).
It was hard to find any faults with Sigló Hotel but if I had to say something it would maybe be that I wasn’t super impressed with the food I ate there. It was perfectly nice and the service was excellent but when everything else was so nice I kind of expected more. I know better than to judge them for that one time though, we may have been there on an off day or maybe the fact that we ate soup three times between lunch and dinner that day (FAM trips, am I right?) somewhat impacted my experience. The cocktails were excellent though!
Hótel Egilsen – Stykkishólmur
I love the Snæfellsnes peninsula and out of all the towns there Stykkishólmur is by far the prettiest. They have a very well preserved old part of the town that is just beautiful and then of course the view over the Breðafjörður bay. A few years ago I stayed at Hotel Egilsen which is located in one of these old renovated houses (built in 1867) that give Stykkishólmur its charm. It’s a small boutique hotel with just 10 rooms and it’s located right down by the harbor.
If you need your hotel rooms to be very spacious then Hotel Egilsen is not for you. The rooms are small and the common area is small but what it lacks in space it makes up for in charm. I really liked their interiors and all the Icelandic design that was injected into it. Sometimes you just walk into a place and you like it and you can’t really say why. That was Hotel Egilsen for me and I slept like a baby there. They also lend you an iPad to surf the net during your stay which was convenient.
When I was there the staff was also very nice, all young locals that seemed to really enjoy their work, and the breakfast was excellent. Everyone was very attentive and I felt very welcomed.
If you happen to be in Stykkishólmur you should also check out the fish and chips food cart by the harbor. Delicious fresh fish and good sauces.
Hótel Flatey – Flatey Island
A couple years ago I was hired to plan and photograph a wedding in Flatey island and as a part of that adventure I needed accommodation in Flatey. As it happens, there’s only one hotel there, Hotel Flatey, so there wasn’t much to choose from but thankfully for me (and the happy couple) it was absolutely lovely.
The hotel is located in a charming old house in the middle of the village and it had a bit of a rustic charm to it. My room was a single room so it wasn’t very big but it was perfect for me and I loved the decor. I’m also obsessed with duvets and can’t sleep unless I have a good one and I remember liking the one I had there in particular.
Even though it was the last weekend of the season that the hotel was open the staff was very nice and friendly and willing to help us with all our needs. What I loved most about the place, apart from the gorgeous surroundings (so pretty!) of course, was their restaurant. It’s very easy to be bad when you are the only restaurant in town but they were everything but. When my lunch arrived with a smiley face made out of raisins I was sold and the celebratory wedding dinner was just perfect. The father of the bride, who had been in Iceland for quite a few days at that point, proclaimed it was the best he had during his entire stay. He struck me as one of those tough older guys who don’t say a lot but when they do say something they really mean it. But he was also kind of euphoric with his daughter getting married and all so I don’t know. I liked it, he liked it – we all liked it.
Flatey is one of those places I feel like I should visit again to fully appreciate it. You can stop overnight or stop for the day if you are taking the ferry Baldur from Stykkishólmur to the Westfjords.
Talking about Snæfellsnes, I can’t really mention that area without mentioning Hótel Búðir. Hótel Búðir is probably the best known of the boutique/country hotels in Iceland and a lot of it has to do with the fact that it’s location is absolutely breathtaking. It’s so pretty in fact that a lot of people stop there on their journey around Snæfellsnes just to take a stroll around and check out the cute Búðir church. I also know a lot of people that come to Iceland on regular basis and they always try to squeeze in a night at Hótel Búðir during their stay.
I can’t speak about the normal rooms there because when the fiancé and I visited we actually got the suite. Yes, we are spoiled. Yes, we love it. I did see in a review somewhere that people complained that some of the rooms were on the small side but that obviously was not our experience. I mean, we had our own Chesterfield sofa. At the time the suite was a little bit tired, it needed a good paint job, but since that was a couple of years ago I’m quite confident this has been taken care of now.
Another thing that people love about Búðir is the food. We were also quite spoiled when we ate there because we got a 5-course dinner and every time we got a new course the guy who runs the hotel (lovely guy by the way) came to our table to explain what we were eating and where it came from and such. I’m not sure everyone gets such treatment although the staff, in general, was very nice and he was also attentive to other guests. They try to source as much of the ingredients from the area and it was fun to know you were eating fish caught at the next farm and such. When we were there they also had a chef who slept outside to be close to nature and went barefoot on epic hikes to handpick the herbs he used in the food. That’s dedication!
Like any place that has been open for long Hótel Búðir has had its ups and downs throughout the years, which some of the regulars I know have commented on, but they’ve got a solid 8.9 score on Booking.com and 4.5 stars on Tripadvisor right now which is pretty decent.
This is maybe not my favorite hotel but a really nice one with amazing surroundings.
Although the hotels mentioned above were standouts to me I’ve also stayed at some very nice hotels that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. I’ve stayed at the Icelandair hotel in Akureyri a few times and it has always been good. It doesn’t have the biggest personality but the rooms were nice, the staff friendly and the breakfast buffet great. One thing that bugs me about the rooms at the Icelandair Akureyri hotel though is the bathrooms which don’t give the level of privacy I want for my bathrooms (glass wall and a door that doesn’t close completely). If you have read my post about 5 things to keep in mind for first-time visitors in Iceland you know I’m very particular about bathroom privacy. I’m a bit of a weirdo that way.
When my sister Helga and I did our round trip around Iceland we also stayed at Lake Hotel Egilsstaðir which was very nice. They’ve built a whole new building since we were there though so it may have changed a lot but they are still getting good reviews The restaurant was also very nice and full of people who were not staying at the hotel.
Finally, about three years ago I was working on a project that took me to Patreksfjörður where I spent the night at Fosshotel Westfjords. Although it’s a completely different class from the rest of the hotels in this post it was quite nice for what it was and the food was decent. Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area.