From the early days of the Icelandic fishing industry coming of age in Reykjavik at the beginning of the 20th century, small and large vessels have been rejuvenated in the dry-docks by the harbour. Still there, they now make for part of a most colourful spectacle of buzzing harbour life to be enjoyed by guests of the most recent additions to Icelandair's selection of high end accommodation, Reykjavik Marina Hotel and Residence.
Maybe it was the very successful blend of the hotel's rustic design mixed with sixties style furniture, maybe it was the proximity of gastronomy in abundance in downtown Reykjavik, or perhaps just that it had been a while since we last visited Iceland, but we now felt as if we were rediscovering this lively city and stunning country. Iceland is a place that will heal your soul, make you feel good and relaxed, regenerate you, a beautiful landscape which is also mysterious, romantic and full of adventures all at the same time, where you can immerse yourself in the country's culture and all the recreations on offer.
The ideal way to start a trip to Iceland is to hop onto an Icelandair flight from Heathrow or Gatwick and enjoy all the benefits that it has to offer, including a good selection of Icelandic movies and music on the entertainment system, along with all the classic blockbusters. Greeted by the accomplished stewards you will soon feel as if you already have one foot in Iceland, listening to one of many intriguing soundtracks from the island of ice and fire. You can also try to learn Icelandic on the flight by reading the funny anecdotes draped over the seats, a good pastime if nothing else.
Many have compared landing in Keflavik, Iceland's international airport, to a moon like experience, but fear not, you have arrived in the best airport in Europe as voted by ACI. Despite its small population of only about 340,000 Iceland is home to industrious people managing to maintain a modern society with detailed infrastructure and now enjoying an unprecedented boom in tourism. You might even take our hotel by the docks as an emblem for the fact that servicing tourists is now no less important to the Icelandic economy than catching fish. To take us there we have secured a four wheeler and are met by our charming 4x4 Iceland car rental team who take us to pick up our Jeep Grand Cherokee, a car most needed when travelling in weather conditions as harsh as you may expect in Iceland, with icy roads and occasional strong winds.
To no disappointment our car delivers what it promises and takes us to the Reykjavik Marina Hotel where we will spend a few days exploring the city and this new stylish hotel, the reception lobby being somewhat reminiscent of a sci-fi film setting from the sixties with welcoming and friendly staff. As we walk along the aisle we spot a private screening room, which is available for guests to watch their favourite movies or to hold a private screening, and we take advantage of this fabulous feature the first night to watch one of our favourite movies complimented by delicious cocktails served by a charismatic barman followed by warm popcorns brought to us by the ever attentive staff.
The bar at the Reykjavik Marina is a trendy place to start the evening with its exquisite selection of cocktails, quite a vibrant and fabulous place to be, we are told. The restaurant Slippbarinn offers a variety of locally sourced food, with the fish of the day coming straight from the nearby dock. The hotel offers two breakfast settings, one being the bakery for late risers who have enjoyed the vibrant, intense, night life of Reykjavik, with an amazing selection of bread and cakes as well as some very healthy options.
Our room is decorated with a mix of modern sixties style furniture and an accent of Icelandic culture. At each Icelandair hotel throughout the country, sculptures by artist Aðalheiður S. Eysteinsdóttir can be found in the public area. They bear the hotel's characteristics, referring to life in the Icelandic countryside and nature in one way or another. If all of this was not enough, we are offered to spend our last night in the new addition to the hotel which is the Reykjavik Marina Residence, with 7 spacious apartments, all individually decorated featuring original paintings by Icelandic artists to be enjoyed along with a very unique and exclusive service.
A trip to Iceland would not be complete without exploring in some way the nature of the country. Our choice was to visit the Fontana Spa in south of Iceland chasing the northern lights under a starry sky. What better way to relax and forget the strives of everyday life. When leaving the next morning, there was a new vessel in the dry-dock. We felt we actually could assimilate our experience with how the last ship had been transformed having just sailed out, clean and crisp, ready for the high seas.