“Iceland’s most iconic country hotel offers romance, history, fairytales and gourmet dining in an impossibly wild setting beside a mystical glacier”
Unlike many other Scandinavian hotels, Budir has a style all of its own. It’s all about dark, heavy furniture, leather sofas and roaring fires, offset by vast picture windows for viewing the sights. The building was completely rebuilt in 2002 after the original structure burned to the ground, but its history lives on through the sepia photos, framed memorabilia and watercolours that adorn the walls throughout.
The 28 bedrooms meld simple, unfussy décor with traditional comforts. They're mostly white and light, with hints of earthy tones reflecting the surrounding landscape. Antique prints hang on a chocolate- or sage-coloured walls, beds come with cosy duvets and light fittings are contemporary. All very different, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
It’s the views that really steal the show, so we recommend requesting a room looking out to the inlet and mountains, otherwise you’ll be overlooking the car park. Some have cushioned window seats, perfect for watching the purpling midnight sun, but even if you don’t have a room with a view there are balconies and wildlife viewing areas all over the hotel to gaze out of.
The best rooms, in our opinion, are those on the top floor. Here you’ll find the Loft Room (room 25), which has a bath and a romantic view of the black church nearby, and a Deluxe Room (room 23), which has a roll-top bath, a glacier view and a huge TV (handy if the weather closes in). We also liked rooms 10 and 17, both Deluxe Rooms with wraparound vistas of the sea and the rocks where seals come to bask.
The hotel’s only suite (room 11) doubles up as a family room. It has 2 rooms plus a bathroom with a 2-person bath; it’s also got a battered leather Chesterfield, sheepskin rugs and 2 extra beds.
Bathrooms are compact and functional - standard rooms without a view have baths; those with a view have a shower. All rooms come with cable TV, DVD players (DVDs are available to rent but cost extra) and hairdryers.
Eating in the restaurant in full view of the glacier is a delight. Small candles adorn the tables even through the endless summer light, and warm homemade bread and freshly roasted nuts welcome you at your table.
Budir's imaginative cuisine is reputed to be among the finest in the country. The ‘chef’s ‘special’ menu has an Icelandic feel, so it’s heavy on local lamb, fresh fish and whatever else is in season. For dinner our creamy fish soup with fluffy pieces of cod was perfect, the lamb was tender and our delicious desserts were finished with a touch of ‘lava’ (grey-coloured meringue).
It goes without saying that it isn’t cheap (a major drawback if you’re staying for more than a couple of nights) and you don’t get much choice (if you’re vegetarian or likely to be choosy then phone ahead to check what’s on offer). But, as romantic restaurants go, it’s hard to beat.
Breakfast is fairly standard - a generous buffet of cheeses, cold meats, toast, homemade jam, cereal and smoked salmon. Lunch is available between 11:30 and 14:30 every day; again, it’s a ‘chef’s special’ menu which changes daily. There’s also an extensive wine list and a cocktail menu in the well-stocked bar. Dinner is available from 18:00 to 22:00.
As for options for eating out, there’s a café called Fjöruhusið (open in the summer only) in the nearby town of Hella which is known for its excellent fish soup, and a few other places in Stykkisholmur.
Children are welcome and will make friends easily with the staff’s children, who play in the sea and kayak in the summer. There are no specific children’s facilities, but who needs them when nature is all around? Kids will enjoy playing hide and seek in the lava fields, watching seals and going on boat trips. If the weather closes in, you can keep them happy with a DVD borrowed from the hotel’s library.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
The suite has extra beds and is ideal for families, but like all other rooms sound from it carries, so loud children will be very noticeable to other guests.
Bring a baby monitor with you - it will reach through the majority of the hotel from the bar and restaurant to rooms, depending on the make.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Iceland is very child-friendly but the food might not be...prepare in advance by stocking up with snacks from the nearest supermarket, in Borganes. The restaurant here is a real highlight for adults but not particularly child friendly.
It's a wild and windswept place - not somewhere to bring kids who need flashing lights and instant entertainment. There are stairs and the sea is very close by - watch toddlers at all times.