Where to Travel This Spring: The Reykjavik EDITION is Iceland’s Most Stylish New Hotel
Images by Nicolas Koenig
As if we were even slightly surprised, while most of the Western world was struggling badly through the coronavirus crisis, with American and British politicians especially putting people’s lives at risk for political advantage, Iceland was busy making sure its populace was safe at all costs. In the end, only 114 Icelanders lost their lives to COVID, out of a total population of nearly 370,000.
Of course, it’s just one more reason to love the tiny Scandinavian nation, which probably didn’t need to ever give us anything more than Björk and some of the best ice cream in the world for us to be sold on it. It’s no secret, though, that they’re also really and truly great at hospitality – which is surely why they have actively held off any onslaught of international chain brands, with their selection of hotels mostly still being of the fiercely independent sort.
So the arrival last autumn of Ian Schrager’s EDITION is not insignificant, not only because it belongs to Marriott, but because it brings to Iceland a certain type of trend-focused urban glamour that is certainly more associated with London, New York and Miami. But one need only scan the interiors to realize that this is not some attempt at transferring Covent Garden to downtown Reykjavik.
This is immediately evident by the look of the façade, with the shou sugi ban timber having been charred, and together with its blackened steel frames, is meant to resemble Iceland’s fantastical lava landscapes. A canopy of more than 12,000 glass LED nodes greets visitors at the front entrance, and once inside one gets a true sense of how the building’s lines have been optimized to take in the majestic views of the city’s lovely Old Harbour.
Interiors, a collab between local firm T.ark and New York’s Roman and Williams, almost feel as if they’ve been styled on the Danish concept of hygge, that sense of an underlying feeling of warmth and coziness. To wit, basalt stone / volcanic rock was employed generously in the flooring and reception desk, with delicate patterns inspired by Icelandic geometry.
There’s even a four-meter-high totem sculpture made from the same material, which actually seems a bit imposing at first, but ultimately becomes a great conversation starter while downing a few expertly made Lobby Bar cocktails (we’d recommend the New Jorvik Sour, with Þúfa Oaked Brennivín, lemon, egg white, and M Samartzis).
For a more epic epicurean experience, Michelin-starred Dill chef Gunnar Karl Gíslason oversees the hotel’s Tides restaurant, where cutting-edge Nordic gastronomy draws on Icelandic heritage and seasonal local ingredients. Which means reindeer tartare w/ sourdough emulsion and butterhead salad, grilled char tail w/ hokkaido pumpkin and sorrel, and for vegetarians, salt-baked celeriac w/ aged cheese and winter truffle.
The EDITION is also a relatively large hotel in a city of small boutique properties, with 253 rooms and suites in total. Luxurious but cosy just as well, the sleeping spaces boast floor-to-ceiling windows, and some have terraces for lingering on those breathtaking harbor views. Stylistically, understated elegance comes by way of a muted color scheme of ash wood and pale grey oak, with concrete walls, bespoke Italian furnishings, faux fur rugs, and specifically local touches like Ístex wool bed throws, Guðbjörg Káradóttir ceramics, and landscape artworks by Pall Stefansson and Ragnar Axelsson.
It’s precisely the sort of “destination” hotel that can inspire finally booking the Icelandic visit that may have been put off for one reason or another for far too long, considering what an essential trip it truly is. Springtime also brings temps in the 50s, for anyone not up to the chilly Scandi winter climes. June, specifically, also features about 20 hours of daylight – and who doesn’t love a 4am sunrise?
“In Iceland, you get to see things you won’t see anywhere else,” enthuses Schrager, who has long been inspired by the country’s unspoiled natural beauty. “It’s a real opportunity to get in touch with earth and nature, and the EDITION hotel gives you that true sense of place.”