Hotel Ranga

Hella, Reykjavik & West, Iceland Book from Book from £291 per night

Alpine-style lodge in remote southern Iceland where you can watch volcanoes explode, see the Northern Lights and eat like a (vi)king
If Iceland is all about the surreal and quirky - glaciers, volcanoes, moss-covered lava fields and unexpected natural wonders - then Rangá is its poster boy. From the outside it’s a 52-room log-style lodge in the middle of nowhere, 96km east of Reykjavik, with views of Iceland’s legendary Hekla volcano; inside it’s a different story.

You’re greeted by a real stuffed polar bear called Hrammur, somewhat bizarrely. Rooms are strung along two long wood-clad corridors, and there are eight suites, themed to suit the world’s continents. What could be more weird and wonderful than sleeping in a room mocked up to resemble an African safari hut, but looking out to the East Rangá river, stuffed with salmon? The restaurant has an exciting, delicious menu including locally smoked puffin, lamb and wild salmon, and the outdoor hot tubs are one of the best places on earth to watch the winter Northern Light displays. Activity-wise, anything goes for couples, groups and families alike. And I mean anything. Want to see an active volcano? Take a helicopter up Mount Hekla? Dog-sled or glacier-hike? Visit a glacial lagoon? It can all be done.
Covid-19 update: some services and facilities may be changed as a result of Coronavirus measures.

Highs

  • Fantastic location for exploring South Iceland’s delights including Jökulsárlón lagoon, glaciers, volcanoes, and the Golden Circle
  • Food is fabulous - the best in the area
  • Dizzyingly romantic - drink Champagne in the hot tub, see the Northern Lights in action, go horse riding across wild moors, get married by a waterfall
  • Impeccable service - eccentric owner Fridrik is the perfect host and staff will wake you to see the Northern Lights if you ask them to
  • All rooms have views - either north towards Hekla volcano and the Aurora or south towards the river and sunshine; some have private balconies, too

Lows

  • A car is required to make the most of the activities, although there is a bus service from Reykjavik and transfers can be arranged
  • It's not cheap, but you are in Europe's most expensive country!
  • Remote, so you're likely to eat all meals in-house (not a hardship in terms of taste, just budget)
  • Most suites have Jacuzzi baths with hand-held showers - not ideal if you just want a shower
  • Some might find the decor a little gaudy - handpainted murals, stuffed animals, bizarre themed suites - but it's all part of Ranga's unique charm

Best time to go

Travel in Iceland is very seasonal. If you want to see the Northern Lights, visit from September to April and hope for clear skies – this is one of the best hotels in the world to view them from. From June to August you can experience the midnight sun (tip: bring an eye mask as the light can make it hard to sleep, despite heavy blinds). Spring and autumn are also fine times to visit, while winter can be problematic and you may need a 4WD if the snow is particularly heavy.

Our top tips

  • Njal’s Saga was set in this region and is a good read if you like your Icelandic history.
  • Ask for a north-facing room in winter for the Northern Lights, or a south-facing room in summer for the midnight sun.
  • Great for...

    Family
    Foodie
    Great Outdoors
    Romantic
    • Boutique Hotel
    • 52
    • 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
    • Pool Table
    • Grounds
    Room:

    Rooms

    Simple Standard Rooms have queensize or twin beds clad in striped or coloured bedspreads (the curtains match) and parquet flooring. Some have balconies, the others Jacuzzi bathtubs in their bathrooms. The Deluxe Rooms have kingsize beds (or twins) and sofabeds, while the larger and newer Deluxe Superior rooms have additional full-size wall beds (good for children) and floor-to-ceiling windows that allow light to flood in. Most rooms have unique murals painted by local artists, and face either the river or Mount Hekla volcano.

    The quirky, themed Suites are aimed at honeymooners or families. All look over the East Rangá river. Stand-out Antarctica has black and white leather sofas, mini penguins and Jacuzzi bathtub, whereas Africa has an upturned tree, heavy African furniture and batik curtains. There's something entertaining about waking up under a thatched roof overlooking Iceland's top salmon river!

    On our most recent visit we stayed in the Icelandic Suite, an enormous triple-aspect room with a stone bathtub in the centre and a giant revolving floor that allows you to face the window from any seat you choose - very James Bond!

    Features include:

    • Bathrobes
    • Central heating
    • Cots Available
    • Extra beds
    • Hairdryer
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Phone
    • Radio
    • Safe box
    • Satellite TV
    • Toiletries
    • TV
    • WiFi

    Eating

    Rangá's pine-clad restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner; room service and bar snacks are also available. Breakfast is lavish - a huge spread with meats, cheeses, pickled fish, eggs, homemade cakes, bucks fizz, and the ubiquitous bottle of cod liver oil if you want to take part in that particular Icelandic breakfast tradition.

    Dinner is sophisticated. This part of Iceland is famed for its salmon, Icelandic lobster and free-range lamb. We savoured a creamy seafood soup, smoked puffin with apple puree, reindeer carpaccio and lamb with pickled shallots, beetroot and layered potato. Vegetarians, fear not, there are plenty of non-meat options too. Dessert was Skyr cake with coconut ice cream, granola and an espresso shot. Yum.

    Upstairs, the bar has dark leather armchairs, sofas and nooks and crannies to make your own. The wine list is excellent, and the staff are happy to let you try first if you're not sure what to choose. Rangá’s remote location means you're likely to eat here for most meals; the restaurant also serves light lunches, and can make up picnics on request.

    Features include:

    • Bar
    • Children's meals
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Restaurant
    • Room service
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Languish (with Champagne) in one of the hotel’s three geothermally-heated hot tubs. In season (September-April), you could witness the Northern Lights.
    • Go Icelandic: hike or horse-ride windswept moors; find secret hot pools; take a helicopter ride up to the glaciers and over the famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano; river raft a glacial river in a dry suit; fish in Iceland’s top salmon river; go dog-sledding or snowmobiling.
    • Visit the Golden Circle attractions - wondrous Gullfoss waterfall, Thingvellir rift valley, and the Geysir hot springs, where Strokkur erupts regularly.
    • Spot puffins or play golf on Europe’s windiest course on the nearby Westman Islands.
    • Whale watching season is all year round, high season April-September. Minke and porpoise are common, humpback and killer slightly less so, with great luck you might see a blue whale.
    • On clear nights, go stargazing in the hotel's own observatory.

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Birdwatching
    • Fishing
    • Golf
    • Hiking
    • Horse riding
    • Kayaking
    • Pool table
    • Rafting
    • Skiing
    • Stargazing
    • Whale watching
    • Wildlife

    Kids

    Iceland is a great country for children in general; Rangá welcomes them openly, and many of the larger rooms have an extra bed or space for a rollaway bed for small children. Baby cots are available, too.

    The fresh air, landscape and endless activities will delight families, and management can help with special requests.

    Best for:

    All ages

    Family friendly accommodation:

    All Deluxe rooms have sofabeds, Deluxe Superiors have full-size wall beds, and extra beds can be added to the Suites. There are no connecting rooms.

    Baby equipment:

    • Baby cots
    • High chair
    • Plastic crockery and cutlery

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

    Children's meals:

    A kids' menu of fish and chips, burgers, pasta and sandwiches is available.

    Kids Activities on site:

    • Crayons and colouring books
    • Puzzles and games
    • Pool table

    Kids Activities nearby:

    • Swimming pools nearby
    • Riding Icelandic horses
    • Black beaches
    • Glacier hiking (older kids)
    • Birding
    • Dog sledding in winter
    • Caving (older kids)
    • 'Eyjafjallajökull Erupts' visitor centre (short film about the notorious volcano and geological background)
    • Fishing
    • River rafting (older kids)
    • Skógar Folk Museum
    • Snowmobiling
    • Boat trips to Westman Islands
    • Whale watching

    Families Should Know:

    A river forms the natural boundary to the south of the hotel and is unfenced.

    Distances:

    • Airport: 2 hours
    • Children's hospital: 80 minutes
    • Shops: 9 minutes
    Kid Friendly:

    Location

    Rangá is 96km east of Reykjavik on the Route 1, just past Hella.

    By Air
    Fly into Keflavik International Airport (150km).

    From the Airport
    Bus and taxi transfers are available, bus routes are year-round although taxis are eye-wateringly expensive. Otherwise hire a car.

    By Car
    We'd recommend hiring a car - see our car rental recommendations. Rangá is roughly 90 minutes from Reykjavik (road speeds are 90km/h at their fastest) or two hours from the airport. It’s easy to find - once you’re on the Route 1, stay on it! Iceland’s roads are easy to negotiate as there are so few of them. Parking is provided at the hotel.

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

    Airports:

    • Keflavik International Airport 150.0 km KEV

    Other:

    • Beach 0.0 km
    • Shops 10.0 km
    • Restaurant 10.0 km

    Our guests' ratings...

    Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

    10/10
    Room
    9/10
    Food
    9/10
    Service
    9/10
    Value
    9/10
    Overall

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