Tucked into the remote Westfjords of Iceland, the town of Isafjordur is home to only 2,400 people. Its central location makes it a great base for exploring the region, but, while it is the largest city in the Westfjords, the services offered here are still pretty limited, with one small grocery store in the town center and just a few restaurants to choose from. With accommodation and dining in the region (like everywhere else in Iceland) on the expensive side, staying in an apartment and self-catering is a great way to save money without sacrificing comfort and convenience.
The Gentle Space Guest Apartments consist of three separate apartments, which sleep 2-5 people, in various locations around town. Owners Gurrý and Róbert purchased and renovated the apartments with the goal to create a quiet, relaxing, welcoming “gentle” space for visitors – and that’s just what they’ve accomplished.
The three apartments are each different but they share some features and policies. Each one has a fully-equipped kitchen, a flat screen TV and DVD player, CD player, laundry, and wireless internet. There is a two night minimum for all apartments in winter (no minimum in summer) with discounts offered for longer stays. All of the apartments are nonsmoking and pets are not allowed. Cribs for children can be included for an additional fee.
I spent three nights in Mjallargata 1, a two-bedroom apartment on the town’s main shopping street. Located on the second floor of a quiet building, the apartment was cozy and welcoming yet very modern and stylish. There was free parking right outside the door and it was an easy walk to the grocery store and to a local restaurant, Husid, which was recommended by Róbert when he met me at the apartment to hand over the key and show me around. There was also a map and a booklet on things to see and do nearby.
The apartment was accessed off a small courtyard in the center of the building, where a picnic table looked like the perfect spot to enjoy a warm day. A small mudroom led to the main space, which had a flat screen TV with DVD player and selection of movies, three leather armchairs and a comfortable leather couch, and a dining table that sat six (additional folding chairs were stored next to the couch).
The large space opened to a modern kitchen with oven and electric range, a microwave and coffee machine, and a dishwasher. And unlike at some other self-catering accommodation I have stayed at, here the drawers and cabinets were stocked with all the kitchenware needed to cook a real meal – including an assortment of pots and pans and serving dishes, toaster and sandwich maker, electric mixer, flatware, cooking utensils, glassware including wine glasses, a can opener and corkscrew, and paper towel, dish towels and potholders, and cleaning supplies.
As assortment of coffee and tea, some chocolate, and milk were provided, as well as olive oil and salt and pepper, and the fullsize fridge and freezer offered ample room to store our groceries. We cooked dinner two nights of our stay and found the kitchen offered everything we could need.
Each bedroom had a comfortable bed with linens and pillows and plenty of storage space, even for those on a longer trip. The master bedroom had (in typical European style) two twin beds converted into a double bed, a large dresser and two side tables with additional drawers. The smaller bedroom had a single full bed and side-table.
The large bathroom also offered storage, as well as a bathtub/shower, hair dryer, first aid kit, and a combo washer/dryer for doing laundry. Hand soap, body soap, and laundry detergent were all thoughtfully provided.
An additional fold-out guest bed was also available so that the apartment could comfortably sleep five people. For two people, it was perfect – spacious but not so overwhelmingly large as to feel empty without a larger group. We simply closed off the second bedroom and enjoyed what felt like our own lovely apartment in Isafjordur.
For the quality and price, especially compared to other guesthouse and hotel prices in the area, the Gentle Space Guest Apartments are an excellent value. Though staying in an apartment means forgoing the 24/7 service of a hotel, Gurrý and Róbert have ensured that guests don’t miss out on amenities, and even go above and beyond to offer extra comforts and necessities. They were also very responsive throughout my stay, so I felt confident that I could reach them quickly in an urgent situation. Staying at Gentle Space is like staying in the apartment of well-traveled, thoughtful friends who have taken care of all the details and welcomed you into their comfortable home.
If you go: Check-in is at 3pm, check-out is at 11am. Summer rates at Mjallargata 1 start at 24,900 (about $200); winter rates are ISK 18,700 (about $150). Rates at the other apartments begin at 16,200 (winter) or 21,500 (summer).