During winter, many people want to escape from the cold to warmer climates, which I have to admit, I used to do as well. But this year, I was interested in exploring a polar-opposite destination : ICELAND, a place where fire and ice co-exist. Located on the North Atlantic Ocean close to the Artic Circle, Iceland is considered a bridge between continents. There is so much to learn and explore in Iceland that you must plan your itinerary in advance to make sure you make the best of this unique destination.
Best Time to Visit Iceland is great to visit throughout the year. You can explore this country during its high season, the boreal summer, which runs from June to August. You will admire the beauty of the endless days, including midnight sun. You can also discover different sides of Iceland during the rest of the year and enjoy the transitional seasons, watching nature awaken and fall asleep amongst breathtaking aurora borealis. It also has one of the most fluctuating climates in the world, and can change no matter what month you plan on traveling there, which is what makes it so unique. Start at Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, located on the southwest corner. Facing the sea, Reykjavik is a dynamic, modern and colorful city considered to be one of the safest cities in the world ; the rest of the country is largely uninhabited.
Where to Stay
The past and the future meet at the Sand Hotel, a luxurious and new boutique hotel situated in the heart of downtown Reykjavik on the city’s central crossway, Laugavegur Street. Centrally located, the Sand Hotel is within walking distance to the main cultural monuments, such as Hallgrimskirkja Church, delicious local restaurants, bars and boutiques in the city. After a long day exploring the attractions in the city, fall asleep in their sumptuous and comfortable beds amongst chic modern décor. Sand Hotel offers 67 rooms and suites. Every room is meticulously decorated with original artwork that tells a different side of the city. Indulge a unique stay in The Sand Suite, located on the top floor of the building where you can indulge an incredible bath while wathcing the stars or a wonderful Aurora through their glass roof window. The relaxed and laid-back atmosphere of the hotel is a perfect respite to enjoy the vibrant life of the city outside your doorstep.
Wake up to experience the delicious and prized continental breakfast at the Sandholt Bakery, established over 100 years ago. Noted that a complimentary continental breakfast is included for all guests of the hotel.
The minute you leave the center of the city, you will be drawn into a paradise of remarkable landscapes that will leave an idelible mark in your Icelandic sojourn.
From Reykjavik, head along the southern coastline for about 90 minutes to arrive between the towns of Hella and Hvolsvollur, and you will arrive at the Hotel Ranga. This incredible environment is surrounded by volcanoes, lava meadows, beautiful Icelandic horses, glaciers and the Mount of Hekla, which embodies the sheer beauty of Icelandic nature.
A 10ft-high stuffed polar bear, Hrammur, greets guests in the lobby, providing a homey vibe you will experience during your entire stay. This log-style hotel has 52 rooms and suites. The large suites reflect a different theme, representing the different continents, and they are designed with unique pieces from local artists to make each room luxurious, authentic and comfortable. There is also a gorgeous Royal Suite offering a marvelous and comfortable lounge area, an indoor Jaccuzzi, a private balcony, a beautiful bathroom, and an incredible bed facing the outdoor jaccuzzis and the East Ranga River. Step out onto your balcony to stargaze and observe the planets or schedule a wake-up call to hunt the northern lights.
Hotel Ranga is also the first Icelandic hotel to become a member of the “Special Hotels of the World.ʺ They are also a magnet that attracts celebrities, honeymooners and locals thanks to their incredible cuisine, accommodation and services.
Dine in their wonderful restaurant with river views or grab a cocktail in their cozy bar, which has a selection of over 60 different whiskies. Select their ʺwild menuʺ for an authentic and Nordic cuisine experience or dine a la carte from their fine-dining menu. The freshness of their local ingredients is reflected by the beauty and taste of their plates.
After a unique icelandic dinner, dress up with their astronaut jumpsuit available in the lobby and head to the observatory to admire the planets and hunt for the northern lights. Finish your night with a glass of wine in the outdoor hot tub and relax with your loved one.
The Hotel Ranga is located in the center of the famed Golden Circle, which is home to some of Iceland’s most famous attractions, including thermal spots and glacier expeditions.