On a quiet square in Reykjavik 101, the centre of Iceland’s increasingly hip 
capital, sits a relative newcomer to the city’s burgeoning hospitality scene. Formerly parliamentary offices and a fur shop, the Kvosin Downtown Hotel 
presents an alternative to the city’s more staid heritage offerings: pared-down luxury apartments with the services of a four-star hotel. 

The lofts carry an air of slick Scandinavian draped with Icelandic sheepskin; granite countertops and angular couches warmly accented with knotted cushions by local designer Ragnheiður Ösp Sigurðardóttir, walls adorned with monochromatic Ragnar Axelsson prints. Snorri Valsson’s staff wear tweed waistcoats with jeans, and make fresh espresso over map directions at reception. Having worked all over the city, Valsson is determined to share Reykjavik’s lesser-known secrets, taking guests beyond the tourist bustle. 

Head Concierge, Snorri Valsson
Head Concierge, Snorri Valsson
Image: Yiannis Hadjiaslanis

An unmissable piece of architecture? Our concert hall, Harpa, was designed by Olafur Eliasson. It’s huge cubes of glass, fitted with lights that dance across the facade. It was finally completed in 2009 but it was controversial spending money on it after the crash. But in a way it’s a monument to the city’s determination, finishing it despite the crisis. There’s always something happening there. There’s also the Hallgrímskirkja, the church, and some experimental homes around that area. 

An outdoor activity that’s worth doing? We don’t spend much time outside, unless you have to in the snow! But we’re very proud of our Icelandic ponies, which have two more gaits than other horses. You can go horse-riding just out of town. Laxnes Horse Farm in Mosfellsdalurjust is probably the most authentic.

Where’s the party? A new nightclub in Reykjavik is really cool for  three months – it’s always changing. For  a lovely cocktail and the occasional DJ, Loftið is a good place. Or just across the street, there’s the Lava Bar. It used to be an old strip club but they re-did it and now you can have nice cocktails and Champagne there. And there’s Slipbarinn down at the harbour, the oldest cocktail bar in Reykjavik, where the guys experiment with new flavours. 

A loft suite at the Kvosin Hotel
A loft suite at the Kvosin Hotel
Image: Yiannis Hadjiaslanis
We don’t
 spend much
 time outside
 unless you
 have to

A high-end restaurant that you have to eat at? For modern Icelandic fine  dining, Dill by chef Gunnar Gislason.  He does everything himself and there’s a story behind every ingredient. He goes out to sea in a boat and makes his own salt. For a more classic meal, there’s the Gallery restaurant at Hotel Holt, which boasts the largest privately owned art collection in Iceland.

 A cultural event you shouldn’t miss? Definitely Culture Night on the third weekend of August, the same day as the Reykjavik Marathon. People wander up and down Skólavörðustígur. There’s music, artists everywhere, the museums and galleries across town are open late, the buses are free. In the old part of town, people will invite you in for hot chocolate and waffles. It ends with fireworks near the harbour just before midnight.

Loftið
Loftið
Image: Yiannis Hadjiaslanis

What is the signature dish of the country? Lambalæri, a roasted leg of lamb. Our sheep are a special breed – they roam free in the mountains. It’s totally organic, we grill it outside with herbs.

Best secret eatery for locals? You could try Mulakaffi for lunch; it’s where the taxi drivers and cops go. It’s home-cooked, cafeteria-style food, with soups, and lamb and fish.


MUST DO
We have two beautiful geo thermal heated pools. Sit in the hot tub on  the roof, look at the sky and listen to grumpy Icelandic men talk. kvosinhotel.com

Olafur Eliasson’s glass creation
Olafur Eliasson’s glass creation
Image: Yiannis Hadjiaslanis
© Wanted 2016 - If you would like to reproduce this article please email us.