When I start researching a hotel, I use a variety of sources – TripAdvisor, blogs, magazine and newspaper reviews, etc. Key factors for me are luxury, location/convenience, points (if applicable) and price. For Reykjavik, I was torn as I was booking three weeks out and there wasn’t much left to choose from that fit my criteria and then I found Hotel Borg. The hotel kept appearing on the various sites as an option but the TripAdvisor rating for this 4 star, Travelers Choice Winning, hotel was a confusing 26 out of 48. I liked that it was a boutique hotel (56 rooms), offered single rooms and a fabulous, central location. The cost would be a bit over budget because I was booking so late and got one of the last rooms available – my rate was 180€ (about $220) per night for a double room.
Hotel Borg – Location
Hotel Borg is situated on Austrurvöllur Square in central Reykjavik with the cathedral and parliament buildings across the road. A plethora of shops, restaurants, cafes, bars are all steps away from the hotel. Without crossing a street you can easily find my favorite dinner spot, GrillMarket, or cross the road and walk behind the cathedral for a fabulous breakfast by candlelight at Bergsson Mathus.
For a solo traveler like myself, the location was fantastic! I could access the main shopping street of Laugavegur around the corner or walk three blocks to the waterfront and the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center. Fancy the famous hot dog stand or the weekend indoor flea market, well they are also a few blocks away. Within ten minutes, I was up at the “big church” Hallgrimskirkja at the end of the boutique shopping street, Skòlavördustigur.
Arrival at Hotel Borg
I arrived in the dark, which was about 7:30 a.m. (sunrise in November during my stay was 10:30 a.m.) to a throwback in time as I entered the hotel. Immediately, I was struck by the Art Deco style. The marble floors, the black leather, the gold accents. The front desk is small and staffed by two people most of the time. Given that the hotel was full when I booked (I got one of the last rooms with my travel agent using booking.com), the early arrival of my overnight flight from Newark on Icelandair and the fact that this was a small city that I couldn’t quite wander around until a 3 p.m. check-in time, I paid for the night before so I could easily check-in and go to sleep. It helped that it was dark out, my body thought it was 2:30 a.m. at home so I could easily go to sleep. I was given an old fashioned key (that you return when you go out) and went to the lift (small) to my room.
Hotel Borg Double Room – Room 312
My double room (they have 7 single rooms which is nice but I wanted a bit more space) was located on the third floor (actually the fourth as the lobby is 0 on the elevator). As I exited the lift, my room was two doors down on the right of the small hallway. Using my key, I turned the lock and pulled the door out toward me (you have to lock the door when you leave).
I saw the wooden parquet floors first as I rolled my bag in. With a bathroom on the left, wardrobe on the right and a separate door to the bedroom, it was a nice size. The ceilings were quite high making the room feel very open.
Entering the bedroom, the double bed took up most of the space on my left, in front of me, I had two leather chairs and on the right, the television and work desk. This room connected to the other room but the door remained locked. The room seemed sparse almost minimalistic but in tune with the Art Deco style. The color palette was black, white, creme, golden. The photos black and white, I wished their was a pop of color over the bed. It wasn’t the warmest of rooms in terms of feeling aside from the orchids but would get warm in terms of temp later on.
I went to the windows to see what kind of view I had and it was of the square below. Having read that the area gets noisy, I was surprised that I barely heard anyone through the double windows. I did hear the baby cry next door during my stay and a few party goers here and there but nothing sustained or bothersome for me.
Temperature in the room was tricky – I couldn’t find a thermostat and didn’t ask. At night, the bedding (a single comforter) was sufficient which was odd considering at home I’m under layers and layers of bedding. The room did get hot at night (I thought it was me but overheard others talking about the heat) but I was able to open a window and enjoy the fresh air to even it out.
Hotel Borg – Double Room Bathroom
With the high ceilings, the bathroom with its black and white fixtures and silver accents was quite the oasis. A warming towel rack, plentiful toiletries and sink space was surprising in this 1930’s hotel. They’ve managed to marry the old with the new (i.e. – a fantastic rainfall shower option along with the European handheld). The bathrobes provided were plush and they also gave you slippers (I love slippers).
Hotel Borg – Concierge
I contacted the concierge (which is basically the front desk staff) ahead of my trip to provide restaurant suggestions (he gave me many good options), tour suggestions (they recommend Superjeep so for my South Coast tour, I booked on my own with GeoIceland) and overall recommendations. He pre-booked my Superjeep Golden Circle tour, GrillMarket dinner and dinner at Lækjarbrekka.
Hotel Borg – Front Desk Staff
Not super chatty but warm and helpful depending on who was working the desk. You give your key to the staff each time you leave and collect it upon return. The recommendations onsite were wonderful for breakfast, Italian dinner and for not using cash. They also saved me time and money by directing me to Grey Line airport transit around the corner.
Hotel Borg – Restaurant
The restaurant is under construction (should be done in 2015) and is open only for a continental breakfast buffet for 2,800 krona (about $25). I would find myself seduced by the bread of Bergsson Mathus so ate breakfast there each morning instead.
Hotel Borg – Overall
The hotel is a wonderful base in central Reykjavik for a first time (or repeat) visitor. Why it isn’t at the top of the TripAdvisor ranking continues to confuse me. It has all the modern amenities one wants and provides a nod to the art deco design of its past. I’m glad I decided to spend a little more for the comfort, convenience and location of Hotel Borg in Reykjavik.