HIS+HER IN ICELAND
Earlier this year, I put together a Dallas city guide for Hilton in preparation for their new line of hotels, Canopy by Hilton.
The second Canopy location is set to open in Dallas in 2018 near West Village, but the first location was recently opened in Reykjavik, Iceland and we were invited to celebrate the grand opening! Having never been to Iceland, we were so grateful that the folks from Hilton assembled such an incredible itinerary for us filled with some once-in-a-lifetime activities.
We arrived really early Wednesday morning, so we rested a few hours before walking to the Harpa Concert Hall to experience the Björk virtual reality exhibit. The exhibit was pretty awesome, but the actual building was the highlight for me personally. The Henning Larsen/Olafur Eliasson-designed structure is such an architectural anomaly in Reykjavik, but works so well in its waterfront context.
The next day, we took a guided tour around Reykjavik that began with a walk to perhaps the city's most recognized building, Hallgrimskirkja. The church was completed in 1986 and at 73 m tall, is one of the tallest buildings in the city. Take the elevator/stairs to the very top, and you can see virtually all of Reykjavik.
From there, we rode through the city to a local cheese shop, where we enjoyed a tasting and learned all about Icelandic skyr (the REAL stuff-- "not the kind you find at Whole Foods").
To wash down all that skyr, we toured a local microbrewery and enjoyed a flight of some of their seasonal brews with our lunch by the marina.
Finally, we ended the day on a sweet note at the factory of local chocolatier, Omnom.
The Canopy by Hilton property itself is a design success in terms of architecture, interior design, and curated amenities. The building takes cues from the ubiquitous vertical lines that characterize much of the city's architecture, and does so in a delightfully subtle and modern way with its volcano-black cladding.
The interior is a mid-century modern dream populated with Scandinavian furniture and beautiful finishes throughout. Entering the "lobby", feels more akin to waking into your hip friend's or boss' loft-- we'll definitely be taking notes from the living room area for our loft!
While most hotels have sad bars and breakfast areas you aim to avoid at all costs, the coffee bar downstairs and craft cocktail bar above the fireplace are home runs at Canopy. Both are visually beautiful (you can go ahead and make that assumption about everything in the hotel at this point) and serve true craft coffee and cocktails respectively. I had no problem snagging a solid cortado in the morning and a Manhattan each evening.
Also, the bar offers a nightly cocktail tasting...EVERY NIGHT. FREE. OF. CHARGE.
(Gonna let that set in for a moment)
Our third day in Iceland was special. We took off early in the morning (with our Buddy from the Icelandair Stopover program) to a secluded cabin in the tiny town of Hvolsvöllur where we bundled up (seriously, ALL OF THE LAYERS) to drive ATVs through the snowy, mountainous landscape. We crossed flowing rivers, frozen creeks, and made our way through 2-ft. patches of snow!
Also, I must add that Angelee was an absolute trooper through it all. She donned her sling over her fractured elbow and cover-alls and held on tight!
We drove about an hour from the cabin into the wilderness without quite knowing what our guide had in store for us. We thought our destination might be a cabin in which to eat lunch, but there was nothing in sight. We came to a sudden stop and walked a few yards to a small mouth of a cave. Alas! Finally, some shelter from the cold, right?? Well it was so much more than that...
The cave had a campfire going inside, and a spread of sushi, noodles, beer, hot chocolate, and Icelandic fare was laid across a table for us! We all toasted with a shot of Brennivín and feasted like Vikings.
Icelandair invites you to come and celebrate with their free Celebration Stopover Buddy service. For more information and to request a Buddy visit http://www.icelandair.us/stopover-buddy/
That night, after a long hot shower, we went down to the bar for the Grand Opening celebration where a live band energized the crowd of 200+ and the mixologists kept everyone well-lubricated.
Our last day. We ended our trip with what was the ultimate highlight: The Blue Lagoon. You've likely seen photos of the lagoon, and while they actually do it justice visually, it's hard to express the feeling of being outside surrounded by snow, yet submerged in such a large refuge of naturally hot-tub-like water. After all the walking, four-wheeling, and freezing from the trip, this was truly the perfect way to finish.
With Canopy by Hilton, the hotel brand aims to provide travelers with a thoughtfully local experience of each city they visit, and that was a constant thread throughout our trip. We touched on some key tourist spots while in Reykjavik (all of which were MUSTS), but we also mixed in some more nuanced experiences that made for a truly unique trip. We're so grateful to Hilton and the entire team who showed us an amazing time in a special city.