Once again we come to the time in the year where we do the hard task of assessing which bars and clubs are worthy of a place in the limelight. Reykjavík’s bar culture is quite vast and diverse, ranging from the smallest three-table hole that serves one beer and where regulars threaten you for taking an extra chair, to huge vast glittering bottle-service rooms lined with leather and mirrors. Unfortunately for our panel, selecting these bars doesn’t mean an actual field trip, but it does require a certain—how shall we put it politely—expertise. They range from former bar staff, to performers who find themselves in bars all the time, to writers who sometimes write, and sometimes just drink about it. So here are the results that our ragtag team of (ahem) experts came up with. Now get out there and have a few!
Ending the night in Reykjavík usually means an after party, so where you end up before that tends to be the bottom of the barrel. Paloma’s basement is literally at the bottom of town and it’s truly the place to cap off an evening. “It’s the only place I end up,” said one panelist. “It’s pretty grimy, and you can go upstairs or downstairs, or over to Húrra—it’s really easy to hang there.” One usually doesn’t have to battle long lines because the place is so big, and you’re basically guaranteed a fun messy time.
Last year’s winner, Húrra remains a strong contender for a place to top off the night—but the panel decided that it doesn’t quite have that last-stop kind of vibe: “It’s great,” said a panelist, “but I always end up going somewhere else when I party there.”
With its packed and grinding dance floor and huge social smoking area, this hip-hop spot is another classic nightcap, but tends to skew young and is notoriously difficult to get into. Said the panel: “I end up going when I’m bored and I get really wasted, but there’s always such a long line.”
2015: Paloma Basement
2013: Harlem (RIP)
You can buy a copy of the full Best Of Reykjavík 2017 magazine, posted worldwide, at gpv.is/buybestof.