Sustainable travel has never looked so good. Discover the best eco friendly hotels in Iceland for a low impact adventure in the land of fire and ice.
Iceland in the far north Atlantic Ocean is a hot spot for eco friendly hotels and sustainable stays. With geothermal energy bursting from the ground, endless opportunities for outdoor adventures, and sustainably sourced cuisine, it’s a fantastic choice for a low impact vacation. To help you offset your stay in the country, we’ve picked out the 10 best eco friendly hotels in Iceland.
All the hotels in this list have one of two environmental certifications. This means that they meet the high standards set by each for sustainability and environmentally friendly practices.
The first qualification is the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. This is the official certification for eco friendly hotels in Iceland and the Nordic countries.
The second qualification is whether the accommodation is registered with Vakinn. This is the official qualification for environmentally friendly businesses in Iceland, set by the country’s tourism board.
1. Grand Hotel, Reykjavik
The Grand Hotel in Reykjavik is all about low impact luxury in the Icelandic capital. This is the only accommodation option in Iceland that has both a Nordic Swan Ecolabel and a Gold Class environmental rating from Vakinn. As such, it’s one of the best choices for a sustainable hotel in Reykjavik.
Rooms are plush and modern, there’s an onsite spa, and the restaurant sources sustainable, organic ingredients for their dishes. Amenities are all from local organic companies, and the hotel takes serious care when it comes to food wastage. There are also a few charging stations for electric vehicles in the parking area. Located 10 to 15-minutes’ walk from downtown, guests are close enough to the action without being in the middle of it all. It’s the perfect choice for a sustainable city break with a quick escape route into the countryside.
2. The Retreat at Blue Lagoon
The Retreat at Blue Lagoon is environmentally friendly opulence at its best. This exclusive spa sits a few levels above the Blue Lagoon, switching out the tourist-trap feel for a more sophisticated wellness experience. The hotel suites here are luxuriously minimalist, designed to blend in with the natural features that surround the hotel: mineral blue geothermal water and dark basalt lava rock. It's a superb eco friendly hotel.
Staying overnight at The Retreat comes with a whole suite of extras you’d expect for such price points. You’ll receive access to The Retreat’s own private geothermal lagoon and the subterranean spa area where all treatments take place. Guests can also go on guided hikes, attend relaxing yoga sessions, and access a private golf course. Admission to the Blue Lagoon is included as well. Boasting the Gold Class environmental rating from Vakinn, this might just be Iceland’s most sustainable wellness experience to date.
3. Eyja Guldsmedjen Hotel, Reykjavik
The Guldsmeden Hotel chain is for its commitment to environmentally friendly practices and local, sustainable style. Thanks to its strong eco friendly ethos, Eyja Guldsmeden has obtained the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. Expect light and airy rooms filled with bamboo furnishings, gorgeously soft beds, and local, organic amenities. The Eyja Hotel is in Reykjavik’s 105 neighbourhood, a short walk from all the downtown action. It's another great option for an eco friendly hotel in Reykjavik.
The fantastic hotel restaurant uses organic and local food, its bar stocked with local craft beers and Icelandic spirits. There are bikes for rent to help you get around town, and pretty much everything inside is eco friendly and sustainable. While not a part of the criteria for this list, the Eyja is also the first (and only) hotel in the country to be awarded the Green Globe certification. This level of sustainability is what all hotels should aspire to.
4. ION Adventure Hotel, The Golden Circle
Combining the latest green technology with sleek Nordic design, ION Adventure Hotel is a luxurious eco friendly hotel in Iceland’s Golden Circle. Located south of Lake Thingvellir, this sophisticated establishment is smack bang in the middle of a geothermal hotspot. Sulphurous steam swirls out of rifts in the landscape, kaleidoscopic colours collide at the edge of bubbling mud pots, and an ancient, moss-laden lava field stretches towards the nearby mountains. It’s ritzy, yet responsible; perfect for indulging in some low-impact volcanic adventures.
From inside the hotel, floor-to-ceiling windows offer views over this landscape, lifted straight out of a science fiction novel. The hotel incorporates lava, reclaimed wood, Icelandic wool, and other natural recycled materials into its construction, and everything from the bed linen to the food in the restaurant is organic and fair trade. Electric car charging ports are located in the parking area, allowing guests to jump into nearby Thingvellir National Park with ease. Environmentally friendly travel in Iceland has never looked so good.
5. Hotel Fljósthlíð, South Iceland
Located on the grassy fields northwest of the ice cap Eyjafjallajökull, Hotel Fljósthlíð is an extraordinary escape into Iceland’s countryside. This eco friendly hotel is located on a family-run farm called Smáratún, and is quietly leading the charge for responsible tourism in Iceland. This sustainable hotel received its Nordic Swan Ecolabel back in 2014 – one of the very first to do so in the country.
Guests at this comfortable eco friendly hotel are welcome to explore the farm, filled with free-range sheep, cows, Icelandic horses, and more. The vegetables grown on the farm feature heavily in the restaurant menu, as do other local and sustainably sourced ingredients. But the real winner? The owners of this farm have set up their own tree-planting initiative for guests to take part in. Those who want to are welcome to visit the surrounding fields, planting native birch trees to create windbreaks and offsetting their travel even further.
6. Von Guldsmeden Hotel, Reykjavik
Back to Reykjavik again for another of the best eco friendly hotels in Iceland. The recently opened Von Guldsmeden is the second hotel by the Guldsmeden group in Reykjavik. Located in the middle of Laugavegur, it’s perfect for responsible travellers who want to be in the busy downtown area.
Like its bigger sister Eyja (listed above), Von is furnished with the distinctive and sustainable furniture of the Guldsmeden group. Rooms are bright and airy with views towards the water, while the amenities again focus on local, organic products. However, that’s where the similarities stop. Whereas the common areas in Hotel Eyja are bright and airy, Von channels a stormier and more wintery Iceland. Dark hues, leather-clad furniture, and even a sophisticated whiskey den all give this place a great atmosphere.
7. Hotel Eldhestar, South Iceland
Wedged between glaciers, volcanoes, and rivers swarming towards coasts of black sand, Hotel Eldhestar is sustainability at its best. This working horse farm was one of the first hotels in the country to be awarded the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. They’ve also adopted the initiative set up by the Energy Agency of Iceland, ‘Recharge in the Barnyard’, encouraging guests to rent electric vehicles and charge them up in the hotel parking area. It's a fantastic eco friendly hotel in Iceland, and a great base for further explorations of the south coast.
Not trying out one of the famous horse tours here would be a big mistake. Since 1986 this company has offered wild horseback rides through Iceland, from half-day tours to epic jaunts through the highlands. The sustainable hotel restaurant serves up hearty meals for guests after a hard day’s ride, with all ingredients sourced from the surrounding farms and nearby fishermen.
8. Hotel Rauðaskriða, Northeast Iceland
For another taste of the idyllic life in the Icelandic countryside, the Hotel and Guesthouse Rauðaskriða in the northeast of the country is a winner. The farm hotel has always been run with sustainable principles in mind, and was one of the first hotels in the country to earn itself the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. It’s by far one of the best eco friendly hotels in Iceland.
Rooms are thoughtfully decorated with plush and comfortable furnishings – like the south, life in the north is pretty good. The owners also run their own wildlife tours like bird and whale watching. Having such personal service in this volcanic region of the country is a pleasure, and a great opportunity to learn more about Iceland’s natural environment. This area is very much different from the south and the capital region. Nearby you can find the volcanic oasis of Lake Mývatn, one of the highlights of any trip to the country.
9. Loft Hostel, Reykjavik
Rounding out this list are the hostels operated by Hostelling International in Reykjavik. This group has a strong commitment to sustainable travel, so you can be sure that staying at one of their hostels is a great way to lower the impact of your journey in Iceland. And while there are plenty of options around the country that follow their environmental guidelines, only the two locations in Reykjavik have done enough to meet the criteria of the Nordic Swan Ecolabel.
The first one is Loft Hostel, located on the top floor of a building along Bankastræti in the middle of downtown Reykjavik. It’s a lively hostel with a beautiful roof terrace where guests can enjoy a beer or two with a view. There's also a regular lineup of events each week, from trivia nights to karaoke. For a more affordable sustainable hotel in Iceland, Loft is a great choice.
10. Reykjavik City Hostel
The second hostel and the final eco friendly accommodation option on this list is the Reykjavik City Hostel. Located about 15 minutes' walk from downtown, this hostel is right next to the city’s busy campsite. Since most buses to the highlands make a stop here, it’s perfect for adventurers looking to escape into the countryside on public transport. It’s also more affordable than any downtown accommodation, and right next door to the biggest and best swimming pool in Reykjavik: Laugardalslaug.
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