Iceland Just Got a New Luxury Hotel With Some New York Cool
Nightlife impresario Ian Schrager’s hotel group has opened a new location in the far north.
As a kid who grew up in Canada, I remember very vividly going on weekend getaways with my mother and brother and staying in little shacks in the wilderness. We would spend the day hiking, fishing, biking, or just exploring. Winter, spring, or fall, Canadian nature sometimes presents some really harsh conditions. This is when we would anticipate the most going back to our little shack to warm up with a hot chocolate. It didn’t matter that the huts were often without electricity—they would still be the place where we would regroup and enjoy each other's company, recapping and reliving all the things we did and saw.
My recent trip to Iceland to experience the new EDITION Hotel, the brand created by Studio 54 impresario Ian Schrager for Marriott, brought back these memories. But this time, I got to come back to a very chic hotel and a cosmo instead of a hot chocolate. The hotel, which just opened in November, is the latest selection for Beast Travel’s series on exciting new properties, The New Room with a View.
I flew to Iceland for the first time on the country’s flagship carrier IcelandAir, which is famous for its stopover policy, wherein you can connect in Iceland for as long as you want with no extra charge en route to Europe.
Right from the first second of entering the hotel the signature EDITION scent envelopes you. There’s a cozy bar when you first walk in with a fire sitting in the middle of the sitting area where several blankets are effortlessly thrown over every other chair. On the same ground floor is where you can find Tides, the signature restaurant of the hotel. Helmed by Michelin star awarded chef–Gunnar Karl Gíslason, the restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner where you can appreciate modern Icelandic cuisine. The restaurant contains perhaps the most photogenic spot in the property—a pentagon marble topped bar counter contrasting with a Scandi-modern coffered wood ceiling
The exterior of this EDITION is quite tame—the sort of midsize rectangular building of glass, steel, and synthetic materials you’d see in any sleek new development. But inside, the hotel has stayed true to the Edition brand of spartan luxuriousness. The palate is simple but the materials rich, with marbles, light woods, and pressed concrete. It’s a touch of glamour, but not too much that it would be out of place in Iceland. The 253 guest rooms and suites of the hotel have this almost raw earth feeling to them in their simplicity. Rounding out the complex is a rooftop bar, a spa, and, of course, an underground nightclub.
Reykjavik is a cool city, and one that certainly outdoes most cities with only 100,000 people around the world. But it can still feel small and it’s surrounded by all of Iceland’s extreme nature. However, inside the EDITION one almost feels like you’re back in a big city.
If you’re using Reykjavik as your home base, definitely give the hotel’s concierge a ring (she’s fantastic) as it can be hard sometimes to sift through what seems to be an embarrassment of riches in this scenic country.
While it is about as touristy as it gets, the Blue Lagoon is worth it. If you go early like we did it won’t be as crowded as it gets as the day rolls along. We went right after landing from overnight flight and rented a car. Hopping in first thing can help shake off some of that fatigue. Plus, the sun doesn’t rise this time of year until 10 so you’ll get to see the sunrise.
The easiest option if it’s your first time is to do the Golden Circle, a route that loops around southern Iceland. Starting in Reykjavik, early enough to be on the road before the sun is up, your first stop is Thingvellir National park where you can literally walk in between the meeting point of two tectonic plates. It is also where you can see Oxararfoss, the first waterfall of the journey if you feel like walking (don't forget good boots, you will definitely need them throughout your whole trip). If you decide to wake up a little later though, you can skip that waterfall since you will be seeing many more through the rest of the trip.
Next stop is the Geysir, cause can you really say you’ve been to Iceland without seeing the Geysir, the first ever seen by Europeans. This is followed by Gullfoss, a 32-meter-high waterfall and one of the most famous in all of Iceland. Lunch should be had at Friðheimar, a tomato farm inside a sustainable hydro- and geothermal-powered greenhouse. You will eat in the middle of the tomato plantation with a menu completely comprised of tomato dishes and with fresh basil on the table that you can cut from to add to your dishes.
From there you could stop and drive back to the EDITION for the night or stay in Vik and continue the rest of the route the next day. But if you still have time, I would recommend taking the longer loop and stopping at Reynisfjara Beach. It’s one of those places in the world whose beauty words fail to fully describe. In taking this longer loop you will end up at Skógafoss (another waterfall) and hopefully you will get there in time for golden hours while the sun sets. Finally, if you still have energy head to Seljalandsfoss (I know, another waterfall). This one can be seen in the dark as it’s lit up and you can walk behind it , which feels like the world’s coolest light installation with the artificial light filtering through the cascading water. If you do want to do a glacier hike, we used Southwest Adventure and did their Katle Ice Cave Tour. The guide was helpful and knowledgeable, and he didn’t make it feel too much like a “guided tour.”