Hotel Glymur

Hvalfjordur, Reykjavik & West, Iceland
Book from Book from £147 per night

Tranquil hotel and restaurant, set above a rugged fjord with to-die-for views from its geothermal hot tubs

If sitting in a geothermal hot tub watching the Northern Lights sounds heavenly, check yourselves into the bright-red Hotel Glymur. It sits on a hillside in Hvalfjordur, and enjoys the most dazzling view out towards shimmering icy waters and rising mountains beyond. You're actually only 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik, but you'd never know it.

Inside it's both a hotel and gallery, crammed with knick-knacks - brightly woven rugs, painted ceramics, wooden carvings - from local artists. Though not always super-chic, it's colourful and homely, a contrast to the wild and elemental setting. The vibe continues in the split-level rooms, where you can retreat with a friend or lover; a few rooms have sofa beds for families or those wanting added space. The staff are welcoming, the atmosphere laid-back, and the food generally excellent. Overall it's a great base for a couple of days' hiking, whale-watching, midnight-golfing or simply basking in the awesome landscape.

Highs

  • The unspoilt, rugged scenery - most rooms have a wall-to-wall window with panoramic views
  • We found the dinners fresh, delicious and generous (though we gather that at quiet times the menu is reduced)
  • Watching the Aurora Borealis from the geothermal hot tubs is an almost magical experience (wake-up calls are offered October-March)
  • Easy to find and under an hour from Reykjavik, yet it feels gloriously remote

Lows

  • Recent guest feedback has been somewhat mixed, citing reduced menus, dated room decor and (as often in Iceland) high prices
  • Be aware that Mountain Rooms have limited views (of the hill directly outside the hotel)
  • The split-level room design is not suitable for less agile guests; though one is specially equipped for the less mobile
  • You'll need to hire a car to explore
  • Showers have geothermal, faintly sulphurous-smelling hot water

Best time to go

Iceland is totally different in winter and summer - it bears going twice!

Winter (October to April) sees snow-white landscapes, fewer tourists and lower prices. The hotel will be less full, and the long hours of darkness plus the remote location increases your chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

Summer (May to September) offers an eerie 24-hour daylight, plus warmer temperatures - perfect for whale watching, hiking and kayaking. But be prepared for rain at any time of year. Anglers note: the salmon season is from July - September, trout from April - June.

Our top tips

We think 2 to 3 nights is about right here. If you stay longer, be prepared for some longish drives to external sights and restaurants.

Bring your swimsuit for the hot tubs; binoculars for the fabulous landscape; and appropriate clothing for the elements (including thermals if you go in winter). Moisturiser is also a good idea as the geothermal water quickly dries out your skin.

Great for...

Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 25 rooms
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • 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
  • Concierge Service
Room:

Rooms

The hotel houses 22 unassuming split-level rooms, one disabled access room and two Suites.

The rooms have simple Nordic décor - wooden furniture and floors, crisp white walls - offset by splashes of colour in cushions and wall art. It's worth paying extra for the Ocean View rooms, which have a picture window offering ever-changing panoramas from dawn till dusk (a long time in midsummer!) of wild mountains or the snow-capped fjord opposite. The cheaper Mountain View rooms look onto the grassy hills directly behind the hotel.

As for the 2 Suites, they are a bit more pop-arty, with lime green or orange leather sofas which may not be to everyone's taste; but they are spacious (37-46 sq.m.), and the view from their private balconies is truly breathtaking.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Family friendly
  • Hairdryer
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Toiletries
  • TV
  • WiFi

Eating

The homely wood-clad dining room, with its tasty Icelandic food, kitsch ceramics, and library, is great for relaxing. There's a well-stocked honesty bar to keep you fuelled.

At dinner, the restaurant is candlelit and cosy; when we last stayed it was very quiet, but at other times you might coincide with groups. In winter there's usually a set menu with two/three choices for each course; generally, in summer, it's a la carte. Starters included Iceland’s famous langoustine soup, accompanied by home-baked breads; mains were freshly smoked trout, lamb, or salt cod, rounded off with hot chocolate brownie and ice cream. We found everything cooked to perfection, and the wine list was good if pricey.

Breakfast is a cold European-cum-Icelandic buffet of meats, cheeses, boiled eggs, pastries, several smoked fish and locally cured meats.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Family friendly
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

In summer:

  • Follow hiking trails through rugged mountainsides, from a 15-minute stroll to the fjord to a 3-hour round trek to the spectacular 200-metre Glymur Waterfall
  • Birdlife is plentifiul: look out for ptarmigan, snipe, sea eagle, black-tailed godwit (and Arctic fox too!)
  • Fish in a nearby stream or lake (some within walking distance); the salmon season is from July - September, trout between April - June
  • The hotel can arrange horse riding on purebred Icelandic ponies, tours around the Golden Circle (the mighty Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir hot springs, and Thingvellir National Park), kayaking on the Hvalfjordur fjord, and golf at one of three courses nearby
  • Whale-watching (and dolphin and porpoise) boat trips run May through August, leaving from Reykjavik.
In winter:
  • Take a snowmobiling all-day trip on the Snaefell Glacier.
  • The psychedelic ripples of the Northern Lights are most often seen in winter (October-March), during crisp clear nights; you can ask the hotel to wake you if and when they appear

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Kayaking
  • Private guided tours
  • Skiing
  • Snowmobiling (in Winter)
  • Whale watching

Kids

While Iceland is great for older children in terms of summer outdoor activities, this location is not ideal for younger children, especially during the cold winter months, as there are no indoor ‘child’ facilities.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

There are a couple of Suites which can take an additional child on a bed or cot.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

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

Children's meals:

The cottages are well-equipped for self-catering, and you also have the option of eating at the hotel restaurant if you prefer not to. For evening meals, half-portions can be ordered from the menu on request, and there are pasta and chicken dishes available. The breakfast buffet will have plenty of interest for most children.

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Beaches on fjord
  • Boat trips
  • Whale-watching
  • Horse riding
  • Hiking

Families Should Know:

The hotel is on a hillside, the surrounding slopes have loose stones and tightly packed heather.

Distances:

  • Airport: 90 minutes
  • Hospital: 5 minutes (20 minutes in winter)
  • Shops: 5 minutes (20 minutes in winter)
Kid Friendly:

Location

Hotel Glymur is located on the northern shore of Hvalfjördur (the Whale Fjord), about 45 minutes drive from Reykjavik if you take the tunnel under the fjord and about 1 hour 5 minutes if you drive the whole length of the fjord.

By Air
Keflavik Airport (95km) is an easy drive away.

From the Airport
Hire a car from the airport - see our car rental recommendations. It takes about 80 minutes to drive from the airport; follow HWY 41 into Reykjavík, or take a taxi. Parking is available on the premises.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Reykjavic Keflavik International 95.0 km KEF

Other:

  • Beach 1.0 km
  • Shops 25.0 km
  • Restaurant 25.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

8/10
Room
8/10
Food
8/10
Service
7/10
Value
8/10
Overall

The best bit about the Glymur is the amazing view over the lake. We had a “mountain view” room (on the ground floor) which looked out onto a grassy hillock behind the hotel (we were advised of this when we booked). The room itself was comfortable but was only cleaned by the hotel staff on our first day. The hotel provided twin beds at our request but these were smaller than a standard single bed (not comfortable for someone so tall). We ate in the hotel on the first night and the food was excellent, but by the third night they had reduced their menu to just two main dishes as I assume they did not have sufficient guests to merit offering a full menu. (We drove 30 mins to Borganes where there was an excellent choice of delicious food in various eateries). Overall I felt that it was overpriced - even by Icelandic standards - and two nights would have been enough.

8/10,

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