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Saturday, August 7, 2021

Convenient and Comfortable Oasis in the Middle of Reykjavik: The Konsulat Hotel is the Perfect Base for Exploring Iceland

Iceland was one of the first countries to reopen to tourists after the worldwide pandemic with certain requirements for quarantine or proof of vaccination.  Shortly after the reopening, offers for cruises, land tours and low cost airfares flooded our inbox.  We opted for a Viking Ocean cruise for the itinerary and because Viking had set the bar early on for its COVID-19 precautions. Because of the 4 hour time difference with an overnight flight to Reykjavik, we opted for a comfortable stay in the capital of Iceland prior to boarding our cruise. The Konsulat Hotel met our standards for location, luxury and amenities.

We've stayed at many boutique hotels over the years, some of which have bore witness to absolutely amazing events, like the Southern Hotel in Covington, Louisiana, and Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel, a Curio Collection by Hilton, opened in 2018 and is situated in the oldest part of Reykjavík at the junction of Icelandic history and style. The reconstruction of this building, which in the 19th and 20th century housed a grand department store run by Consul Thomsen and his family, was completed in 2018.

The Sun Voyager sculpture on the Reykjavik waterfront

1. Location

The Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel centrally located in the oldest and most-visited part of Reykjavik. The most beloved attractions, like the Harpa Concert Hall and Hallgrimskirkja church, restaurants and day-tour bus stops are within walking distance. They are next to the popular Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hot dogs (in fact we could see it from our window). Reykjavik is safe and easy to walk.  Reykjavik is located about 45 minutes from the airport and it is possible to take the FlyBus, but we opted for a car service prearranged with Hreyfill

Hallgrimskirkja church

2. Check-in

We were greeted promptly and checked in without difficulty from very accommodating employees wearing masks appropriately. Unfortunately our room was not ready for about 1.5 hours since we arrived early.  The staff told us we could enjoy breakfast in the dining room if we wished, and that was a pleasant place to wait.  Another option was that we could spend time in the indoor bath (geothermal spas are very common in Iceland) and sauna where we could nap or shower if we wished. The entire staff is eager to engage you and tell you about the hotel's history or make you comfortable.  They are proud of the hotel, Iceland reopening and it shows in their enthusiasm. Since it is a Hilton-affiliated property, we were greeted and treated appropriately for our Hilton status. The staff oriented us to the hotel and the surrounding area. The hotel itself had no COVID restrictions such as not providing housekeeping services, and this was a refreshing change from our recent stays in the USA.

3. Hotel Decor 

The decor of the Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel is vintage comfort mixed with functional Scandinavian design. We love the comfortable seating in the lobby as well as the bar area where we would spend some time meeting other travelers during happy hour and/or waiting for taxi's. 

Off of the lobby is the Konsulat Restaurant where complimentary breakfast is served every morning and light meals later in the day.

In the lobby is the bar where every evening there is a social hour from 6-7 with complimentary wine and beer and bar bites. This was well attended by all guests! 

Other travelers we’ve spoken to have said they plan to laminate their vaccination cards to prevent damage — and Staples will even do it for free.  We’re not fans of laminating our cards because you may need to add information about a booster to it later.  Of course you can use a sandwich bag to protect it, but we prefer a sleeve where the card can be removed and updated if booster shots become recommended in the future. Click the photo below to find these on Amazon:

4. Rooms

The decor of the rooms is tasteful, with a warm Scandinavian design. The artwork was perfect with black and white historical photos of the building, area and locals. The furniture provided modern features like charging stations and lighting control by the bed with an additional blanket provided on the bed which is a nice touch since it can get pretty cold in Reykjavik, even in the summer. We loved the exposed stonework in our room, bathroom and throughout the hotel! 

The bed was comfortable with a typical double twin mattress made into a king with bedding. It is rare to find a hotel in Europe with air conditioning, maybe because of European regulation on power allotments for a/c. Whereas many Americans would probably never consider living or working in buildings without air conditioning, many Europeans think that life without climate control is far superior.  In general, European air conditioning just doesn't chill to the deep-freeze level of most US air conditioners.  This may be due to the functioning of the air conditioner, local or country regulations on electricity usage, seasonal operation of a/c (some hotels don't even have the a/c unit activated until July 1 for example!), just to name a few.  There is no real solution to this problem.  The Reykjavik Konsulat hotel had a dial thermostat on the wall, but we suspect this was heat. Note that Reykjavik can get pretty noisy in the evenings due to revelers, and it can get noisy when you may want to sleep. We found that our room was hot with the windows closed and cool, noisy and humid with them open. Bring earplugs. LTD has stayed a many 5-star hotels in Europe and if there is a heat wave, be prepared to have the temperature in the room 75-80 degrees no matter where you set the room temperature. We suggest if you anticipate a warm temperature outside, ask for a fan to be sent to your room on arrival. Of course Iceland is the "land of the midnight sun" and blackout drapes work, but be aware that we often left them open to keep air circulating in the room.  Consider bringing an eye mask to help you sleep if you are sensitive to light. 

Floors are made of wood, if you prefer this in your hotel rooms for allergies.  Robes and slippers are provided.

The televisions were exactly what we expect in the 21st century! Streaming or casting services are provided at most luxury establishments now where you can cast your own programs from personal subscriptions like YouTube TV or Netflix, or watch many subscription channels, like HBO or Showtime, on demand from the TV. Our TV had the capability but we could not get it to connect.  There was a lot of information about the history of the hotel and surrounding area on the TV which was enough to entertain us when we needed it. 

In room Nespresso was provided in all rooms. A large in-room safe is available. A small refrigerator is in the room which is stocked with complimentary water and soft drinks, restocked daily. 

5. Bathrooms

The bathrooms are one of the negatives of the room. Adequate amenities (including wash cloths which are rare in Europe!) are provided, including L'Occitan toiletry products. The exposed stonework was featured in our shower.  However, a shower door was not featured, and although this is common in European showers, in this particular case, water splashed everywhere in the bathroom. Probably this was due to the rain shower head combined with a smaller shower without a door.  All these features would be more suited to a larger shower. We had to lay our towels down on the floor after every shower to lower our risk of falling. Vanity space in our particular room was very limited.

6. Fitness

The hotel has a small modern gym available 24 hours per day with key fob access. The gym is near the indoor bath.  Unfortunately the gym was very hot, almost like the sauna heat was spilling over into the room. We elected not to workout in there because of the heat and instead opted for endurance and body weight exercises outdoors in the cooler weather. 

The Konsulat has its own hot tub which they call "baths" or "hot pots", just like the majority of Icelandic homes.  A dry sauna and luxury lounge chairs are located nearby and as was suggested to us at checkin when our room was not ready, is a great place to wait and rest after a long day of flying.

Certainly the area surrounding the hotel is safe for walking, cycling or jogging. By running to the harbor you can find a pedestrian friendly-path spanning over 5 km (3 miles) along the waterfront. In addition to the steady views of the Kollafjörður fjord, runners can enjoy a number of fascinating sculptures, including the popular “Sun Voyager” the opening photo of this post. Note this is a nice flat run because there are a few hills around Reykjavik which some may find challenging.  The downside to this route is that it can be windy. For longer runs you can run all or part of the Reykjavik marathon route

Other Healthy Activities Nearby:


7. Dining

Dining in Reykjavik is a unique experience! Before getting to our favorite spots near the hotel, the Konsulat Hotel has two amenities at their location: breakfast and social hour. Off of the lobby is the Konsulat Restaurant where complimentary breakfast is served every morning and light meals later in the day. Many locally-sourced, gluten free and vegan options are available for breakfast. Between 6-7 is the social hour which we highly encourage you to attend before heading out for dinner.  Complimentary beer and wine with bar bites are available.  The bar bites offered are different every evening. The social hour is a good time to meet fellow travelers and compare stories! 

Other restaurants that we recommend nearby:

  • Kol  We opted for the tasting menu and it was incredible. Such great value for money, portion sizes were bigger than we expected. 
  • Apotek Restaurant Named as such because the building housed a former pharmacy, the food was exceptional, the portions were large and the staff was super friendly and very accommodating. They are best known for their desserts. 
  • Messinn The fish pan was amazing! Plenty of food in there and really tasty. We've never had char before but will certainly have it again.  It's small so go or reserve early.
  • Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur This famous Reykjavik hot dog stand is located near the water, and small hot dog stand is famous for their lamb hot dogs. The hot dog itself is good, but what really makes it special are the onion, special mustard and other toppings. We recommend you get “the works” and you won't be disappointed. One is enough for one or two since they are filling. 


From the Konsulat's website: "Ditlev Thomsen (1867-1935) was a third generation merchant and entrepreneur in Reykjavík, a prominent figure in Reykjavík’s society and a driving force in the young town’s transformation into a modern city. Ditlev served as the German consul in Reykjavík from 1896 to 1915 serving as inspiration for the name Konsulat.  Following the death of his father in 1899, Ditlev Thomsen took the reins of the family enterprise and so began the most flourishing chapter in the history of Thomsen’s Department Stores. The firm grew rapidly; several buildings on the downtown premises were added to its already impressive collection, accommodating the increasing number of specialized departments as well as factories and workshops producing consumer goods and supplies. Thomsen’s Magasin – so named after the grand store in Copenhagen – and its proprietor, held a pivotal position in the town’s trade and indeed various foreign relations at the turn of the century during a time of growth in Reykjavík." 

Period photos of the stores and family pepper the hotel from the lobby to the guest rooms. Other interesting items, including store displays of men's clothing such as collars and cuffs from the early 20th century can be viewed in the lobby.  

Things to do

What can we say?  There is so much to do even if you just stay in Reykjavik! Touring central Reykjavik can be done on your first day of arrival if you're not too tired.  Then you can start taking some day tours.  Here are some examples.

  • Golden Circle - Of course no trip to Iceland would be complete without visiting the Golden Circle.  The Golden Circle is a route in southern Iceland, covering about 300 km looping from Reykjavík into the southern highlands of Iceland and back. It is the area that contains most tours and travel-related activities in Iceland. This is an easy trip from Reykjavik. Video highlights of our tour include Gulfoss (golden waterfall) and geysers!
  • Lava Tunnel Tour - Explore the magnificent Lava Tunnel, or cave Raufarholshellir, one of the longest and best-known lava tubes in Iceland. It is located just 35 minutes from Reykjavik and is easily accessed year round. See video highlights of our tour here!

Bottom line:

We recommend the Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel for any visit to Reykjavik. One of the best features of the hotel is the centralized location, full of comfortable touches at every turn, outshining the lack of luxury hotels in the immediate area.  One of the best features is the lobby bar, with the evening social hour as a great opportunity to get to know other travelers and exchange tips. The quality of the complimentary food and drinks are perfect.  The central location allows for exploration of all of Southern Iceland and the Highlands, full of meaningful and healthy activities, all in one surprising hidden gem. 


  1. Looks like a lovely hotel you stayed in. I went to Iceland around 5 years ago and absolutely loved it! Dying to go back there and take my partner to see this beautiful country.

    Isobel x

  2. Great review! I would love to visit Iceland one day and will keep this post handy for when I do! Love the hotel tips. Thanks for sharing!