Review: Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon, Hnappavellir, Iceland
Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon: Modern Oasis in Icelandic Wilderness
Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon, Hnappavellir, 785 Öræfi, Iceland. Economy ground floor room starts from €100 per night without breakfast, €146 with breakfast. Deluxe double room starts at €153 per night without breakfast, €170 per night with breakfast. Triple rooms are €158 per night without breakfast, €206 with breakfast. The suite starts at €244 per night without breakfast, €296 per night with breakfast. I stayed in a deluxe double room for one night and an economy ground floor room for one night.
tel. +354 514 8300
Modern, large hotel with spectacular views of the Icelandic countryside
On-site restaurant saves hours of driving for meals
Good price range from budget to more indulgent suites
Fosshotel could improve its excursion partnerships for guests
No gym or fitness centre
They need more staff to support the number of guests
Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon nestled amongst the wild
If ever you debated writing a book from a corner of the Earth that is both rugged and beautifully jawdropping, you would struggle to find somewhere that fits the brief better than this. Yet surely all hotels in the surrounding area would enjoy the same vista so, why should you stay here?
Chances are you are coming to Fosshotel because you want to spend the weekend in the countryside or you are driving around the Southern Icelandic Ring Road looking for a stop after many hours of driving from Reykjavík. You may be here – as I was – to see Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull glacier, or the glacial lagoon Jökulsárlón. Fosshotel is within moments of Vatnajökull National Park in southeastern Iceland. More on this later, of course.
Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon: First impressions
The free ample parking out front means you do not need to arrange for parking. This convenience is a welcome break from Reykjavík where parking is like an Easter egg hunt every day of the year. My five-hour drive with Mrs EatGoSee from Iceland’s idyllic Golden Circle. You can complete the journey in much quicker time; however, you should not because there is so much to see and enjoy along the way that failing to stop off at a multitude of waterfalls or numerous other sites would be an injustice to the road trip. You are on vacation and take the time!
Inside the Fosshotel is equally modern with touches of Nordic, minimalist meets industrial looks warmed with woods, soft furnishings and decorative features. Check-in is effortless and we make our way to our double deluxe room for the first night.
Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon: The Double Bedrooms
Nonetheless, the room is very well equipped with coffee and tea facilities, hairdryers, and ample plugs for other electronics to charge off the long journeys together with full-length mirrors. Of course, the room is equipped with a television but did you really come to remote Iceland to watch TV?
The bathroom is generously spaced, complete with a walk-in rain shower equipped with eco-friendly toiletries from shower gels to shampoo and soaps. The bathroom is a little dark so you may want to have a separate mirror for makeup and getting ready in the main bedroom which enjoys more light.
Overall the decor of both the deluxe double room and the economy double room is minimalist in line with the look overall at the Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon. Muted pale walls contrast with dark wooden furniture and overall brightened by a rash of yellow tartan blankets. Floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors in the double deluxe afford ample amounts of natural light in case you were here during the summer months where nighttime is only a theory.
However, the economy room does have some noticeable differences versus the double deluxe. The economy room will obviously serve budget-loyal travellers Who want to enjoy the environment and are less particular about the room. There is not a golfer of difference between the economy double and the double deluxe. The economy double does not have a floor-to-ceiling window due to the fact that it faces the car park and, oddly, it does not have floor-to-ceiling mirrors. Mrs EatGoSee eagle eye spotted the absence of a full-length mirror as she often wants to look at yourself before we go out.
Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon: Bedrooms overall
The rooms sit well below luxurious. Travellers from Southeast Asia or the Middle East will not find the rooms or the hotel indulgent. The rooms are not austere but they lack intimacy or any ambience that makes you want to spend any more time here than necessary. The Nordic minimalism borders a touch close to utilitarian.
Both of the rooms were warm, dry and clean. The Wi-Fi throughout the hotel is fast and reliable even in the basement bedrooms. You could easily come here and enjoy the economy room if you are not going to spend much time in the hotel. Like us, most of the guests here were clearly using this as a base from which to travel and explore the national parks and other wonders of the immediate surrounding area. It makes the Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon A pitstop but quite a nice pitstop.
However, if you are someone who enjoys a good hotel room, you should select the double deluxe or, even better, opt for the suites which enjoy elevated views and more luxurious furnishings including a freestanding bathtub with panoramic windows across this breathtaking landscape.
Room service, laundry service and a dry sauna are available for guests.
Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon: Restaurant
This may be one of the single best reasons to stay here in addition to the highest specification of accommodation. It is very clear that there is almost nothing within an hour to possibly an hour and a half drive of this hotel. There are minimal restaurant options nearby making the on-site restaurants a major convenience and attraction.
There is both a top floor restaurant with panoramic views across the countryside as well as a cosy, generously spaced bar area just below.
The dinner menu
Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon Restaurant offers a focused dinner menu with five starters, five main courses and three desserts. The menu seeks inspiration from the surrounding Icelandic countryside offering local ingredients with contemporary cooking. Guests seeking to enjoy a long weekend then you will enjoy having a good quality restaurant on site. I do enjoy a focused menu that hones in on a few courses in the aspiration of executing them well. However, longer stay guests may grow a bit tiresome of the relatively few options branding out for some variety.
The lamb two ways with lamb, beetroot, parsnips, potatoes and béarnaise sauce is a generous main course that does not need a starter opening act (ISK5990). The grilled salmon with potatoes, garlic pickled fennel and salsa verde is nicely balanced light and brightened by the fennel and salsa verde (ISK4890). The Icelandic carrot cake, however, is unrecognisable to any other carrot cake consumed up to this point (ISK1790). It is more like a brownie square packed with carrot purée and frankly is a carrot cake in name only. Underwhelming.
The wine menu is impressively broad given the isolation of the hotel! I enjoyed both a South African Fleur du Cap Pinotage (ISK6900) and a Spanish Rias Baixas Albariño (ISK7500).
Service here is painfully slow and likely provoked by COVID restrictions. Keep this in mind for when you want to make reservations. This is a point: reservations are absolutely essential especially these days given the limited seating capacity.
Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon: Bar
The more casual bar setting is suitable for families and guests who either cannot get a reservation for the restaurant or just want to lounge around.
The menu is similar to the restaurant menu; however, more simple in outlook. It is open for lunch and dinner. I enjoyed the generously portioned creamy lobster soup (ISK2990) while Mrs EatGoSee opted for the fish and chips.
Breakfast at Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon
Breakfast is well equipped with the usual large hotel greatest hits such as cold cuts for people that prefer a continental style breakfast coupled with pastries. There are plenty of other options including eggs, sausages and bacon as well as hot cereals like oatmeal or porridge. Coffee is brought to you freshly brewed or you can get espresso and tea. There is not an à la cart option to order specific dishes but most will be satisfied with what is available at the buffet.
Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon: What to Do Nearby?
The location is ideal for people wanting to explore the countryside. 29 km from Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon, and 27 km from Svartifoss Waterfall in Vatnajökull National Park. Diamond Beach is also only 29 km away and the Fjallsárlón lagoon is 20 km from the hotel. All of these attractions are within 15 to 30 minutes away from the hotel making it perfectly located for last-minute planning within striking distance with people spending a weekend or a long weekend at the Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon.
The location is therefore enviable for anybody seeking any of these attractions. I was disappointed that the hotel did not have its own arrangement with local guides. Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon does have a selection of pamphlets available where you can contact companies for their excursions. Failing to partner with a local guide feels like a missed trick. It is not difficult to partner with a local guide for limited slots on a daily basis especially during a time when tourism is very slow.
I opted for Arctic Adventures who offer a multitude of options including glacier climbs. Lagoon tours, combinations of both and other options including ice cave excursions.
Overall Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon
Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon’s clear value proposition lies in its approximate location to some of the most stunning areas of southern Iceland. The convenience of an on-site restaurant and bar cannot be understated. There is very little nearby this remote section of Iceland. I should also mention that there is zero-tolerance for drink-driving in Iceland making the option to find a bar within an hour somewhat of a gamble.
The staff here were friendly and engaging but at times it is clear that they are overwhelmed. This is palpable from the front desk to the kitchen and restaurant. Still, people put on a friendly and warm face when you do get time with them.
I encourage the Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon to seriously consider a few adjustments to improve the value proposition.
The absence of a gym is noticeable especially given how atrocious the weather can be where people may not be able to rely on outside activities. There is clearly plenty of space in the hotel and the surrounding area in which to appoint a suitably equipped gym.
The economy double room is good value given the specifications and amenities available throughout the hotel. However, small touches like the absence of a full-length mirror and less electric sockets seem unnecessarily “economy” points of distinction versus the double deluxe room. The main point of differentiation is obviously the view looking out across the countryside instead of looking upwards towards the car park.
The restaurant menu could be expanded or rotated every few days to freshen up the options for guests staying for the long haul.
A stay and dine option would be a compelling package for visitors who want good value deals. This could include the hotel room, welcome drinks together with dinner and breakfast each night in the hotel.
Partnering with local guides in the area would build strong relationships with the local community and offer a point of differentiation for guests looking for something a little bit more special than the commercial tour guides in the area.
Would I return to Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon?
Is Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon disability-friendly?
A number of stair-free options are available throughout including ramps from the car park up towards the main entrance. However, the car park is thick with gravel so this could be difficult for people with walking wheelchairs. The elevators throughout the hotel are spacious providing access to every floor. You will need to enquire about whether doors are sufficiently wide to accommodate wheelchairs.
Is Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon pet friendly?
Officially “no” but there were clearly a lot of dogs here during our stay so best to enquire at the hotel whether or not you’re allowed to bring pets with you.