Ion Hotel

Chic, modern, eco-friendly

Unnamed Road, Iceland

(354) 482 3415

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At a Glance

The Ion hotel’s architecture and décor have been thoughtfully designed to accentuate the natural beauty of the Icelandic landscape.

Indagare Loves

  • Whether or not you are lucky enough to see the aurora borealis from the optimistically named Northern Lights Bar, the view, which stretches over mossy lava fields all the way to snowcapped mountain tops, is glorious
  • The hotel’s smart and playful interior design plays up the contrasting textures and colors of the Icelandic landscape.
  • Ion’s location on the edge of Thingvellir National Park make the hotel an ideal base from which to explore must-see sights along the Golden Circle.


Since opening in February 2014, the Hotel Ion has received high praise from travel magazines and was quickly adopted into the Design Hotel family. Indeed, the architecture and interior design of this small hotel (just 43 rooms, equally divided between standard and deluxe) in southwest Iceland (less than an hour drive from Reykjavík) are laudable. Working with an existing structure, which had previously provided housing for workers at the nearby power plant, Iceland-born, LA-based architect/interior design duo Minarc expanded the Ion’s property using innovative materials such as driftwood, lava, and recycled rubber.  The hotel’s eco-friendly vibe continues with a set of sustainable practices including geothermal heat for the hot water and large windows throughout the hotel, which reduce the need for artificial lighting. Fun design touches like cardboard chandeliers in the bar and the brightly colored woolen throw pillows in the lobby lounge play up the emphasis on recycled and locally sourced materials.

Rooms at the Ion are comfortable and sleek-looking, though not particularly luxurious or spacious.  (In fact, the bathrooms are very tiny.) You can spring for a suite, but the main difference between these and the standard rooms is that the suites are housed in the building’s new extension (on the way to the bar) and equipped with fancy coffee machine and heated floors (and similarly tiny bathrooms with no tubs).  The size and design of all guest rooms are virtually the same and feature black and white furnishings, a wall-size photograph of an Icelandic horse, a small desk, and a chair decorated with a calfskin throw. The minimalist design highlights the most impressive feature of the rooms, the view appreciated through large floor-to-ceiling windows. To enjoy the best views, ask for a room facing away from the geothermal power plant, and for quiet, request rooms at a distance from the Northern Lights Bar.

After a day of hiking or other active adventures, the spa is a nice way to relax. Spa treatments featuring local products are available, and you can also soak in the outdoor heated pool. The untreated water, which is heated naturally, has natural healing benefits, but also causes a slick of algae to accumulate on the bottom of the pool. The small glass-walled sauna over looks the pool and is yet another vantage point from which to enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.

The Silfra restaurant is a highlight of the Hotel Ion experience.  The long dining room continues the hotel’s eco-chic aesthetic with unpainted plywood walls and black tables lining a long row of windows leading all the way to the end of the room, where an enormous painting of brown trout (a local fish found in the rivers and lakes throughout Iceland) dominates the back wall. The dinner menu is short and seasonal and features local delicacies like cured arctic char and fillet of lamb, which are expertly prepared and beautifully plated. For dessert try the traditional Icelandic pancake, filled with Skyr (a delicious thick and creamy yogurt) and fresh blueberries. Reservations required.

Who Should Stay

The Ion Hotel provides comfortable and smart accommodations, but is by no means a luxury hotel. Rooms are small and services limited, so travelers looking for ultimate luxury experience might be happier staying in Reykjavík. That said, the Ion provides a great base for exploring the great outdoors and if this is what you plan to do during your trip to Iceland, this stylish accommodation provides comfortable beds, great food, and a fine spa, all of which add up to a perfect complement to days filled with active outdoor adventures.

Written by Mara Hoberman

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