Hotel Glymur

Hvalfjordur, Reykjavik & West, Iceland Book from

Reviewed by Liz Simpson
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, one of Iceland's most popular hotels. Just 45 minutes outside Reykjavik, it's perched on a hillside in Hvalfjordur - and it's gloriously remote.

Inside it's both a hotel and art gallery, crammed with knick-knacks - brightly woven rugs, painted ceramics, wooden carvings - from local artists. Though not cutting-edge chic, it's colourful and homely, a contrast to the wild and elemental setting. The vibe continues in 22 split-level rooms, where you can retreat with a friend or lover, and 6 self-catering contemporary cottages, which suit families. The staff are welcoming, the atmosphere laid-back, and the food delicious. A great base for hiking, whale-watching, midnight-golfing or simply basking in the awesome landscape.

Highs

  • The unspoilt, rugged scenery - each room and cottage has a wall-to-wall window with panoramic views
  • Deliciously fresh Icelandic food, served in generous portions
  • Watching the Aurora Borealis from the geothermal hot tubs is an almost magical experience (wake-up calls are offered October-March)
  • Extremely friendly and helpful staff, led by Ragna, who can arrange excursions
  • Easy to find and under an hour from Reykjavik

Lows

  • The split-level room design is not suitable for less agile guests; 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, as is common in Iceland
  • Don't expect cool interior design - we weren't keen on some details such as plastic flowers

Best time to go

Iceland is totally different in winter and summer, so we’d recommend going twice!
For snowy scenery and practically no tourists, visit during winter (October to April). Prices drop in this period, the hotel will be less full, and the long hours of darkness plus the remote location increases your chance of seeing the Northern Lights.
Visit in the summer (May to September), and experience the almost eerie 24-hour daylight, plus warmer temperatures - perfect for whale watching, hiking and kayaking. Be prepared for rain at any time of year!

Our top tips

Bring your swimsuit for the hot tubs, camera and 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...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 25 + 6 self-catering cottages
  • 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 22 unassuming split-level rooms have simple Nordic décor - wooden furniture and floors, crisp white walls - offset by splashes of colour (reds, golds and terracottas in ours) in cushions and wall art.

Below, each has a living space with wardrobe, leather sofa and desk with an Iley coffee machine. The small bathroom has a drench shower and towelling bathrobes - required for the hot tubs! Ascend the wooden staircase for the unadorned attic-feel platform bedroom, whose beds have warm duvets. Best of all, picture windows offer ever-changing panoramas from dawn till dusk (a long time in midsummer!) of wild mountains or the snow-capped fjord opposite.

For more space, upgrade to the 2-bedroom suites, or the six colour-themed self-catering cottages, a short walk away, also with stunning fjord views. Large cottages sleep four, the Small two (plus extra beds/baby cots if required); all have ensuite bedrooms, an open plan living/dining/kitchen area, plus patio with private hot tub - for families, honeymooners, or groups of friends.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

The homely wood-clad dining room, with its award-winning Icelandic food, kitsch ceramics, and library, is great for relaxing. There are complimentary beverages and biscuits throughout the day, and a well-stocked honesty bar.

At dinner, the restaurant is candlelit. In winter there's an excellent set menu with 2-3 choices for each course; summer's menu is a la carte. Starters included Iceland’s famous langoustine, accompanied by home-baked breads; mains were freshly smoked trout, lamb, or salt cod with strawberry and mint, rounded off with chocolate cake and ice cream. Everything was cooked to perfection, and the wine list was good if pricey.

Breakfast was impressive: a vast cold European-cum-Icelandic buffet of meats, cheeses, boiled eggs, pastries, several smoked fish and locally cured meats. The perfect kick-start for our active day!

The cottages are well equipped for self-catering (oven, hob, fridge-freezer, microwave, and barbecue on the deck), but guests can of course eat at the hotel, or a private chef can come in and whip up a feast.

Features include:

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

Activities

In summer:

  • Fish in a nearby stream or lake (some within walking distance); the salmon season is from 1 July - 20 September, trout between 1 April - 20 June
  • There are several hiking trails through rugged mountainsides, from a 15-minute stroll to the fjord to a 2-hour walk to Glymur Waterfall; look out for ptarmigan, snipe, sea eagle, black-tailed godwit, and Arctic fox
  • 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 (24 hour daylight in summer!)
  • 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; the hotel will wake you to see them on request

Activities on site or nearby include:

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

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. However, the self-catering cottages are great for outdoorsy families, although note that they are up to 5 minutes' walk downhill from the hotel.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The three Large Cottages have two bedrooms so are ideal and can also take a couple of extra beds and baby cots. The three Small Cottages have one bedroom, but can also take extra beds and cots. There are a couple of two-bedroom Suites in the main hotel 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 extensive 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 are of 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:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
8/
Value
9/
Overall

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