Iceland is famous for its cool and at times irreverent approach to design, something evident throughout the boutique hotel offerings in the northern city of Akureyri.
Iceland’s second city, Akureyri (pronounced ah-koo-rare-ee) is known as the ‘capital of the north’, although with a population of just 19,000, it feels more like a small town than a city. Nestled at the foot of Eyjafjörður, Iceland’s longest fjord, Akureyri is backdropped by magnificent snow-capped mountains and sits just 60mi (97km) south of the arctic circle. Visitors drive the 155mi (249km) from Reykjavik to enjoy the Hlíðarfjall Mountain and its superb ski resort, the tranquil Lake Mývatn area and excellent whale spotting opportunities. Despite its diminutive size, Akureyri offers a lively café and bar culture, world-class restaurants and impressive architecture. Read on for our tips on the best boutique hotels in town.
You’ll find cosy simplicity at the Hotel Nordurland. Comfortable beds, a splendid buffet breakfast and friendly staff ensure guests of a pleasant stay in Akureyri. The hotel is just a few minutes’ walk from the Hof Cultural Center – a circular building sitting on the harbour’s edge, offering stunning views across the fjord. Here, you’ll find a varied roster of musicals, concerts, children’s shows, stand-up comedy, art exhibitions and more. Alternatively, hunker down in the hotel bar.
Yurts may originate from the steppes of central Asia, but these two traditional-style yurts look quite at home perched in the mountains above Akureyri. Complete with proper beds and a wood-burning stove, you can make yourself cosy whether or not the Icelandic weather behaves itself. Tea making facilities are on hand, breakfast is supplied in a cool box and there’s even a BBQ outside. Looking out across the snowy peaks, it’s hard to believe bustling Akureyri is less than 4mi (6km) away.
This hotel is smart on the outside and cosy on the inside. Loosely based around a rock n’ roll theme, the décor is quirky and cool. Expect guitars hung in the rooms and dark painted corridors with a profusion of funky, quirky art filling the walls. Located close to the centre, it’s just a short walk to all the bars, restaurants and galleries that Akureyri has to offer. Music and film fans; this is the hotel for you.
Set a couple of miles out of Akureyri, in lush woodland on the banks of the fjord, this 66 room hotel offers its guests all the charms of Icelandic nature right on the doorstep. In the surrounding woodland, you’ll find hiking trails, mountain biking tracks, a volleyball court and a playground for children. Back in the hotel, you can relax in the hot tub, swimming pool or sauna, before enjoying dinner overlooking the fjord.
Just a 6-minute walk from Akureyrarkirkja, Akureyri’s iconic Lutheran church, Hrafninn Guesthouse is a family-run boutique spot perfectly located for exploring this small city. The guesthouse offers 12 rooms, each decorated in typical Icelandic style and hung with charming paintings of Iceland’s wild landscapes and unique people. A communal kitchen makes it a good option if you don’t want to eat out every night. But if you have money to burn, you’ll be spoilt for choice at the nearby restaurants.
You can’t miss this guesthouse. Set on the main Hafnarstræti street, the Apotek strikes an imposing figure in a smart downtown building in central Akureyri. Large letters spell out APOTEK across the building and an equally vast balcony offers superb views from the fourth-floor penthouse apartment. Here, you’re a stone’s throw from the nearby shopping district, several excellent restaurants and a number of interesting galleries and museums.
The setting of the Sveinbjarnargerdi couldn’t be more idyllic, offering spectacular views across the Eyjafjörður fjord. Take your pick from soaking in the hot tub or relaxing on the terrace while you wait for the Aurora Borealis to dance across the sky. With a stylish in-house restaurant serving Icelandic and international fare, you don’t have to go far to enjoy a good meal. Should you wish to explore further, it’s just a 10-minute drive into Akureyri.
Sustainability is at the heart of this family-run hotel at Þórisstaðir, just outside Akureyri. Converted from a barn and two cowsheds, this eco-conscious hotel is centred around community values and the natural environment. Even the old silo has found a new purpose, as a sightseeing tower for the northern lights. The adjacent farm, Leifshús, has been brought into the hotel’s fold and offers equally simple yet comfortable rooms. Try horse riding, whale watching, diving, hiking and skiing from this tranquil place. And don’t miss the stunning Goðafoss (Waterfall of the Gods).
Located on a quiet, leafy street, this simple guesthouse makes you feel instantly at home. Although it’s less than 100m (328ft) from the Rádhústorgid Town Square, you can sit on the quiet garden terrace and barely know you’re in the centre of town. Each of the three simply furnished rooms is bright and airy, with shared bathrooms and a communal kitchen that’s a homely place to meet the other guests.
Meaning ‘Grandmother Guesthouse’ in Icelandic, Amma is a small, conveniently located guesthouse with 10 rooms. Cosy and inviting, just like your grandma’s house, the guesthouse is a 5-minute walk from the Akureyrarkirkja church designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, whilst the colourful Botanical Garden is also nearby. In Summer, the gardens are a favourite attraction to tourists and locals alike, offering an enclave of tranquility in the city centre.
This cosy farm guesthouse comprises 22 simple bedrooms and a restaurant. Situated only 10km (6mi) south of Akureyri, it is surrounded by Eyjafjörður Fjord, which is famous for its beautiful views overlooking neighbouring farmlands and mountain ridges. There are a lot of activities to do on-site and nearby, such as hiking, horse riding, golfing, skiing, birdwatching and lounging in the hot tub. The Lamb Inn Restaurant is a converted barn, with the speciality being lamb dishes, of course.
This family-run guesthouse is located 5km (3mi) north of Akureyri, along a creek that flows into the bay. Aside from accommodation, the hotel also offers horse-riding tours in the countryside. You can rent bicycles for exploring the region and afterwards relax in the outdoor hot tub while hopefully catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights. The restaurant, open only during the summer, offers traditional local dishes of fish and lamb. In the guesthouse shop, you can find reused furniture and art objects made from antiques by the owners.
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