Iceland has quickly become one of the hottest travel destinations in the world, somewhat to the chagrin of Icelanders themselves. It may be hard to believe, but not so long ago Iceland was as far off the tourist trail as any place could possibly be. That’s changed, but the services and amenities throughout the country have been a little slow to catch up. While more and more hotels are being built in Reykjavik, throughout the rest of the country the options are a little more limited. So when I heard about an amazing luxury retreat along the Ring Road in southern Iceland, I knew I had found a true diamond in the rough. It was also ideal for my own travel plans, which on my most recent trip included exploring the south coast of Iceland. Given its stellar location though, I think it’s a great option for most travelers to the country. Just 90-minutes from Reykjavik, an hour from the Golden Circle and 30 minutes from the famous Eyjafjallajokull volcano, you’re really in the middle of everything at the hotel. My far too brief stay at the luxurious Hotel Ranga made me fall in love with the property, for these reasons and more.
History and Amenities
For years the Hotel Ranga was the only upscale option available outside the capital city and while the hotel scene in Iceland is shifting, the years of service and experience have definitely kept this property at the top of its game. Driving up to the ranch style, log cabin inspired building it didn’t look like the type of luxury hotel I’m used to, but inside I was almost instantly won over.
Named after the river flowing alongside, the hotel has long been used by avid anglers looking to catch some salmon and to enjoy the amazing scenery surrounding Ranga. From the hotel you can see the mountains and volcanoes for which Iceland is so very famous and on a clear day you can even see out to the Westman Islands, a fun day trip that for me was a highlight of my time in Iceland.
The Hotel Ranga is a true destination hotel and offers fun amenities to its guests from hot tubs, perfect for after dinner relaxation, to a special stargazing hut. This observatory complete with retractable roof has two of the country’s most powerful telescopes and every night local astronomers lead guests on a tour of the heavens. But the two stars of my stay at the Hotel Ranga were the ones that mean the most to all guests – my room and the food on-site.
Comfort, Service and Food
What means the most to me of any luxury experience is the service, and immediately I could tell it’s an attribute that the folks at the Hotel Ranga take seriously. Every need was seen to without complaint, and after checking in I was even able to book a Northern Lights wake up call. The Hotel Ranga enjoys a fantastic position for Northern Lights viewing, which is a reason why many folks decide to stay here in the first place. But there’s much more to love about the Hotel, designed in a quirky but fun rustic style and rooms that are comfortable and well-outfitted. There are 44 standard rooms but 7 suites, each one dedicated to a different continent. Staying in their Asian themed suite, as soon as I opened the door to my room it was if I had been transported to Japan. Every detail was on point, from the shoji screens to the traditional Japanese wooden tub and sandals. It was beautiful and each of their suites goes to the same lengths to transport guests to another time and place. That’s another reason why the Hotel Ranga has been so popular with celebrities over the years, each one wanting to experience a different theme and style. I sincerely loved my room, it was a place to relax and escape and the commanding views of the surrounding countryside was the icing on the cake.
Speaking of cake, since the Hotel Ranga is in the countryside, its restaurant is an important feature given that it’s where most guests enjoy breakfast and dinner. The restaurant is a large, glass-enclosed space that does a great job of featuring the beautiful scenery that makes this hotel so very special. Breakfasts are large and expansive, but it’s the dinner service that really sets the hotel apart. Long regarded as one of the best fine-dining restaurants in the country, the menu highlights the local delicacies found nearby the hotel. Fish of all sorts and meats like beef, lamb and even reindeer are all on the menu, offering guests the opportunity to taste their way through Iceland as well as just admire its scenery. It was a fantastic addition to my stay and a meal I know I’ll remember for a long time.
My only regret is that I had just the one night at the Hotel Ranga; which could easily be a fantastic home base from which to explore the southern coast of Iceland. An enviable location, luxurious service and rooms and outstanding food are all reasons to love the property, its special ambiance the reason why it becomes something more personal and special. When choosing a hotel outside of Reykjavik, the options today are somewhat limited, but for my money the Hotel Ranga is one of the best hotels on the island.