Hotel Borg, commissioned and built by Icelandic wrestler Johannes Josefsson in the 1920s, was Iceland’s first high-end hotel. Almost a century on—and despite a thoroughly modern refurbishment—it still exudes an atmosphere of sophistication, with impeccably mannered staff and stately art deco touches such as globe lamps and brass-and-wood railings. The rooms combine comfortable leather chairs, polished parquet floors, and vintage photos of Reykjavik, with modern conveniences such as Philippe Stark fittings in the marble bathrooms and Bang & Olufsen plasma TVs in the suites and superior rooms. The location is unbeatable: right next to the Icelandic parliament on pretty Austurvöllur Square, with ample opportunities to explore Reykjavik's culture or enjoy its world-famous nightlife.
Note that the hotel is currently undergoing another expansion, slated for completion in mid-2015, which involves constructing a new wing of 43 rooms and a spa and relaxation area (along with an exercise facility) on the lower floor.
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Historic buildings such as the Icelandic parliament and Reykjavik's oldest cathedral, Domkirkjan, are literally steps away from Hotel Borg. Austerstraeti is also nearby, with its slew of shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes: The Grill Market is one of the city's finest restaurants for carnivores; Café Paris is a prime people-watching spot in the summer; and Hresso is a popular bar with the younger crowds. It’s a short stroll to the city’s main lake, Tjornin, where it's possible to watch or feed the ducks and swans.
Need to Know
Rooms:56 rooms; from $275. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The hotel’s elegant Borg restaurant is a smart and seductive space in which award-winning chef Volundur Volundarson serves locally themed, innovative cuisine such as langoustine cakes, grilled reindeer, and smoked eel. Spa and gym details: A new spa is being constructed and should be open in 2015.
Who's it for: Travelers looking for sophisticated, old-time elegance or easy access to Reykjavik's nightlife and cultural scenes. Our favorite rooms: The Tower Suite has an upstairs lounge that offers 360-degree views of the city. Enjoy brunch: Gourmands should make reservations for the restaurant’s famous brunch, which offers baked salmon and almond pancakes amongst other tasty treats.