ION City Hotel – Design-led Scandi sophistication on bustling Laugavegur steet.
This hip urban retreat, right on Reykjavik’s high street, offers panoramic views of the mountains from its top floor and plenty of natural light in all the rooms. There’s a nod to Iceland’s natural wonders in the design-savvy aesthetic: bathroom walls studded with lava stones, bird’s nest lighting, floors made of recycled wood, and saunas on the balconies of some suites to let guests enjoy the great outdoors from the privacy of their rooms. There’s a strong emphasis on creature comforts: excellent beds, Egyptian cotton linens, smart TVs, Nespresso coffee machines, and spacious bathrooms stocked with organic toiletries. The on-site restaurant specializes in Icelandic, Lebanese, and Moroccan fusion, plus creative cocktails, and the service is multilingual and helpful.
ION City Hotel – Location
- Address: Laugavegur 28.
- Area: Halfway along Reykjavik’s main pedestrianized shopping street, Laugavegur, ION City Hotel is in a super-central location. It’s a 6-minute walk (0.3 mile) to the waterfront, ideally placed for shopping, and just a few minutes’ walk from dozens of restaurants and bars. Old Reykjavik, with its museums, bars, and restaurants, is a 6-minute stroll (0.3 mile) away, while the Old Harbour with its whale and puffin boat tours is about 13 minutes’ walk (0.7 mile).
- How to Get There: Flybus offers convenient bus/shuttle transfers from Reykjavik’s Keflavik Airport to your hotel (30 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: Hallgrímskirkja, Sun Voyager, Icelandic Phallological Museum.
ION City Hotel – The Basics
- Ages: This is largely an adult hotel and the majority of travelers tend to be couples on a city break or romantic vacation. Families with children are welcome, but there are few family-friendly facilities.
- View: Rooms look out over the pedestrianized Laugavegur shopping street, with rooms higher up benefitting from views of the harbor, while some overlook the street behind the hotel.
- Private Pools/Jacuzzis: No private pools or jacuzzis.
- Laundry: In-room laundry service available at extra charge.
- Parking: No parking on-site, but street parking is available nearby.
- Wi-Fi: Free Wi-Fi throughout the property.
- Extras: Turn-down service, complimentary bubbly on arrival, dedicated concierge service.
- 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: +354 578 3730
- Email: [email protected]
- Website: ioncity.ioniceland.is
ION City Hotel – Amenities
- Pool: No pool.
- Spa: No spa on-site, though the suites come with private saunas.
- Fitness Center: Small fitness center in the basement with running machines and weights. Open 24/7.
- For Disabled Guests: Deluxe rooms have accessible bathrooms, though the rooms themselves aren’t specially adapted. There’s an elevator, too.
- For Families: Cots and high chairs are available free of charge, strollers can be provided, and babysitting services can be arranged at an extra cost.
- Activities: The hotel has an Ion Adventures team which can arrange tailormade outdoor adventures for the duration of your stay.
ION City Hotel – Food and Drink
- Restaurant: Sumac is where Icelandic seasonal ingredients meet Lebanese and Moroccan spices and cooking techniques. Perch at the counter of the open kitchen and watch the chefs at work, or get assorted meze – harissa chicken wings, grilled eggplant with pomegranate, deep-fried cod cheeks with sumac aioli – for the whole table. $$-$$$. Open 5.30-11 pm Tuesday to Thursday, 3-11 pm Friday and Saturday.
- Lounge/Bar: The bar at Sumac serves terrific original cocktails as well as tipples from an interesting wine list, with wines from Lebanon, France, Spain, and Austria.
- Breakfast: Not complimentary. The breakfast spread costs 2,960kr (around US$23) and consists of an a la carte selection of mueslis, jams, cold cuts, breads, and pancakes. Served in Sumac from 7-10 am.
- Room Service: Available until 10 pm.
ION City Hotel – Rooms
- Room Types: Classic Double • Deluxe Double • Junior Suite • Suite with City View • Suite with Panoramic Sea View
- Smoking Rooms: ION City Hotel is 100% smoke-free.
- Best Room: Double the size of a standard room, the Panorama Suite comes with a vast open-plan living area and dining room, free-standing soaking tub in the bedroom, private sauna in the bathroom, and panoramic views of the harbor from its lofty location. All rooms come with window sofas, complimentary minibars, Nespresso machines, tea-making facilities, B&O Bluetooth speakers, smart TVs, luxurious linen, designer bathrobes and slippers, and organic toiletries.
- For Families: No family rooms per se.
ION City 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 (0.4 mile, 9-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.
ION City 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. 11-minute walk (0.5 mile).
- Reykjavik City Library – Runs the fun 90-minute Dark Deeds tour that focuses on crime fiction set in Reykjavik. Start location: 11-minute walk (0.5 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: 15-minute walk (0.7 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 (30 miles).
Best Nearby Restaurants
- Austur-Indíafélagið – The world’s northernmost Indian restaurant combines Icelandic ingredients such as Arctic char with Indian cooking techniques – with spectacular results. Sultry décor, generous portions, and popular with families and groups. 2-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Krua Thai – Informal, busy Thai restaurant with upstairs dining area, serving up some authentic Thai heat in the form of curries, soups, and stir-fries. Popular with families and good value. 3-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Dill – Iceland’s sole Michelin-starred restaurant, Dill embraces ‘New Nordic’ cuisine and takes Icelandic ingredients to new heights. Dine on a 5 and 7-course tasting menu at the bar overlooking the open kitchen or at a candlelit table. Reservations essential. 4-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Snaps Bistro – Unpretentious French bistro, hugely popular with locals for its steak béarnaise with French fries and seafood bouillabaisse. Lunch specials are a bargain and the glassed-in porch is a top spot for brunch. 5-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- ROK – Right near the Hallgrímskirkja, this small timber house with a popular outdoor terrace specializes in high-concept small plates and sharing dishes (cured reindeer, Icelandic char, wild mushroom risotto, slow-cooked beef tacos), paired with local craft beer and a carefully chosen wine list. The tasting menus are worth the splurge and it has champagne happy hours from 4-7 pm daily. Buzzy and popular with groups, so book ahead. 5-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Kol – Icelandic comfort food with an international twist, Kol does wonderful things with largely local ingredients. Standout dishes include lamb sirloin with honey-pickled rutabaga, Icelandic scallops with dill mayo, and beef tenderloin with black garlic. Splurge on the tasting menu and don’t miss the terrific cocktails. 6-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- 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. 7-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- 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. 7-minute walk (0.4 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. 10-minute walk (0.5 mile).
Best Nearby Cafes
- Sandholt – Arguably the most popular bakery/café in the city. Fresh croissants, pastries, baguettes, and sandwiches are all on offer here, as well as beautiful, elaborate cakes and good coffee. 1-minute walk (100m).
- 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).
- Reykjavik Roasters – This minimalist coffee shop near the Hallgrímskirkja imports its Fair Trade beans directly from Nicaragua and Colombia and roasts them on-site. Great pastries, too. 5-minute walk (0.2 mile).
Best Nearby Bars and Breweries
- Dillon Whiskey Bar – Atmospheric watering hole with over 170 whiskeys to choose from around the globe. There’s live music 3-4 nights a week (no cover charge) and a beloved local DJ on Saturdays. 1-minute walk (25m).
- Lebowski Bar – Fun and grungy watering hole named after the iconic movie. Order a White Russian and check out the Americana adorning the walls. 1-minute walk (100m).
- 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. 2-minute walk (100m).
- Ölstofa – Friendly neighborhood pub and local fixture since 2002, with over 25 local and international beers to choose from, decent selection of whiskies, and a mellow atmosphere. You may even spot the odd Icelandic celeb here. No photography. 3-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- BrewDog Reykjavik – The Frakkastígur branch of the hugely popular Scottish craft beer empire that’s always experimenting and offering new creations. Their Punk AF IPA and Vagabond Pale are justifiably popular, or you can opt for their range of OverWorks Wild and Sour beers. 3-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Port 9 – Wide selection of hand-picked wines from all over Europe and the Americas, a small-plate menu, cozy seating, and an intimate atmosphere. 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. 3-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- 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. 7-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- 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. 9-minute walk (0.4 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. 10-minute walk (0.5 mile).
Nearby Shopping and Cool Shops
- Hrim – Creative Scandinavian design store. This is mostly funky, beautifully made kitchenware like cheese boards and wine glasses. Also some nifty gifts such as raven-shaped lamps. 1-minute walk (50m).
- 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. 1-minute walk (100m).
- Mál og Menning – Terrific independent bookshop. 3-story Icelandic institution, with an excellent selection of English-language books on Iceland’s history, nature, and culture. Also, international titles covering all major genres. 2-minute walk (100m).
- 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. 3-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Gullkúnst Helgu – Original jewelry by a local designer, incorporating lava into earrings, pendants, rings, and more. 3-minute walk (0.1 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. 4-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- 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. 4-minute walk (0.2 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. 4-minute walk (0.2 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. 4-minute walk (0.2 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. 4-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Icewear – Locally designed outdoor gear and wool apparel, from handmade woolen sweaters to insulated waterproof jackets and Gore-tex hiking boots. 5-minute walk (0.2 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. 5-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Culture House – This 1908 building hosts a terrific exhibition on Iceland’s cultural and artistic heritage, from early settlement to the present day. Look out for priceless 14th-century manuscripts and the skeleton of the now-extinct great auk. Changing contemporary art exhibitions, too. 4-minute walk (0.2 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. 7-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Einar Jónsson Museum – Works by Iceland’s first sculptor. Drawing inspiration from Icelandic folklore, Jónsson was particularly renowned for his intense symbolist works, some of which are scattered around central Reykjavik. Look out for Outlaws, The Birth of Psyche, and Fate. Don’t miss the sculpture garden out back. 7-minute walk (0.3 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. 8-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Icelandic Phallological Museum – Huge collection of penises. This unique, educational museum is home to pickled and petrified manhoods representing all Icelandic land mammals as well as ones further afield – porpoises, polar bears, walruses, blue whales, etc. Look out for silver castings of all members of the Icelandic handball team. 9-minute walk (0.4 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. 9-minute walk (0.5 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. 10-minute walk (0.5 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. 10-minute walk (0.5 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. 10-minute walk (0.5 mile).
Nearby Markets or Grocery Stores
- Bónus – Handy small supermarket along Laugavegur street. 4-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- 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). 10-minute walk (0.5 mile).