Where to stay in Iceland
Reykjavík offers a good choice of hotels, from budget to five-star. Elsewhere, the choice is more limited, with only a handful of luxury hotels outside the capital and often little choice in rural areas. Hotels, however, have good standards of cleanliness and comfort and some are world-class in their design.
Grading: Classification for all accommodation types in Iceland is voluntary and ranges from 5 star (luxurious) to 1 star (basic). It is managed by the Icelandic Tourist Board. Visitors should look for a blue and red sign near the entrance for the current grading. For further details on accommodation contact the Icelandic Tourist Board.
Bed and breakfast
These are available in the larger towns. Rooms are also available in private houses with breakfast included in the cost. These can include so-called ‘sleeping bag accommodation’ where for a reduced cost, you can stay in someone’s private house with your own sleeping bag (they provide a bed).
There are nearly 170 registered camping sites. Due to unpredictable weather conditions, camping grounds are normally open only between June and late August or mid September. The best-equipped camping grounds are to be found, predictably, close to the more touristy areas. In some places camping is restricted to certain specially marked areas. It is also possible to camp in national parks, supervised by the Nature Conservation Agency. Camping outside designated areas is not allowed.
There are a small number of youth and family hostels throughout Iceland, offering accommodation in small dorms (2-6 beds), and ranging in style from a concrete modern building to a traditional Icelandic house with a turf roof. All have well-equipped kitchens and, with the exception of Fljótsdalur Hostel, also offer family rooms. Hostelling International Iceland (www.hihostels.com) offers packages, which consist of car hire or bus tickets and hostel overnight vouchers. Many countryside hostels provide overnight accommodation for travellers bringing their own sleeping bags or bedrolls for a fee.
During the summer, some rural schools open their doors to visitors. They are run as part of the Hotel Edda chain, where the experience is like that of a youth hostel, with dormitory accommodation provided (bring a sleeping bag) plus a restaurant serving local fresh food.
It is also possible to book self-catering private houses through holiday rental websites, as well as self-catering summerhouses and cottages in the country through the tourist board website for a ‘live like a local’ feel.
In uninhabited areas there are a number of huts where travellers can stay overnight. They must observe regulations posted in the huts and bring their own sleeping bags and food. HI Iceland also offers a travel service to help with bookings, tours and travel arrangements. Those on popular walking routes including the Laugavegurinn in south Iceland will require booking in advance so be sure to check.
Icelandic Farm Holidays (www.heyiceland.is) is a chain of 170 farmhouses where farmers offer accommodation to travellers in their homes, guest houses, country hotels and cottages. The accommodation is diverse, some having shared or private bathrooms, some requiring sleeping bags and some offering recreational activities. Breakfast is always included, and there are self-catering facilities in the cottages. Reductions are available for children.