Iceland solo stays: Accommodation beyond the hostel
I’ve spent a good share of my solo travel adventures staying in hostels. I have fond memories of those solo trips! Many nights having drinks with fellow travelers and sharing stories. Unfortunately, I also have not so fond memories of plastic bags rustling at 4 am as my fellow bunkmates got up to leave.
Over the years, I’ve moved away from staying in hostels, towards bed and breakfasts, unique accommodation (read my post about sleeping in a lighthouse) and hotels. Being part of a food tour was one of my favorite memories of my trip to Iceland. I highly recommend that you try a tour if you have any interest in local cuisine. For my solo travel friends, this was a great tour to meet other solo travelers who provided me with great tips on where else to visit!
Finding cost-effective accommodation in Iceland can be difficult. As a solo traveler, you will want to plan out your wants vs needs when picking a place. Iceland’s tourism has been booming and the amount of tourists visiting the island is increasing each year.
The supply of accommodation does not meet the demand which leads to very high prices for what you get. I’ll admit, when I first started looking at places to stay in Reykjavik, based on the prices, I expected luxury accommodation but, spending $200-300 on a hotel in the capital city will only get you basic amenities.
Once you get out of the city, the supply becomes even less so you’ll have to plan out where you want to stop and pick your hotel/inn accordingly. Read reviews carefully as cheap is not always a good option!
Heading down South
My solo travel plans included a day in Reykjavik and then a drive down to the South for some exploring for a few days. You can read all about my solo journey here. Usually, I will loosely plan out my itinerary, being flexible with what sights I stop at and how long I spend at each one. For Iceland, I had to spend a lot of time mapping out where I would be stopping each night and trying to find accommodation in that area. I commonly came across two problems: No vacancy or Not suitable.
No Vacancy: This is due to there not being a lot of places to stop at in the South and all tourists wanting to be at the same attractions. Tour companies also tend to book out blocks of rooms at the larger hotels months in advance so you will be out of luck if you are looking last minute. Accommodation tends to be smaller hotels too, so the good places book up fast!
Not suitable: The low supply of accommodation has led to several local bed and breakfasts and inns popping up in the South. While I love supporting local businesses, I would caution you to read reviews before booking. Some of these places may not be up to standard and once you arrive, you will likely not have an option to find other accommodation.
Plan on budgeting about $200 US a night in the south for nice accommodation and about $150 US a night in the Reykjavik area. These rates will be lower in winter and higher in peak summer.
Based on my planning, these are the four hotels I chose to stay in Iceland. I believe I chose well but the price of my hotel in the south was very expensive and sort of took away from my enjoyment of it.
My Solo stays
After about a week of looking at solo accommodation options, I realized I was going to have to increase my budget and lower my “must haves”. I settled on the following:
- Private Room/own bathroom
- Breakfast included
- In a good location on my route
Day 1 Stay: Reykjavik- Exeter Hotel
I wasn’t supposed to stay at this hotel as I had booked their sister hotel, The Skuggi. Two days before my departure, I received an email from the hotel, indicating they were doing some renovations on some rooms and would need to move me to their sister hotel, The Exeter.
The Exeter is part of the Keahotel chain in Iceland and has good reviews online. Here’s what I thought:
Small-sized room with a nice view of the harbor. If you stay here, I would recommend asking for a harbor view. The room has a window you can open for some fresh air which is important in the summer. Please note that hotels in Iceland tend to not have air conditioning or even fans in the room so having a window stops your room from becoming an oven. Keep this in mind when thinking of where you want to stay in Reykjavik as some areas are quite noisy.
Buffet breakfast was hot/cold: The use of Melamine crockery wasn’t a great choice and reminded me of a college cafeteria. The food was ok though and there were enough choices.
Underground parking was free which was great but it’s limited so you may not get a spot.
The harbour location was nice and was away from the bars which makes is a bit quieter. It took me about 10 minutes to walk to the centre of downtown.
Solo stay: 4/5
The location is good and there is a big bar/ eating area where you can chat with other travelers if you’d like. The only downside is the hotel is a bit expensive for what you get and the breakfast was disappointing. I would stay here again though.
Day 2: Kirkjubaejarklaustur– Glacier View Guesthouse
Finding a nice place to stay near the Jokulsarlon Glacier is a challenge in high season. I was lucky to find this delightful place that had some vacancy. I loved my stay.
Room : 4/5
The inn is a motel style with smallish rooms and bathrooms. I would not advise more than two people to a room. For a solo traveler, it was perfect. There is a large glass window at the front of each room which is great for light.
This inn provides both dinner and breakfast. I would highly recommend you do both and enjoy dinner with fellow travelers at shared tables. As a solo traveler, these interactions are what make my trips so memorable. The food is fantastic and the conversations, just as good.
Your car is parked right in front of your door so no issues.
The location is about 5 km off the main highway, half way between Vik and Hofn. It’s a good stop point in the south of Iceland but still a bit far from Jokulsarlon Glacier. If you do stay here, I highly recommend going to the Fjadrargljufur Canyon early in the morning to beat the crowd.
Solo Stay: 5/5
The Glacier View Guesthouse is a great place to stay for a solo traveler. The cost of the accommodation may be a bit higher than other hotels but I really enjoyed the communal dinners and think it’s perfect for solo travelers.
Day 3: Arnes– Guesthouse Geldingaholt
This was my favourite place I stayed in Iceland. The location and affordability should put it on every solo travelers list! The owners live onsite and are happy to chat with you.
I had to break my rule here and take a room with a shared bathroom. Turned out to be fine as there was a sink in the room and two shared bathrooms that were spotlessly clean. The room was well appointed, clean and super quiet.
The breakfast is good but a bit basic. The dinner on the other hand was fantastic and I would highly recommend you eat here! The prices are very reasonable and there is a menu of a few choices every night.
Located on the outskirts of the Golden Circle, the quiet farmhouse location of Guesthouse Geldingaholt was it’s most outstanding quality. Built on a hobby farm, the inn is surrounded by sheep, horses, and goats. I enjoyed a long walk along the road between the farms after dinner. With the rolling hills, it is a beautiful sight.
Solo Stays :5/5
The location and the friendly staff make this a perfect stop on your Golden Circle tour. The dining area is a great area to meet fellow travelers and the hosts are happy to help you with any travel requests.
Day 4: Skuggi Hotel Reykjavik, Iceland
My last night I was back in Reykjavik again and at the Keahotel sister hotel I had booked, The Skuggi. This ended up being a better fit for me as a solo traveler.
The room was smaller than my room at the Exeter but was fine for the solo traveler. The room had a window that opened onto a balcony but since all of the balconies were connected, this didn’t seem safe to me. Someone could walk along and just walk right into your room. Keep this in mind if you are booking a room at the back of the hotel.
The hot/cold buffet breakfast was fantastic and much better than the Exeter’s breakfast. They had normal plates!
There was ample underground parking that was free.
The Skuggi is in a better location for sightseeing than the Exeter. The location is five minute walk from a Bonus grocery store and about 10 minute walk from my favourite bakery, Braud &Co.
Solo Stays 5/5
The location and amazing breakfast made this a great choice for me as a solo traveler. I was able to walk to lot’s of restaurants and attractions and even did a grocery shop at Bonus. I would recommend solo travelers stay here.
Where ever you end up staying in Iceland, you will be amazed by the stunning landscape and natural wonders of the country. To make your stay memorable, take some time to plan your trip, including your accommodation, to avoid any unhappy surprises on your trip.