This year Iceland’s beloved Blue Lagoon turns 30. But, until 2018 the irresistible geo thermal hangout, a must-see and must-do experience for visitors, didn’t have a luxury hotel on its shores. (In fact, it might be said, Iceland didn’t have a luxury hotel anywhere in its Game of Thrones-worthy realm.) The brainchild of Blue Lagoon’s founder, Dr. Grimur Saemundsen, posh Retreat at Blue Lagoon opened to tickle the mineral-water loving fancy of visitors in search of an overnight stay as richly rewarding as the minerals found in the Blue Lagoon’s healing waters.
With its own private, tranquil lagoons, set on an islet adjacent to Blue Lagoon, the Retreat lies amid an ancient, coal-black lava field, a stark, surreal, mystical backdrop, mottled by spongy green moss and anchored by nearby volcanoes. All around the hotel (and within it) crescents of milky blue lagoon mirror the big Icelandic sky. At night, in season, the Northern Lights offer a colorful, eye-popping show, all the better to see from your private lagoon or ample terrace.
The hotel deftly melds into the environs with sleek, natural lines and immense windows meant to draw the majestic outdoors inside. Blending Italian craftsmanship (think: clever bespoke pieces by Design Group Italia), Icelandic art, and Scandinavian cool, the hotel’s 62 suites and airy common areas will quicken the heart of any design buff. Natural materials such as lava wood and stone elements abound. Bathtubs stand mid-room to face the vista, as do beds topped with Jensen mattresses and sheathed with Quagliotto bed linens.
The cornerstone of The Retreat is its spa, as inviting as a dream. Undulating, dark, with cave-like niches and bays, meditation rooms, a sauna and portals to reach the private lagoons (not to mention a VIP door to the public Blue Lagoon), it offers a variety of treatments, including some done in the water. The Ritual, its famous self-applied experience, involves various stations for exfoliation, face and body masking and hydration. (I did this every day). Of course, key to the experience, the lagoons provide of curative repose. The same mineral-rich geothermal water, drawn from more than 2000 meters below the earth’s surface, has been proved to heal a variety of skin ailments, especially psoriasis.
A stay so stunning and memorable it could be a destination in itself, The Retreat also makes a great bookend to a longer trip to Iceland.
- Location: Norðurljósavegur, Iceland
- Rating: Five-Star
- The Vibe: Sleek, elegant, serene, pampering
- Food + Drink: Three restaurants feed the body while the spa sates the soul. Michelin-noted Moss executes performance art with gastronomic, multi-coursed regional fare. They even offer a Vegan menu option. Lava, a bit more casual, showcases Icelandic dishes, such as Arctic char and lamb. And, the Spa Restaurant, a chic niche beside the private lagoons, proffers light, health conscious dishes—sushi, salads, and soup.
- Amenities: Guests are provided with team of hosts who take care of all needs, whims, activity sign up and inquiries. A gorgeous yoga room, fitness center, and spa delight. Breakfast is included.
- Our Favorite Thing About the Hotel: The cave-like spa with its various treatment stations, sauna, and, of course, the VIP door to the public Blue Lagoon.
- 5 Nearby Attractions: Reykjavik, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss Waterfalls , Solheimajokull Glacier, Golden Circle, Krýsuvík & Seltún
- Any Personal Neighborhood Recs? Let your Retreat host organize a tour of the area by horseback or a hike in the nearby valleys.
- Rooms: Sixty-two suites, including the Lagoon Suite with a personal lagoon and the stunning, exclusive, bi-level Blue Lagoon Suite with personal spa, lagoon, kitchen and a private entrance.
- Pricing: $1500/night+
- Closest Airport: Keflavik Airport