Curio Local Guide

Reykjavik

Authored by Gunnar Freyr Gunnarsson
Gunnar Freyr Gunnarsson
Photographer and Creative Entrepreneur

We sent Gunnar Freyr Gunnarsson to Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton to create a Reykjavik, Iceland travel guide. This is where history and style meet. Once a 1900’s department store operated by Consul Thomsen’s family, this charming building has been renovated with modern amenities and nods to Reykjavik’s vibrant culture. It’s a quick walk from our city center hotel to Iceland Parliament, Harpa Concert Hall, the Laugavegur main shopping street, and top restaurants and nightlife. Gunnar created an incredible travel guide full of local secrets and destination tips just for you.

Close this

Reykjavik is home to a unique creative crowd, nurturing all kinds of art forms, which fuels freedom of expression and feeling of empowerment. 

My Perfect Day

What to do in a place like this if you only have 24 hours?

To start the day well fueled, I would recommend grabbing breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant – Gott. You will spend most of your day doing outdoor activities, so make sure you start your day right! Gott is a perfect place to try the hearty, healthy and local food. Originally coming from the Westmann Islands (off the South Coast of Iceland) the restaurant is a real gem. They have an amazing menu for children, too!

Now time to be on the go. Take a bottle of fresh Icelandic water from the tap. We have the most amazing water here, it would be a sin not to make use of it. Since the hotel is located centrally and in close proximity to the harbor, getting on a morning Whale Watching tour would be the best way to start the Icelandic adventure. After the beautiful views of Reykjavik (and the whales obviously) head out for lunch at the Grandi harbor, which is ten minutes walk from the pier. Coocoos Nest or Flatey are your best options for a delicious meal. At Coocoos I would order the soup and salad combo while at Flatey’s, the pizza is to die for! While you are at Grandi, you can visit some of the local art galleries and stores, or head over to the Saga Museum for a fascinating tour through the Viking times in Iceland.

Next up is the Hallgrimskirkja, as it truly is a must see place, and it is totally worth it to wait in line for the viewing tower! Once you are back on the ground, take a short walk through the sculpture garden behind the Einar Jónsson Museum. It is a perfect place to enjoy a quiet moment surrounded by art and nature in the middle of the city.

In the afternoon, you should meet the Icelandic horses. These animals are incredibly gentle, strong and beautiful. They are the perfect way to experience Iceland. There are a few options for horseback riding tours around Reykjavik but my all time favorite is located by the red hills (30 min drive out of Reykjavik) and its run by a company called Islenski Hesturinn.

In the early evening hours head back to the Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel to unwind and get a pre-dinner drink in the hotel lobby. For dinner head to the Fish Market. For dessert go to Ísbúð Vesturbæjar for ice cream which is undoubtedly your best option. Make sure to try the “old fashioned” ice cream dipped in milky chocolate called “luxusdífa” – it is simply the best!

Finish your evening with northern lights by Grótta in the winter time if the weather gods are in your favor or midnight sun views in the summer.

Where to stay

Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton

The hotel really embraces the history and heritage of Iceland in a high-end and incredibly cozy way. It has a fair share of vintage influence yet it remains modern. The Konsúlat Hotel’s combination of Icelandic and Danish roots connects with my personal background. I lived in Denmark for many years, so I appreciate that the hotel took the effort to breathe history into its walls in a tasteful and inspiring manner. The building that houses the Konsúlat Hotel was once Thomsens Magasín, the first Icelandic department store owned by consul Thomsen, hence the name of the hotel. The original wall of the old department store building has been saved and runs through various spaces in the hotel which in my opinion gives a very special feel to the place. It also shows the attentiveness of the hotel design and its appreciation of the history of the place, which spoke to me as a guest and as a local.

SEE HOTEL DETAILS

Upon arrival at the hotel, it is obvious that the team members take pride in caring for every detail of the experience. Sitting and relaxing in the lounge area, which has been thoughtfully designed, is a perfect place to take a short break from your everyday busy schedule. It also fuels a wanderlust and desire to explore, which is a perfect match for any traveler visiting the hotel.

The remaining hotel décor including lights, lavish clothing goods, and old photographs of the Thomsen family life make you feel extremely welcomed and comfortable as if you were visiting a family member rather than a hotel. Since I am from Reykjavik, this was a staycation for me, but I definitely appreciated the feel of this hotel and now I am eager to plan even more adventures to satisfy my travel hunger.

I was visiting the hotel with my girlfriend and our year and a half-year-old son, and I can easily say that all three of us loved our stay. As a couple, we had the perfect amount of indulgence to feel well taken care of and spoiled. As a family with a young child, we felt the comfort and ease that young parents so often need. We stayed in a Suite which was extremely comfortable and we enjoyed the stylish interior design. The hotel team members were very professional and friendly, always greeted us with a smile and were very resourceful when we asked for help.

One of the highlights for all of us was definitely the hot pool, which relates so well to the hot pool culture of Iceland. For anyone new to the country, you should know Icelanders invented the “hot tub,” as our most influential Icelander to date, Snorri Sturluson, had an outdoor hot pool in a round shape in the 13th century.

The most prominent feature of the hotel is how well it fits into the city and how it incorporates the history, heritage and the direction that Reykjavik is moving towards. The building has been an important marker in building Iceland’s tourism and trade economies. Ditlev Thomsen was an entrepreneur and apart from doing well at the department store, he had a flair for hospitality, diplomatic services and art, and his actions influenced the development of the city so much that it’s dynamic growth put Reykjavik on the international map.

Restoring the grand spirit of such an important location in Reykjavik’s history is quite an accomplishment. The entire area around the hotel is being refreshed and reinvented, yet the building itself stands in something of an enclave. While in the heart of it all, it is tucked away to ensure very convenient quietness and intimate relaxation, which makes it one of the best spots in the city. The other thing that makes this building so special is a top floor terrace, as it offers a unique perspective over Reykjavik. Terraces and balconies in the city are a very rare sight, so having the chance to enjoy some sun rays like that is a treat even for a local!

#CitiesByCurio