I stayed here for two nights whilst on business in Reykjavik as well as doing some sightseeing.
The hotel's location couldn't be better; in the middle of the city and very close to the harbour, only a couple of minutes' walk away from the Harpa conference hall and Sculpture & Shore Walk.
Check-in was prompt & efficient. My Concierge level membership of Carlson Rezidor's loyalty scheme was recognised and the room upgraded to a junior suite.
The room was a good size, particularly for a Scandinavian hotel where the rooms are usually on the compact size, with a very high ceiling. This coupled with the lighter paintwork and wood-panelled floor gave the room a nice airy feel. There was a good amount of lighting in the room, although not as many different reading & work lights as one might have wanted, especially over the work desk and the sitting area.
As you would expect in a hotel this far north, there were excellent curtains with at least types of coverage, to ensure blackout conditions in the summer months for a good night's sleep.
The bed was the usual Radisson standard; soft but supportive, with individual duvets on each side and very comfortable & supportive pillows. It aided a good night's sleep on both nights.
There was a sitting area with sofa, armchairs and table. The sofa was firm but again supportive and comfortable for sitting on whilst reading, even if there could have perhaps been a little more direct lighting.
There was a decent size work desk and massive wardrobe next to it, with plenty of storage space. On the wall was a good size flat screen TV with what looked-like various Scandinavian channels as well as some international ones, such as CNBC and BBC World.
The bathroom was fine; a walk-in shower that was a good size and had a shower unit that adjusted very well for height (being 6'4" I was able to stand under it easily without having to bend down at all) and had lots of hot water and very good water pressure. The basin was a bit on the small size and more suited to just washing your hands rather than washing your face.
On the downside, whilst there was a Nespresso machine with choice of capsules, there were no espresso size cups, only coffee cups. You could fit the cup under the nozzle OK but had no idea how long to keep the button pressed to dispense an espresso cup's worth of coffee into a large cup. There also wasn't any iPod/USB docking station. In a higher grade room of a premium brand hotel, I'd suggest that this is now an expectation of many guests if for no other reason than it charges the device when docked and many of us will identify with having left those proprietary Apple cables at home when you go abroad (or in the glovebox of the car when unplugging the device from there) and being unable to charge the device up.
I've also been spoiled by the incredible A/V system in Radisson Blu Plaza in Helsinki (reviewed previously) that allows you to connect just about any device by any means (Bluetooth, USB, RCA, HDMI) and stream it through the hi-fi speakers mounted on the wall. My advice to the hotel would be to install a similar system here, if only in the business/executive class rooms and increase the room rate accordingly to recoup the investment.
The other downside item was that there wasn't - or at least if there was, I couldn't find it - any climate control for the room. The very effective radiators could be adjusted but that just made it less warm. Granted, in Reykjavik in November, you probably want to be warmer rather than cooler but I would have expected some form of aircon unit, if only to dry the air when you get back in wet & sweaty from having been out on a glacier.
Housekeeping came to make up the room on the second day when I was working in it and I have to say they were very efficient, in terms of the speed with which they cleaned the room and the attention to detail. It's a bête noire of mine when you've half used a shower gel - and left it in the shower - but housekeeping don't replace it with a new on on the little stand of toiletries next to the basin. Kind of like "you can't have a new one until you've finished that one". As a consequence it has become a kind of benchmark for quality; if the hotel refreshes all the toiletries, regardless of which ones I may be using, it's a good sign. Pleased to say that they did this here, as well as refilled the tissues box that I hadn't noticed I'd used the last one (another benchmark for quality - again, how often have you been into a hotel bathroom to see the built-in tissue dispenser empty?).
As a result of the desire to see as much of the city & surroundings as possible, I spent little time in the rest of the hotel and so didn't get the chance to sample the bar and restaurant for dinner. I did have breakfast on both mornings and it was excellent; the usual Radisson Super Breakfast Buffet, with a wide range of different choices including lots of local produce. The smoked salmon was superb and the local cheese - piparostur - is gorgeous. A hard cheese coated in pepper that is fabulous on rye bread. There was plenty of fruit juice on offer as well as generous sized cafetieres of coffee; the local coffee is quite strong and sticky but when it's blowing a force 7 outside (to which the locals don't even bat an eyelid, I think anything less than force 10 is a mere breeze), you appreciate the strength of the coffee after you've drunk it.
Service in the restaurant was very attentive and friendly on both mornings. My experience of Icelanders, like other Scandinavians, is they are not very animated (the opposite of Southern Europe). Instead they are very pragmatic and calm; I think the reason for this is that everything works here as it should do, so there is no need to get stressed at all. All the staff I encountered - front desk, breakfast and housekeeping - were like this, as well as being friendly, helpful and polite.
I paid £339 Sterling converted for two nights which is good value and certainly less than the equivalent cost of a similar hotel in central London, despite Icelandic prices in general being slightly more expensive than the UK.
I would stay again without any hesitation. Looking on the Tripadvisor listing for hotels in Reykjavik, there seem to be quite a few self-catering apartments in the upper rankings and this perhaps distorts the position of the full service hotels. As I write, this hotel is ranked 16th out of 51 hotels for the city but with several apartments above it, without which it would probably be a top ten ranking which I think is better deserves.
There is nothing wrong with apartments but they aren't full service and so perhaps shouldn't be compared like-for-like. As an example, having stayed over in Oslo before I came to Reykjavik, I discovered I was running low of some clothes, so I needed some laundry done. Being a full service hotel with its own laundry service, I was able to get a shirt & some underwear done same day. This kind of facility is why you select a hotel over an apartment.
In the guest services book, the hotel describes itself as a 4-star property and that is spot on. It certainly earns a solid 4 circles on here for providing a high quality overall guest experience.
In my opinion, it is not that far from 5 circles but for a couple of the issues I highlighted above. With a little more equipment in the room, this hotel could genuinely differentiate itself from the competition as being the best in Reykjavik.
- Also Known As:
- Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel, Reykjavik Hotel
- Radisson Reykjavík
- Radisson Reykjavik
- Reykjavík Radisson
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Refurbished, classic building in the heart of Reykjavik offering accommodation in style and comfort. Hotel located next to main shopping street with restaurants and bars. Cultural attractions close by like the Parliament of Iceland, art galleries and museums. ... more less
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