Traditionally, hotels in Iceland have been somewhat sterile, overpriced options for accommodation, with guesthouses, hostels, apartment hotels, and inns typically offering a better value and more personality. However, opened in 2012 in the city’s working harbor, the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina is one of an increasing number of exceptions to that standard.
The hotel is the newest member of the Icelandair hotel family, a group of eight hotels owned by the airline. Like the other hotels in the group, this one is reliably modern, clean, and comfortable and features sculptures by Icelandic artist Adalheidur S. Eysteinsdottir. However, the Marina location has a bit more character and some additional features that nod to its unique location in the city’s historic harbor, close to dining, nightlife, and shopping.
Set in a renovated four-story building, the hotel offers 108 guest rooms (54 standard rooms, 20 deluxe rooms, five studios, two suites, and 27 attic rooms that have private balconies).
My room was small and simple, but still displayed a uniquely Icelandic personality and a definitive sense of place. I had a queen bed – in typical European fashion, it was two connected twins – with bedside tables on either end, a small desk with telephone, a compact nook for hanging clothes, a flat-screen tv, a tiled bathroom with shower and hairdryer and – like everywhere in Iceland – excellent drinkable tap water and an abundance of hot water.
A patio offered a lovely view of the working marina, the Harpa concert hall, and Mt. Esja across the bay. The only thing I found lacking was a small fridge. Given Iceland’s exorbitant prices, I would have loved the option to store some food (or cold beers) in my room.
On one wall above the bed, a topographical map of the local area showed the city of Reykjavik, the surrounding suburbs, and the names of various mountains and volcanoes in the nearby countryside. Under the glass top of the work desk, cards offered helpful phrases and their Icelandic translations. And above the patio door, a sign suggested that – though it was common in old tales that a maiden would let down her hair for her lover to climb to her window – if I were to meet a special someone in Reykjavik, I should ask him or her to use the hotel elevator.
Quirky local touches like these extended throughout the hotel, including the two sculptures from Adalheidur S. Eysteinsdottir, photographs showing life and work in the historic harbor, locally sourced antiques, books, and other knick-knacks on display in the lobby and other public areas, and, in the bar, a live-feed of the city’s webcams, which are stationed around Reykjavik and provide real-time views of the action at several popular public spaces.
Amenities include free wifi in the lobby and bar (in-room wifi is free for those who book through the Icelandair website), a fitness room with weights and some cardio machines, a small movie theatre that shows Icelandic films, and the lively Slippbarinn bar and café, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as late-night drinks. On Friday night, the bar was packed, and in fact the action spilled over to the lobby until well after 11pm.
Each of the hotel staff members I encountered was gracious and helpful, making change for the bus, checking shuttle schedules, and arranging taxis. I was able to store my luggage at the hotel while I was on an overnight camping trip the day before I checked in. The hotel also offered laundry services, which I found to be prompt, if expensive. Self-parking on the street or in a nearby lot is free.
With just about all the amenities and services you’d expect from a quality hotel in Reykjavik, the Icelandair Marina goes the extra mile when it comes to light-hearted charm and a dose of Icelandic personality, ensuring guests feel like they could be no where else but in Reykjavik’s historic harbor.
If you go: Check-in is at 2pm and check-out is at noon. Room rates start at around $190-$280 per night, depending on the season. Book directly with the hotel or you can make a reservation through agoda.com or Hotels.com.