When we booked our road trip with Hey Iceland, we were given several accommodation options that would best maximise our chances of seeing the Northern Lights; off-the-beaten-track, with no surrounding light pollution.
Hotel Hella Iceland
Hotel Hella Lækur, we decided, fit the bill. A family run establishment, the hotel is a converted old barn located 10km outside a small farming town of Hella. And when I say it’s in the middle of nowhere – it really is…
After a long drive from Reykjavík, we struggled to find it, thinking it was situated in Hella itself. After some clear instructions from Gunnar – the hotel manager – we eventually found the signposts and the long track leading to our home for the next three days.
Hotel Lækur is in Hroarslaekur and is well placed for exploring South Iceland. We actually did the Golden Circle finishing at Gulfoss before arriving and it took us just over an hour to get there; not bad considering the weather conditions and the distance travelled – some 56 miles.
It’s close to the southern edge of a great lava field that was created by frequent eruptions from Mt. Hekla, which towers in the background. It’s breathtaking. We trudged through the powdery snow before breakfast daily and enjoyed the peacefulness and the sounds of the flowing creek. The scenery made even more magical by the blanket of brilliant white snow.
The hotel has two floors, on the ground floor, there are nine rooms, while the second floor has four. Four of the double rooms have sofa beds and can accommodate a family of four, and one of the rooms can accommodate a family of five. We had one such room and not only was it spacious but clean and tastefully decorated. The bathroom was small, but adequate with a shower cubicle, while there was plenty of space for suitcases – no wardrobes but some hanging rails. It also had a flat screen TV, perfect for keeping Monkey entertained before heading out to dinner. There were also nice touches such as chocolates on the pillow, fluffy white towels and toiletries provided. And, even though it was freezing cold outside, the heating in the room meant we were warm and snug throughout the night.
All food is served in the main dining area which seats up to 40 people. Breakfast is continental buffet style – which includes bread, cereals, cold meats, cheese and boiled eggs. The pancakes were Monkey’s favourite with a big squeeze of maple syrup. Variety of fruit was on the scarce side, while tea and coffee, fruit juices and milk were readily available.
Dinner is at a set time each evening and with a daily set menu consisting of a main course and dessert. There is no choice in what you eat, although the chef provided a pizza for Monkey on the one and only night we chose to dine at the hotel. The restrictions on dinner did leave a sour taste in our mouths – the salmon trout we had was delicious but we both thought it was a starter! Luckily, we finished what was left of Monkey’s food. But had it not been for that we’d have gone to bed still hungry.
Lækur has a geothermal hot tub which is perfect to relax in – but not so much in the winter! I was impressed when I saw a couple running into it while it was snowing. Monkey was determined to do the same thing – but we managed to conveniently forget about it each time he mentioned it…
The hotel also has a comfortable lounge, with large sofas and a fantastic viewing window where you can try to spot the Northern Lights as well as the surrounding countryside. Alcoholic drinks and other beverages are served throughout the day, as well as complimentary tea and coffee. Meanwhile, there is free wi-fi in all areas including the rooms.
During the summer, Lækur also operates horse riding tours and guided hikes to places such as Mt. Þríhyrningur, one of the most popular hiking routes in the region.
Hotel Lækur is in a great location. We found it an excellent base to drive out to different parts of Southern Iceland, including Vík and the Golden Circle. But more than that – it was fantastic staying in an isolated spot which allowed us to appreciate the Icelandic countryside.
More along the lines of a high standard B&B than a hotel, Lækur may not have the bells and whistles of fancier establishments, but this didn’t matter. Being able to chill out with an Einstock ale in the comfortable lounge and just take in the scenery was relaxing. The only downside was the dining – I get that for such a small hotel they only have the facilities and staff to cope with one sitting and one menu, but for guests who want choice and something a little more substantial at meal times, it’s so restrictive and expensive. It didn’t spoil our enjoyment of staying there, though, we just jumped into the car and drove 10 minutes into town where there were more restaurants to choose from.
Gunnar and his family are welcoming and hospitable, more than happy to chat and give great advice about what to see and do in the area. We spent many occasions standing by the huge map of Iceland in the reception area listening to Gunnar’s knowledgeable facts. Monkey was totally enamoured with him. And if it wasn’t for Gunnar and his tenacity to come and search us out, we would have missed the aurora borealis – we were too busy lounging in our room!
Hotel Laekur is a home away from home, and we had a comfortable and pleasant stay there – made all the more memorable by seeing the Northern Lights not just once, but twice! Thanks, Gunnar – we will never forget it.
Hotel Laekur Hroarslaek 851 Hella, Iceland; Rooms from £110 per night including breakfast
* We were invited as guests of Hey Iceland and Hotel Hella Lækur, but as always my opinions are my own