Iceland is one of the hottest travel destinations in the world, but for some reason many people don’t equate luxury with this small but infinitely interesting North Atlantic country. As a luxury traveler though, I always make it a point to seek out the best experiential luxury experiences wherever I go and what I found in Iceland is a nice mix of true luxurious travel activities along with luxury travel in the form of unusual and even totally unique experiences. If you’re planning a short getaway to Iceland, be sure to include these luxury Iceland experiences to have the best time with a little pampering along the way.
The Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most popular tourist activity and photos of the hazy thermal waters usually find their way onto calendars and in magazines around the world. I’ve visited a couple of times, through both the normal entry and via their luxury package and the differences couldn’t have been more dramatic. Given its popularity, the Blue Lagoon can be a very busy place with hundreds of people scrambling around the facility in a kind of somewhat organized chaos. The Blue Lagoon luxury package removes this chaos and for me was the perfect way to start my luxury Iceland trip. The package includes:
- Visitor Pass
- Entrance to Blue Lagoon
- Entrance to the Exclusive Lounge
- Use of bathrobe, towel and slippers
- Complimentary drink
- Algae Mask
- Reserved table and pre-drink at LAVA Restaurant
- Spa Journey Product Set
The experience is limited to just 6 groups of two – no more than 12 people will ever in the Exclusive Lounge area, and that’s on a busy day. The lounge area includes 1 private dressing room/shower facility for each group of two, which are locked and secured using individually keyed wristbands. The rooms are in what the folks at the Blue Lagoon call the Exclusive Lounge, which is a private lounge area adjacent to the main Blue Lagoon. Inside is a roaring fire, plenty of places to lounge about, snacks and drinks and a couple of different private entrances to the lagoon itself. In the middle of a chilly winter, this meant I didn’t have to run from the locker room in my trunks into the freezing air before walking into the spa itself. Instead, I slowly acclimated using the private entrance, a James Bond-like secret door that leads directly into the pool.
That level of exclusivity and service guaranteed a relaxing Blue Lagoon experience, instead of a chaotically disjointed one and my morning spent there was as calming and therapeutic as I had hoped it would be. Honestly, this is my top recommendation on how to start any trip to Iceland.
The Black Pearl
In researching my second trip to Iceland, I knew I wanted to spend one night in Reykjavik and then the balance of my time exploring other areas of the country. Tourism in Iceland has grown fast – very fast – and the luxury sector hasn’t been able up to keep up. This means that there aren’t really any 5-star hotels in town, although there are a handful of 4-star properties that ensure a comfortable and relaxing stay in the capital city. Rather than go with one of the typical hotels, I decided to go with what is currently ranked #1 in the city, a hotel that’s a little bit different from the rest. The Black Pearl is a high-end, all apartment hotel, which means guests have a large and from my experience welcoming space to call home during their stay. I managed to snag a deal for the hotel from a 3rd party site, but given how large the apartments are, even booking directly through their web site is a good deal to be honest. Heated floors, large living spaces, full kitchen and balconies all contribute to the experience feeling like a home instead of a hotel room. Add in the fact that the Black Pearl is located in the heart of downtown Reykjavik, and it really is the best place to stay during your time in the city.
Freedom To Explore
I’m not just a plain old luxury traveler, I’m what I describe as an experiential luxury traveler. What does this mean? I define it in a couple of different ways, just to be confusing, but in regards to Iceland I mean it in the slightly unconventional sense. There are some travel experiences, some entire trips even, that are so exceptional they are de facto luxury travel experiences. These run the gamut, from African safaris to a cruise around Antarctica, but their commonality is that they are once in lifetime activities that do more than just take you to a new place, they transform who you are as a person.
The ultimate luxury in Iceland is having the ability, that freedom to explore on your own and on your own schedule. For what is ultimately a small country, there is a lot to do around Iceland and even with 5 days at our disposal, we knew that we’d only be able to fully explore just one region. To help with our efforts and after a lot of online research, I took the advice of a friend and decided to book with Icelandic Farm Holidays. There aren’t a lot of hotels outside of Reykjavik, so what Icelandic Farm Holidays does is identify some of the best, independently owned properties – from self-catering to higher end, like the one we stayed in, throughout the country. Even better for me, they have a variety of packages available, most of which include a rental car. It honestly could not have been easier as we picked up the rental from the airport and then started our exploration of West Iceland.
The experience was even better than our first trip to Iceland, something I really didn’t think possible. In reflecting on it I am sure it’s because we were on our own, the only schedule was the one we decided to put together. Icelandic Farm Holidays merely facilitated everything, including the car and hotel, but it was up to us to figure out everything else. I love that and isn’t a type of personalized service I’ve found in many other places. They answered my many emails and questions with ease and by the end of the trip, my partner and I wanted to go ahead and plan our next luxury Iceland adventure.
Iceland isn’t a country that naturally lends itself to luxury travel. It’s a rough and rugged place and the spike in tourism is a fairly recent phenomenon. Frankly, they’re still catching up but that also means that it is a great time to visit and make the most out of the luxuries which are already there. But more than spas and conveniently located hotels, the real key to luxury Iceland travel is the freedom to do whatever you want with ease and comfort