Words by Christopher Rosa
Located in south Iceland, The Greenhouse Hotel, known locally as Gróðurhúsið, opened in late 2021 and is a unique addition to Iceland’s burgeoning hotel scene. The Greenhouse Hotel is a 40 minutes’ drive from the capital Reykjavík but its spectacular location in the wild, dramatic Reykjadalur Valley (Smokey Valley), that abounds with mountains and hot springs, provides a dramatic contrast to the city.
Named after the greenhouses found in the area that are used for the horticulture, this boutique property has extensive dining options on the ground floor. In the lobby area, The Greenhouse Café is where you can relax on cosy sofas and enjoy freshly made coffee, bagels and moresome chocolate brownies. On the other side of the lobby a boutique shopping area sells design product by Nordic favourite Epal, Icelandic tweed clothing and woollen sweaters, blankets and souvenirs from Álafoss.
A striking black pavilion with a spectacular location at the foot of the hiking trail leading to the hot springs, The Greenhouse’s Reykjadalur Lodge is a spacious café, restaurant, bar and information centre. Designed by Icelandic production designer Hálfdán Pedersen, the lodge is decked out in rich wood with a large open fireplace and antique furniture. The interiors have an experimental and playful atmosphere – a dugout canoe hangs over one of the long tables. A lovely place to rest your feet after an invigorating hike in this stunning corner of Iceland.
All rooms come with mountain views. The rooms are spacious, cosy and tastefully decorated using local design and antique furniture. The king-size bed was extremely comfortable with thick duvets and woollen blankets. The bathroom comes with a large walk-in rain-shower and local Sóley toiletries come as standard. A nice touch is the option of in-room shopping.
Food and drink
The Greenhouse Foodhall has extensive and very well priced dining options set in a retro designed common area. There are seven restaurants and a bar serving cuisine from local Icelandic to Thai. The evening we visited it was bustling with locals and visitors alike and the atmosphere was very lively.
The Greenhouse has already attracted considerable local attention since opening and its close location to Reykjavík makes it an attractive, night out option. The centrepiece of the food and drink area is Nýlendubarinn serving excellent cocktails. The colonial, bamboo style design of the area even includes a large live palm tree, a surreal touch that certainly makes you feel like you are sitting in the warmth of Old Havana while sipping your mojito.
In many respects, the surrounding area is Iceland in miniature. The Reykjadalur Valley is crisscrossed with hiking, horse riding and mountain-biking trails. There are renowned thermal baths fed by glacier and rainwater a 45-minute hike from town up into the beautiful valley filled with surreally coloured rock formations. Skiing access in the Bláfjöll Blue Mountains is 30 minutes’ drive away.
The quaint town of Hveragerði is on the Route 1 ring road and is a perfect base from which explore the dramatic scenery of South Iceland from waterfalls such as the extraordinary Seljalandsfoss, to the beautiful old fishing town of Vík í Mýrdal and its legendary 6 km Reynisdrangar black beach and eerie basalt columns, regarded as one of the most spectacular beaches on the planet. Further onwards along the coast are the Vestmann Islands, reached by ferry, and the stunning large glacial lagoon of Jokulsarlon and beyond.
In a nutshell
The Greenhouse Hotel is an enticing starting point from which to explore the local valleys, hot springs and wider south Iceland.
Rooms start from £120 and are bookable via the hotel’s website.