First impressions are not always correct, but my introduction to Iceland’s Nordica Hotel was right on target. Immediately upon our arrival, the Nordica, located in Reykjavik, gave my friend Patty and me an introduction to traditional Icelandic hospitality. Although we arrived five hours before check-in time, the gracious and welcoming staff hurriedly prepared a room and helped us with our luggage.
We thankfully dropped our weary bodies onto the small twin beds and snuggled under the cozy down comforters. Minimalist décor mixed with Scandinavian-styled furniture gave the room a distinct feel of European sophistication. Orange and brown pillows provided the only splash of The majestic mountain keeps a watchful eye on the world’s northernmost capital located on a picturesque peninsula by the Atlantic Ocean. In the year 2000, this city of 170,000 held the prestigious title “European City of Culture.”
Located on the southern coast of Iceland, Reykjavik is surrounded by a ring of dramatic mountains and the blue water of Faxafloi Bay.
The nearby Snaefellsjokull Glacier, which was made famous in Jules Verne’s novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth, covers a cone-shaped volcano which has been dormant for almost 1,800 years. Beautiful and unspoiled nature such as this are as much worth the visit as Reykjavik’s energetic and colorful cultural life.
On our second day in Iceland, we treated ourselves to dinner at VOX, Nordica’s high-end gourmet restaurant and bistro. Chef Hákon Örvarsson won a bronze medal at the gastronomical contest Bocuse d’Or. The food served at VOX is excellent and extremely expensive, as are most of Reykjavik’s eateries. My appetizer alone — crab and scallop tortellini — was a jaw-dropping US$ 25. Those staying at the hotel may be disappointed with the lack of ambiance at VOX, which is in the same room as the breakfast buffet. The trays, bowls and bins of scrambled eggs are removed from the gleaming silver counter, but the room is still the same — not feeling entirely transformed by the dimmed lights and votive candles used in the evening.
Although Patty and I spent much of our vacation sightseeing, we made time to check out the Nordica’s fitness center and spa, the most exclusive in Reykjavik, offering three Jacuzzis, two steam rooms, 10 massage treatment rooms and an outdoor log-cabin sauna.
Exclusivity comes with a price however, as even those staying at the Nordica (except those paying for Executive or Business class rooms) have to pay a fee to enjoy the center’s luxuries. But after a day of exploring Iceland’s magnificent landscapes, waterfalls and mountains, the fee is well worth it.
The entire staff at the Nordica, from the restaurant to the tour desk, was delightfully accommodating and helpful. The concierge assisted us in planning our daily excursions around Reykjavik, and the receptionist gave us insider knowledge on the best places to go for brunch and dinner. After only a few days at the hotel, the women at the front desk greeted us personally and asked us each day about our travels. Like the many native Icelanders we met during our stay in Iceland, the staff at the Nordica seemed genuinely interested in ensuring that our stay was a pleasant one.
IF YOU GO
The Nordica Hotel is a four star hotel, located in Midtown Reykjavik. It has 284 rooms, 58 business and executive rooms, as well as a Presidential (about 1200 square feet/10 m²) and Business Suites (645 square feet/60 m²), conference and function facilities. Standard single rooms start at US$ 190. Try to reserve a special Internet Rate starting at US$ 90.
Iceland Tourist Board