ION Adventure Hotel
What We Love
- Spectacular Northern Lights views from the hot-springs-fed hot tub, situated on the purpose-built deck
- There’s a real effort to be eco-conscious, from the driftwood furniture to the water-saving showers
- Everything from the art to the music to the beers is locally made, and even the Sóley Organics toiletries are prepared with Icelandic herbs
What To Know
- Rooms are spartan but do have coffee machines and Fairtrade organic bed linens
- Bathrooms are small
- Free WiFi
- Thanks to the isolated location, there’s nowhere else to eat within walking distance
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
The hotel’s brutalist design – angular, big on concrete and glass, supported by pillars – is made even more impressive by its setting: it juts out of the side of Mount Hengill in southwest Iceland, which overlooks the nearly empty lichen-coated lava fields and rolling hills that border Thingvellir National Park. Once an inn for workers at the nearby geothermal plant, the hotel was re-formatted by Minarc Design Studio into a chic, minimalist hotel. Each room, though small, is decorated in typical Scandinavian style, with wooden floors, concrete walls, and a black-white-and-grey palette—but there are homey touches like throws made from Icelandic wool and the occasional wall-sized close-up photo of horses. The Northern Lights bar has floor-to-ceiling windows made with aurora borealis viewing in mind, but the scenery is worth lingering over at other times of the year, too, when there’s 24 hours of daylight. The Lava Spa adjoins the heated pool, and – “local” and “sustainable” being bywords here — the products are made from volcanic ash and locally sourced clay.
In the Area
While the hotel has an isolated feel, Rekyjavík is just an hour away. We’d suggest taking advantage of the hotel’s proximity to Iceland’s top natural attractions, though. Besides the Northern Lights, winter spells ice climbing and skiing, while in the warmer months, it’s possible to dive in Lake Pingvallavatn, which is just ten minutes from the hotel. Here, divers (wrapped in warm wetsuits) can swim in the seam between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. There’s also hiking, fly-fishing, day trips to hot springs and lots more, all arranged by the hotel.
How to Get There
I booked this room for a couple nights including New Years using points (RIP SPG)- so the price was right. It is pretty clear that winter and summer are dramatically different experiences. In summer, it's seems like a good jumping off point for the wild iceland that is actually only an hour from Reykjavik, in winter, everything is likely to be covered in ice even if it isn't snowing- including the road in- so once you get here you are here.
In that regard, staying for one night was just about right. A longer stay during winter might induce the Shining style claustrophobia. We got a standard room- my partner had her heart set on a deluxe room and literally wept, but was soon won over, specifically by the hot spring fed hot tub/pool, which is a show stopper, particularly in the winter.
The New Years eve meal- and btw you will be eating here in the winter and likely in the summer too given the lack of anything at all nearby- was buffet style and very acceptable, not spectacular but for the location pretty well done. The bar was a great place to spend an evening. The staff was courteous but not obsequious- which I think can be said about hotel staff in the country as a whole.
It was an international cast of characters, with visitors from USA, France, England, China and Japan. I can understand some of the negativity but wow- maybe just calm down and enjoy the moment. I would recommend it just for the location. Period. The end.
- Close to the golden circle
- Remote (also a negative in some ways, see below)
- Northern Lights call service (they’ll call your room and wake you up if the lights are visible) - unfortunately we didn’t see the lights at all but liked that they had this service at night so we didn’t go out searching for hours!
- Great bar and lovely breakfast and restaurant - we ate every night of our stay and the dinner was to die for
- Lovely geothermal spa
- Great staff who were very helpful
- We skidded off the road and got stuck in a snow ditch and one of their staff came and helped tow us which was going above and beyond and saved us a costly call to the car rental company. By the time we got back it was late and we’d missed dinner (although we were starving) and the chef made us some salads which again was super appreciated.
Things stopping me from giving 5 star:
- Please Ion Hotel our your telephone number on your website! As mentioned we got stuck in a ditch on a deserted road in pitch black in minus temperatures with a pregnant lady on board and your phone number was nowhere to be found. We finally found it in some email correspondence but not good if someone is urgently trying to contact you.
- Remoteness. Again, this is also a positive but be aware there is nowhere nearby to get petrol, food etc so if it’s dinner time and you’re hungry then the restaurant is likely your only option. Stock up on snacks before you go there as there is also no mini bar. I would suggest to the hotel they put mini bars in the rooms for this reason. Finally, a tip to potential guests: if you are driving your hire car there, some of the roads are quite scary in the ice/snow and are alongside cliff faces (making skidding off easy) - be sure to hire a shovel, rope, chains for your tires and a 4WD is an absolute must!
This designer hotel is a sight to behold. Very cool. The staff was pretty friendly.
Note: We visited in the middle of winter.
The first night we were there we ventured out to the long and beautiful hot tub. To our surprise we got a nice little northern lights show! very nice. We did not see the aurora during the rest of our 2 week visit.
A word of warning: In Iceland hotel rooms are small. You may hove a beautiful view but you may not. You may also have to put your suitcases away because they take up too much room in your room.
The restaurant was fine. However, we stayed for 4 days and the food got old fast because we ate at the hotel restaurant for each meal. Why did we do so? Because the hotel is very isolated and civilization is quite far away. The staff told us that the closest corner store was at least 45 minutes away because of the weather.
One day We went out for a drive and realized that the roadway was completely covered in ice. We crept home and did not drive until we left for good. Even then all the local roads were closed due to high winds.
Buy yourself some rubber crampons for your shoes. It does get icy and windy. If you rent a car to make the winter drive there you should go with a nice SUV.
All in all it was a memorable experience. Lovely hot tub. Very interesting architecture.
Great hotel to start what will be a massive year of achievements for us! Off the beaten track location with amazing facilities and delightful staff. We couldn’t fault the service and loved the geothermal pool. The danger with a review, is that it’s no longer just ours!
We came here using SPG points, so can't really complain about the price but I do understand where the other comments are coming from.
Rooms are indeed small and not much usable shelf space. Warm rooms that don't ventilate super well, so a lot of condensation forms on windows and hence mould/cracks in the paintwork around the edges. Most hotels have better ventilation systems than these. We had to keep a window open to let it breathe.
We could only book a standard room using points (not Deluxe), and then we found out only when we got there that these rooms have no bar fridge! That is so crazy - not something I would typically expect for a $500/night hotel. We had some food for lunch (e.g., ham, cheese etc.) and could not put them in the fridge - fortunately it was winter and we could just leave things in the car/outside our window (like milk).
Hot pool was nice - we stayed for 5 nights and tried it out for 2 nights. Nice and hot on the first time, but there was strong winds on the second time but the water wasn't hot enough really.
Great location for some local hiking trails that is far from the main tourist places - very beautiful. Very private area. Not as convenient as a base but we liked the privacy and tons of parking.
Gym was being renovated when we were there, which we were informed about so that's okay.
Staff was helpful and lovely.
Overall, I had a nice stay but I won't say it is the most luxurious of experiences. I think what you are paying for is having this hotel in the middle of a stunning national park.