Hotel Ion

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Hotel Ion
Located right next to Thingvellir National Park, one of Iceland’s main UNESCO heritage sites, Hotel Ion is the country’s first luxury "eco-adventure" hotel. Sitting in the middle of a moss-covered lava field, the building’s striking, blocky form is created from wood, glass, and smoothed concrete. And it's suspended on pillars—an homage to Iceland’s first settler-founder, Ingolfur Arnarson, who threw pillars overboard his ship when it got into trouble, before the gods dragged him and his crew to shore. The inside is as stunning as the outside: Light pours in through the huge windows from every angle, highlighting minimal interiors punctuated with elegant, gray-and-black designer furnishings and large-scale photos of animals and nature. The rooms, fully soundproofed against the occasionally dramatic weather, are similarly sleek and considered, featuring beds dressed in organic linens, fur-lined armchairs, and eco-showers. There’s also an outdoor pool and spa, and a glass-walled bar and restaurant serving fantastic Slow Food cuisine. All of the hotel’s energy comes from the adjacent geothermal power station.
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Neighborhood Vibe
The hotel is next to the site of the oldest parliament in the world—established in 930 C.E.—though nothing remains of the tented Viking communities that once gathered here. Instead there is the national park, which is on Iceland's “Golden Circle” tourist route and features lava fields, waterfalls, glaciers, caves, rivers, and volcanoes. Specific activities include hiking, horseback riding, fishing, scuba diving, and much more.
Need to Know
Rooms: 45 rooms; from $270.
Check-in: 4 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m.
Dining options: Swanky Silfra restaurant, dominated at one end by a giant fish artwork, is helmed by master chef Ágúst Már Garðarsson and features seasonal, contemporary dishes with an emphasis on sustainable ingredients sourced from local farms. After dinner, guests can relax in the Northern Lights Bar with a local microbrew beer or a cocktail while enjoying the views through the glass walls.
Spa and gym details: The spa, which has both indoor and outdoor features, is heated by lava from the nearby volcanoes. A Jacuzzi is set outside on stone decking—as is the 10-meter pool, which flows between the building’s supporting pillars.
Insider Tips
Who's it for: Architecture fans; nature, adventure, and history lovers; winter travelers seeking the Northern Lights.
Our favorite rooms: The deluxe rooms boast the most comprehensive views across the lava fields and Thingvellir National Park.
Fish for your supper: Guests can buy fly-fishing licenses for use in Lake Thingvallavatn. If they are lucky enough to catch an arctic char, the chefs will cook it up for them at dinner.
Ion Adventure Hotel
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Ion Adventure Hotel
My stay in the Ion Adventure Hotel was incredible, but driving to it in the winter was quite difficult. The Ion is 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik in the summer, in the winter certain roads are closed and it is much father. But making the drive is absolutely worth it! This unique property is a one-of-a-kind, eco-conscious, forward-thinking, yet classically Icelandic decorated hotel. Their restaurants were expensive even for Icelandic standards, but the food was great. It is a great home base for travelers looking to explore the golden circle or the southern coast of Iceland.
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Ion Hotel Spa
The best part of the Ion Hotel is their spa. There are various treatments available from massages to saunas. The outdoor pool is geothermal and heated by the geothermal plant next to the hotel. The hotel is in an amazing location looking out into a large valley in Nesjavellir. While sitting in the pool you can see a geothermal powerplant, dried volcanic rock formations and the base of a lake leading towards Pingvellir. And if you're lucky you may be able to see the northern lights right from the pool.
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Northern Light Viewing
ION Luxury Adventure Hotel is an unforgettable experience. Whether you are seeking a quiet, soulful soak beneath the Northern Lights, a challenging trek across an ancient glacier or a day of fly-fishing in plentiful icy rivers.

The bar/lounge juts out into the landscape and a perfect platform for viewing the northern lights. Don't forget to tell the front desk to schedule a wake up call if/when the lights come out!
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An architectural gem!
One of the most amazing architectural spaces I've visited -- and with a remote location to match!
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A Hotel in Tune with Nature
On the slopes of the still-active volcano Mount Hengill, on the edge of Thingvellir National Park, Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel is seriously in harmony with its environment. Energy and hot water is provided by the nearby Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station and surrounding hot springs; furniture is made out of driftwood and recycled materials, and images of Icelandic wildlife are displayed throughout -- including giant murals of Icelandic horses in the bedrooms.

The hotel also makes use of natural light through floor-to-ceiling windows in bedrooms and in it Northern Lights bar, which juts out and overhangs the lava fields and from where, on dark, clear winter nights, you can watch the Aurora light up the sky.

Photo: Karen Gardiner

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