Built in 1947, this intimate, family-run hotel has an enviable location right on the banks of the striking Lake Mývatn in the northeast of Iceland. Despite looking fairly nondescript from the outside, Hotel Reykjahlid exudes a traditional charm enhanced by the friendly, helpful staff. The nine country-house-style rooms are simply furnished, with peach-and-orange walls, wooden floors, and beds dressed in crisp white linens; all come with great views of the lake’s crystal-clear waters, birdlife, and compelling lava formations. The hotel also has a lounge and breakfast room on the ground floor, where guests will find Internet and TV facilities. On warm days it's possible to sit at one of the outside tables and watch the Icelandic horses graze at the lake, visit the adjacent village, or explore the surreal landscapes and rich birdlife that mark this unique region.
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Hotel Reykjahlíð is within walking distance of many practical amenities—supermarket, post office, bank, tourist information center—but the most prominent attraction is just a stone's throw away: the world-famous Lake Mývatn. Perfect for strolling, fishing, and observing the local birdlife, the lake is also surrounded by natural sites such as Hverfjall Crater and Dettifoss Waterfall; Myvatn Nature Baths is just three kilometers away.
Need to Know
Dining options: There is no longer a restaurant on-site, but Hotel Reykjahlíð owns Gamli Baerinn, a traditional Icelandic tavern just down the road; it serves decent, locally sourced dishes such as Galloway beef. The excellent Cowshed restaurant, where visitors can tuck into yet more local produce while watching the farm’s "happy cows" through a glass wall, is just a five-minute drive away. Spa and gym details: There is no spa or gym but there is a hot spring close by, and guests can also use the spa at the nearby Hotel Reynihlid.
Who's it for: Bird-watchers and anyone else seeking respite or adventure in the Icelandic countryside. Our favorite rooms: The rooms at the top of the house are more spacious and, since they can have an extra bed, are also suitable for families. Take a tour: The hotel runs a full-day tour to the Viti Lake.