A Little Old, A Little New And A Fabulous View: Luxury Meets History In The Golden Circle

A Little Old, A Little New And A Fabulous View: Luxury Meets History In The Golden Circle

Desirai Thompson
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Your GPS announces you’re nearing your destination. You drive past sheep lazily napping in tufts of luscious moss as rain gently patters your windshield. The buzz of the city begins to wash away. The absolute serenity of your new surroundings starts to set in.

torfhús retreat

Millennia-old design, modern living

Stepping onto the black volcanic rocks paving Torfhús Retreat, you’re struck with an immediate sense of luxury, history and an intensely personal oneness with nature. It’s no surprise to learn that each aspect of the retreat, down to the dutifully crafted stonework adorning each turf-topped home, was deeply important to the minds behind this haven. Who knew a mutual love of breeding Icelandic horses could bring two families—one from Iceland, the other from Liechtenstein—to develop this stunning countryside oasis? Yet, that’s exactly how Torfhús Retreat was born.

“With the effortless warmth of home, nothing about this place feels fleeting.”

Once you’ve been welcomed by the vibrant staff and finally turn the knob to your new—albeit temporary—home, you’re met with the stunning facade of 200-year-old reclaimed wood from Swiss and Austrian churches and you realise that nothing—not a thing—has been taken for granted here. Sink into a piece of handcrafted furniture for a post-travel snooze, warm up with a shower that’s practically begging you to treat yourself to a self-care night or pick up the phone and dial 9 for a Northern Lights wakeup call, if the season suits. With the effortless warmth of home, nothing about this place feels fleeting.

Nobody puts nature in the corner

Set in a field surrounded by slightly rolling land with mountains looming in the distance, you could set an afternoon aside to just admire how your surroundings morph in the ever-changing Icelandic weather—it seems, at times, as if there’s a different season in full swing in every direction you look. Not that the weather will dampen your enjoyment of this place. Taking a dip in your private and, dare I say, instantly iconic basalt stone hot pool while soft rain falls is one of those joys that make you feel unquestionably in touch with your surroundings. This, right here, is Iceland.

Palate teasing & appetite pleasing

The main lodge at Torfhús is a masterclass in comfort, washing you in the warm golden hues only otherwise found in the most quaint Alpine chalets or movies featuring a gourmandising Viking feast scene. If it’s time for dinner, you’re one to be envied. Locally-sourced ingredients are harmonised for each course to produce plates that feel both rustic and sumptuous, as in unison as every other aspect of the experience here. You wouldn’t tire of eating this fare even if the chef wasn’t dedicated to creating an entirely new culinary journey night after night. Do opt for the remarkable wine pairings selected by the on-site sommelier.

Onward to adventure

When your sojourn comes to an end, you’ll depart feeling refreshed but undoubtedly bittersweet. Luckily, the surrounding area is rife with adventurous activities to help your spirits rebound. Hike one of the lesser known trails in the area, take a moment of reflection at the strikingly serene Brúarhlöð canyon, book a heart-racing rafting trip or check out the classic stops along Iceland’s famous Golden Circle.


Photo by Art Bicnick

“For the tomato-crazed among us, sip a wildly drinkable tomato beer.”

It’s also just a short drive over to Friðheimar in nearby Reykholt, a delightful restaurant, bar and tomato-centred shop situated in the corner of a fully functioning greenhouse, growing some of the best tomatoes in Iceland. Sink into the freshest bowl of tomato soup around or, for the tomato-crazed among us, sip a wildly drinkable tomato beer. You’ll be dropping that tidbit at cocktail parties for years to come.

What Torfhús Retreat has created is a space that is at once a perfect destination in and of itself while also functioning as the ideal jumping off point to enjoy everything the area has to offer—if you can find the power within yourself to leave.

Torfhús Retreat is 107 kilometres away from Reykjavík. Check it out here.

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

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