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Iceland is one of the world’s best places to marvel at the northern lights, a bucket-list experience for many. This breathtaking display occurs when solar particles enter the earth’s atmosphere and, on impact, emit burning gases that produce various colored lights that are one of Mother Nature’s most magical wonders. If you hope to see them while visiting the country, the best way to improve your odds is to stay at one of these hotels.
ION Adventure Hotel - Selfoss
ION Adventure Hotel is only about an hour’s drive from the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, providing easy access to the popular Golden Circle. It’s also one of the best hotels for viewing the northern lights while sitting against an incredible backdrop of mountains and lava fields. It even hosts the Northern Lights Bar, which was cleverly designed with a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows for optimal viewing. Guests can enjoy everything from soaking in the warmth of hot springs beneath the aurora to challenging hikes across a glistening glacier. The partially exposed Lava Spa provides blissful treatments while rooms feature large windows for views, comfy beds with fair-trade organic linens, big-screen TVs, and iPod docks.
Hotel Búðir - Búðir
Hotel Búðir is a family-run hotel in a romantic setting on a beach at the edge of a lava field close to the Snaefellsnes glacier – perfect for a Valentine’s Day getaway. It’s very remote to increase the odds of aurora viewing, and while all rooms have large windows, some have sloping attic ceilings with windows that are perfect for watching the show when it appears in the night sky. During the day, you’ll enjoy views of the bay or glacier. The on-site restaurant is highly acclaimed, particularly for its lamb and fish dishes with a la carte, three- and five-course options. Breakfast is a sumptuous spread with locally sourced products, including everything from Icelandic cheese and fresh-baked bread to scrambled eggs and bacon. Enjoy an excellent selection of whiskeys, wines, beers, and cocktails in the bar.
Arnarstapi Hotel - Arnarstapi
Located on the enchanting Snæfellsnes Peninsula (one of the world’s most relaxing destinations) at the foot of Snæfellsjökull glacier, Arnarstapi Hotel provides a cozy, stylish base with a chic Nordic mix of furnishings and decor. The remote property offers accommodation in cottages and a hotel with double, single, and family rooms that all include large windows with views that look out to the sea while being ideal for watching the northern lights right from bed after dark. The helpful staff will be happy to provide sightseeing advice and assist in arranging excursions or day trips. Additionally, the on-site restaurant offers a breakfast buffet with hot and cold items along with lunches and dinners featuring local ingredients, including locally caught fish of the day that can be enjoyed with excellent Icelandic beers.
Hotel Rangá - Hella
Located in a rural area with no light pollution to diminish viewing opportunities, Hotel Rangá is about a two-hour drive from Reykjavik and one of Iceland’s top hotels. To ensure optimal conditions, the outside lights are turned off at night. Guests can also marvel at the aurora from a hot tub or the benches specially made to lie on and gaze up at the sky. During the day, enjoy the spectacular views, with the hotel sandwiched between Mount Hekla volcano and the East Ranga River. When it’s bedtime, you can request a wake-up call when the lights appear so you don’t have to worry about missing the show.
Hotel Glymur - Akranes
Hotel Glymur offers a stress-free, secluded stay in a luxury hotel in a peaceful setting, set above the magnificent fjord in Hvalfjordur, only about 45 minutes from Reykjavik. Guests can relax in a geothermally-heated hot tub while watching the northern lights and enjoying upscale accommodation in split-level rooms and spacious suites. All come with mountain or fjord views, while the colorful suites have whirlpool tubs and the luxurious villas come with kitchens and verandas with hot tubs.
Silica Hotel - Grindavik
Silica Hotel is ideal for those who want to experience one of Iceland’s most popular attractions, the Blue Lagoon. It sits right next to it, and guests can enjoy complimentary access. The hotel also has its very own private geothermal bathing pool, so you won’t have to battle the tourist crowds if you don’t want to. Set among the remote lava landscape, it’s an excellent spot for catching the light show too. Plus, it’s hard to beat the relaxation factor with hour-long massages that can be enjoyed in soothing water while floating on a mat. All sorts of healing treatments are available, too, using Blue Lagoon’s branded products.
The Retreat Hotel at Blue Lagoon - Grindavik
The Retreat Hotel at Blue Lagoon is nearly brand new, designed for an ultra-luxe stay that will make you feel like you’re in an entirely different world. Its sky terrace offers a prime location for viewing the northern lights, and the staff will monitor the skies and provide a wake-up call while you’re sleeping. Guests enjoy complimentary access to the lagoon, spa, and fitness center along with free daily group hikes, while world-class dining can be enjoyed at the highly-rated Moss restaurant. Rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the ethereal lagoon waters or the distant volcanos, along with terraces and free-standing tubs.
Hotel Húsafell - Borgarbyggð
Hotel Húsafell is a four-star resort providing an oasis of luxury in the rugged wilderness set on a former farm surrounded by rolling hills. It’s fully self-sustainable, powered by energy produced by the hot springs on-site, and located near the domes of Langjökull glacier. That helps ensure cloudless skies increase the odds of viewing the aurora, which appears an average of three times a week in the winter. Guests can book some fun and classic Iceland tours that involve guided walks and snowmobiling right from the hotel, and there are several thermal pools on-site that can be accessed for free. It hosts two restaurants, including the main dining room, which serves outstanding Icelandic cuisine, like lamb and salmon dishes, that can be enjoyed with a 180-degree view of the glacier. The minimalist rooms all feature floor-to-ceiling windows with scenic views. Book the villa for a deck and a hot tub.
Magma Hotel - Kirkjubaejarklaustur
Located in the south of Iceland on a lake near Kirkjugólf and the Systrafoss twin waterfalls, Magma Hotel is surrounded by dramatic lava fields with volcanoes and a glacier in the distance. While it’s only a stone’s throw from the Ring Road, it enjoys a remote location that makes it ideal for viewing the northern lights. It also serves as a great stop on your way to one of the Ring Road’s most famous roadside attractions – the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. A bistro restaurant is on-site and offers a generous breakfast buffet and home-style dinners that can be enjoyed with a view, while the rooms come with private patios, TVs with Netflix, in-floor heating, espresso coffee machines, and mini-fridges.
Northern Light Inn - Grindavik
A popular choice for those who want to soak in the Blue Lagoon, the Northern Light Inn is also an obvious pick for aurora viewing. This stunning hotel brings the outdoors inside, offering spacious rooms with large windows where guests can often watch the lights shimmering when it’s the season. All rooms have geothermal heating, flat-screen satellite TVs, and large bathrooms. A family-run hotel, it sits among the lava fields and offers a free shuttle to and from the Blue Lagoon, along with its own spa that includes a unique tranquility room, multiple saunas, and a fitness center. Max’s Restaurant is on-site and serves Nordic fare, while there’s all-day coffee and tea in the lobby. A complimentary breakfast can be enjoyed too.
Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon - Skaftafell
Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is ideally located between Skaftafell National Park and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, two of the most popular attractions in the country, while being in a remote area for aurora viewing. Surrounded by the countryside and mountains, it’s ideal for anyone looking to experience the best of Icelandic nature with icebergs, waterfalls, and scenic hiking trails. It offers a wake-up call service for the northern lights, and a dry sauna, while the on-site restaurant serves Nordic cuisine. Three-course set meals and a la carte options are available, along with a good wine list and Icelandic beers. The abundant windows bring lots of light in while allowing for fabulous views of the sea and glacier. Staff can provide advice on local sights and booking tours while the spacious rooms include satellite TVs and refrigerators. Book a suite for robes and slippers, a tub, and expansive windows for enjoying the views.
The 5 Million Star Hotel - Skálholt
The 5 Million Star Hotel is made up of bubbles, and it’s one of the most incredible of its kind in the world. Of course, they aren’t the kind kids like to blow, but rather unique hotel rooms that are transparent, designed for watching the northern lights and the brilliant starry skies. Located in a forest on a farm (the exact location is a secret, revealed when you receive your booking confirmation), it offers the experience of a lifetime in an area with no light pollution. Inside, you’ll have a very comfy bed for up to two adults, a space heater, and power strips for charging phones and cameras. A shared house nearby has two bathrooms for guest use that include toilets, showers, and sinks, and there’s also a kitchen with a kettle for hot water, a coffeemaker, a fridge, and a two-burner electric stovetop.