Choose Your Own Adventure at One of These 7 Iceland Hotels

Plan your dream escape to Iceland around one of these sublime—and sustainable—retreats across the country.

Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland

The Retreat at Blue Lagoon in Iceland is set within Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon.

Courtesy of the Retreat at Blue Lagoon

Iceland showcases Mother Nature at her wildest and most dramatic, with sprawling fields of lava, thundering waterfalls, massive glaciers, steaming hot springs, and windswept shorelines. With so many types of experiences to choose from, the biggest decision for Iceland-bound travelers is which hotel to book for the type of experience they want.

Whether you’re seeking a primo perch for northern lights viewing in the country’s southern wilderness, a world-class spot to soak up hot springs only minutes from the airport, or a hip urban hideaway in Reykjavík, these seven Iceland hotels deliver vastly different ways to engage with Iceland’s myriad landscapes and subcultures. None of them skimps on comfort or style, and best of all, this island nation’s strong sense of environmental stewardship spills over into the sustainability measures that each resort embraces. Read on for seven world-class, ecofriendly resorts across the country that cater to the tastes of every kind of traveler.

The Retreat at Blue Lagoon

  • Location: Reykjanes Peninsula
  • Best for: Wellness
  • Book now

The sprawling geothermal waters of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon are one of the country’s most popular attractions for good reason. Here, soothing rejuvenation beckons in an otherworldly setting of impossibly blue, mineral-rich springs that plunge into 800-year-old lava fields. Guests of the 62-suite Retreat at Blue Lagoon are granted near-unfettered access, including to a private section of the steamy lagoon. The hotel’s minimalist architectural and design elements merge with the surrounding volcanic landscapes (think lava-brick fireplaces and expansive picture windows), while the cavernous subterranean spa offers signature treatments, such as an in-water massage.

Set within the Blue Lagoon complex, the Retreat is nearly plastic free and carbon neutral, with all of the resort’s electricity, heating, and hot water needs provided by a neighboring geothermal renewable energy plant. The Blue Lagoon also has a dedicated science-backed research and development center devoted to waste reduction, it’s anchored on a carbon capture program, and it turns out a cosmetics and skincare line sourced with by-products from the lagoon’s healing waters.

Bubble Hotel Iceland

The Bubble Hotel in Iceland is an ideal retreat for glimpses of the aurora borealis.

Courtesy of the Bubble Hotel in Iceland

Bubble Hotel

  • Location: South Coast & Golden Circle
  • Best for: Northern Lights
  • Book now

For many who come to Iceland outside of the peak summer season, catching a glimpse of the ethereal aurora borealis is top of mind. The Bubble Hotel, made up of 18 transparent, spherical units, are split between two secluded evergreen forests on private farms near Selfoss on the south coast and Reykholt in the Golden Circle. They offer a prime spot for catching the show right from the comfort of your bed, piled high with duvets, blankets, and a sheepskin throw. If you’re lucky enough to be staying in one of these domes during a winter snowfall, you’ll be treated to a surreal snow-globe-like aesthetic (albeit with the snowflakes on the outside of the bubble). The retreat goes to great lengths to lower its footprint, too, with just one electric floor lamp and a heating system powered by renewable hydropower. Keep in mind that toilets, showers, and a kitchen area are all shared use and located in an adjacent service house.

Eyja Hotel Iceland

The Eyja Guldsmeden hotel is located in the heart of Reykjavik.

Courtesy of Eyja Guldsmeden

Eyja Guldsmeden

  • Location: Reykjavík
  • Best for: City Slicking
  • Book now

With its boho-chic aesthetic, laid-back vibe, and convenient downtown location, the 65-room Eyja Guldsmeden is centrally located near Laugavegur, the city’s main shopping strip. Set within a reimagined former office building, the property offers lots of welcome extras, including a locavore-driven restaurant and bar and a rare Reykjavík hotel gym. Guest rooms feature earth tones with handsome four-poster beds, hardwood floors, and natural fabrics and materials like sheepskin throws. Part of the Denmark-based, ecominded Guldsmeden Hotels chain, the ecocertified property emphasizes sustainable, local, fair-trade, and cruelty-free products across the board, like down-free bedding and organic and refillable bath amenities.

Ion Adventure Hotel Iceland

The Ion Adventure Hotel is powered by a nearby renewable geothermal energy plant.

Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson / ARCTIC IMAGES

Ion Adventure Hotel

  • Location: Golden Circle
  • Best for: Design
  • Book now

The eco-conscious Ion Adventure Hotel, located just south of Þingvellir National Park, was once a workers’ inn for the neighboring geothermal power plant. Today, it stands out with its distinctive Nordic-modern design that emphasizes sustainability. The concrete, glass, and black lava exterior blends seamlessly with the surrounding volcanic landscapes, while inside, furnishings and materials are locally sourced or reused. There’s a sauna made of lava rocks, sinks fashioned from old rubber tires, and lamps created out of found wood. The hotel’s energy and heating—and its mineral-rich plunge pool—are powered by the renewable geothermal energy plant next door. Expect organic and fair-trade products in the 45 industrial-chic guest rooms, as well as in the Nordic restaurant kitchen and glass-enclosed Northern Lights bar. Ion lives up to its adventure name: It’s an easy jumping-off point to the adjacent national park for glacier trekking, fly-fishing, horseback riding, and more.

Deplar Farm Iceland

Deplar Farm is located in a remote part of northern Iceland.

Courtesy of Eleven Experience

Deplar Farm

  • Location: Ólafsfjörður, North Iceland
  • Best for: All-Out Luxury
  • Book now

Deplar Farm delivers the ultimate in exclusivity for those willing to travel to a remote corner of Iceland’s far north to seek it out. With just 13 guest suites designed in a contemporary Nordic aesthetic, this sheep farm-turned-high-end lodge offers an idyllic setting away from it all in the verdant Fljót Valley, on the mountainous Tröllaskagi Peninsula. Here, a gamut of nearby adventures await: hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, kayaking, fly-fishing, and skiing. Guests staying in the black timber-clad, turf-roofed retreat can unwind in the sprawling spa, geothermal-heated indoor/outdoor pool, hot tubs, or sauna. Or they can simply gaze onto the rolling hills and dramatic mountain peaks from floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room, lounge, spa, and gym. With its off-the-grid location and lower-impact, small-group capacity, Deplar Farm is largely self-sustaining, and in turn, sustainable, bolstered by its renewable geothermal energy and the locally sourced meats served at its guest-exclusive Icelandic dining room.

Hotel Búðir Iceland

The Hotel Búðir in Iceland is known for its exceptional seasonal, locally-sourced, organic menus.

Arnaldur Halldórsson

Hotel Búðir

  • Location: Snaefellsnes Peninsula (near Ólafsvík), West Iceland
  • Best for: Dining
  • Book now

Set on the scenic Snaefellsnes Peninsula—a region in western Iceland recognized as one of the world’s most sustainable tourism destinations—Hótel Búðir beckons with not just rustic elegance but also worth-the-trek cuisine. The hotel restaurant’s seasonal Icelandic menu is driven by fresh fare sourced from area farms and fishermen, highlighting perfectly cooked fish (don’t miss the Arctic char) and lamb rib eye dishes. The three- and five-course tasting menus feature such dishes as cured cod, goose breast pastrami, and reindeer pâté, while the adjacent bar touts one of largest selections of whiskey in Iceland. Twenty-eight haute-country-cottage rooms face the surrounding raw wilderness (glaciers, lava fields, mountains, and coastline), which can be explored on myriad outdoor outings organized by the hotel.

Hotel Húsafell Iceland

The Hotel Húsafell is ideal for nature-based activities.

Courtesy of Hotel Húsafell

Hotel Húsafell

  • Location: Húsafell, Highlands of West Iceland
  • Best for: Outdoor Activities
  • Book now

Set in the rugged inner Highlands of West Iceland, Húsafell is a Scandinavian-inspired property offering endless opportunities for nature-based activities in the region—there’s glacier hiking, fishing, cycling, caving, and horseback riding, to name a few. But active-minded guests needn’t leave the hotel grounds to find something fun to do, thanks to the geothermal pools, numerous hiking trails, and even an ecocertified nine-hole golf course on site. There’s also a fine-dining restaurant serving up seasonal Nordic- and Japanese-influenced cuisine for which chefs forage ingredients. Popular dishes include Westfjords scallops and smoked Icelandic lamb glazed in whey. The 48 bright and modern rooms come with heated floors, original coal portraits from revered Icelandic artist Páll Guðmundsson, and organic Icelandic toiletries made with local birch. Fully self-sustainable, the resort meets all its energy needs with on-site hydroelectric power plants, which guests can tour.

Modern-day explorer, perpetual seeker, and diligent travel scribe Elissa Garay has traveled to and reported on nearly 60 countries around the globe.
AFAR Journeys
More From AFAR