As the Instagrammers’ playground du jour, Iceland’s spectacular scenery and geographic oddities are illuminating social media feeds and glossy travel pages alike.
Sparsely populated enough to make the island feel like a modern wilderness, the country still has all the modern conveniences and progressive culture needed to make travellers feel welcome.
But where to begin? With geysers, black-sand beaches, epic waterfalls, stunning mountains and postcard glaciers to explore, one’s appetite for adventure is tantalised by opportunities.
Luckily, a large concentration of Iceland’s best sites adorn themselves along the south by south-west coast, and here lies a perfect base for everyone from families to newlyweds to rugged explorers, Hotel Rangá.
There are over 50 luxury rooms at the hotel. For those wanting something a little different, there are the continental suites, which are themed around each of the continents and obviously vary starkly in their decor. The host for a three-day stay here was a beautiful deluxe room facing the East Rangá River. A comfy king-size bed lay inside for those that wanted to be cosy while, outside, a set of Jacuzzis tempt the brave and the bold to bubble away while watching the night sky and praying to anyone who will listen to deliver Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights.
But don’t worry if you just can’t stay up all night with eyes fixed on the heavens, the hotel staff offer a service that means should the elusive lights suddenly hit a flurry in the wee hours, your room will receive a call from reception advising you to slip into something more weather-proof and head outside.
Outside of the country’s capital, Reykjavik, towns and villages become sparse, so luckily Hotel Rangá has a gourmet restaurant that delivers succulent dishes using fresh, local ingredients through its ‘farmers’ market’ concept. With a wonderful wine selection to complement the wide-ranging menu, guests will not be stuck for choice. There are a mix of classic flavours and a few adventurous dishes for those that have never tried, say, puffin or reindeer. Though there is some seasonal variation, there is a palate-pleasing item on every menu. Go on, try the skyr.
With a spacious car park and easy access to Route 1 (a rental car is a must), the hotel is perfectly placed to open the door to an Icelandic smorgasbord of adventure. There is almost an embarrassment of riches. Turn west and one soon joins the Golden Circle, an easy-to-navigate road trail that takes in some of the country’s most iconic sites, such as Kerið, a volcanic crater lake, or the Geysir Hot Spring areas, where the bubbling, boiling mud looks set to blow at any moment, and often does.
Also in the west is the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa, where one can bathe in the warm waters even if snow has settled on the surrounding rocks. This is a popular destination, so get there earlier or later in the day to avoid the (super) busy period, and keep a good eye on your robe as they all look the same…
Back at the aforementioned fork in the road, turning east towards the Glacier Lagoon, it is along this stretch of coast that you can check off most of your adventure bucket list: glacier hiking, snowmobiling, ATVs or horse riding. There are also the quirks and oddities that make Iceland unique, from the wild ponies and black sand beaches to the easy-to-pronounce Eyjafjallajökull. And it won’t take you long to translate that ‘foss’ means waterfall as you visit some of the most breathtaking water features in the world.
Hotel Rangá offers adventure packages to experience just about every facet of the region, and after a long day on the trail, with an evening of picturesque sunsets and stargazing ahead, there are few places better to rest one’s weary bones.
For further information and to book, please visit: hotelranga.is