Hotel ION, Thingvellir
What’s so special
One of Iceland’s best hotels, ION enjoys a great location just below Thingvellir National Park. This is where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet, which means there are lava fields to visit and mountains to explore. It’s also a great place to view the aurora borealis (or ‘northern lights’).
How they rate it
Hotel ION is “heavy on style – walls of wood and smoothed concrete, Scandi-chic furniture, big murals and an Icelandic soundtrack”, says Sarah Baxter in The Independent. Pitched as “the country’s first adventure hotel”, activities range from swimming to snowmobiling, climbing volcanoes, or river rafting – or you could just relax in the outdoor hot tubs and stargaze.
Given the isolation of the hotel, dining out isn’t really an option. The good news is, you don’t have to. Freshly caught Arctic char (cold-water fish) is one of the highlights on the menu, but there’s also beef tenderloin or salted cod.
A three-night Northern Lights Special break at Hotel Ion (including flights, transfers, and a night at the Northern Light Inn or Grand Hotel Reykjavik) costs £540 a head (www.discover-the-world.co.uk; 01737-214250).
Kex Hostel, Reykjavik
What’s so special
This former waterfront biscuit factory is much more than a simple hostel. It offers some of the best accommodation in Reykjavik at a bargain price. One of its creators is a film-set designer and the decor certainly meets Hollywood standards.
How they rate it
“Don’t be fooled by the ‘hostel’ moniker,” says Anna Melville-James in The Sunday Times. “Yes, there are bunk beds and a communal kitchen. But book one of the 15 private rooms (three are en suite) and you’ve snagged yourself the city’s hottest stay.” When people talk about how cool Reykjavik is, “this is what they envisage: reclaimed furniture and industrial chic, where steel and distressed leather tussle beautifully”. There are “neat retro twists, including a private barber in a converted cupboard and an old-school gym with punchbag and horses”. The bedrooms are “equally stylish: white linen, school lockers, repro French three-piece suites”.
The bar/restaurant is a “prime daytime hang-out” for Iceland’s cool crowd, with live music and craft beers at night. Breakfasts include organic Icelandic jams with fresh-baked bread and porridge. For dinner, you’ll have to dine out.
Private doubles from £60 (www.kexhostel.is; 00 354 561 6060).
Private islands for rent
Musha Cay (pictured) in the Bahamas is owned by magician David Copperfield. His guests have included John Travolta and Oprah Winfrey, “who would have been able to enjoy games of tennis and billiards, various water sports and days spent on one of the island’s 40 beaches”, says The Daily Telegraph. It costs $37,500 per night to rent the island, with a four-night minimum stay (Mushacay.com).
Isla Tagomago (Tagomago-island.com) “offers some respite for residents who have been clubbing in nearby Ibiza”. Costing from €100,000 per week, it has been a “temporary home to numerous celebrities, athletes, politicians andsuccessful artists”. Accommodation is in a designer villa, which has five double suites, a swimming pool and a Jacuzzi.
Greta Garbo, Sophia Loren and Jacqueline Kennedy have all beenguests at dolphin-shaped Li Galli Island (Russotravel.it) off the Amalfi Coast. Once owned by dancer Rudolf Nureyev, it now offers guests a villa with “six rooms, a sea-water pool, large chapel and a staff of nine to look after guests’ every need”. Rates on request only.
Ile des Deux Cocos (Iledesdeuxcocos.com) is “a private island for people who don’t want to be too isolated”. It’s a five-minute boat ride from Blue Bay in Mauritius and just 200 metres from the neighbouring five-star hotel. Guests stay in the island’s villa, “which has two bedrooms and a number of staff”. Prices start from €1,650 per night.
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