When you drive into the small but charming village of Vík, coming from Reykjavík, you will notice a white house with a blue roof on a hill on your left hand side. That house is Vík hostel, one of HI Iceland’s 34 hostels around Iceland, and the first place we stayed at on our round trip around Iceland.
There are several reasons why I chose Vík hostel as our first stop. First, the drive from Reykjavík to Vík is a really comfortable distance for a day of travel as even though it’s not far away from Reykjavík there is so much to see and do on the way. Second, I love hostels because of their social elements and self catering facilities and I always try to stay in them for at least portion of my trips when I travel. Last but not least I happen to know the owner Æsa a little and I know how welcoming and accommodating she and her staff is. So it was an easy choice, really.
The house itself is not big. It’s three floors with rooms on the top floor and the basement and kitchen and breakfast facilities on the middle floor. If you read through the ratings for Vík hostel on the HI website you will notice that a lot of people mention the bathrooms and how there is not enough of them in the house. It’s true, although the hostel does fulfill all requirements for accommodation in Iceland when it comes to bathrooms, it could use one more bathroom just to make things a little more efficient in the morning. However, it was never really a problem for us and if you know about it beforehand you can plan to visit a pool on the way or take a shower before bed instead of starting the day with it like usual. It’s all about your attitude.
The positives about Vík hostel far outweigh the negatives (or negative since it’s really only this one thing and it’s only a thing if you let it be a thing) and I definitely recommend that you stay there. The atmosphere is really cozy and because it’s rather small you feel a part of a community, sitting in the lounge area at night chatting with your fellow guests about the adventures ahead (or the ones you just experienced). The kitchen is spacious with everything you need to make a budget saving and delicious meal and our twin room at the top floor offered a fabulous view over Vík all the way to Reynisdrangar. Plus you have to meet Panda, Æsa’s dog, that loves running and hiking (as we found out when we did an evening hike to Hjörleifshöfði) and doesn’t mind at all if you take the time to throw her a stick and play with her for a while. So cute!
Don’t miss the breakfast because it’s really good. The hostel uses local produce where ever they can, the bread and jam is homemade, the eggs from Æsa’s chicken that live in the hostel garden and there are waffles. Not to mention the awesome selection of tea. Need I say more?
Also, take advantage of the fact that you are staying in a hostel and connect with the people that are staying there with you. We saw some friendships being made and travel tips exchanged but the little sofa area by the entrance of the hostel is where the magic happens.
Finally Æsa, her partner Þráinn and the staff at the hostel offer tours from the hostel every week (I think) that are really interesting. Æsa invited Helga and I, along with our two new travel partners, on what she calls the Viking Tomb tour. It involves a hike to the nearby Hjörleifshöfði which has a really interesting history. As I’ve mentioned before I’m in pretty bad shape (which I fully intend to change this summer – darn it) and even though I took my time with the walking, Æsa never made me feel like I was slowing them down and was really good at making me feel better about the whole thing (my competitive spirit was pretty crushed). It really shows what a nice person she is and I really appriciated it. She’s also very knowledgable about the area which added a lot to the tour. I definitely recommend it, even if it will take you twice as long to get to the top than the rest of your flock. The highlight of our first day.
In and around Vík
We went to Halldórskaffi for dinner since we wanted to end the day with a nice meal with our new friends that had been traveling with us that day. My sandwich was just OK but our Canadian friend had the Arctic Char and really loved it. Of course Vík is known for the black sand beaches and Reynisdrangar that are a must visit but there are a lot of nice routes for hikers around too so make sure you ask Æsa where to go. Also check out Víkurprjón where they make the fabulous Vík Prjónsdóttir products.
Vík hostel is open all year and offers beds in dormitories and private rooms. Prices start at 3200 ISK per person if you are member of Hostelling International, 3800 for none members. It’s really easy to become a member but you can buy a membership card at the reception of the hostel for 2000 ISK. It pays for itself really quickly if you intend to stay for a few nights or stay in other HI hostels around Iceland (or the world for that matter). Breakfast is not included but at least if you book online it’s 1000 ISK per person which is well worth it based on how well we ate and how long it lasted us.
Make sure you also like Vík hostel on Facebook for more photos and info on their tours, the people that stay there and of course Panda.