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
I've been wanting to stay here for several years since it was opened - but getting to Iceland from afar is a great 24 hour marathon flight effort with flight connections, and the final drive to location - not to mention the enormous expense involved.
So I got to do the stay after reading some great reviews, which, turned out to be somewhat disappointing. For starters, you MUST have your own transport to do anything in the location which is a bout a 80 minute drive from KEF. There is almost nothing around here that will serve you - food, activities - you're dependent upon the hotel and their somewhat outrages prices.
The rooms are identical except for the junior suite - small/compact typically Icelandic design. But with the nightly rates they charge, it will be difficult to return to this place. I was surprised that breakfast was extra charge, but for several reasons, they waived it for me. 1st night was a bad experience since the window was not properly shut, so the room was very cold, until they fixed it the next day.
Breakfast was typically Icelandic/European fare - which I've become so jaded about. But their daily dining options are very good - chef level was definitely superior.
Overall, I spent the days driving a few hundred kilometers to grasp the landscapes and great weather/climate. Returned to the cubicle after a long day.
This property needs to recognize MB elite members properly if they want to get more recognition post-stay. The advertising of 'adventure' and incredible marketing photography is a but misleading. Despite the hotel management making the extra effort to meet me somewhere, it's difficult to push the grading to the 'luxury' level at the rates they charge.
What not to like ? Staying in the middle of nowhere amongst the snow, waking up to take a plunge in the geothermal water with the mountains as a view. And the food was to die for. Highly highly recommended
We stayed 3 nights at the Ion hotel. First the positives: the location is within easy reach of Reykjavik, it’s just a 40 min drive so it allows you to stay out of town but go back to civilization as you like (e.g. in case of bad weather). The design is contemporary, and the northern lights bar is even stunning on the inside. And on the outside, if you really spot the northern lights from there as in our case.
Staff is quite helpful when a service is requested but lacks proactivity. Rooms are comfortable yet small, housekeeping a bit sloppy. Food is nice!
A bit of a disapointment was the “spa” with outdoor pool. The word spa doesn’t really cover it if you ask me. It’s actually more of a long hot tub with small sauna and no treatment facilities at all. Also note that the name “Ion” refers to the nextdoor powerplant that is spoiling the views.
Another point is that the hotel markets itself as the Ion Adventure Hotel. Important to outline to fellow travelers that most adventures (besides good hiking) are not within easy reach of the hotel. E.g. any treks to volcanoes, glaciers etc. are 2 hrs drive away (and 2 hrs back)... this is not clear at all from the hotel’s website, quite misleading as far as I am concerned.