Best Mainstreamer Bar: The English Pub
If you’re wondering what we mean by ‘mainstream,’ a lot of us did as well! We agreed that this is neither a positive or negative qualifier, but a neutral catch-all; a place where you could pop in for a single beer or a long rowdy night whether you are a Kenzo clad fashion maven or a Goretex layered stopover tourist. The English Pub fits this to a T, as we all learned by holding a booze-soaked Best Of meeting there, with a panel comprised of hipsters, dads, clean-cut professionals, goths, football fans and slobs. Thanks, English Pub!
2012: The English Pub
2011: The English Pub
Best Place to Start the Night: Slippbarinn
We judge a good place to start the night as a place to be able to chat with your companions, drink something that tastes good and maybe be able to get something to eat. Kind of like KEX’s west-side counterpart, Slippbarinn in the Hotel Marina, which swept this category with their gorgeous, central harbour location, comfortable and spacious atmosphere and a superb selection of well-priced cocktails and pub grub. We have started many a night there, with great success, and it sort of makes losing Hemmi & Valdi a little less painful.
2012: KEX Hostel
2011: Nýlenduvörverzlun Hemma & Valda
2010: Nýlenduvörverzlun Hemma & Valda
NEW! Best Place To End The Night: Harlem
At the end of the night, we’re talking the very end of a very long night, you’re usually looking for something special, an extra dose of magic to help you reach previously unattained peaks. Something for the books. Lately, that special something can often be found at Harlem. As closing time draws near, you can expect the patrons to go all in, dancing on any flat surface, smashing glasses, and getting sloppy. The music is the kind that everyone can shake to, and even if your dancing sucks, you don’t have to worry, what you’ll be doing is neither technically nor legally dancing anyway! Take our hint: go shake, pivot and pulsate your way into the morning at Harlem!
Best Cheap Bar: Ölsmiðjan
When it comes to the best cheap bar, we’re of course considering the price of beer, but that cheap beer has to taste decent and you have to be not especially afraid while consuming that cheap beer. Thus, Ölsmi›jan wins best cheap bar. It doesn’t have the cheapest beer in town (we think this is Glaumbar, for 390 ISK), but it has pretty cheap beer (450 ISK), and the atmosphere is nicer than you’d maybe expect for the price.
2011: Den Danske Kro
2010: Kaffi Zimsen
2009: Nýlenduvöruverzlun Hemma & Valda
Best All Around Bar: Dolly
Dolly is a great bar to have some post-work beers when the place is still mellow and quiet enough to have conversation. As the night goes on, it becomes far more upbeat. You’ll find it’s a great place to go dancing or get in that one last round on your way home, that is if you’re not too late, as the queue gets pretty long as the hour grows late.
Best Bar To Go Dancing: Harlem
Harlem has Reykjavík’s busiest dance floor, and it attracts the very cool and fly young artsy crowd that loves to—you guessed it—get down and boogie! In between showing off dance moves they learned from YouTube, you can admire the beautiful interior art decorating the venue, fight your way to the bar and enjoy being ignored until someone takes pity on you and serves you a beer. The music is cool and the dance floor usually ends up taking over the tables and booths, too.
Best Newcomer Bar: Kaldi
Kaldi serves excellent beer (…Kaldi) and their happy hour lasts until 20:00. And guess what: they have an actual, tuned piano that people can play, which is really nice. Oh, and not only do they have Kaldi, but they also have unfiltered Kaldi on tap, which you’re probably not going to find elsewhere.
2012: Slippbarinn, Hótel Marína
Best Place To Watch Sports Over Beer: Bjarni Fel
Sports bars in Reykjavík seem to come and go, but one in particular is always there. That’s Bjarni Fel. If it’s sports on big TVs that you’re after, you can count on this bar, which won this category back in 2009, to provide you with exactly that. They’ve got the burgers, the beer, the all sorts of weird sports from all over the world on TV–and they’re conveniently right downtown, should you be in the mood to engage in further recreational drinking once the vuvuzelas die down.
2012: Úrilla Górillan
2011: Hvíta Perlan
2010: Hvíta Perlan
2009: Bjarni Fel
Best Beer Selection: Micro Bar
If it’s variety you’re looking for, then look no further–as far as sheer number of different beers available, Micro Bar is simply unbeatable. They always have eight beers on tap (no Viking or Gull, either!) and dozens of bottled selections, constantly getting new and more exciting kinds from all over the world. The staff is also knowledgeable, and can tell you all about it should you wish to turn your getting sloshed into an educational experience. This place is all about the variety, not the volume.
2012: Micro Bar
Best Place To Get Cocktails: Borg, Hotel Borg Pósthússtræti 9-11
When it came time to pick this year’s best place to get cocktails, our choices came down to Hótel Marína’s Slippbarinn and Hotel Borg’s Borg (last year’s winner Kolabrautin sadly having lost its mojo for some reason). While Borg is perhaps slightly less inventive than Slippbarinn, it is extremely solid in the classics. They go the extra mile, burning that strip of orange peel and dropping it onto the egg white foam of your cocktail to give the slightest flavour… The Borg room itself is beautiful and has a sense of occasion, which is important for cocktails. Plus, the service is just incredible.
Runner-up: Slippbarinn. They are super inventive and that’s definitely part of the reason we’ve voted it best place to start the night.
NEW! Best Bar For Smokers: Reykjavík Beats
In the smoker’s world, a bar has to meet certain criteria that the rest of us probably couldn’t care less about (although it should be said that the smoking area of a bar is a great way to meet people). Reykjavík Beats takes the cake with the only “indoor” smoking area. There’s nice seating there where you can drink your beer, which is essential, the smokers say, as they quite enjoy drinking their beer while they smoke. Be warned though, Reykjavík Beats kind of makes you want to stay in the smoking area all night long, which will wreak havoc on your clothes and lungs.