Hotel Rangá, Iceland
A 10-foot-tall polar bear statue is not a common sight when checking into a hotel, but Hotel Rangá is not your average abode. Located a two-hour drive from Reykjavik, the hotel is southern Iceland’s only four-star resort and an ideal base for exploring outwith the busy capital.
Named after the salmon-abundant river on which it sits, Hotel Rangá is a lodge-style retreat with an award-winning restaurant and a range of continent-themed suites. Due to its rural location with pitch black winter skies, the hotel has become one of the best places to see the Northern Lights and offers a selection of services to guests keen to do so – from wake-up calls when they’re sighted to forecasts and an observatory.
Budget or boutique?
Rooms are from £286 per night, so while the hotel has a cosy, lodge feel, it’s a boutique spot in which to enjoy Iceland’s natural wonders.
Hrammur, the polar bear, gives guests an insight into the quirky nature of some of the interior design of Hotel Rangá, namely the seven suites. A log-cabin style, with 51 guest rooms in two wings connected by corridors either side of the central reception, it is mainly all on one level.
One wing is home to standard and deluxe rooms which are modestly decorated with sofas, wall-mounted TVs and, in some, Jacuzzis. At the other end of the hotel are the themed rooms, which include animal-skin wall hangings in the Africa suite and cowhide upholstery and a wall-mounted kayak in the North America suite, where it is rumoured actor Jake Gyllenhaal stayed. The eye-catching Antarctic suite is monochrome minimalist with modular furniture and life-sized model penguins; standard rooms these are not.
We stayed in the Royal Suite, which also doubles as the honeymoon suite. Homely, with local handcrafted wooden furniture, an in-room Jacuzzi, large en-suite and a spacious living room with views add to the luxury. There are also balconies, which lead to the three outdoor hot tubs.
Wining and dining
When it comes to food, the hotel prides itself on fresh, seasonal ingredients, some straight from the nearby river. There’s a tasting menu of modern Nordic cuisine, a seasonal buffet and dishes such as reindeer carpaccio with Parmesan, truffle oil and rocket. Keen to try local seafood, we enjoyed Arctic Char, Rangá seafood soup, langoustines and salmon.
Worth getting out of bed for
Nearby you’ll find volcanoes, waterfalls and glaciers and flat, quiet roads. Mount Hekla is clearly visible from the resort and, despite being the country’s most active volcano, popular with hikers.
A 40-minute drive away is the Sólheimasandur black sand beach, a tourist hot spot not just because of its otherworldliness but because it’s home to a crashed American Navy DC plane, which sits stark, eerie and slowly decaying against its sci-fi-like backdrop. On the way back to the hotel it’s worth stopping at Skógafoss waterfall before walking up some 527 steps to the observation platform above. Back at the hotel, guests can unwind in communal areas, which include a lounge-bar with river views and stargazing. A games room with pool table, board games and puzzles will keep everyone entertained and the bar may be small, but its array of spirits and drinks is large.
Photography tips, Aurora forecasts, and wake-up calls mean Northern Lights spotters can make the most of this fleeting phenomenon.
This lodge-style hotel has a wonderful river-side position and distinctive rooms.
Foodies will enjoy the restaurant’s high-end Nordic dishes and cosy bar.
Rooms at Hotel Rangá start from £282 per night including breakfast. It also offers an around the world in seven days package with nights in different themed suites.
Iceland’s Covid-19 numbers are so low the government has relaxed social distancing measures though the hotel is encouraging people to keep apart. Hotel keys and communal items are regularly sanitised. 851 Hella, Iceland (www.hotelranga.is https://www.hotelranga.is/wellness-measures)
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