Hotel Ranga

Hella, Reykjavik & West, Iceland Book from

Reviewed by Laura Dixon
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 51-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. Upstairs are 7 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? Downstairs are less extravagant rooms strung along two long wood-clad corridors. 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.

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, go horse riding across wild moors, get married by a waterfall
  • Excellent service - staff will wake you to see the Northern Lights if you ask them to
  • Most rooms have Jacuzzi tubs and volcano or river views; 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
  • Some feel it is overpriced
  • Remote, so you're likely to eat all meals in-house (not a hardship in terms of taste, just budget)
  • Suites have Jacuzzi baths with hand-held showers - not ideal if you just want a shower
  • We could have done with plumper pillows

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

Hire a comfortable car and give yourself plenty of time to explore this part of Iceland. A daytrip to Jökulsarlon, a glacial lagoon in the south of the country, is unforgettable. Njal’s Saga was set in this region and is a good read if you like your Icelandic history.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 51
  • 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), the odd piece of local art and parquet flooring. Some have balconies, the others Jacuzzi bathtubs in their bathrooms. Also on the ground floor, larger Deluxe Rooms (where we stayed on our latest visit) have sofabeds, best for families. All Rooms either face the river or Mount Hekla volcano.

Upstairs are the quirky, themed Suites 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!

The Royal Suite also has a mid-room Jacuzzi; we were less keen on Australia's kitsch stained-glass windows. Asia takes Japanese inspiration, North America features a bearskin and native head-dress, while South America is hung with bright tapestries and butterflies. Enormous bathrooms have baths for 2 and a selection of bath bombs.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

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, make-your-own waffles, cereal, toast 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, langoustine or Icelandic lobster and free-range lamb. We savoured a creamy seafood soup, smoked puffin with textures of beetroot, Arctic char and barley risotto (they do great vegetarian dishes), with Skyr and berries, chocolate cake and ryebread ice cream to finish. The puffin tasted like marine duck. My husband also sampled the pungent birch schnapps as a digestif.

Upstairs, the bar has dark leather armchairs and sofas and nooks and crannies to make your own. 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 meals
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Languish (with champagne) in one of the hotel’s 3 geothermally-heated hot tubs. In season (September-April) you could witness the Northern Lights

  • Go Icelandic: hike or horse-ride windswept moors, glaciers and lava fields; 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; take a Superjeep tour of the glacial Highlands; 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

  • Get married in the most memorable, magical ceremony, beside a waterfall or on top of a volcano

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Pool table
  • Rafting
  • Skiing
  • Whalewatching
  • 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, 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 5 and 8km away
  • 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:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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