Reykjavík isn’t the most budget-friendly of travel destinations overall, but that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to a grim dormitory room or soulless budget accommodations to save on lodging. These stylish hotels and hotel-hostel hybrids have managed to capture the kind of cool you’d expect of far more expensive digs.
The high-design concept of Reykjavík Lights, just outside of downtown, belies its affordable pricing structure: single rooms begin at $80, including WiFi. Taking inspiration from how the changing light effects Icelanders’ daily lives, the hotel is divided into 12 parts, with different color schemes reflecting the ancient Icelandic Rímtafla calendar. According to the designer behind the concept, HAF Studio, “each corridor represents a month of the year and each room is linked to a specific day in the ancient Icelandic calendar.” The typography is based on ancient Icelandic runes and explanatory astronomical maps are displayed throughout the hotel. (Reykjavík Lights is part of the Kea Hotels collection, which has several properties — most of them affordably priced — in the city and around the country.)
Opened by the developer who are famous for New York’s Gotham Hotel and London’s posh Claridge’s, Hlemmur Square is located in downtown Reykjavík. You can choose between stylish dormitory-style or private rooms in the hostel part of the building, and spacious private hotel rooms occupying a separate floor, several of which have private terraces. Rates for the hostel begin at $22 for a shared dorm, $114 for a private room in the hostel, and $235 for a private hotel room. WiFi is included for everyone. Don’t miss the bustling ground-floor bar, where you’ll find a daily happy hour (from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.), live music, and large selection of beers from around the world.
Housed in an abandoned biscuit factory and furnished with salvaged materials, Kex Hostel blends retro-industrial chic with a stylish, contemporary feel. Private rooms with their own bathroom begin at $190; those with a shared bathroom start at $89. If you’re really looking to save money, dorm beds run between $22 and $49, depending on how many you’re sharing with. WiFi is free in all rooms, and you can make use of a communal kitchen to save on eating out, or head down to the restaurant and bar for convenience. More to love: The hotel has transformed a rather rundown, industrial part of Reykjavík and established itself as one of the city’s hippest venues. Check out the bar’s calendar for regular live music, especially during the annual Sónar and Iceland Airwaves music festivals.