reviewer ania wroblewska
“Is there a place where we can order food to be delivered here?” I heard an American couple ask the receptionist as I was checking into the secluded Ion Hotel. My jaw dropped. One of the main draws of the Ion Hotel is that it is in the middle of nowhere, away from people, traffic, stores, and other signs of civilization. In fact, on the day that we were set to check in, the only road to the hotel was closed due to weather conditions, and I had already started planning alternative modes of transport—maybe we could arrive by helicopter, in complete darkness. Now, that would be an entrance!
Fortunately, the road re-opened and, after an hour-long trip from Reykjavik, we arrived at the Ion Hotel, a long unassuming barrack-type building made of glass, concrete, and metal—not a standard beauty but, nevertheless, stunning in its simplicity. The hotel sits on a lava field at the foot of a volcano and is surrounded by hot springs, which gives it the appearance of being an alien structure that is seemingly growing out of its moon-like surroundings.
hotel name & website: Ion Hotel
who: Me and my partner.
why: We were chasing the Northern Lights, and one of the best spots to watch nature’s light show is from the hotel’s partially-exposed, long hot tub/pool filled with water from the hot springs located in the spa.
when: New Year’s Eve 2014
stay: What used to be an inn for the workers of the nearby Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Plant is now an award-winning, forty-six-room luxury hotel designed by the Minarc design studio of Santa Monica, California. While at the hotel, there are myriad of activities to choose from, such as day trips to hot spring lagoons, horseback riding, river rafting, helicopter glacier tours, kayaking, off-road jeep tours in the warmer seasons, as well as ice climbing and Nordic and back-country skiing in the winter. The hotel also leases a section of the nearby lake for its fly fishing (catch and release) of large spotted trout. And, for those who just want to relax, the spa offers excellent treatments and massages.
location: There are certainly no bars, stores, or restaurants in the area, and maybe only one or two houses in the vicinity. The hotel is situated in the south-western town of Selfoss and is relatively close to a national road. This makes it a perfect jumping-off point to see the best that Iceland has to offer—from the volcanic marvels of Mount Hengill, underground springs at Strokkur, to the majestic Gullfoss Waterfall or the UNESCO World Heritage Site and the location of the oldest existing parliament in the world at Þingvellir National Park.
rooms: Forty-six rooms decorated with locally salvaged driftwood and lava. The rooms include excellent local shower products by Soley.
pool/gym/beach status: There is a simple, but functional, gym and a partially exposed pool/hot tub.
food situation (mini bar, breakfast, restaurant): Yes, yes and yes. Silfra Restaurant & Bar offers mouth-watering, farm fresh cuisine. And, remember: there are no other restaurants around.
bar: with a delightful view.
data (wifi?): Free and unlimited. Bonus: each room comes with its own iPad for guest use.
vibes: "Concrete Chic"
kiddie agreeable: Yes
specialty: Very definitely outdoor adventure.
price scale: On the pricey side—but that's Iceland for you.