Edition hotels, part of the Marriott group, are based on two paradoxical ideas. While they have a collective identity as a chain, they all have their own idiosyncratic character — and each seeks to be a full-scale boutique hotel.
The Reykjavik edition is one of the newest, having launched in late 2021, just as Iceland was reopening after the pandemic. And, like its predecessors, it’s a very stylish place to stay. It shares a clean, modern aesthetic with them, with plenty of sleek, dark surfaces in the scented hallways and common areas — but here they’re complemented by a quintessentially Nordic touch. Blond wood and unpolished concrete are softened by sheepskin, wool blankets, and faux furs, draped generously over beds, benches, and restaurant chairs.
What really sets this hotel apart, however, is its location. Right on the water, it overlooks the glass-walled Harpa Concert Hall, and beyond, across the water, the snow-capped peak of Mount Esja and the Snæfellsjökull glacier. The rooms, with bay windows, make the most of the setting.
Why come here?
A small city with a big personality, Europe’s northernmost capital is both a remote outpost and a cozy distillation of everything we’ve come to love about the Nordic way of life. With cozy cafes, cool restaurants and the restorative feeling that nature still has a place even in the heart of the city, Reykjavik is more than just a launching pad for an island tour.
What to do
The Edition Hotel is right next to Reykjavik’s main shopping district, a grid of narrow streets lined with boutiques and cafes. In a world of cookie-cutter high streets, the architecture here remains unique: corrugated iron is the building material of choice, painted brightly and affixed to cottage-like homes, churches and businesses, giving even the heart of the city a village aspect. To feel.
Stroll along the harbor and you’ll find Jon Gunnar Arnason’s Sun Voyager sculpture (above), a stripped-down Viking ship that overlooks the bay. You can learn about the country’s relatively brief human history – it was settled just over a thousand years ago – at the National Museum of Iceland.
Or turn inland and stroll around Tjornin, a picturesque lake (frozen for half the year), from where you can admire the skyline – and plot your route to the Hallgrimskirkja ( below), the modernist church whose concrete spire rises above the city. Austerely Lutheran on the outside, it reveals an inner warmth, where its pale wooden pews – and colossal pipe organ – gleam in the sunlight streaming through its plain glass windows.
Most visitors to Reykjavik are also on their way or come from the wide open spaces of Iceland. It’s a landscape like no other, encompassing the gentleness of the Blue Lagoon and the wildness of the glaciers and volcanoes that have shaped the island. The Golden Circle is a great introduction, taking in geysers, waterfalls and hot springs on a route that fits into a manageable day trip from the capital.
From April to September, you can go on a whale watching expedition from the port. Sightings are never guaranteed, but you have a reasonable chance of seeing humpback or blue whales on a day trip. During the other half of the year, you can head out to sea in search of the Northern Lights – or wait at the hotel for them to come to you, which is a regular but unpredictable occurrence between October and March.
Hiking is possible at any time of the year, but should be attempted with caution, especially in winter. Icelandic weather can change in an instant from mild to fierce, and blizzards can strike at any time of the year on high ground. Organized tours offer the assurance of an expert guide and support.
Those who want to get even closer to nature can take a unique glacier tour and descend into the ice through a tunnel, walking through layers of snow and volcanic ash deposited over the past decades. Or don a drysuit and snorkel in the crystal-clear glacial meltwaters of the Silfra Fissure, where the continental plates of Europe and North America are moving away from each other.
what to eat
Tides, the restaurant at Edition Reykjavik, is a good place to start. A la carte breakfasts include the traditional bacon and eggs, plus various combinations of avocado, feta, and smoked salmon on toasted rye and sourdough. Dinner is a more typically Nordic affair, with reindeer accompanied by a wide variety of seafood. The vegetables are particularly well cooked: the heirloom tomatoes with ferskosti cheese are fresh and surprisingly luxurious.
Beyond the hotel, Reykjavik has an enviable restaurant scene. Dill is the main proponent of the “New Nordic” movement, which relies heavily on foraged ingredients and puts sustainability at the heart of its mission. Grillmarkadurinn is a little less austere: it serves grilled meat and fish in a restaurant that looks like it was carved out of rock. Its tasting menu is a highlight.
when should we go
Summer and winter offer two very different experiences of the country. In the depths of winter, you only have a few hours of daylight to enjoy the snowy wonderland, and roads can be closed, especially inland – but this is Iceland at its best. purest form. Summer is the best time for hiking and other outdoor activities – and you’ll always find snow in the Central Highlands.
How to get there
British Airways, Icelandair and easyJet fly to Reykjavik from several UK cities, from around £120 return.
How to book
Rooms are available on the Reykjavik Edition website from around £370 per night.