Ion Hotel

Thingvellir, Reykjavik & West, Iceland Book from Book from £309 per night

MOST OUTSTANDING VIEW MOST OUTSTANDING VIEW
Chic adventure hotel in a spectacularly surreal landscape of moss-covered lava fields, geysers and steaming rivers, by Thingvellir National Park
Sipping cocktails in the glass-walled Northern Lights bar, we're listening to eerie Icelandic folk tunes and marvelling at the mystical ambiance when the background chatter abruptly stops. Mesmerised, we jump up and paste our faces against the glass, eyes on the intensely green cloud rising over the hill, and smile smugly. An epic Northern Lights sighting on our first night in Iceland!

Perched on stilts at the foot of Mount Hengill in the pristine wilderness of southwest Iceland, this sleek hotel is only an hour's drive from Reykjavik, yet it feels worlds away. Panoramic windows, stark concrete, wooden walls and minimalist furniture are complemented by soft sheepskin-covered chairs, fluffy cushions, large candles and fireplaces, creating a contemporary-cool yet distinctly cosy Nordic vibe. And after a day of breathtaking outdoor adventures in the Golden Circle - snorkelling in the icy waters of the Silfra rift, hiking up glaciers and watching enormous geysers erupt - nothing beats winding down with a specialist massage in the spa and a soak in the steaming outdoor thermal pool.

Highs

  • Watching the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of the bar was an unforgettable experience
  • Delicious, sophisticated and fresh Icelandic food. The cured Arctic char and lamb carpaccio were incredible
  • Awesome, rugged scenery; the view from our room towards Lake Thingvellir was spectacular
  • Sitting in the outdoor hot pool sipping cocktails under the falling snow
  • A sociable place with a nice mix of fellow guests - we met hip honeymooners from London, Swiss hikers, Icelandic housewives on a girls' weekend, and foodies from Barcelona

Lows

  • Some reports of slow service, but staff were excellent throughout our 2016 revisit
  • It's next to a geothermal power station (you'll sometimes smell the sulphur), but we found its columns of steam strangely beautiful
  • It's approached via a twisting country road - hire a 4x4 in winter
  • Rooms are compact and have showers only, though they're well designed
  • Extras such as meals and treatments are pricey, and the remote location means you'll probably be eating in

Best time to go

If you're after the Northern Lights, come in winter (October to April). We thought our stay in early October was perfectly timed as the cold was still bearable, prices were reasonable and attractions were uncrowded. High season is the summer, June to August; this is when most outdoor activities are available and temperatures are mild. It's also the time to see puffins down on the coast. If you're visiting between November and March, we recommend hiring a 4x4 as the local roads are often icy and partly covered by snow.

Our top tips

  • This is not a place to pack lightly for. The weather can be harsh and often changes in a matter of minutes; dressing in lots of layers is the only way to go. So that big jacket needs to come, as do the hiking boots. Even long johns!
  • Ask the receptionists to wake you if the Northern Lights appear in the middle of the night. They are very happy to do so - and get equally excited by their appearance

Great for...

Eco
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Spa
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 42
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room: Deluxe Room

Rooms

All 42 rooms are compact yet bright, with light wooden floors and chairs draped in soft sheepskins. We stayed in a Deluxe Room and loved the mix of smooth concrete walls, black and white murals of Icelandic ponies, and floor-to-ceiling windows looking across the rugged landscape. Standard Rooms are simpler and less dramatic, with pine furniture and twin, double or single beds. Both categories feature either lake or mountain views (the latter encompassing the power station); we'd recommend requesting a Deluxe Room with a lake view if possible.

All rooms have hypo-allergenic beds with fluffy duvets and fair-trade linen, plus TVs, WiFi and a kettle for making hot drinks. Bathrooms are tiny with a capital T, but come with rain showers and local toiletries by Sóley Organics. Deluxe Rooms have the added benefit of bathrobes, minibars and an espresso machine.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Hairdryer
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The Silfra restaurant - a modern space with blue leather banquettes and a dramatic picture of an Arctic char on one wall - is open daily. Dinner is a sophisticated Nordic affair, with a choice between à la carte options and a daily changing 4-course set menu. We loved our meal of cured Arctic char with pickled cucumbers, pan-roasted scallops with risotto, lamb with root vegetables, and a skyr crème brûlée. All dishes were beautifully presented, and the carefully curated wine list was impressive. After you've eaten, head to the stunning Northern Lights Bar (dimmed at night) for a nightcap while waiting for the Aurora Borealis to make an appearance.

Breakfast includes all the usual Continental suspects, plus tasty local specialities such as salmon and pickled herring. There's a large selection of charcuterie, too. A lunch and snack menu is then available throughout the day, in both the bar and restaurant - we can recommend the Nordic club sandwich, the burgers and the Icelandic cheese platter.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity: Thingvellir Lake

Activities

  • Tour the Golden Circle. You're on the edge of Thingvellir National Park, Iceland’s most historic site, where you can see the chasm between tectonic plates. Other stops include the enormous geyser Strokkur (erupting every 5-7 minutes), and scenic Gullfoss with its dramatic waterfalls
  • Don a dry suit and dive, snorkel or swim in the icy-clear waters of the Silfra rift, the crack between the American and Eurasian tectonic plates in Lake Thingvellir
  • Go glacier hiking, ice climbing and rafting, then sit in a thermal hot spring
  • Hike to the top of a dormant volcano and get lowered into the crater in an open cable lift: not for the faint-hearted
  • Staff can also arrange horse riding, white-water rafting and fishing
  • Soak tired muscles back in the hotel's Lava Spa. Start with the sauna, have an Icelandic massage, then take a long dip in the outdoor hot pool

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Fishing
  • Geysers, hot springs and waterfalls
  • Glacier and volcano hiking
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Rafting
  • Scuba diving
  • Skiing
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Wildlife

Kids

Children are welcome, and several families were staying at the hotel during our 2016 revisit, but this is not an ideal place for kids. Rooms are compact and would be crammed with a baby cot. It's best suited to older children who can make the most of local activities.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms can fit a baby cot, but there are lots of twin rooms.

Babysitting:

By arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots and high chairs.

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

Children's meals:

There's a kids' menu in the restaurant.

Families Should Know:

There are no play areas and the steep staircases and unsupervised hot pool could be safety risks.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 13 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

We absolutely loved our stay at ION - the room, the views and the food at Silfra were all fantastic. We were also pleasantly surprised to find stunning hiking trails starting from right outside ION. The staff were charming and helpful. Highly recommend.

10/10,

The staff were very helpful, the cot provided for our daughter was excellent, and the food and location absolutely amazing. Would have liked more information in the room - there wasn't a handbook with information about breakfast times and spa menu, for example. The bathroom was also pretty basic, particularly considering the room rate.

9/10,

Beautiful hotel, and we loved it. Not cheap, but that's Iceland for you.

8/10,

Service is a bit cold. Professional but no warmth whatsoever.
The restaurant is very expensive but very good. No restaurant in the area so it is your only option.

8/10,

The quiet atmosphere and amazing gourmet food really puts the Ion Hotel at the higher end of the spectrum. I loved the little details, like the cozy comforter, the coziness, the way the staff will give you a wake up call for the aurora! The cons were the lack of activities. I understand the atmosphere is more laid-back and quiet, however some sort of entertainment would really bring this place up a notch. Also the sulfur smell. After a day or so you get used to it, but I still used bottled water to rinse my mouth after brushing my teeth.
Overall I'm very happy we stayed here. It was an amazing experience.
Thank you for the deal provided.

9/10,

I had an absolutely amazing stay. The staff is so helpful and friendly and you feel at home at all times. The location is so surreal, you really feel like you are in some end of the world movie or Bond movie. Food was superb, love all the fish.

10/10,

The overall rating is positive because the location is outstanding, the pool is fantastic and the restaurant is very good.
However, we had a view on the geothermal power plant, the rooms are small, and the bill was full of mistakes. We recommend to go, but we recommend to ask for a room with "good" view and we recommend to check the bill.

8/10,

We were very disappointed by this hotel for which we had high expectations.
The location and architecture: You can get a small glimpse of the lake from one specific spot in the bar. Half of the rooms have a view to the geothermic factory. I think the building could have been set up differently to extend the positive views and avoid the industrial ones.
Size: Everything, i.e. the rooms, the pool etc are much smaller than they appear in photos
Service: When we checked in we had to wait in line for the 60 people from a bus travel group. Breakfast service was not existent because the two waiters had to care for the travel group in addition to the other guests. The bartender/waitress apparently had no reason to come to our table and ask us what drinks we would like to have, so after 15 minutes we walked to the bar to place our order.

6/10,

I absolutely loved this hotel.
The location was stunning, the communal areas of the hotel (lobby/bar/restaurant/spa) were all beautifully decorated and spotlessly clean and the staff were, generally, all very polite, helpful and efficient.
The standard rooms were to a high standard - iPads with hotel information, docking stations and a coffee machine were all great touches, and the beds were amazingly comfortable. There are only a few minor gripes about the room - the room wasn't cleaned until very late on the first day of our stay, by which time we were showering and getting ready for dinner, which meant we inevitably had to ask them to come back the following day, meaning no clean coffee cups/towels etc (though i'm sure we could have asked for some….)
Also, the mini-bar selection was very small, and for the prices we were paying, some complementary bottled water and biscuits/snacks to go with the coffee would have been nice.
Finally, the condensation on the window sills each morning was almost torrential, but again I guess that is par for the course when you're in a warm hotel room and it is sub-zero outside. I would issue a warning to other guests not to put anything on or immediately below the window sill if they are travelling in winter.
I've only scored the hotel a 4 for service, which feels a bit harsh, but it is to differentiate that it wasn't quite up to the standards of the room or the food. Service at the bar was sometimes excruciatingly slow, we waited over an hour for dinner one night (after placing our orders), and some of the reception staff could do with a bit of customer service training. All in all though, again, the service was of a good quality. My friend had a facial in the spa and said her therapist was brilliant.
Finally the food - amazing. Small dishes that are meant to be shared by the table, all from fresh local ingredients. Some of the dishes were incredible - the arctic char and the lamb were two of my favourites. The menu isn't large, and didn't change over the 3 night we stayed - any longer and we would probably have tried to eat out for dinner (not easy given the remote location….) Breakfast was also great (for an extra 15 euros), and the cocktails, though expensive, slipped down very easily.
The 10m "hot pot" and sauna beneath the bar was a real luxury. Sitting in the pool with steam rising, a cold beer in one hand and an endless snowy vista in front of you, after a day spent exploring the trails on the nearby mountains - perfection.
It is on the expensive side for what it actually offers, but then it is in Iceland, and when the hotel looks this good, the food tastes this good, and the location is this perfect, I'd pay it all over again in a flash.
I've seen some reviews which moan about the proximity of the power station. Maybe the fact that i knew it was going to be there lessened the blow, or maybe it blends in better in winter, because it did not impact on my appreciation of the place one iota. If anything, it added a bit to the atmosphere of the place. As I said, i absolutely loved it.

9/10,

Spa was great - we both had a treatment and it was very good! The food was lovely too - not a very extensive menu (only 4 choices per course) but an inventive menu. Best dessert I've ever had - chocolate mouse with cherry compote and chocolate cake frozen by liquid nitrogen and broken up over the top!
Lovely hotel with very nice staff. Very "trendy" hotel but still felt very comfortable and there was a really nice atmosphere. My only slightly negative comment is regarding the lack of information regarding getting to and from the hotel in winter that was available to us prior to visiting. The shortest road from Reykjavik is closed during the winter, and I would advise only booking this hotel in winter if you have a 4x4 and are confident in bad weather conditions as the road to the hotel is narrow, hilly and windy. It also goes over the top of a tabletop mountain (for approx 30km) so in the wind the road can quickly become impassable and is closed, leaving you trapped either at the hotel or unable to get there. Our drive back to the airport was genuinely the most terrifying experience we've ever had due to this and we are both confident experienced drivers. More info fro the hotel would have lead us to make a more informed decision when choosing the hotel - knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have booked it for January!

8/10,

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Rates for Ion Hotel