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
This was the second time we stayed at Ion. The first was in March 2017 for our honeymoon. We returned for an anniversary trip. The hotel is small but beautiful and is in the wilderness. Although it is close to reykjavik, the weather can be significantly different. In response to the claims this is not a “luxury” hotel, it is in the eye of the beholder. We stayed at The Retreat at the Blue Lagoon last night (so we understand luxury) and although that is certainly more “luxury,” I would also describe this hotel as luxurious even if not on the same scale. It’s not meant to be. This is in the wilderness and you are coming for a wilderness experience. The rooms all are super clean with modern showers and bathrooms and immaculate bedding and large flat screens. The views are incredible and there is a fantastic restaurant (the roasted red pepper “lava” dip is incredible). Speaking to the weather, it can be very adventurous, with high winds and snow. But in my opinion, there is no better way to see the real Iceland.
And the staff could not be more amazing. Here’s an example. We were driving out to the hotel this time in a snow storm (lots of snow and high winds) on the narrow roads to reach the hotel. Some moron drivers had left their RV in the middle of the road on a hill because they were too scared to drive up it. With no room to the left of the RV, we tried to squeak around to the right and our car slid off the road into 3 feet snow. We were helplessly stuck. Swearing profusely at the people who had left their RV (who were not there), we immediately called the hotel and they sent a car (a car of staffers also can up behind us driving to the hotel to report for their shift). We were stressed and irritated at our situation but they were happy and casual about the whole thing. Their attitude put our mind at ease. One of the hotel staff got a truck and pulled us out using a rope. We got to the hotel and they immediately gave us some champagne. We all ended up laughing about the whole situation. This is exactly what we needed and was greatly appereciated.
We can not recommend this hotel enough. But temper your expectations; the area is remote but the hotel is quite luxurious for the locale. And isn’t that why you came to Iceland in the first place?
definetly a couple’s destination it is located off the beaten path in proximity of a power plant but therefore also boasts an outdoor spa fed with local hot well water - a highlight ! nice rooms very carefully designed with nice views. especially nr 117. simply LOVED the food in the otherwise simple designed restaurant.
Great holiday at the ION hotel! Food was great at the hotel, a bit pricey but worth it. Rooms are clean and fresh and staff is very helpful.
The only thing to be mindful of are the roads to the hotel in winter-time, if you drive yourself. It's a beautiful location but difficult to drive the last 20km from the main road to the hotel when its been snowing. Would def recommend it!
The hotel was in a spectacular location. It is beautiful and the staff and food were outstanding. It’s a great base for touring the country although you need a 4wd in winter. The spa and rooms were lovely and do recommend this hotel
This was my second stay in this hotel, and this time was as wonderful as the first.
The location is only a short drive from the Golden Circle route, meaning you can visit those locations before/after or during your stay. We only stayed for one night, something we’ll change when we make it back to Iceland again, just so much to see! The hot tub is wonderfully warm and the perfect depth for sitting and enjoying the views while enjoying a drink. I’d recommend the cocktails from the bar, they’re delicious.
The food in the restaurant was excellent too, Icelandic prices, but that’s to be expected, you’re in Iceland. The staff were friendly and attentive and the pan fried sea bream I had was delicious. The breakfast had a wide spread of many delicious things to start your day.
The rooms aren’t huge, but then again how much space do you need? More importantly there are wonderful views of the surrounding lava fields. The beds are soft and comfy and the pillows weren’t too thick, nor too thin, and once tucked up it’s so quiet there, just perfect for a great nights sleep.
Unfortunately no northern lights the night we stayed, however they offer a wake-up call should they show up, which is much appreciated.
There’s also a Spa in the hotel offering massages and various treatments, something again for next time!