Carved into an 800-year-old lava field less than an hour from Reykjavík, The Retreat at Blue Lagoon delivers the heady double hit of an otherworldly landscape coupled with serene Scandinavian design. The interiors show a stylistic handshake between what’s outside and in, borrowing the slate grey of the rocks and the earthy tones from the moss that covers them. And as for those funnel-like fireplaces in the restaurant – well, they’re nothing short of volcanic. After spending your days bathing in the lagoon’s mineral-rich water or undoing Time’s work in the underground spa, you’ll feel you’ve earned the right to indulge at Moss restaurant, where Icelandic tasting menus and a world-class wine list await. If you’re lucky, your meal might even be capped by the Northern Lights dancing over the lagoon.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from $1172.25 (ISK145,946), excluding tax at 11 per cent.
Rates include an à la carte breakfast in the lounge or spa restaurant; a welcome drink; the soft drinks and Icelandic beer in your minibar; a daily guided hike and group yoga session; afternoon Icelandic coffee in the lounge; and valet parking.
Because of their direct access to the water, children under nine can’t stay in the Lava View or Lagoon Suites.
At the hotel
Spa, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: tablet; Bang & Olufsen Bluetooth speaker; minibar; Illy coffee machine; tea-making kit; free bottled water; underfloor heating; Blue Lagoon Iceland bath and skincare products.
Our favourite rooms
All of the Junior Suites are the same size and style, with wooden panelling, floor-to-ceiling windows and a freestanding bath tub in the room. What differs is the view – choose from solidified lava, moss-covered rock or the blue water of the lagoon. If you’re after something really special, it has to be the two-room Lagoon Suite, which has a terrace with direct access to your very own mineral-rich pool.
The term 'swimming pool' is a bit of an understatement when it comes to describing the mineral-rich water that circles the hotel. Bounded by volcanic rock and often shrouded in steam, the bright-blue geothermal lagoons offer a particularly atmospheric soak – especially if you manage to be out there when the Northern Lights appear. The lagoon around the hotel is separate from the public Blue Lagoon, ensuring peace and privacy.
Reaching deep under the 800-year-old lava flow, the underground Retreat spa is about as atmospheric as they come (and a phone/camera-free zone, obviously). Walls of exposed lava merge with broody but beautiful Scandinavian design to create a space that not only feels blissfully disconnected from the outside world, but fits perfectly with the dramatic, lunar-like landscape. Before your treatment, you can lounge in nest-like chairs overlooking the lagoon’s blue waters, warm yourself by the fire, or climb the stairs to the top of the lava flow, where a viewing platform promises pacifying views for miles around. There’s an in-water massage area; a cold well; lava-walled steam room; sauna; and two treatment rooms, where you can have Silica salt rubs, hot stone massages and facials using products by Blue Lagoon Iceland. There’s also a spa restaurant, serving à la carte breakfasts and a healthy all-day menu.
Load up your phone with ethereal tracks to play over the Bluetooth speakers in your suite – there’s no better companion to the mystical landscape outside.
All of the common areas are wheelchair accessible; the building only spans two floors, and has lifts. Some Junior Suites are wheelchair-adapted, too.
All ages are welcome, but the hotel is best suited to children 12 and over, who can swim in the private lagoons and enjoy the spa. Because of the direct access to the water, children under nine can’t stay in the Lava View or Lagoon Suites.
Very. All electricity, heating and hot water used at the Retreat is powered by geothermal sources. Everything possible is recycled, eco-friendly bath and spa products are used and Moss restaurant uses local, organic and seasonal ingredients. The Retreat also supports philanthropic community, arts and eco efforts, including local sports and youth clubs and Icelandic student research projects.
You can’t beat the chef’s table, where you’ll be served the seven-course tasting menu in full view of the kitchen.
Take inspiration from the landscape, opting for something dark but arresting. No pressure.
The rugged landscape takes pride of place at Moss, where every table has a clear line of sight through the floor-to-ceiling windows. That’s not to say the designers have any need to hide behind the landscape, however – the interiors are sumptous, scattered with dark-wood tables and chairs in mossy tones, all of it lit be golden pendant lights that dangle down from the ceiling. Head chef Ingi Thorarinn Fridriksson and his team work from an open kitchen in the midst of it all, creating modern Icelandic dishes that take diners on a culinary tour of the island. Rigorous about sourcing local and organic ingredients, the kitchen team ensure everything can be traced back to its origins in the local mountains, farms and Icelandic waters. Diners choose either from the à la carte menu (the catch of the day is a very safe bet), or the five- and seven-course tasting menus.
Breakfast is served in the lounge and the spa restaurant from 7.30am to 11am, and an all-day menu from 11.30am to 10pm. Dinner at Moss is served from 6.30pm to 9.30pm.
Breakfast can be served in-room from 7.30am to 11am, and there’s an all-day menu from then until 10pm, seafood dishes, beef tataki and chicken with quinoa. A reduced menu is available overnight, including paninis and gravlax.
The hotel is on the edge of the Blue Lagoon in a Unesco-protected area of Grindavik.
International visitors usually fly into Keflavík International Airport, which can be reached direct from many European destinations and some larger US airports. It’s only 20 kilometres from the lagoon, taking as many minutes to get there by car. The Smith24 team can arrange flights and transfers; call anytime, day or night.
If you’re already in Reykjavik, it’s a 50-minute drive from there to the hotel. If you want to hire a car, the Smith24 team can arrange it.
Worth getting out of bed for
There’s nothing quite like a hotel that gets the balance between wellness and extravagance just right, leaving you feeling like indulgence can be wholly justified. At the Retreat, you can start your day in the spa, where they’ll serve you a lavish à la carte breakfast – just the primer for a long day of treatments and lagoon immersions. If you want to take things up a notch, you can join one of the morning yoga classes or guided hikes, both free for guests. Beyond the hotel, you’ve got Reykjavik, the country’s compact but spirited capital, just 50 minutes away by car. First timers will enjoy a stroll around the old town and a trip to the soaring Hallgrimskirkja; those who’ve been before will no doubt want to return for another round of the city’s enticing restaurants and bars. The hotel also organises tours of the Golden Circle, a 300-kilometre route containing several of the country's iconic natural wonders. The big three are Unesco-protected Thingvellir National Park, the geysers in Haukadalur valley, and the Gullfoss waterfall. Thrill seekers shouldn't pass up a tour of dormant volcano Thrihnukagigur, which isn’t plugged at the top, allowing access to its enormous magma chamber. Visitors can now abseil down into its heart, where the rocks range from canary yellow to ruby red.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this hotel in Grindavík and unpacked their Blue Lagoon Iceland skin creams, a full account of their spa break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Retreat at Blue Lagoon in Iceland…
When the everyday begins to take its toll, you sometimes need a place that takes the phrase ‘out of this world’ to its near-literal limit. Thankfully, such a place exists, and it’s called The Retreat at Blue Lagoon. Nestled in a stark landscape of centuries-old lava, long since hardened into jagged, moss covered fields, the hotel is carved into a landscape that looks a little like what we imagine the moon looks like up close. Then you see the water: bright blue, almost milky, and balmy enough to produce clouds of steam that roll over the surface, shrouding everything in mist. Every one of the 62 suites looks out over this extraordinary landscape, and the calming effect it has is such that the hotel could have skipped on their spa entirely, and people would still come here with the sole intention of relaxing. But they didn’t. Instead, the hotel went not quite out of this world, but under it, building a state-of-the-art spa inside the lava field. By the time you’ve been to the cavernous steam room or sampled an in-water massage, there’s one thing you can be certain of – you’ll feel a very long way from everyday.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in The Retreat at Blue Lagoon’s Guestbook below.
There is nothing lacking at the Retreat. From the moment you approach the giant carved wooden doors and they magically open to usher you into the spacious, light-filled lobby, you know you're in the right place. The friendly and beautiful Euro-chic staff welcome you with champagne and whisk your bags to your room. We enjoyed a corner suite, and it was worth every penny: a generous living area complete with drinks and snacks where your view of the wild lava landscapes are unparalleled; big comfy bed with luxurious linens; free-standing tub with a view; wraparound private patio to take it all in; floor to ceiling windows and fully automated lighting and window shades; giant shower and fully appointed bathroom... and that's just the room. We've been to properties like this where it's a bit of a scene, and that's just not for us. So, we loved that guests are welcome to roam the property in their bathrobes and slippers (provided) since days are spent in and out of the private lagoon, sauna, steam and relaxation rooms. The vibe is relaxed and serene, with a side of full service luxury. Don't miss the Ritual, and if you like bodywork, we enjoyed two of the best spa massages we've ever had. Dinner at Moss is not to be missed. Our only regret was too short a stay...
A lively party scene, or kids running around. This is quiet, romantic spot for complete pampering and rejuvenation.
Stayed on 9 Feb 2019
We loved our guest room and mineral pool.
Your skin to feel normal for quite sometime afterward.
Stayed on 25 Sep 2018
We loved everything! From the moment you arrive you are transported to an oasis of calm. Beautiful setting, stunning landscape, amazing hotel that has thought of everything… every little detail is just perfection! High tea was a surprise after a chilly day horse riding, hotel chocolate on the roof terrace after getting the Northern Lights wake up call was just unreal!
Expect everything and it will be surpassed!
Stayed on 20 Sep 2018
This hotel was exceptional. My husband and I had the opportunity to stay in junior suite, that was beautifully styled, technologically savvy and incredibly peaceful. We had hot stone massages at the spa and enjoyed the private Blue Lagoon pools which gives new meaning to the term luxury. We also had a 7 course tasting menu dinner at moss resturant that was nothing short of a Michelin Star rating. The best part of our entire trip was the truly remarkable hotel staff, they were so polite, helpful, and eager to make our trip wonderful. Our personal concierge, Linda, was such an incredible asset to our stay. She was so personable, sweet and engaging. We genuinely made a new friend! I will recommend this hotel and the spa to every person I know for the rest of my life, and I plan to return back many times! 10star rating all across the board!