Umi Hotel

Hvolsvollur, Reykjavik & West, Iceland Book from Book from £238 per night

Minimalist design meets the great outdoors at this luxury retreat in southern Iceland, with creative cuisine and magical mountain views
Stark, grey and striking: Umi Hotel is a bold addition to the southern Icelandic landscape. The low-rise geometric structure sits in brooding isolation on a windswept plain, between craggy granite mountains and the dramatic black-sand coast. With the ominous Eyjafjallajökull volcano as a backdrop, it might seem like a hostile place, but this untamed wilderness is exactly why you're here. Glittering ice-caps, glacier-fed waterfalls and puffin-filled islands are within easy reach, yet at just 2km off the Ring Road, Umi is far less remote than it actually feels.

The hotel is a family-run operation, and married couple Siggi and Frida, their 2 grown children and the family dog Brekie welcome you with open arms. With only 28 light-filled rooms, it’s under the tour-bus radar. Sleek, modern interiors are softened with cosy rugs and natural wood, inspired by the local landscape. Huge picture windows offer a breathtaking view, whether you’re warming up in the well-stocked bar or sitting down for an à la carte dinner. There's a whole host of activities on offer, from ice-climbing and fishing to horse riding and helicopter tours. However you spend your time, this is ideal for couples, families or friends looking for a stylish base to explore the Icelandic wilderness. We can't wait to visit.

Highs

    • The beautiful, lonely setting with rugged scenery all around; a great base for exploring southern Iceland
    • We love the cool, contemporary design with lots of glass and stunning views from every room
    • Top-class Icelandic cuisine in the restaurant (cured reindeer in Flóki whisky, lobster tail soup with seaweed) and a delicious breakfast buffet
    • Unpolluted skies are ideal conditions for the Northern Lights, and for admiring the midnight sun in summer
    • Staff work hard to make your stay special

Lows

  • You'll need a car here
  • Mattresses are on the firm side
  • Luxurious bathrooms have walk-in showers, which means water on the floor
  • Nightlife is limited to the hotel bar, restaurant and starry skies; there's nothing else around
  • Book ahead; south-coast hotels get booked up quickly, especially in June-August

Best time to go

The south coast is the warmest part of Iceland, but only by a degree or so. High season is summer (June to August) when the days are long and temperatures average around 11C. By September, visitor numbers start to diminish – as do the hours of daylight. The darker months are ideal for winter activities and spotting the Northern Lights. Whatever time of year you visit, it’s important to pack for all seasons and dress in layers as weather conditions can change rapidly.

Our top tips

Umi is located at the foot of Eyjafjallajökull – the infamous volcano that brought European air space to a standstill when it erupted in 2010. For an exhilarating experience, book a helicopter trip and fly over the now-dormant crater. The views of southern Iceland are truly spectacular.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 28
  • 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
Room:

Rooms

The 28 rooms are sleek but simple with everything you need for a comfortable stay. All feature extra-long beds and contemporary ensuite bathrooms with walk-in showers or bathtubs. Thoughtful details include full-length mirrors, electric kettles, bathrobes and organic Sóley toiletries made with wild herbs.

Superior rooms are the largest, with added luxuries such as Nespresso machines, Marshall Bluetooth speakers, hair straighteners and slippers. With enough room to fit a baby cot and a rollaway bed, they're the best option for families or those planning to stay a few days.

All rooms have large windows with stunning views of the mountains or out towards the ocean in the distance. Opening the curtains will inspire awe whichever direction you face, but we think the mountain views look more interesting. What’s more, if the Northern Lights make an appearance you’ll be able to see them from your bed.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The double-height restaurant is an elegant space, with floor-to-ceiling windows for dinner with a spectacular view. The menu is equally impressive (just as well, given the isolated location) featuring fresh local ingredients, creatively prepared and presented.

Start with Icelandic beef carpaccio, cured reindeer in Flóki whisky or creamy lobster tail soup with seaweed. For mains, you might choose beef steak grilled on Icelandic lava stones, fresh water salmon cooked sous-vide or wild mushroom ragout with sautéed asparagus and a chanterelles-dill sauce. If you’ve got space for dessert, the chocolate ‘lava’ cake with vanilla parfait sounds divine, or head to the bar for a relaxed nightcap (the Blue Lagoon Martinis come highly recommended).

Unusually for Iceland, breakfast is included in the price and is a help-yourself spread of Full English and Continental options. From homemade bread and cereal to fresh fruit, cheese and Skyr (deliciously creamy Icelandic yoghurt), you’ll be set up for a day of adventure.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity: Surroundings

Activities

  • Walk to the coast (1km) to explore the empty black volcanic beach; it’s eerily beautiful and much quieter than those near Vík
  • Sign up for some activities from the hotel's tour desk; you might find yourself snowmobiling across a glacier, ziplining over a canyon or on a super-Jeep adventure
  • Gaze in awe at the thundering waterfalls of Skógafoss (10.5km) or Seljalandsfoss (23km). If you're steady on your feet, the hidden cascade of Nauthúsagil (33km) is reached by a thrilling 1.5km scramble along a ravine - wear sensible shoes and be prepared to get wet!
  • Take the 35-minute ferry from Landeyjahöfn (36km) to the fascinating Westman Islands; the 15 volcanic islets are a haven for sea birds, including puffins
  • Just west of Vík (41km), Reynisfjara black beach has towering basalt columns, while the huge lava arch of Dyrhólaey is battered by crashing waves
  • Visit the high-tech LAVA Centre (43km) for an interactive multimedia journey through Iceland’s volcanic and seismic life

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Caving
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Rafting
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Snowmobiling (in Winter)
  • Trekking
  • Whale watching
  • Wildlife

Kids

Families are very welcome. There are toys for youngsters, but no specific children's areas. The hotel is a good base for half-day trips, with lots to see within a short distance. Kids will enjoy the buffet breakfast and the restaurant can provide simple dishes like pasta with meatballs for lunch or dinner.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms can accommodate a baby cot (available free of charge). The more spacious Superior rooms have space for a rollaway bed, too, making them ideal for families of 4.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chairs

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

Kids Activities nearby:

  • The beach (1km)
  • Snowmobiling
  • Ziplining and Super Jeep adventures
  • Puffin spotting

Distances:

  • Airport: 2.5-3 hours (Reykjavik)
  • Shops and restaurants: 10-minute drive (10km) to the nearest restaurant and a small convenience store; 40-minute drive to larger shops in Vik and Hvolsvöllur
  • Hospital: 1 hour (90km)
Kid Friendly:

Location

Umi Hotel is set on a windswept plain on the south coast of Iceland. It's 2km off the NR1 Ring Road, in the region of Hvolsvöllur. The drive from Reykjavík takes about 2 hours (150km).

By Air:
Fly into Keflavik International and ask to be picked up by the hotel, or hire a car. We'd suggest a 4x4 so you can venture onto the region's smaller gravel roads. Snow tires are essential in the winter months.

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

Airports:

  • Keflavík International 190.0 km KEF

Other:

  • Beach 1.0 km
  • Shops 10.0 km
  • Restaurant 10.0 km

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