Laugavegur street, where Sandhotel is located, is both historic and hip. Halldor Laxness, Iceland’s beloved – and Nobel Prize winning – author was born in Laugavegur 32, a house that is now owned by Sandhotel – as are the tailor and the bakery on either side. When Gudsteinn Eyjolfsson, a gentleman’s tailor frequented by Icelanders over the years threatened to close shop, the hotel bought the building and is constructing rooms on the floors above (similarly with Sandholt bakery to the right off the hotel). The street is lined with boutiques, souvenier shops, cafés and vintage clothes stores. Bus Stop 7, where tour buses to other parts of Iceland pick up passengers is a two-minute walk from the hotel.
Service & facilities
The facilities are still a work in progress. One in-house restaurant serves food all day but most guests have breakfast at the bakery next door to break the monotony. A fitness centre or spa (the management hasn’t decided which) is being constructed next door, but there is no swimming pool or library. Guests receive a mobile phone with local internet and coded-in numbers for the hotel reception, which is a brilliant and puzzlingly unemulated amenity. The blisteringly fast Wi-Fi is a great bonus.
Service is friendly and attentive, and the staff remember requests, handle tour bookings, store luggage while guests take day or two-day trips to Iceland’s geysers or fjords, and make suggestions about local Reykjavik thermal pools. Housekeeping and laundry service is efficient.
Superbly comfortable and well designed, the 52 rooms (that can expand to 67) are the best part of the hotel. A Nespresso machine and a Marshall bluetooth speaker are a good wake-up in the morning. The spacious bathroom has a rain shower with Soley Organics toiletries, a local and fragrant brand.
Bathrobes and plush towels are perfect for lounging in while the Egyptian-cotton bed linen holds in the warmth during Icelandic winters. There is a safe, fridge, workdesk, sofa and open cupboards for hanging clothes. The buttoned headboard and pillows made with fabric from the tailor next door, along with Icelandic curios give the room a subtly local touch.
Food & drink
There is only one small restaurant, Sandbar, in the front of the hotel that serves all meals. The food is tasty but tourists end up dining at other restaurants that surround the hotel and have more buzz, beginning with breakfast at the Sandholt bakery next door – try the cinnamon buns or the pastries. Breakfast at Sandbar is à la carte. Walk-ins end up populating the lunch service, mostly because hotel guests are on sightseeing tours. Dinner items include fresh fish, pasta, and meat dishes from an evolving menu.
Value for money
Double rooms from €228 (£202) in low season (October – April); and from €285 (£252) in high (May-September). Breakfast not included, costs from €22 (£20). Free Wi-Fi.
Access for guests with disabilities?
While there are no fully adapted rooms, the management is looking to place handrails in rooms.
Interconnecting rooms are available. Cots are provided. Children are welcome but activities and entertainment for them lies outdoors.
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