Accommodation in Iceland, like most everything else in the country, is expensive. In high-season, a compact and austere double room (sometimes with shared bathroom) will cost at least $150 per night, while rooms with more luxurious amenities range from $200-$300 or more per night. In off-season, rates start a bit lower, but are still extremely high compared to elsewhere in Europe. A good alternative for budget travelers is a private room in a hostel, which offers the privacy of a hotel or inn but with fewer services and lower cost. One solid option in Reykjavik is the Loft Hostel, located on the city’s main shopping street right in the center of the action.
Like many hostels, Loft has a youthful vibe, but not so youthful (read: filled with partying backpackers) that it is off-putting for travelers seeking a more subdued or mature environment. When I checked in, the top-floor reception area, which houses the bar/cafe, common area, communal kitchen, and breakfast room, was mostly deserted and quiet, but the room’s high ceilings and wall of windows kept it feeling bright and welcoming.
Near the reception area was a rack of tour brochures and information about things to do nearby. Sign-ups for airport transportation were available at the front desk. The top floor reception area was also adjacent to the hostel’s large rooftop deck overlooking the city. Just outside reception, locked luggage storage was available for guests, and downstairs in the entry way, racks held the bikes of those seeing the city on two wheels.
Without having a lot of bells and whistles, Loft still manages to cover all the basics, and then some, with space to relax, to work (free wifi is included), to socialize, to cook, to eat, and to plan your adventures in Iceland.
Rooms are similarly simple, yet sufficient. Four-, six-, and eight-bedded dorms are available starting at $30 per night in low season ($60 in summer) and both single-sex and coed rooms are available. There are also private rooms for two, four, or five people. My husband and I were in a private double room (starting at $100-$180 depending on season).
While the room was sparsely furnished, we had everything we needed for a short stay on a small budget. Our room had a double bed, a narrow shelf that served as a desk, a small ensuite tiled bathroom with minimal counter space, and an entire wall of windows that looked out to the main street below. Our stay fell on a Friday night and I was initially concerned about excessive noise from the street, but the windows proved to be a worthy barrier against the sounds of people partying until well after 4am.
The room wasn’t without its faults: the aforementioned lack of counter space in the bathroom (and no in-room hairdryer) were slightly inconvenient, and had we been staying longer, the lack of a closet or any kind of clothes storage would have meant an inevitable mess. Finally, the 10am checkout time is annoyingly early, though we dawdled a bit and staff didn’t seem to mind, and we were able to store our luggage until our 2pm bus to the airport.
Overall, these issues were ones I would expect given the lower price and limited services and, given the option, I’d prefer to accept Loft’s limitations rather than pay nearly double for extra perks, particularly in high-season. For a clean, surprisingly quiet, comfortable private ensuite room in the heart of Reykjavik, Loft is a great value and an excellent alternative to a pricey hotel with a few more amenities.