Agent: Cliff Jacobs - Managing Principal Estate Agent & CEO (Nat.Dpl.Hotel Man (UJ). M.P.R.E.)
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Type: Boutique Hotel & Hostel
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Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói bay. Its latitude is 64°08' N, making it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state.[a] With a population of around 131,136 (and 233,034 in the Capital Region), it is the center of Iceland's cultural, economic, and governmental activity, and is a popular tourist destination.
Reykjavík is believed to be the location of the first permanent settlement in Iceland, which, according to Landnámabók, was established by Ingólfr Arnarson in AD 874. Until the 19th century, there was no urban development in the city location. The city was founded in 1785 as an official trading town and grew steadily over the following decades, as it transformed into a regional and later national centre of commerce, population, and governmental activities. It is among the cleanest, greenest, and safest cities in the world.
The first permanent settlement in Iceland by Norsemen is believed to have been established at Reykjavík by Ingólfr Arnarson around AD 870; this is described in Landnámabók, or the Book of Settlement. Ingólfur is said to have decided the location of his settlement using a traditional Norse method: he cast his high seat pillars (Öndvegissúlur) into the ocean when he saw the coastline, then settled where the pillars came to shore. This story is widely regarded as a legend; it appears likely that he settled near the hot springs to keep warm in the winter and would not have decided the location by happenstance. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that the pillars drifted to that location from where they were said to have been thrown from the boat. Nevertheless, that is what the Landnamabok says, and it says furthermore that Ingólfur's pillars are still to be found in a house in the town.
Steam from hot springs in the region is said to have inspired Reykjavík's name, which loosely translates to Smoke Cove (the city is sometimes referred to as Bay of Smoke or Smoky Bay in English language travel guides). In the modern language, as in English, the word for 'smoke' and the word for fog or steamy vapour are not commonly confused, but this is believed to have been the case in the old language. The original name was Reykjarvík (with an additional "r" representing the usual genitive ending of strong nouns) but this had vanished around 1800.
The Reykjavík area was farmland until the 18th century. In 1752, King Frederik V of Denmark donated the estate of Reykjavík to the Innréttingar Corporation; the name comes from the Danish-language word indretninger, meaning institution. The leader of this movement was Skúli Magnússon. In the 1750s, several houses were built to house the wool industry, which was Reykjavík's most important employer for a few decades and the original reason for its existence. Other industries were undertaken by the Innréttingar, such as fisheries, sulphur mining, agriculture, and shipbuilding.
The Danish Crown abolished monopoly trading in 1786 and granted six communities around the country an exclusive trading charter. Reykjavík was one of them and the only one to hold on to the charter permanently. 1786 is thus regarded as the date of the city's founding. Trading rights were limited to subjects of the Danish Crown, and Danish traders continued to dominate trade in Iceland. Over the following decades, their business in Iceland expanded. After 1880, free trade was expanded to all nationalities, and the influence of Icelandic merchants started to grow.
In the post-war years, the growth of Reykjavík accelerated. An exodus from the rural countryside began, largely because improved technology in agriculture reduced the need for manpower, and because of a population boom resulting from better living conditions in the country. A once-primitive village was rapidly transformed into a modern city. Private cars became common, and modern apartment complexes rose in the expanding suburbs.
In 1972, Reykjavík hosted the world chess championship between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. The 1986 Reykjavík Summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev underlined Reykjavík's international status. Deregulation in the financial sector and the computer revolution of the 1990s again transformed Reykjavík. The financial and IT sectors are now significant employers in the city.
The city has fostered some world-famous musicians and artists in recent decades, such as Björk, Ólafur Arnalds and bands Múm, Sigur Rós and Of Monsters and Men, poet Sjón and visual artist Ragnar Kjartansson.
Reykjavík is located in the southwest of Iceland. The Reykjavík area coastline is characterized by peninsulas, coves, straits, and islands.
During the Ice Age (up to 10,000 years ago) a large glacier-covered parts of the city area, reaching as far out as Álftanes. Other parts of the city area were covered by seawater. In the warm periods and at the end of the Ice Age, some hills like Öskjuhlíð were islands. The former sea level is indicated by sediments (with clams) reaching (at Öskjuhlíð, for example) as far as 43 m (141 ft) above the current sea level. The hills of Öskjuhlíð and Skólavörðuholt appear to be the remains of former shield volcanoes which were active during the warm periods of the Ice Age. After the Ice Age, the land rose as the heavy load of the glaciers fell away, and began to look as it does today.
The capital city area continued to be shaped by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, like the one 4,500 years ago in the mountain range Bláfjöll, when the lava coming down the Elliðaá valley reached the sea at the bay of Elliðavogur.
The largest river to run through Reykjavík is the Elliðaá River, which is non-navigable. It is one of the best salmon fishing rivers in the country. Mount Esja, at 914 m (2,999 ft), is the highest mountain in the vicinity of Reykjavík.
The city of Reykjavík is mostly located on the Seltjarnarnes peninsula, but the suburbs reach far out to the south and east. Reykjavík is a spread-out city: most of its urban area consists of low-density suburbs, and houses are usually widely spaced. The outer residential neighbourhoods are also widely spaced from each other; in between them are the main traffic arteries and a lot of empty space. The city's latitude is 64°08' N, making it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state (Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, is slightly further north at 64°10', but Greenland is a constituent country, not an independent state).
Reykjavík has a subpolar oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfc)[closely bordering on a continental subarctic climate (Köppen: Dfc) in the 0 °C isoterm. While not much different from a tundra climate (Köppen : ET), the city has had its present climate classification since the beginning of the twentieth century.
At 64° north, Reykjavik is characterized by extremes of day and night length over the course of the year. From 20 May to 24 July, daylight is essentially permanent as the sun never gets more than 5° below the horizon. Day length drops to less than five hours between 2 December and 10 January. The sun climbs just 3° above the horizon during this time. However, day length begins increasing rapidly during January and by month's end there are seven hours of daylight.
The hotel is right next to the Hlemmur Square bus station at the increasingly gentrified eastern end of the Laugavegur main street. The main bus depot has now been renovated into a trendy food hall with artisan bakeries, craft beer bars and coffee spots, and there are plenty of restaurants and shops around. It’s a 15-minute stroll to downtown and sights like Hallgrimskirkja Church and Harpa concert hall, the Sunhollid swimming pool is just across the street, and buses run from right outside the hotel to all over the city.
Style and Character
The property sits inside a quite striking five-story 1930s art deco block that was transformed in 2013 by European hotelier Klaus Ortlieb. The design aesthetic leans slightly more towards hostel than hotel in the public areas, with a series of casual open spaces on the ground floor that serve as lounge/library, bar and restaurant, decorated with velvet curtains, assorted photo frames and other quirky décor.
Service and Facilities
Staff are on hand 24-hours with tips and information on Reykjavik and Iceland, and can help plan adventures to popular Iceland attractions such as the Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon and Northern Lights, Glacier Lagoon, Into the Volcano, as well as trips for whale watching, horseback riding in the countryside and excursions to Iceland’s glaciers. Additionally, the hotel's concierge team is known to organise customised tours. You might also find exhibitions, music performances and many creative events at Hlemmur Square.
The hotel offers the following services:
The 18 hotel rooms, located on the fifth floor, are chic and contemporary, with colourful walls, wooden floors and giant, comfortable beds with luxury Lissadell linens. Most have private balconies looking down towards the harbour and over the sea, and sizeable bathrooms with C.O. Bigelow toiletries and decent showers. In-room amenities include phones for free calls, minibars, and flatscreen televisions. The dorms, located on the third and fourth floors, are less plush than the hotel rooms but also nicely designed with custom-made beds, personal lockers and a sofa area. There’s also a studio apartment, two kitchens and extra lounge on the hostel floor, plus two off-site apartments.
Food and Drink
The restaurant menu has dishes like traditional Icelandic lamb with potatoes and vegetables, beef entrecôte and burgers (vegetarian included) with french fries, Moules Frites Mussels served in a white wine shallot sauce with french fries, bratwurst, Icelandic and vegan sausages with mashed potatoes and shrimp pasta.
The hotel bar offers award-winning cocktails as well as a wide selection of craft beers (including many Icelandic ones), and happy hour from 4pm-8pm; there’s also live music some evenings.
Breakfast is reasonable and includes hot dishes like sausages, bacon and eggs, plus the bartop is lined with pastries, cheeses and hams, sugary mueslis and a couple of juices. Two guest-kitchens provide a place to cook, relax and meet other travellers.
Access for guests with disabilities?
There is street access and entrance ramps to the hotel, and a lift to all floors. Public areas and rooms are accessible and there is an accessible toilet on each hostel floor.
Children/babies are welcome; cots provided on request. There is also a studio room available for families on the fourth floor.