Places to stay in Iceland
After taking advantage of cheap round trip flights, we knew the next step would be figuring out places to stay in Iceland. Iceland is notoriously expensive for everything from hotels to food. Which makes sense since it’s an island. My first step was to see what hotels we could utilize with points. Looking at awardmapper, I could find two hotels that I wanted to try and utilize, the Hilton Nordica and Radisson Blu 1919.
Our trip would consist of 4 nights and 5 and 1/2 days. I had a specific 2 day road trip across the southern coast and knew that we would be staying in a more rural hotel during that time. The first night in town we stayed at the Hilton Nordica Reykjavik. It cost us 40,000 points instead of almost $300. The Hilton Nordica is a beautiful modern hotel that sits on the outskirts of town. However, the city bus stop is right outside the door. The Hilton also provides a bus pass for your use during your stay. It provides travel for up to 4 people. They only charge your room for the pass if it is not returned to the front desk. We arrived at the hotel after our flight at around 8am. Knowing that a room would not be ready, we partook of the buffet breakfast. It cost $60 for the two of us. While that was expensive, I thought that was sort of what expensive hotel breakfast costs. We don’t use them often, but it was helpful to take up time. When we finished around 9:30am, we expected to go sightseeing in town until our room was ready.
To our surprise our room was ready after breakfast, so we decided to take a short nap before our Inside the Volcano excursion. Our room at the end of the hall on the 6th floor was TINY! I realize European hotel rooms are tiny, but this was ridiculous. The only good thing about it was the view from the large corner window that looked out on the lake and mountains. If we were staying more than one night, I would have requested a different room. I would have been really upset if I had paid cash to stay here. If your time in Reykjavik is limited, you could waste a lot of time waiting for the buses each way. I would recommend using this as a gateway stop on points for coming into, or exiting the country.
The following night we were on a road trip that spanned the entire southern coast of the country. Because the summer season is the busiest tourist time in Iceland, I was having trouble nailing something down that fit our itinerary and needs. I used hotels.com to book the Hotel Katla that sits just east of the town of Vik. The price was $175 and included breakfast. We checked in around 7:30pm. Hotel Katla has one main reception and restaurant building. The rooms are in two separate buildings, one with a view and one without. We did not get a room with a view, but our room was so large, I didn’t care.
The midnight sun tends to make visitors tay up late, so I rationalized that the view would only have kept me up later. Hotel Katla is a 3 minute drive to Vik, so we headed into town for dinner at a place I’ll review in a later post. In the morning, the breakfast included at Hotel Katla was great. Awesome views from the dining room accompanied a varied breakfast. We enjoyed 3 or 4 different kinds of homemade bread. Icelandic traditional bread, meat, cheese, and waffles. Although there were some apples available, I wished there were more fruit choices.
Our last two nights were spent at the Radisson Blu 1919 in downtown Reykjavik. It is a great location in old town, and we could walk everywhere, from the Hallgrímskirkja church to the harbor. One of Reykjavik’s most famous hot dog stands is right across the street from the hotel. We booked this hotel on points before their devaluation. We were able to book 2 nights for 44,000 points. Our room was an awkward shape, no view, a leaky shower and no room upgrade despite Gold status with Club Carlson. I guess that’s what we get for traveling during the peak summer season. We did get a welcome amenity plate of chocolate desserts and a deck of cards featuring Northern Lights. I’ll concede that the points price was better than almost $1000 for the two night stay.
We did enjoy room service one morning during our stay at the Radisson Blu 1919. It was delivered on time, and contained the same bread, meat and cheese in most European breakfasts. It served our purposes well, and allowed us to sleep in that day, which was what we really needed. The staff went out of the way several times to help us with a variety of things. I’d definitely stay there again. The Radisson Blu Saga is another choice if using points in Reykjavik, Iceland. However, the location is not quite as good as the Radisson Blu 1919.
In the end, only paid $175 for 4 nights hotels (one with breakfast included) in a notoriously expenisve country. That averages out to $43 per night. Looking back, I’m glad that we had a variety of hotel stays. The downtown location of the Radisson Blu 1919 meant that we explored the old downtown and harbor area a lot. The Hilton Nordica stay encouraged us to ride the bus into town and explore another major shopping/restaurant street closer to the central bus station. And our random stay in the Iceland countryside exposed us to views and cuisine we might have missed. The lack of a nighttime sky, meant that we stayed out quite late each night. So it’s important to remember that you probably won’t be in your hotel room in Iceland very much at all. Iceland is a full of variety and I’d say we experienced quite a bit of it, even through our hotel stays. Mission accomplished.