The Retreat, Iceland’s first 5-star hotel, embodies minimalism at its finest while fully embracing Nordic aesthetics. The effect of which eases your mind and lowers your stress levels the moment you step inside. Upon arrival, you are greeted by friendly staff and ushered into the serene lobby overlooking a private lagoon. This hotel does not offer a traditional experience, at least from my perspective. The Retreat is more of a spa with rooms rather than a hotel with a spa. Case in point, guests are encouraged to walk around the premises in their robe, including the Lava and Spa restaurants. It has replaced the traditional key card with a wristband which will grant you access to your room and other areas of the hotel (including the private and public lagoons) and must be worn at all times. While this does foster a comfortable atmosphere, this is a five-star hotel and guests must mind their P’s and Q’s. The premises includes The Retreat, The Silica Hotel (a much cheaper alternative), and four restaurants – Moss, Lava, Spa, and Cafe. My stay at The Retreat is one that I will never forget- a true once in a lifetime experience.
Price: $1,269/night for the most economical room. Prices may vary throughout the seasons.
The Retreat allows you to unwind by excluding televisions from the rooms and urging you to disconnect from the outside world. A Bose radio is provided to help set your desired mood, however. The rooms are modern and fully equipped with snacks, beverages, and The Blue Lagoon toiletry products, which are all included in the nightly rate. Rooms either face the lava fields, the moss panorama, or the lagoon – all beautiful and relaxing in their own right. I stayed in the Lava View junior suite, which provides views of the moss-covered lava fields and a small sliver of the Blue Lagoon. Overall, the room was great, although I didn’t spend a lot of time there. Most of my time was spent at the spa and restaurants.
*Those traveling with children are not allowed to stay on the ground floor of these suites due to their proximity to water.
I spent most of my time during my stay at the Retreat at the spa. It is modern yet offers a warm and welcoming environment. It operates on a do-it-yourself premise, although you can sign up for traditional spa treatments if you desire (for an extra charge, of course). The space offers a relaxation room with lounging beds along the perimeter and a large fire pit strategically placed in the middle. You are free to relax in this warm, cozy space for as long as you wish while listening to relaxing music set at the perfect volume.
If masks are your thing, the spa offers two mask stations, one for the face and the other for the body. The face mask area consists of a quaint room equipped with a few beds and a variety of masks to choose from. The body mask area consists of several showers and mask sections, which are meant to be completed in order. All of this is self-service, of course, but it does not take away from the relaxing benefits of the experience.
The Blue Lagoon
One can access The Blue Lagoon directly from the spa. In fact, the hotel/spa provides its guests with two options: a private lagoon experience or the ability to join the general public. If you choose the private lagoon experience, you are pretty much guaranteed some privacy and the ability to soak in peace. Since phones are prohibited, you can have your picture taken by one of the spa staff. The hotel will then email you a link where you can download the pictures. Be aware, though, that the private lagoon is closely monitored. This means that no matter how private the area may be, the staff WILL detect you in the middle of a naughty act. I personally witnessed a couple engaged in adult behavior being politely stopped in the middle of their jaunt by hotel staff.
You may also access The Blue Lagoon via the spa if you wish to experience THE Blue Lagoon firsthand. I did, but after experiencing the private lagoon, found it difficult to fully enjoy it for what it was. The Blue Lagoon was packed and loud, the antithesis of the private lagoon. I assume that at one point The Blue Lagoon was a place to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Now, it’s just a tourist hot spot where droves of travelers are bussed in for a quick dip.
The Wine Cellar (The Bat Cave)
The hotel offers free tours of their wine cellar with a complimentary wine tasting. These tours are timed and worth a visit.
The Lava Restaurant
The restaurant is open to the public and offers amazing views of The Blue Lagoon. The food is wonderful, the ambiance is on point, and the staff is as friendly as they can be. The food didn’t necessarily wow me, but it was appetizing, albeit a bit pricey.
The Spa Restaurant
The Spa restaurant is what you can expect from a spa restaurant. It is good and more private since it’s not open to the general public- a great place to grab a quick lunch or dinner after a long day at the spa.
A Wonderful Experience Overall!
The Retreat was my first taste of Iceland because I drove directly there from the airport. It served as a much-needed retreat after the 6-hour flight and a long week at work. Is it worth the hefty nightly rate? Perhaps, if your travel budget allows for it. I was lucky to get upgraded to The Retreat as a result of an overbooked Silica Hotel. If you want a more economical but still luxurious stay with private access to The Blue Lagoon, I suggest you stay at the Silica hotel for half the price. However, if privacy, convenience, and a top-rated spa is more your speed, The Retreat won’t disappoint!