Architect's Cottage

Reykjavik & West, Iceland Book from

Reviewed by Nadine Mellor
A delightful two-storey 1900s house with a stylish makeover (sleeps 4-6) in the old heart of Reykjavik – great for families and friends
Right in the charming heart of Reykjavik, with a balcony, a garden and a city view, is a warm, woody house built in 1905 and designed by Iceland’s first qualified architect. Its friendly interior has been recently revamped; its pine walls, cornices and beautiful banistered staircase remain. New are the Poggenpohl kitchen, the bathroom and – a godsend! – the laundry, their minimalist fittings in sleek white. The house sleeps 4 in 2 comfortable double bedrooms, and there’s a sofabed so you can bring kids or friends, too. Dishwasher, coffee-maker, swanky kitchen range – all yours, along with a TV, WiFi, fluffy towels and crisp linen. The owners live nearby, happy to help and advise.

Reykjavik is becoming a humdinger of a cultural hub (and a culinary hub, too), drawing travellers from all over the world. From this quiet elevated street behind the Danish Embassy, yards from the National Theatre, you can walk to shops, museums, bars, parks, festivals and the regenerated harbour, including the spectacular waterfront Harpa concert hall, in minutes. There’s a grocers a step away for easy self-catering, or indulge in Reykjavik's burgeoning restaurant scene. A home away from home.

Highs

  • A charming old house with modern comforts – and space
  • A lovely, leafy garden with a furnished terrace
  • A great location in the peaceful old part of town, a heartbeat from the harbour, restaurants and culture
  • We found it a good base for exploring outside the city, too – there's a parking space if you're hiring a car
  • The very helpful owner is a qualified tourist guide and offers private guided tours on request

Lows

  • No twin-bedded rooms
  • The kitchen flows into the living room, so sofabed users lack privacy
  • There’s no bath, but there is a large shower
  • Credit cards aren’t accepted, so you’ll have to use bank transfers, PayPal or cash
  • Not much hanging space but there are chests of drawers

Best time to go

Any time, though be prepared for the climate. From mid-April to the end of July there is almost 24 hours of daylight, but even then, the weather changes every 15 minutes, from partial storms to sunshine. April, May, September and October are chilly. From November to March it’s often freezing and there's a fair bit of rain. However, winter is becoming increasingly popular with those in search of the Northern Lights, and the New Year's Eve fireworks in Reykjavik. Note that there’s just a couple of hours’ daylight in December.

Our top tips

  • Pick up a Reykjavik Welcome Card (valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours) from the Visit Reykjavik office for free admission to the city’s 7 thermal pools, plus the National Museum, National Art Gallery and Reykjavik Art Museum. You also get unlimited travel on the buses, and discounts at various shops and restaurants
  • The owner is an accredited tour guide and offers private tours for up to 4 people around the city and island in his Range Rover
  • Boots or comfortable shoes, a rucksack and a waterproof jacket are essential. And a camera - you’ll be snapping from the first day to the last: Reykjavik is picturesque and photogenic

Great for...

Family
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Cottage
  • 2 double bedrooms
  • Self-catering (restaurants nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room:

Rooms

The cottage has a warm, welcoming feel; original features such as antique pine walls sit well with the vernacular woollen throws, stripey rugs and attractive wicker tub chairs. The beds are super-comfortable with good mattresses and crisp linen.

The hub of the house is the open-plan living space on the top floor, where a white kitchen flows into a dining area and then a lounge. Here you'll find a double sofabed with space for 2 additional guests, plus a couple of chairs and a TV. There's also a balcony looking out over the city, plus a garden with a deck and chairs beneath the trees.

The 2 bedrooms on the ground floor interlink if you want them to, and there's a bathroom with laundry facilities (washer and dryer) off the small downstairs sitting room. There’s no bath but you do get an excellent shower and gleaming heated towel rails.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Extra beds
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Oven
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Tumble dryer
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi

Eating

The new open kitchen upstairs has everything – oven, hob, fridge-freezer, dishwasher, pots and pans, coffee maker and kettle, toaster – and you get a welcome hamper packed with cheese, bread, coffee and tea (plus a free bottle of wine!) as a thank-you for booking through i-escape. There's a grocers nearby, too. Eat around the wooden table, seated on 8 pretty antique chairs, or under trees in the decked garden at a green-painted wrought-iron table.

It may not be cheap to dine out in Reykjavik, but it’s a treat. Fish Market serves creative fish dishes, and puffin burgers. Tuck into fresh, locally caught fish and chunky chips at harbourfront Icelandic Fish and Chips. For stunning harbour views dine in fashionable Kalabrautin on the top floor of the striking Harpa concert hall. There are more views (plus wild goose and reindeer) at Perlan built atop the city’s water tanks with ‘fine dining’ in a rotating glass dome. Glamorous Hotel Borg is an Art Deco hotel with a celebrity Icelandic chef and good-looking food.

Features include:

  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Toaster
  • Welcome hamper
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Stroll down to the waterfront for ships, a flea market in a warehouse, and the super-interactive Viking Maritime Museum; en route pass the Harpa concert hall (whose honeycomb façade was designed by Olafur Egilsson) and the Reykjavik Art Museum, which houses modern Icelandic works, international collections and a permanent exhibition of Erró (Iceland’s Roy Lichtenstein)
  • 3 hour whale-watching tours run from April to September
  • Tjornin is a city-centre lake popular with tourists and birds, and a pretty picnic spot. Lovely streets bring you to the striking Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral, built in 1986. The view from the top is breathtaking
  • Browse and buy Icelandic crafts and clothing on Laugavegur and Skolavordustigur, the main shopping streets
  • Tour the volcanic ‘Golden Circle’ for geysers, glaciers and waterfalls, ride small sturdy Icelandic ponies, go snowmobiling on glaciers and snorkelling in Thingvellir National Park (under an hour’s drive), or swim in the Blue Lagoon, a big thermal pool on the road to the airport, which is open until midnight

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Music
  • Nightlife
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Skiing
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Whalewatching
  • Wildlife

Kids

This is a very child-friendly house, with accommodation for 4-6. The laundry room is handy for families, and there’s a cot and stairgate. Reykjavik is a great place for a break with the kids – small, easy to navigate and packed with interesting sights; you may even get to gasp at the Northern Lights.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Both bedrooms have queensize beds, there's also a large sofabed in the living room. There is no charge for extra beds or a baby cot. Note there's no bathtub only a shower

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cot
  • Highchair
  • Pushchair on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kids Activities on site:

  • Board games

Kids Activities nearby:

  • The interactive Viking Maritime Museum
  • Playgrounds within a few minutes' walk
  • Whale-watching trips
  • Horse riding
  • Thermal pools
  • Geysers, glaciers, waterfalls and volcanoes

Families Should Know:

There’s a steepish wooden staircase between the 2 floors, but there's a stairgate at the top

Distances:

  • Airport: 45 minutes
  • Hospital: 5 minutes
  • Shop: 2 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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