Southeast Iceland has two gems: the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon and the Skaftafell National Park. Both of these sites are stunningly beautiful; the former for the fantastically shaped icebergs floating in sky blue water, and the latter for vast expanses of forest and heath kept preserved for centuries. Located between these two settings of natural wonder is Hótel Skaftafell.
Built in 1989, Hótel Skaftafell is open year round and aims to constantly improve itself. As hotel manager Anna María explained, “I don’t think of it as a hotel alone. We’re also a guesthouse, a shop, a restaurant, a garage and a tourist information centre.” This multi-tasking should come as a relief to many travelling through the southwest, as there is little else by way of any of these things in the surrounding area.
The hotel is also in a constant state of expansion. New buildings for sleeping bag accommodation were added during the late 90s, and more rooms are being added on. The ones they already have, especially in the main building, provide a comfort that is worth the price. (10,500 ISK for a single room with a shower.)
Hótel Skaftafell boasts an international staff who speak English, French, Spanish and German, and the staff are strongly encouraged by management to take part in the various tourist activities in the area. As Anna María explained, “The more you know about the area, the better. When a member of our staff recommends a tour or an excursion, you know they’re speaking truly about it.”
Hótel Skatafell also has a large restaurant, which also doubles as a large coffeehouse and place to get in from the rain. While the prices there are reasonable, there aren’t any surprises in the fare. Pasta, fish and potatoes, and woefully overcooked lamb fillet and other standards don’t exactly jump off the menu. However, we can highly recommend ordering the trout. It’s fished locally and is among the best we’ve tasted so far.
For travellers who want to explore southeast Iceland, Hótel Skaftafell is an excellent choice for those who can afford to pay a little extra – that little bit extra goes a long way.
Hótel Skaftafell on the Ring Road (1), Four km East of Skaftafell National Park. Phone (+354) 478-1945. www.hotelskaftafell.is.