At times, a destination's natural beauty eclipses the lack of luxury offerings available. Iceland is one of those destinations. Although the country has seen a surge in tourists in the past few years, luxury hotel options are few and far between. Read about Andrew Harper's visit to Iceland's Hotel Rangá.
Located 60 miles southeast of Reykjavík, the Hotel Rangá provides a convenient base from which to explore the south of Iceland. (The most practical way to reach the hotel is to hire a car at Keflavík airport, as transfers are exorbitant.) The summer sun was shining as we set out, and rushing azure rivers flowed through vibrant green pastures dotted by white farmhouses with bright red roofs. On our arrival at the 51-room log-cabin-style hotel, a helicopter was landing in the parking lot, returning guests to their base camp after a day of glacier viewing. We followed its passengers inside and were met by a 10-foot polar bear named “Hrammur” standing guard in the main lobby.
Renovated in 2008, the Rangá is under the management of its kind and knowledgeable owner, Friðrik Pálsson. (He personally phoned multiple outfitters to help us rebook an excursion that fell through, and dined with the guests each evening of our stay.) The interior of the building has warm expanses of timber, terra-cotta floors and handmade wooden furniture.
Overall, the Hotel Rangá is comfortable and hospitable, but it's not currently a Harper-recommended hotel. At the time of our visit, it was the only four-star hotel in Iceland. (A design property, Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel, has since opened on the edge of Thingvellir National Park and may provide a satisfactory alternative.)