Former home to a drove of hardy Icelandic sheep, luxury stay Deplar Farm and its turf-camouflaged rooftop conceal cosy suites, a stylish spa, restaurant and play space, all with views of the surrounding ice-sloped mountains and sprawling wilderness of the magical Troll Peninsula. There’s no need to learn the Icelandic for 'may I have the bill, please': all meals are included, and feature dishes such as locally-caught trout and Icelandic char. Some adventures are gratis, too: pull on your best boots – be they of the trekking, skiing or horse-riding variety – by day, then shake off the snow and cosy up by the fire, or float in the open-air pool (don’t worry, it’s heated by geothermal energy) under the midnight sun’s golden glow, or – if you’re lucky – the eerie green and purple of the Northern Lights.
Get this when you book through us:
A signature Eleven Experience candle with a handmade, locally-carved candle holder
10am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £2224.04 (ISK391,033), including tax at 11 per cent.
Rates include all meals, two guide-led adventures a day (including all the equipment you’ll need), house alcohol, roundtrip airport transfers from Akureyri, and the services of an experience manager.
Limber up with private or group yoga sessions; choose from ashtanga, kundalini, easy flow and family-style. All sessions end with a spot of relaxation and reflection. Surfers should note that although it's possible to catch ice-cold waves at certain times of year, riding waves is dependent on Northern Iceland's ever-changing weather.
At the hotel
A ‘gear room’ stocked with all manner of sporting kit, spa and steam room, outdoor turf-mound sauna, gym, yoga studio and flotation tanks, library, lounge, media room, guide room, free WiFi throughout and laundry services. In rooms: Aesop and Kiehl’s bath products, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and a daily-restocked minibar filled with free goodies (dried fruit, roasted nuts, hummus and crackers, soda, juice, house-brand alcohol and bottled water).
Our favourite rooms
Top-floor gallery room Freyja is especially spacious and has a treehouse-style mezzanine loft with a hammock-for-two, and windows on three sides, so you’ll get near-panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and streams. For traditional Icelandic style, opt for southwest-facing Guðrún; you’ll catch the first rays of morning sun, too.
In the spa, there’s an indoor-outdoor pool, kept toasty by geothermal energy, with a swim-up bar. Swim under the midnight sun in summer, or stargaze on long winter nights. On the opposite side of the farm house, there’s an open-air hot tub, which can be booked for private soaks.
Minimalist in design, the airy spa prompts you to focus on relaxation and the lunar-like mountain range framed by floor-to-ceiling windows. There’s a masseuse on hand who’s skilled in Swedish, deep-tissue, shiatsu and jet lag-busting pummelling, and additional therapists can be recruited as needed. After your treatment, meditate in an i-sopod flotation tank, limber up with a yoga session, relax in the sunroom, or hop from the steam room to the unheated plunge pool. Deplar Spa also offers personal and training, and post-ski stretching sessions.
Bring your stretchy yoga-wear, stylish thermals, cosy jumpers and favourite pom-pom-topped beanie – you’ll fit right in.
Deplar Farm’s common areas are wheelchair-accessible, there’s a lift to all floors, and the Thor Suite is fully adapted.
Kids of all ages are welcome; baby cots are available on request, meals can be adapted for little Smiths’ tastebuds, and adventures can be tailored to suit the whole family.
Children of all ages are welcome, but little Smiths above toddling age will be able to take advantage of more activities.
Perfect for pint-sized Icelandic slumber parties, Álfahóll has two sets of bunk beds and room for a fifth twin-size bed. All other rooms have space for a baby cot, but older children will need to stay in separate rooms.
Outdoor adventures can be tailored for family fun.
Supervised little Smiths are welcome in the swimming pool.
There’s no specific children’s menu, but the kitchen team will happily adapt meals to suit younger palates, and heat up bottles and baby food. High chairs are on hand too.
With a week’s notice, babysitting (£50 an hour) can be arranged for bookings of three hours or more.
No need to pack
Baby cots, bottle-sterilising facilities, highchairs and booster seats, books, puzzles, craft supplies, toys and entertainment tablets are all available at the hotel.
Bicycles of all sizes – with matching helmets to boot – are on hand to borrow for family spins around the rugged landscape.
Get to know your neighbours at the family-style dining-room table, or sneak away to a more secluded spot in the garden or next to the living room’s fireplace.
Wear the clothing equivalent of Icelandic Snúður – as cosy and comfortable as you please.
In Deplar Farm’s dining room, floor-to-ceiling windows at one end of a long wooden table frame the dramatic surroundings. A stacked-stone fireplace at the other end adds a healthy dose of hygge to leisurely evening meals. Ingredients for Deplar’s farm-to-table fare are provided by local fishermen, farmers and brewers, and include mountain lamb and salmon or char caught in the nearby stream. Freshly baked bread comes slathered in salted butter, but save room for the langoustine soup, a particularly cockle-warming dish. All meals are paired with wines from Deplar’s extensive cellar. Breakfasts are a lavish affair with Icelandic pancakes, fresh pastries and fruits, smoothies and eggy favourites including huevos rancheros; gourmet packed lunches will simultaneously fuel your days of adventure and put brown bags of your past to shame.
Snag a seat at the horseshoe-shaped bar and order a round of Icelandic schnapps shots, bottle of wine or your cocktail of choice. Challenge your partner to a game of pool or darts, or simply stake out a spot on the wraparound deck and enjoy the dramatic scenery. In the evenings, curl up on an oversized sofa by the open fireplace, play with an instrument from the bar’s fully-equipped band stage, or get into the groove with the farm’s fierce karaoke parties (rifle through the costume chest first to really jazz up your routine). There’s also a swim-up bar at the edge of the indoor-outdoor pool, so you won’t need to leave the geothermally-heated waters when you fancy a refreshing craft beer mid-dip.
Breakfast is served from from 8am to 10am, lunch from noon to 2pm, and dinner – with a view of the Icelandic sunset – from 6pm to 10pm.
Officially, there’s no in-room dining, but all of the treats in your fully-stocked minibar are free, and staff are flexible if your day’s adventures have worked up an out-of-hours appetite.
Luxury lodge Deplar Farm is in the mountains of the Troll Peninsula, between the fjords of Skagafjörður and Eyjafjorður in northern Iceland.
Akureyri Airport is 150 kilometres away, a journey of about three hours by car; hotel transfers are included in your room rate. Ring up our Smith24 team and they’ll happily sort out flights for you. Rekjavik’s Keflavik International Airport is about 400 kilometres away; a drive of just over five hours up Iceland’s west coast.
Siglufjörður, the nearest town, is 45 minutes away by car (a four-wheel drive is essential); there’s free valet parking at the hotel. From Reykjavik, it’s a little over five hours by car, although snow cover can slow things down in the winter.
Helicopter and charter flights – there’s a landing strip in the property grounds – can be arranged too.
Worth getting out of bed for
Your stay at Deplar Farm includes two guide-led activities a day, (hiking, clay-pigeon shooting, whale watching and horse-riding are included if you've booked a full experience stay, so come prepared to explore northern Iceland’s wilderness and all it has to offer. Pulse-pumping heli-skiing sessions (for an extra charge) run from March to May each year; even seasoned skiers will thrill at exploring Iceland's diverse landscape, and long daylight hours allow guides to pick the best time of day to head out and the best snow conditions. Early season brings fresh powder and a mild maritime climate; and summery days bring the ideal conditions for corn-snow skiing. Adventures are planned in the guide room, and all the equipment you’ll need can be found in the hotel’s play room: snowmobiles, surfboards (and thick wetsuits), fishing gear, snowshoes and even a custom Sno-Cat for off-off-road exploration. Activities change seasonally, in winter dog-sledding is thrown into the mix, and in the summer you can try your hand at archery, fly-fishing or frisbee golf, or go for day hikes through valleys, along dramatic cliffs, and by thundering waterfalls. Year-round pursuits include relaxing in Iceland’s famous natural hot springs and venturing out to sea in search of wandering whale pods.
All meals are included with your stay at Deplar Farm, but if you want to dine further afield for a meal, make your way to Siglufjörður at the northernmost point of Troll Peninsula. Local favourite Kaffir Raudka is the place for dinners of fresh fish soup, mussels and shrimp, or hashed fish on rye bread. For laid-back lunch, snag a table at Harbour House Café and order plates of pan-fried trout, smoked herring, and shrimp salads; all best paired with a local craft beer, of course.
Deplar Farm is in the middle of nowhere – and it’s perfect.
With only a handful of other houses scattered around the area, being here makes you feel like you’re one of the lucky few people left on the planet. The traditional turf-roofed farmhouse is beautifully understated, and manages to be both homely and elegant at the same time. The interior is only outdone by the sweeping panoramic views of the mountains and valleys that can be seen from the floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the hotel.
After being given a tour and shown to our room, we joined some other guests for breakfast. Now, I’m not much of a morning person at the best of times let alone pre-coffee and post-propeller plane, so when someone told me that an hour in a floatation tank was equal to four hours of sleep, I headed straight downstairs to the spa to try it out.
Feeling much more human after floating around for a while, it was time to meet our personal guide Gestur, aka Thor (yes, really). As part of the booking process for Deplar, you’re sent a form to fill out with various activities that you can do, which is then turned into an itinerary for your stay. I was slightly concerned that I’d just signed up to some kind of adventure boot camp and, as a born and bred central Londoner, my idea of an adventure is getting on the DLR. Having said that, I’m pretty game to try most things, which is how I ended up kayaking in the Arctic Ocean less than 24 hours later.
One of the many great things about Deplar Farm is that you can tailor the experience to be what you want it to be. The itinerary is actually more of a guideline, and you can be as active or as relaxed as you want, whether that’s spending your afternoon heli-skiing or hanging out in the Viking sauna. So I was slightly relieved to hear that no one was going to make me ride a mountain bike over a glacier at 8am.
One of the activities I had chosen was horseback riding, so that afternoon Thor took us to a nearby horse farm. The fact that it was 5° at the time was made easier by the thermal onesies provided for all activities. So all I had to think about was trying to master the tölt (a special gait that only Icelandic horses have), while taking photos of the unbelievable scenery we were trotting through.
Once back at the hotel we went for a swim in the indoor/outdoor geothermal pools to warm up, followed by a whisky by the fire. Not just any whisky though – earlier that day Thor had pointed out an iceberg that had drifted over from Greenland, and had gone down to get some ice that had washed up on the beach to use in lieu of ice cubes, which took having my usual whisky ‘on the rocks’ to a whole new level.
Staying at Deplar is a little like being at a friends house – you’re encouraged to walk around in your slippers, and meals are all eaten in a communal dining room with the other guests. You can request to dine alone should you want to, but it’s much more fun to sit with everyone and hear about where they’re from and their day’s adventures. The dining room features a long table that can seat everyone when the hotel is at full capacity, but as we were there during off season there were only six of us, which felt like being at a family dinner. (Although, I only wish that my family dinners were as incredible as this – sorry mum). The food at Deplar Farm is amazing. All locally sourced and expertly paired with the right wines – coming home and having to accept that an award-winning chef won’t be preparing all my meals has actually been quite difficult.
The next day started with a small hike, (a word I wasn’t particularly excited about, so we called it an ‘uphill walk’ instead – much better), to a waterfall. London doesn’t have enough waterfalls in my opinion.
Next we went for lunch at the Ghost Farm, which is a small cabin Deplar own down the road from the main hotel. A chef came from the hotel to prepare another delicious meal for us, however I was completely distracted by a mountain game that consisted of a ring hanging from a piece of string on the ceiling that you try to swing onto a hook on the wall. Sounds easy, right? Well it’s not, and I was obsessed – I’m actually still trying to work out where I can install one in my flat.
After proving I was better at the ring game than Thor (he may or may not tell a different story), it seemed like a good idea for everyone’s sanity to go outside and shoot some guns instead. Despite appearances, I’m actually more likely to be found skeet shooting than doing gong yoga (another Deplar activity), although I’d never been shooting in the snow before. I’d also never tried axe throwing either, which as it turns out, I’m terrible at, and vowed that when I got home I’d throw axes around Notting Hill until I improve.
After successfully managing to not kill anyone, we went for a drive around the local area. At this point I feel like I don’t even need to say that every inch of this country is jaw-droppingly beautiful, and every time we went anywhere I had to pinch myself because I couldn't quite believe that what I was seeing was real. The drive ended up down at the beach, where we got into dry suits and the aforementioned kayaking happened – something else I hadn’t done before, but am immensely pleased that I did.
On our final day, we went whale-watching. This was the number one thing Mr Smith and I had wanted to do during our stay, so to say I was excited was an understatement. We went out with another couple from the hotel (all activities are done privately with just your party and your guide, but whales are obviously hard to manage so sometimes small groups go out together depending on timing).
After about an hour of speeding over the Arctic, the captain announced that some whales were right ahead of us. He cut the engines, and sure enough there were two humpbacks only a few metres away. As I stood there, overwhelmed at how beautiful it all was, I thought I might actually cry…but instead I threw up everywhere. Yes, It was at that exact moment that I found out I get seasick. After I insisted I was fine, we continued on to check out the Greenland iceberg and I happily accepted the whisky someone handed me which, yes, I proceeded to throw up also.
Once back on dry land – and after a lot of apologising to the captain of the boat – we headed to the airport. On the way I asked our driver if he could take the long route there, just so I could soak up as much of Iceland as I could before I had to leave.
Nothing I say here can really convey what an incredible place Iceland is; and how Deplar Farm and its consistently lovely staff so effortlessly allow you to experience it in the very best way possible. It was truly unlike any experience I’ve ever had. The only thing I missed was seeing the Northern Lights…so I guess I’ll just have to go back.