Hotel review: Hotel Ljosaland, Westfjords.

After my trip to Iceland last year, I knew that when I eventually made it back to the island it would be to explore further afield than just the capital, Reykjavík. I also knew it would be for longer than five days, because although I crammed a lot in to those five days in December, it wasn’t enough time to see and do everything I wanted.

What I didn’t know was that my return visit to Iceland would be just 111 days after my previous trip. But hey, I guess when you love a place so much despite it’s rotten egg smell, and the plane tickets are super cheap, sometimes it’s hard to stay away (even when you know there are other places to explore, things to see and items to tick off your bucket list). So, I booked my flights to Reykjavík and set about planning my second trip to Iceland.

I was originally going to travel solo around the island for seven days, but after chatting to my Icelandic friend Björn (who I’d met in December), we decided to drive together to the Westfjords region on a mini adventure. The Westfjords were an area he was keen to explore more, and though I knew nothing about the region, after browsing some pictures on Instagram, agreed we should head that way. It looked like a magcal place, with breathtaking scenery and beautiful lunar-like landscapes. So I set about searching for somewhere for us to stay.

As the area is so remote (and it was Easter bank holiday weekend when we travelled), hotel choices were pretty limited and there were next to no Airbnbs. And the few places that were available weren’t cheap. Then one Saturday evening, five days before I was due to fly out, I came across Hotel Ljósaland on Booking.com

Where is Hotel Ljósaland?

Exactly half way between the towns of Reykhólar and Búðardalur, in the heart of the Dalabyggð area of the Westfjords region of Iceland, is Hotel Ljósaland. This hotel is definitely the most northern place I’ve ever stayed, and quite possibly the most remote place too, with both Reykhólar and Búðardalur being about a 30-minute drive in either direction.

The hotel is straight off the main – and only – road, though I’m hesitant to call it a “main road”, given we passed just three cars the whole time we were driving on it on the first day of our road trip. Despite being on the main road, the good news is that the area is so remote that you’re 99.99% guaranteed to have the quietest night’s sleep of your life.

Also, if you’re driving north from Reykjavík like we did, you definitely won’t miss it.

Inside Hotel Ljósaland.

The main building of Hotel Ljósaland is big and spacious, with lots of wood panelling, stone and exposed brick work. It’s divided into a few separate areas, but these areas don’t have doors, so I can only imagine it’s hard to keep the place warm in the colder months (may have to visit again to verify this).

The biggest of these areas is the dining room, which has about 10 tables, all laid up ready and waiting for hungry guests. As it’s the only hotel and restaurant in the area, I’m sure it can get quite busy during peak season, but when we arrived mid afternoon it was empty. Not that I minded, as it gave me a chance to snap some pics. I loved all the quirky little details here and there, which reminded me a tad of my local, The Stags Head Inn, when I lived up in Yorkshire briefly.

Aside from the dining room, there was a cosy little snug area with some armchairs and an open fire, a bar with plenty of spirits, a games room with a pool table and plenty of reading material (more on that below), as well as a sort of porch-cum-conservatory, which had a big, well-worn leather sofa looking out across the valley. This was the perfect place to relax after a long day exploring the Westfjords.

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Rooms at Hotel Ljósaland.

There are just four rooms at Hotel Ljósaland, sleeping a total of eight guests. The rooms are in a cabin separated from the main hotel building, and each pair of rooms shares a big communal living space. This space offered a little kitchenette (can you call it a kitchenette if it doesn’t have a sink?) with a fridge, toaster, microwave and a coffee machine. Disposable plates, cups and cutlery were all provided too, which was handy. And a few condiments, presumably left by past guests, were also tucked away in the drawer.

Next to the kitchenette was a dining table and chairs, and next to that was a pair of big brown sofas and a low coffee table. The coffee table was my favourite feature of the room; it was made out of a reclaimed door (very similar to the dining table at an Airbnb in the Dominican Republic that I stayed in last year), and covered with pamphlets and leaflets of attractions in the Westfjords area and beyond.

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Much like the communal space, our bedroom was neutrally decorated and basically furnished: two single beds, a desk and chair, some bedside tables made out reclaimed wood (again, just like the Airbnb in Santo Domingo) and a shelf with a little portable TV.

The twin beds were high (so high that I couldn’t put my feet on the floor when I sat on the bed), and very comfy. The mattress was one of those orthopedic ones, covered it little bumps. “To massage your back,” said Bjorn as I pulled back the thick, feather-filled duvet to reveal this weird mattress. I tell you, though it might have looked like dimply orange peel, those two nights were the best sleep I’d had in over a year.

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One thing I would say, the wall between our room and our cabin neighbours’ room was quite thin. This wasn’t an issue at night time, as I think the neighbours were fast asleep by the time we got back to the room, showered up and climbed into bed. However, in the morning, when we were trying to have a bit of a lie-in, we could hear everything they were doing in their bathroom. Not the best thing to wake up to, but it did give us a giggle.

Speaking of the bathroom, it wouldn’t be an AlwaysCarryOn.com hotel review without a shot of the khazi. So here it is, the wee en suite to our room:

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It wasn’t the cleanest of bathrooms (there was a few patches of mold in places, but meh, who cares about that), but it was functional. And the shower was one of the best showers I’ve had in a long time – it was super powerful, and the water made my hair really soft.

Leisure facilities at Hotel Ljósaland.

Well, there wasn’t much in the way of leisure facilities at the hotel, as I think most of the “leisure” is outside exploring the wilderness. That said, there was a games room in the main hotel building, with a big widescreen TV, a pool table, some board games, a laptop set up and playing Spotify, and

If you’re looking for something more though, there’s a public swimming pool in nearby(ish) Reykhólar, which we visited on day 1 of our road trip.

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Food and drink at Hotel Ljósaland.

We only ate in the hotel on our first night, but what we ordered was alright. Nothing to special, but it filled a hole as we were both super hungry after a full on day of driving and exploring.

We shared a bowl of onion rings to start. These came out piping hot (presumably straight from the deep fat fryer) but were really tasty. And then Björn had a burger and chips, and I had a sandwich and chips. The chips were sweet potato fries, not normal chips – though I didn’t mind this, as I actually really like sweet potato fries.

What I did mind though was the jalapenos, or rather lack thereof, in the sandwich. Anyone who knows me knows I like my food spicy (really spicy), so if there’s anything with chilies or jalapenos on the menu, I’ll order it. But this sandwich’s level of spice was disappointing – it had just one jalapeno cut into little bits and sprinkled throughout the sandwich. If we hadn’t been the only customers in the restaurant, I might have asked for more jalapenos to be added, but I did feel bad that it was so quiet there (especially as I’d already asked for some mustard and they didn’t have any in the kitchen, so had to run over to their house to get some from their own personal fridge).

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Breakfast is available at the hotel, and when we arrived we were asked if we’d like to add it on to the room price, at 15€ per person per day. But when doing some research before I reserved the room on Booking.com, I noticed quite a few negative comments about the breakfast offering, so we decided to steer clear and bought some bread and spread with us for toast.

Tips for staying at Hotel Ljósaland.

Here are a few things to bear in mind if you’re going to stay at Hotel Ljósaland:

  • The hotel is the only one in a 75 mile radius, so the owner said it is usually always full. We were lucky getting our room because of a cancellation, apparently.
  • Because of this, the price is a bit on the steep side when compared to similar hotels elsewhere in Europe. But then Iceland on the whole is pretty expensive compared to other countries, so that wasn’t a surprise.
  • As mentioned above, breakfast isn’t included in the room price but is available at 15€ per person. However, according to Booking.com reviews the breakfast just means you have access to the cereal, tea, coffee and milk that’s in the fridge in your cabin communal area. In my opinion that’s not worth the 15€ (especially as the Corn Flakes looked stale and the milk had curdled, it had been open that long).
  • Though towels are provided in the rooms, there is no shower gel or shampoo. There was also no toilet roll or soap in our room when we “checked in”, which was found out the hard way. Eeek.
  • The wifi is free, available everywhere and excellent. The signal was so good that at the end of our second day road tripping, we streamed Justice League on Björn’s Mac book, and it only buffered once for about 15 seconds.
  • Be warned, when we visited in March the road to the hotel was being resurfaced, so was extremely rough and bumpy. Stones were flying everywhere and the underside of the car was scraping on rocks (this could have been what caused us some car trouble on the second day of our road trip). 4x4s will be fine on the road, but smaller cars should definitely slow down on this stretch of road.

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Hotel Ljósaland: the verdict.

If you’re planning a trip to explore the Westfjords area of Iceland, and want somewhere affordable and comfortable to stay, then you can’t really go wrong with Hotel Ljósaland, in my opinion. It’s conveniently situated for visits to Hólmavík, Reykhólar, Búðardalur and Djupavík, and is easy to find off the main road. The rooms at the hotel, though basic, were a decent size and clean. And they had a private en suite bathroom.

I know that a hotel this small and secluded won’t be to everyone’s taste – but really, if you’re looking 5 star luxury, then maybe the Westfjords isn’t an area you should be heading to anyway? Because, with some towns we drove through having a total of just seven houses, you’re going to struggle to find a Hilton, Sheraton or Embassy Suites.

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*****

Disclaimer: We stayed at the Hotel Ljósaland, Westfjords from Thursday 29 March 2018 to Saturday 31 2018 in a standard twin room on a room-only basis. The hotel was booked through Booking.com and cost 155,000 ISK/£108 for two people for 2 nights. The stay was paid for by myself and this review has been written by me.

159 thoughts on “Hotel review: Hotel Ljosaland, Westfjords.

  1. oooh it’s so traditional and quite cosy looking. Love the views too. Also… totally with you on the water making your hair soft. I washed my hair purposely at the last minute before I came home just because it made so nice and wanted it to last as long as possible… such a girly thing to do but I don’t care. ha.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Could you live there? It seems such a mystery to me. I wonderful doctor who is passionate about treating women’s’ breast cancer went a few years ago and loved visiting. \she raved about the food and the people. Glad to see you had a similar experience. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Iceland is definitely on my bucket list! It seems like a pretty decent place to stay, except for having no toilet paper… I would not mind since we normally go for more affordable hotels when we travel. We spend most of our time outdoors exploring anyway 😊 Awesome review!

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  4. I think it’s a lovely place to stay at especially since it’s not as big as other hotels. It’s peaceful except for the walls allowing you to hear the people from the other rooms, lol. But it’s totally fine with me, the whole place makes up for it.

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  5. Sounds like a good recommendation if visiting these out of city areas. Luckily you had quiet neighbours with those thin walls! Nothing worse than not being able to get a good night’s rest, especially if you have a jam packaed day the next day. Wish tickets ot Iceland from Australia were cheap! LOL! They are NEVER cheap!

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  6. That’s such a small hotel if it’s just 4 rooms, sounds like a really nice trip though especially as you went back so soon after first going x

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  7. Even if the setting seems quite in the wild, Hotel Ljósaland looks very modern and ready to welcome its visitors. I am sure that Ljosaland is a good place to experience the fjords and the country. I can recognize the beautiful and minimalist Ikea style – the interior desin and the furniture looks great. Nordic people have a culture of doing things simple, nice, and beautiful.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Elizabeth – Iceland is a pretty pricey country, but there are ways to cut the costs (Airbnbs, supermarket ready meals instead of eating out, buying alcohol at the airport and not in bars) I’ll do a post on it soon! x

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  8. Wow what a location! Perfect for those who want to escape to nature I guess!
    I don’t think I could spend very long here though – I need more hustle and bustle! Great post and images!

    Snita

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  9. This is a great review of the hotel. It looks like a lovely cosy and quiet place to stay, just perfect for anyone who likes somewhere in the middle of nowhere. The views are lovely!

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  10. I find this hotel quite cozy and charming, despite its simplicity in terms of interiors. When it comes to hotels, as long as I can get a good night’s sleep and enjoy a good bath, and have reliable wifi connection, then I’m good. 🙂

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  11. What a cute hotel! I’m a fan of the exposed brick work and the fireplace as well! I wouldn’t mind curling up there on a rainy afternoon. The rooms like so Scandinavian as well 🙂

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  12. Looks like a very cozy place! I am the same as you! I need spice in my life! I need everything super spicy. Cant wait to read your other posts on Iceland! I will be there in a few months 🙂

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  13. This sounds like the adventure of a lifetime and extremely remote! I’m not sure I would be brave enough to venture so far off the beaten path–but you are making me consider it. My husband talks all the time about wanting to go to Iceland.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I am not really picky when it comes to hotel accommodations. I need a comfy bed, a working shower, a small desk to write on. Internet connectivity would be nice to have too. Just as long as I have a place to sleep without any bugs, an in-house restaurant where I can get my meals, then that is fine with me.

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  15. No toilet roll and no soap when checked in ? Wow, that’s a huge oversight of the hotel management! Those are basics.
    As a coffee addict, I always look for places that have included free breakfast with coffee in the morning. Coffee is a must to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t tend to have breakfast in the morning, and am happy to just drink water or juice – though if I’m hungover than coffee is a better beverage 😉 yeah, it’s a shame there was no soap or toilet paper – I had to go and ask for some, but the manager was very apologetic! x

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  16. I think Iceland is calling me! It’s been over ten years since I’ve visited Reykjavik and am dying to do a road trip there. Hotel Ljósaland seems like the perfect place to stop overnight. Even though it seems a little basic, however it’s cosy, comfortable, quiet (having only 8 rooms in a cabin) with views of the beautiful landscape. Shame the walls are a bit thin between the rooms … at least you weren’t disturbed during the night! Oh wow I love burgers – I think the heart attack burger would fill me up!

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  17. Iceland has made quite a reputation among travelers lately. However, I still have a long way to go before visiting this country. My list is still brimming with Asian countries with just a bit of Turkey and Czech Republic (how do you spell that, haha) at the deep. But I’m sure, with all the raves about this beautiful country, someday it will be in my list. They have great beer out there and it’s all that matter. Haha

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  18. This looks like the kind of places we love to stay – small and fully attached to locals. It has been an while since we visited Iceland. Next time we are planning to explore more remote side, and this will help. Thanks!

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  19. This looks like a cool place to stay even if it isn’t a traditional hotel. It is fun to stay at small places like this because you typically get more personalized service. Plus it works for an overnight stop.

    Thin walls can give you a giggle at times. I lived in the apartment and we used to hear the neighbors occasionally. They loved blasting music when my kids were in bed and we heard a few adult things to, if you know what I mean. hahah

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  20. Hotel Ljosaland seems like a quaint lil’ place to grab dinner and hit the sack, I mean that is usually what we are after when we pull in somewhere after a long days travel or adventure. The food looks good in a homey way. I’d enjoy the little warming nook to just relax get warm and watch at the view.

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  21. I’m considering a trip to Iceland next year so at the moment I’m collecting information where to go and what to do that’s why your review came very handy. I really like the furniture in this place. Thank you for sharing

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  22. There was no toilet roll in the bathroom??! I’m sorry Becca, but that’s a basic necessity for any traveller! I like the rustic style of the hotel, it looks very Scandinavian in feel. Honestly, as a flashpacker, I probably wouldn’t stay here if I had a choice. Not sure about those thin walls! Lucky you only heard the other people in the bathroom 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, not having toilet roll was a bit of a faux pas on the hotel’s part – but they were apologetic. Have you been to India lol?! Or even some of the places in Egypt or the Gambia? You have to take wet wipes and tissues with you everywhere (something I had to get into the habit of and still do now, luckily :P). I think if you’re going to visit this area, you’d be hard pushed to find a more “upmarket” hotel – as I said, one of the towns we drove through had just 7 houses in it! x

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  23. The price of accommodation in Iceland is currently the main reason I’ve been putting off visiting. Will have to consider this place if it is affordable!

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  24. Your review was thorough with great detail about your stay. I enjoyed your pictures of the wood pieces of furniture – I loved the craftsmanship.

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  25. I’m planning a visit to Iceland at the end of the year, so love reading about other people’s experiences. I actually prefer accommodation that’s a little ‘rough around the edges’ – when you stay somewhere fancy it can feel a bit sanitised, and even detract from the whole experience. The landscape around it looks amazing too. x

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  26. I appreciate the hotel review, we may never know if Hotel Ljosaland might come in handy someday. I really love all these sights from this place, I don’t think I would mind where I’m staying at if it comes to visiting Iceland.

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  27. I’m actually planning to do a trip there this year so it’s perfect that I ran across your review. I quite like the neutral room colors and I feel like when you’re on road trips, simple hotels like this one are more than perfect since you’ll really only be there to sleep anyways so thank for the awesome recommendation!

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  28. Smart to check the reviews first. We do that too. I love reviewing hotels, it’s fun to share the pros and cons of places with other readers!

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  29. Pleased you had a good time but looks a little rustic compared to where i like to stay and the rotten egg smell thought just turns my tummy lol

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  30. That photo of the hotel facade in the middle of the mountains! Must be an amazing place to stay! As long as it has good WI-FI and decent power plugs wouldn’t mind much about the rest of the installations for a short trip.

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  31. The Westfjords region in Iceland seems like an excellent place to explore and your review was a great read. You whetted my appetite and I have to add this place to my bucket list. When would it be the best time of the year to explore it?

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  32. We love the way you write your blogs! The tips at the end were perfect. We must say the hotel ( wrt to the pics) has a rustic charm

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  33. Love the “heart attack” on the menu. Hahaa! But who would have thought this was a hotel? The facade looks like your ordinary bar. But you’re definitely right about one thing: as long as its functional and sufficiently clean, it’s good enough for us.

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  34. Looks like a nice hotel, although the mold in the bathroom would be an issue for me as I’m very keen on hotels being impeccably clean. Food looks alright and that beer just reminds me I need to have one right now 🙂 I’ve always been curious about Iceland, haven’t visited it yet but I’m surely going to so thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew before I wrote the review that this little hotel wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea because of the bathroom – but I think for this kind of trip, as you don’t spend too much time in the hotel (let alone the bathroom), you shouldn’t let the mold bother you 🙂 x

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  35. This place looks absolutely stunning! My dream is actually to go to Iceland, and I’ve always wondered what kind of places people stay at… this is immensely helpful 🙂

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  36. I totally love Hotel Ljosaland, it looks clean with all the facility, looks a little too quite though…that won’t be the case if we head there with our kids. Great review x

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  37. I’m not your standard package holiday kind of girl so this is perfect for me. The hotel looks like I had envisaged and the lack of leisure facilities is a plus as it makes you get out and explore the beautiful surroundings

    Liked by 1 person

  38. My favorite part of your reviews are the bathrooms! Lol! It’s important information to have! Once, I was in Germany and my hotel room shared a bathroom. I was NOT prepared for that. This looks like a beautiful area. Was it scary at night? Since you are So far from anything?

    Like

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