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
- Handicap Accessible
- 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
The Ion Adventure Hotel is a beautiful and clean hotel in the middle of the mountains and the staff are wonderful. We loved sitting in the geothermal hot tub while watching the sheep wander the mountains. The food was also very good, but a bit expensive.
It's the location (and spectacular architecture) that sets this hotel apart.
If you love hiking: They have three hiking trails around the hotel of varying lengths and difficulty. The surrounding area with steaming rivers, craters, and hidden lakes is other-worldly. Make sure you've got some time in your schedule to explore.
Nature: Arctic Fox cubs were playing on the lawn outside the restaurant while we ate dinner. They were as cute as you'd expect, and by all accounts are regularly spotted around the hotel.
Northern Lights: We were here in summer - so no spectacular night sky for us - if the conditions were right I imagine this is the place to see them. Preferably in the bar which has been designed perfectly for this purpose.
Getting here: if you're in a smaller rental car, and it's not 4 wheel drive I would avoid the gravel road, We took the completely paved 435 back the the airport and it took a little over an hour door-to-door at rush hour, so it's not a bad place to stay if you have a next day departure.
The architecture of this hotel is inspiring. The rooms are also well designed. And you are truly away from it all. That said, it is pricey with no options for breakfast or dinner other than their restaurant unless you drive 45 minutes. The bar at the end of the hotel is quite striking and each guest seems to drift there during their stay. I give it 4 stars instead of 5 because the views from your room are either great, overlooking mountains/a lake or awful, overlooking a geothermal plant. We were fortunate in that we got a room facing the mountains. We would have been very disappointed if our view had been the other way. The food was the best we had in all of Iceland over a 10 day trip.