- Far from civilization -- a car or four-wheel drive vehicle is required (a pro for many)
- Faint sulfur odor from hot springs
- Budget Rooms are cramped
- No mini-fridges or coffeemakers
Romantic riverfront lodging with geothermal heat
The hotel's tranquil buildings are set in a mountainous landscape along the river, with lazy plumes of steam emerging from the ground all around. A faint smell of sulfur pervades the grounds, but that's to be expected, while at night, the sound of the river has a lulling effect. The main building houses the restaurant and bright lobby, with vaulted ceilings and large windows. An animal skin rug ties a colorful seating area together with several potted plants and furs as appropriate decorative touches.
On the Varma River
The hotel is located down a winding gravel path that leads down a small hill toward the Varma River. A footbridge over the river and a nearby waterfall are the most immediate attractions, with mountain views all around the property. Many natural attractions and destinations are within relatively easy driving distances, including the dormant Hengill volcano, Thingvellir National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and Lake Pingvallavatn, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates collide in the Silfra fissure. The Skalafell Ski Area is about an hour drive from the hotel and Reykjavik -- home to the closest airport -- is about 35 minutes away by car.
Rooms with river views and flat-screen TVs
The hotel's 22 rooms are airy, with vaulted ceilings as well as windows and private entrances that face the river. Expect cool monochrome color palettes heavy on beige or grayish brown; natural wood floors and Icelandic artwork provide some warmth. A few Budget Rooms are cramped, but most rooms are large with sitting areas and desks. Superior Rooms add patios or furnished balconies with excellent views of the river. Free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs come standard along with electric kettles, but there are no coffeemakers or mini-fridges. The small tiled bathrooms have simple walk-in showers.
Outdoor pool, geothermal hot tubs, sauna, restaurant with local cuisine, and free breakfast
The river is one of the hotel's main attractions, naturally heated by the region's hot springs and warm enough to wade into depending on the season. It also provides the venue for salmon fishing, which the hotel can provide permits for. Hiking trails abound and other excursions from horseback riding to river rafting excursions can be arranged. The outdoor lap pool is heated and there are two geothermal hot tubs set along the river. There's also a geothermal sauna with an outdoor shower and Kniepp baths.
For dining, Restaurant Varma serves seasonal local delicacies -- think reindeer steak with root vegetables in a fig and bearnaise noisette, or hot smoked goose breast with brie and raspberry sauce. The restaurant makes good use of the natural heat source, baking brown bread outside in a steam-powered oven. The free breakfast includes local goods and smoked trout from northern Iceland. Guests can also boil their own free-range eggs outside in the hot springs.
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