Apotek Hotel – Sumptuous stay at a historic pharmacy in a buzzy downtown location.
Located in the heart of Reykjavik, this hotel nestles inside one of Reykjavik’s oldest historic buildings, the Reykjavikurapótek (the city’s main pharmacy). The exterior was designed by former state architect Guðjón Samúelsson – who also designed the Hallgrímskirkja church – and the décor is a blend of original Art Nouveau features (elegant marble staircase and curved walls), neutral tones, and original artwork by sculptor Gudmundur Einarsson. The spacious rooms are decked out in soothing beiges, greys, and creams. In keeping with the building’s history, the resident “pharmacists” mix medicinal-themed cocktails at the hotel bar. The on-site restaurant is one of the best in town and the service is young, friendly, and multilingual.
Apotek Hotel – Location
- Address: Austurstræti 16.
- Area: Apotek Hotel is as central as can be, right opposite the green Austurvollur square and off the pedestrianized Austurstræti street. There are several restaurants and bars within a couple of minutes’ walk from the hotel. Laugavegur shopping street is a 5-minute stroll (0.2 mile) away, and so are attractions such as Settlement Exhibition, National Gallery of Iceland, and Reykjavik Art Museum (Hafnarhus branch). Other main attractions are also within easy walking distance.
- How to Get There: Flybus offers convenient bus/shuttle transfers from Reykjavik’s Keflavik Airport to your hotel (31 miles, 50-minute drive), with shuttle drop-off at most downtown locations. It costs 3,299kr (around US$26) one way. Alternatively, 4-seater taxis from the airport cost a set fee of 15,000kr (around US$126).
- Handy to: Reykjavik Museum of Photography, National Gallery of Iceland, Settlement Exhibition.
Apotek Hotel – The Basics
- Ages: Guests tend to be mostly couples on a city break. The hotel welcomes families but doesn’t have much in the way of family-friendly facilities.
- View: Rooms look out onto the pedestrianized Austurstræti street or else have partial views of Austurvollur square.
- Private Pools/Jacuzzis: No private pools or jacuzzis.
- Laundry: In-room laundry service available at an extra charge.
- Parking: No parking on-site.
- Wi-Fi: Complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the property.
- Extras: Turn-down service, a concierge to arrange your stay according to your interests, Nespresso machines and Bluetooth speakers in all the rooms.
- When to Book: Reserve around 8 months in advance for the summer high season (mid-June to late August) as well Christmas/New Year. The rest of the year, it’s still a good idea to book several months in advance since Iceland is a year-round destination.
- How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
- Phone: +354 512 9000
- Email: [email protected]
- Website: keahotels.is
Apotek Hotel – Amenities
- Pool: No pool.
- Spa: No spa on-site, but guests have access to the spa and hot tub at the sister Hotel Borg next door (50m, 1-minute walk). Open 10 am to 8 pm.
- Fitness Center: No fitness center. Guests can use the gym at Hotel Borg. Open 6 am to 8 pm.
- For Disabled Guests: Two specially adapted rooms for guests with limited mobility, plus an elevator.
- For Families: Child-minding services can be arranged at an extra cost and baby cots and rollaway beds are also available.
Apotek Hotel – Food and Drink
- Restaurant: Kitchen + Bar mixes Icelandic and European cuisine with a hot Argentinian grill in a stylish space that used to be a pharmacy on the ground floor of the hotel. Lots of dishes designed for sharing and there are good lunch specials. Open 11:30 am-11 pm Monday to Thursday, 11.30 am-midnight Friday and Saturday, and noon-11 pm on Sunday. $$$.
- Lounge/Bar: Attached to the restaurant is a terrific cocktail bar where, in keeping with the hotel’s history, award-winning ‘pharmacists’ mix bespoke cocktails (divided into ‘painkiller’, ‘stimulant’, ‘placebo’, and ‘tranquilizer’ categories) as well as more standard ones. Open during restaurant hours.
- Breakfast: An excellent buffet breakfast costs 2,800kr (around US$22). There’s an emphasis on Icelandic products, plus sausages, bacon and egg dishes, Icelandic flatbread topped with smoked lamb, a range of cereals, and a bagel station. Served in the Apotek Restaurant from 7-10 am.
- Room Service: Available during restaurant hours. Breakfast in bed can be arranged.
Apotek Hotel – Rooms
- Room Types: Single Room • Double Room • Superior Room • Deluxe Room • Junior Suite • Tower Suite
- Smoking Rooms: Apotek Hotel is 100% smoke-free.
- Best Room: The triplex Tower Suite is by far the most spacious and comes with a large living area and deep soaking tub in the bathroom, as well as standard features found in all the rooms (Nespresso machine, minibar, rain shower, desk, satellite TV, Bluetooth speaker).
- For Families: No family rooms per se but children can be accommodated in all the rooms apart from singles.
Apotek Hotel – Local Transport
- Walking: Most of Reykjavik’s attractions are within a 20-minute walking radius from the hotel, as are most restaurants and bars.
- Taxis, Uber: Taxis to the airport cost US$126. Taxi prices around town are high (around US$8.50 per km) and most visitors won’t use them much as the city is very walkable. Tipping is not required. It’s worth downloading the handy Hreyfill bæjarleiðir app if you’re going to use taxis. There’s no Uber in Iceland.
- Public Bus: A network of Stræto buses runs from the centrally located Hlemmur bus station (0.8 mile, 18-minute walk from the hotel) to Reykjavik’s suburbs. Single fare is 480kr (around US$3.70) and you can buy tickets on the bus or online using the handy app (which also helps you plan your journey). If you buy the Reykjavik City Card online or from the tourist office, it includes unlimited bus travel in the Reykjavik area as well as free entry to various museums. While most of Reykjavik’s attractions are in the city center, you may use buses to get out to Reykjavik Zoo, Botanic Gardens, or the Ásmundarsaft branch of the Reykjavik Art Museum.
Apotek Hotel – What’s Nearby?
Recommended Nearby Tours
- Northern Lights – During the winter months, most outdoor adventure companies in town offer evening jaunts into the countryside to try and spot the eerie ribbons of the aurora borealis unfurling across the sky. Trips last around 4 hours and depart at 9 or 10 pm. Start location: Hotel pickup.
- Horseback Riding – Ride sturdy little Icelandic horses through lava fields. Several stables near Reykjavik offer horseback riding jaunts for all levels of experience, ranging from 90-minute outings to multi-day trips through the countryside. Recommended operators include Laxnes, Islenski Hesturinn, and Reykjavik Riding Center. Start location: Hotel pickup available.
- Glacier Walking and Ice Climbing – Year-round adventures on the Sólheimajökull glacier. Icelandic Mountain Guides and Arctic Adventures run popular day trips to the most accessible part of the immense Mýrdalsjökull glacier. You can choose between walking on the glacier, exploring the ice cave under the Katla Volcano, or combining the two. Ice-climbing jaunts run from September to April and you need to be fit. Start location: Hotel pickup.
- Inside the Volcano – This adventure tour outfitter runs day trips inside the dormant Þríhnúkagígur volcano, a 3-hour ride from the city. Groups hike for an hour to the crater and then take the elevator 120m down into a 4,000-year-old magma chamber that once bubbled with lava. Over-12s only. Start location: Hotel pickup.
- Citywalk – Runs free history and culture walking tours that take in the city’s main sights, as well as pub crawls. Start location: Depends on the tour.
- Haunted Walk – Super-popular walking tours that delve into Icelandic folklore and take visitors ghost-spotting. Start location: Restaurant Reykjavik, on the corner of Aðalstræti and Vesturgata. 3-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Reykjavik City Library – Runs the fun 90-minute Dark Deeds tour that focuses on crime fiction set in Reykjavik. Start location: 4-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Whale-watching and Puffin-spotting – Departing from the old harbor, numerous boat companies run whale and puffin-watching tours year-round. There are more departures during the summer months when whale sightings are more common. Recommended companies include Reykjavik Sailors and Whale Safari. Alternatively, sail in the reconstructed Viking longboat, Gaukstad, with Reykjavik Viking Adventure. Start location: 8-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Omnom Chocolate – Reykjavik’s gourmet chocolate factory. Come and find out how Iceland’s bean to bar chocolate is made and taste numerous unusual flavors, from sea salt to licorice, black and burnt barley, drunk raisins, and coffee. Tours take place at 2 pm on weekdays and last around an hour; book online at least 1 day in advance. Start location: 22-minute walk (1 mile).
- Blue Lagoon – Iceland’s most famous thermal springs. Incredibly popular, the steaming teal waters of Blue Lagoon fill up with visitors who paint themselves with the mineral-rich white mud. The hot springs are an easy day trip from Reykjavik, and you can even go for a soak just before catching your flight home since it’s right near the airport. Book your slot online well ahead; evenings and early mornings are least crowded. Several pickup locations around town. 50-minute drive (31 miles).
Best Nearby Restaurants
- Grillmarkaðurinn – All volcanic rock, dark wood, and glass, the Grill Market particularly excels at meat and seafood dishes cooked over the coals of their custom-made grill. Most ingredients are sourced from local farmers and there are stellar cocktails to boot. 1-minute walk (100m).
- Shalimar – Fiery curries and other authentic Pakistani dishes served in cozy, homey surrounds. 2-minute walk (150m).
- Icelandic Street Food – Tiny, casual eatery serving pancakes, fish stew, and lamb and shellfish soup in a bread bowl. You can take the food into Icelandic Craft Bar, the sister establishment next door. 2-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Messinn – Pan-fried catch of the day, accompanied by buttery potatoes and salad, is the specialty at this casual, homey restaurant. Particularly popular at lunchtime. 2-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Fiskmarkaðurinn – At ‘Fish Market’, the menu is succinct and well-executed, from lumpfish roe with fermented potatoes and bitter-lemon-glazed Arctic char to elaborate sushi rolls and tempura. The creative desserts hit the spot, the setting is stylish yet understated, and the cocktails are terrific. 2-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Tapas Barinn – Barcelona meets Iceland at this trendy tapas bar. Choose between traditional Spanish offerings and Icelandic tapas such as smoked puffin with blueberry/Brennevin sauce and pan-fried blue ling. Excellent wine selection. 3-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Fiskfélagið – Fish is the star at ‘Fish Company’, with each dish given the global treatment: Mexican-style tuna seared with chipotle, Icelandic gravlax with a dash of Brennivin firewater, Fijian-style coconut lobster soup. 4-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Matur og Drykkur – Attached to the Saga Museum, this smart bistro serves inventive takes on traditional Icelandic recipes. Expect the likes of lamb with smoked almonds, salt cod with rutabaga mash, and skyr (Icelandic yogurt) with caramel and an Arctic thyme biscuit. Book ahead for dinner. 13-minute walk (0.7 mile).
- Grandi Mathöll – Pioneering street food hall by the harbor. This refurbished fish factory has been transformed into Reykjavik’s first food hall. Choose between traditional Icelandic cuisine (such as smoked lamb) and Vietnamese and Korean street food, pair smoked seafood with bubbles, and wash it all down with quality coffee, craft beer on tap, or wine. 17-minute walk (0.8 mile).
Best Nearby Cafes and Tea Shops
- The Laundromat Café – Hipster café with a “save the world” vibe and a crowd-pleasing menu that includes blueberry pancakes, acai bowls, pulled duck burgers, and club sandwiches. Wash it down with coffee, cocktails, or homemade lemonade. 1-minute walk (75m).
- Te og Kaffi Micro Roast – This coffee roastery specializes in numerous ways of coffee brewing and favors small batch coffees. Numerous gourmet teas also. 2-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Kaffitár – This Icelandic coffee roaster has 5 branches around the city and is known for its ecological practices as well as specialty coffees from around the world. Freshly made cakes and pastries also. Great place to sit with a laptop. 4-minute walk (0.2 mile).
Best Nearby Bars and Breweries
- Klaustur Bar – Inside Kvosin Downtown Hotel, this classy establishment takes the study of hops, wines, and spirits seriously. Particularly renowned for its craft martinis with fresh fruit and herbs, though there are also rotating Icelandic craft brews on tap as well as carefully selected wines. 2-minute walk (150m).
- Icelandic Craft Bar – This super-central bar focuses exclusively on Icelandic brews, with 6 on tap and 14 bottled beers from Börg, Einstök, Víking, and the rarer Austri from east Iceland. If you’re hungry, you can bring food here from Icelandic Street Food, its sister restaurant next door. Occasional live music in the basement. 2-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Skúli Craft Bar – Arguably Iceland’s classiest and best craft beer bar, with up to 14 local brews on tap, mostly from the award-winning Borg brewery. Come during the happy hour (2-7pm) to take advantage of the cheaper prices. Brews to try include the experimental Leifur, Úlfur IPA, and Garún (imperial stout). 2-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- MicroBar – One of the oldest craft beer bars in Iceland, MicroBar has 10 local draughts on tap from the Gæðingur brewery in north Iceland, as well as several bottled beers from all over the world. Darker, stronger brews are best here. Can’t make up your mind? Try the beer flight. 3-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Kaffibarinn – Pass through the door decorated with a London Underground sign to enter one of the city’s hippest bars, part-owned by Damon from Blur. The candlelit interior, some of the longest happy hours in Reykjavik (3-8 pm), on-point DJs, and a great selection of beers, shots, and more makes this a good place for a drink anytime. 6-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Kolabrautin – Apart from the stellar location overlooking the harbor from the top of the Harpa Concert Hall, multi-level Kolabrautin is particularly good for exotic cocktails. The attached restaurant is terrific as well, with a short but sweet menu of Icelandic-Italian fusion dishes. 8-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Slippbarinn – Iceland’s first cocktail bar, inside the Hotel Reykjavik Marina, has a frequently changing cocktail menu that includes both traditional favorites and original creations such as the mezcal and vermouth-infused Smokin’ Aces and 21st Century, with house-made birch and cacao liqueur. Occasional live jazz. 8-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Papaku – This colorful, Hawaiian-themed beach bar in the heart of Reykjavik is all about tropical cocktails. There’s a tiny dance floor as well for those who want to shake it to reggae and dub beats. 9-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Bryggjan Brugghús – This independent brewery by the harbor takes its beers seriously. There’s a daily “beer academy” where you can learn all about their craft, and 30-minute beer tours, complete with flights of their top brews. Don’t miss the Paint It Black stout, the fruity yet bitter IPA, or the spiced Mashing Pumpkins red ale. There’s a bistro here as well. 13-minute walk (0.7 mile).
Nearby Shopping and Cool Shops
- Icewear – Locally designed outdoor gear and wool apparel, from handmade woolen sweaters to insulated waterproof jackets and Gore-tex hiking boots. 1-minute walk (100m).
- Rammagerdin – One of the city’s best souvenir shops. Plenty of woolen goods, T-shirts with unique designs made from recycled materials, Iceland-inspired lava jewelry, lava salt, and more. Several branches around the city. 5-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Gullkúnst Helgu – Original jewelry by a local designer, incorporating lava into earrings, pendants, rings, and more. 6-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Ófeigur – Bespoke gold and silverwork. Master craftsman Björnsson designs unique silver and gold jewelry inset with lava and other natural materials. His wife is a dressmaker and you can find her creations and accessories here as well. 6-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- 66° North – With 3 stores in downtown Reykjavik, 66º North has been designing quality outdoor gear since 1926. Parkas, windbreakers, hiking pants, fleeces, and more. 7-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Hrim – Creative Scandinavian design store. This is mostly funky, beautifully made kitchenware, from cheese boards to wine glasses. Also some nifty gifts such as raven-shaped lamps. 8-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Geysir – Icelandic woolen goodies and more. Come here for traditional Icelandic sweaters and blankets as well as more contemporary designs. Also sells men’s and women’s shoes and accessories. 8-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Smekkleysa – Legendary record store and infamous record label. “Bad Taste” is all about punk rock and other alternative music, and singer Björk is one of the label’s founders. Music aside, Smekkleysa sells poetry, novels, and offbeat greeting cards. 8-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- 12 Tónar – Independent record store. Come to this 2-story shop and independent record label for a complimentary espresso, a chat with local musicians, and a browse through stacks of Icelandic and international vinyl. 8-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Orrifinn – Unique, Icelandic-themed jewelry. Inspired by Iceland’s landscape and history, this jeweler specializes in delicate pendants and rings involving axes, keys, serpents, anchors, and more. 8-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Epal Icelandic Design – Quirky Icelandic gifts. Apart from the obligatory collection of woolen sweaters, lava salt shakers, and mint candy that promises to “make you sing like Björk”, Epal stocks Icelandic black humor by local cartoonist Dagsson and various other unusual gifts. 8-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Aftur – Eco-aware local designer. Sleek, urban designer apparel for men and women, with an emphasis on recycling and upcycling. Current owner also handpicks clothing and accessories by labels that share her aesthetics. 10-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Reykjavik Art Museum – Contemporary Icelandic art. Spread over 3 locations, this terrific museum presents the best of contemporary Icelandic talent, from installations and abstract sculptures to paintings, photos, and videos. The Hafnarhús – a soaring steel and concrete exhibition space – is the most central of the three. 3-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- National Gallery of Iceland – The most comprehensive collection of Icelandic art. The bright marble galleries display some of the museum’s 10,000 pieces on rotation and there are frequent special exhibitions by the likes of Sigurjón Ólafsson, Jóhannes Kjarval, and other prominent Icelandic artists. 6-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Harpa Concert Hall – Award-winning music venue. With its many facets glistening on the waterfront, Harpa combines striking modern architecture with terrific acoustics. It is home to the Icelandic Opera and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, and hosts numerous music festivals such as Dark Music Days, Reykjavik Jazz Festival, and Reykjavik Midsummer Music. Even if you don’t attend a concert, it’s well worth taking one of the daily guided tours of the building. 8-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Saga Museum – Icelandic history comes to life here. Walk your way through centuries of Iceland’s turbulent history since its first settlement by Norsemen in the 9th century AD. Key moments, including the devastation wreaked by the Black Death, are brought to life by the realistic-looking tableaux of mannequins, and visitors can play dress-up too. 12-minute walk (0.6 mile).
- Sun Voyager – Head for the waterfront to check out the Sun Voyager, Reykjavik’s iconic sculpture, an almost ethereal Viking longboat by artist Jón Gunnar Árnason. The artist’s intention was to convey the promise of undiscovered territory, freedom, and hope. It’s also a favorite spot for sunset-watching, with snow-capped mountains in the distance. 13-minute walk (0.7 mile).
- Hallgrímskirkja – Reykjavik’s iconic church. Built between 1945 and 1986, this striking white-concrete church dominates the hilltop in central Reykjavik. Inside, this Lutheran church is rather austere but worth a peek for its impressive 5,275-pipe organ. Take the elevator up the 74.5m-high tower for fantastic panoramic views of the city. 14-minute walk (0.6 mile).
- National Museum of Iceland – The history of Iceland from the earliest Nordic settlement to the present day. This excellent museum is the perfect starting point for getting a handle on the country’s history and culture, from the Making of a Nation exhibition to a wealth of historical artifacts such as elaborately carved drinking horns, weapons, and household objects through the ages. 14-minute walk (0.6 mile).
- Reykjavik City Museum – Beautifully presented archaeological museum centered on a 10th-century Viking longhouse. Digital technology is used to bring the past to life and interactive multimedia tables put artifacts such as fish-oil lamps and iron axes into context. 14-minute walk (0.7 mile).
- Reykjavik Maritime Museum – Iceland’s seafaring heritage. This former fish-freezing factory celebrates Iceland’s centuries-old relationship with the sea, from Viking voyages to the country’s lifeblood – it’s fishing industry. Learn about piracy and daring coastguard rescues, and check out the dried cod. Occasional guided tours aboard the coastguard ship Óðinn. 14-minute walk (0.7 mile).
- Whales of Iceland – The largest whale museum in Europe. Stroll under the lifesize models of 23 species of whales that you’re likely to encounter in Icelandic waters, from bowhead to blue whales, sperm whales, and the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. Well worth downloading the museum’s app before you visit. 18-minute walk (1 mile).
Nearby Market or Grocery Store
- Kolaportid Flea Market – Enormous flea and food market. Held on weekends in a massive industrial building by the waterfront, this market has numerous stalls selling vintage clothing, old toys, and assorted bric-à-brac. The food stalls are a good place to sample such traditional delicacies as rúgbrauð (geothermally-baked rye bread) and hákarl (fermented shark). 3-minute walk (0.2 mile).