Enjoy Winter this year
Comfort and friendliness make for a memorable stay at Hotel Kea
Why don’t you go, then? My colleague’s question led me to the brief flight to Akureyri, right across the highland centre of the country to the spectacular descent down into the fjord where this northern town lies, a few moments later. No hours of waiting for the baggage carousel, either. Before we knew it, we were in the car for the 5 min. drive to the hotel.
Hotel Kea is right in the centre of the town. The pace is relaxed here. Everything is within a few minutes walk. Even the ski slopes are just a short drive away. “Why aren’t more cities like this,” I wondered. Hotel Kea was built in 1944 as a 4-star hotel and now has 104 rooms, receiving groups and individual travellers throughout the year. It has that old-world, comfortable feel to it. Staying here myself, I understand why it is a popular choice. The view of the fjord from the windows of the restaurant and my bedroom are just beautiful. I can step out onto the balcony and enjoy the sun and fresh air. I can walk out of its front door and I’m just a few steps from shops, restaurants, galleries and gardens.
Dining at the restaurant is relaxed, with each dish both beautifully presented and uniquely flavourful. Even though it was almost full when I ate there, its design and lighting provide a discreet, calm ambience. The staff epitomised the Icelandic culture with their good natured, friendly service, being there just when needed and providing knowledgeable counsel about the menu when asked.
The town is filled with art, music and culture that continues throughout the year. Top opera singers and avant garde groups perform at the cultural centre whilst art is everywhere. Akureyri offers very special autumn and winter experiences that are hard to find elsewhere. From late August, the Northern Lights begin to sweep the skies. The hills offer great skiing whilst the mountains, waterfalls, lakes, horse riding, jeep tours present a totally different picture that is even more inspiring and fulfilling than in the summer.At the centre of it all, is Hotel Kea; a 4-star hotel with 5-star friendliness.Hotel Norðurland
At the other end of the walking street is the 3-star Hotel Norðurland. The rooms are a little smaller and simpler—but the warm, friendly service is the same. Although it doesn’t have a restaurant, the dining room provides the same range of breakfast foods as the Kea.
This hotel is understandably popular with cost-conscious visitors and takes in groups, too, with 41 rooms on two floors, including a room with access for handicapped guests. It is a comfortable place to base from when visiting the area.Hotel Gígur
Visitors to North Iceland almost invariably want to see Lake Mývatn, with its amazing birdlife and natural beauty, flanked by volcanos and geothermal areas. Set on the lakeside itself, you would never know that this hotel was once a school, so well has it been converted and upgraded and it is rated as 2-star only because the rooms are more compact.
The beds are very comfortable and there’s no problem in getting a good night’s sleep with only the gentle sound of the birds to wake you in the morning. It’s service is just as good as other Kea group hotels, friendly and right
there when you need it. The dining room and lounge area is beautiful, with large windows offering an unparalleled view of the lake and the sunset over the mountains. It is lit with ornate chandeliers. The meals are delicious. We tried all the choices during our stay here and they are equally recommended.
As autumn sets in, this is a fantastic spot to view the Northern Lights. Mývatn is a dry area, so the Aurora is frequently visible as the weather cools down. It had been sunny all summer but there was a sudden snow shower just after our arrival that coated the mountains in a picturesque white and highlighted the steam rising from the geothermal hot spots. Right across the road, horses are grazing—but they can be rented for a ride in the beautiful nature around the hotel. Flying back home, I couldn’t help thinking that for both individuals and incentive groups, a visit in winter to North Iceland would be the experience of a lifetime. The wide range of activities, including horse riding or go-karting on the ice to skiing the slopes to bathing in the natural hot baths, surrounded by snow, provide unique bonding opportunities. Having stayed in the Kea hotels, I can’t imagine any more convenient and comfortable.
Hafnarstræti 87-89 • 600 Akureyri
+354 460 2000