My trip began with howling winds and zero visibility but ended with a reminder that it is the surprise and discovery that makes travelling to Iceland truly magical.
This land of extremes is certainly one of the most spectacular places I have been to. As we flew over the island, perched on the edge of the Arctic Circle, I felt we were already a world away from reality. With snow and ice below and the sun rising so late in the morning the land was lit up with a fiery glow.
Hotel Rangá was my base, a luxury rural hotel right in middle of South Iceland’s panoramic scenery, just over an hour from the capital Reykjavík. Built in a log-cabin style, the hotel has an excellent reputation for its gourmet food, accommodation and service and also as a prime spot for viewing the elusive Northern Lights.
The hotel has attracted celebs like the Kardashians, Justin Bieber and Gwyneth Paltrow, captivated by its serenity, luxury and relaxation.
It has stunning views of the volcano, Mount Hekla, and is a short distance from an unspoilt wilderness. It seems far away from the tourist hotspots closer to the capital and is a place to get back to nature and away from city life.
As well as the 50 or so rooms, there are seven suites here, designed and quirkily themed after each of the seven continents and all have beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.
We were treated to an array of adventures and activities that allowed us to see the island’s extraordinary conflicting landscapes close up. As the sun rose, we headed out in super jeeps to explore glaciers and snow-covered volcanoes, which were bathed in a rose-tinted glow.
By mid-afternoon, as the sun began to set, we roamed the black lava sand beaches on quad bikes – surely some of the most perfect, non-tropical beaches I have experienced. Back at the hotel, we relaxed in hot tubs with a glass of bubbly and awaited our call to another gastronomic delight.
Hotel Rangá’s acclaimed restaurant overlooks one of Iceland’s finest salmon rivers, East-Rangá River. With a menu inspired by modern Nordic cuisine, we ate reindeer carpaccio, cured salmon and beautiful desserts, such as chocolate mousse with seaberry purée. Fridrik the owner is the most convivial host and nothing is too much trouble for him or the attentive staff.
The dark, clear skies of Iceland allowed us to use the hotel’s own observatory, where the resident astronomer showed us the Milky Way and predominant stars that night. With its open roof and heating, it was an ideal after-dinner treat.
A final exclusive touch was the option to sign up for the wake-up call for the Northern Lights. This meant that at the first sight of the lights we could be alerted and dash outside, after clambering into the warm snowsuits provided, to watch this amazing natural phenomena.
With hot chocolate, or something stronger on our return, it was the perfect way to end our Icelandic adventure.
Hotel Rangá is a member of Great Hotels of the World.
Find out more at hotelranga.is
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