Short stay: Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel, Reykjavik, Iceland


The 88-bedroomed Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel is housed in a historic building in downtown Reykjavik and caters for both business and leisure travellers. This charming landmark hotel occupies a re-developed office building that dates from – yes, you’ve guessed it – 1919. It is one of Reykjavík’s oldest buildings and opened its doors as a hotel in the Summer of 2005.

The welcome

We arrived quite late having travelled from beyond the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon (a drive of more than 5 hours), and taken in the plane wreck, Skógafoss, Seljavallalaug swimming pool and Seljalandsfoss along the route. We therefore welcomed the swift and efficient nature of the check-in process in the hotel’s pristine, spacious lobby.

It’s here in the hotel reception area that there is also complimentary coffee and tea, water, fruits and energy bars from 4am to 7am for anyone wanting ‘breakfast to go’.

The room

Our contemporary guest room was compact but very comfortable, with everything we needed.

Equipped with a desk, sockets either side of the bed, a flatscreen TV mounted to the wall, and a kettle with tea, coffee and sugar, the room also had a cupboard with a safe, luggage rack, ironing board and iron, plus a facility to request laundry or dry cleaning services.

English-speaking channels on our TV included CNN, BBC News, Sky News and Cartoon Network, whilst additional TV services included a welcome, alarm clock, news, Web radio and YouTube, and you could even select a video of a fireplace to give your room that extra cosy feel.

The bathroom

Our bathroom had a great shower area with one of Iceland‘s many waterfalls used as a backdrop, as well as a basin, shaving mirror and WC.

Radisson’s own-branded toiletries were also supplied.


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The facilities

The Brut Restaurant is a high end casual seafood restaurant established in the Autumn of 2021 which we dined in one lunchtime. Among the dishes we had was a deliciously tender octopus starter which came with a slightly smoky, rich salsa rojo and kohlrabi.

Also among our order were whelks, sweet in flavour and slightly chewy but not overcooked, served with a garlic butter.

The broccoli with chilli, capers and Tindur cheese made for another interesting starter, not least because we hadn’t tried (or heard of!) this type of cheese before. It turns out it’s a sharp, tangy (but also tasty!) hard Icelandic cheese.

And to round off our starters were raw, marinated scallops with tomato and lemon juice. Who knew that scallops could taste so sweet and delicious if they weren’t actually cooked?!

Our mains were a great success also, from this ocean perch with olives, tomato and basil (a great choice for a mild, sweet-tasting fish)…

…to the grilled courgette with yohurt and a lemon and salsa verde, perfect for the vegetarians.

But don’t forget this is a fish restaurant just a two-minute walk from the harbour, so the fish is definitely worth trying. Possibly the best dish of all was the monkfish with a chicken glaze, roasted hazelnuts and mushroom – an unusual combination you might think but monkfish is a meaty fish which can handle those additional flavours.

For something more delicate, try the lemon sole with an elegant beurre blanc and samphire sauce.

A patisserie selection was wheeled out on a trolley that made desserts hard to resist. These delicacies are sourced from Gulli Arnar, a relatively new bakery in Hafnarfjörður (just outside Reykjavik).

Their petit gâteau selection is made from the finest ingredients and includes a lemon tart with a butter-baked biscuit base, lemon cream and Italian meringues…

…plus this milk chocolate hazelnut mousse with apricot jelly.

Brut restaurant also doubles up for a buffet breakfast in the mornings.

A fitness floor is located on floor 0 and features an array of modern exercise equipment along with complimentary water and towels. It is open 24/7.

And there are a variety of meeting rooms for use by business travellers, as well as opportunities for private dining.

Location

The Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel is in downtown Reykjavik in an area known as the 101 District (because of its 101 postcode). It is within walking distance of bars and restaurants, and the main shopping streets such as Laugavegur, as well as near the old harbour, Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik City Hall, Harpa Conference Centre and the National Museum of Iceland. The famous Hallgrímskirkja Church is less than a kilometre away.

Street parking is available directly outside the hotel and is free after 6pm, plus there is multi-storey parking close by in Hafnartorg. Immediately outside the hotel is the hot dog stand Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, owned by the same family since it opened in 1937, made famous after Bill Clinton visited in 2004.

Other nice touches

Some complimentary chocolates were in our room on arrival and complimentary sparkling and still water is available for Radisson Rewards members (becoming a member is easy – you can join online in a matter of minutes).

Cost

Standard rooms start 23,000 ISK for Radisson Rewards Prepaid Members, on a room only basis.

The best bit

The best part of our stay was lunch at Brut Restaurant. This was on a par with some of our best meals in Iceland, with both the service and the food being exceptional.

The final verdict

The Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel, Reykjavik is a very comfortable lifestyle hotel with an excellent restaurant. Its location in a fashionable part of Reykjavik’s city centre is perfect, with everything you could wish for within a short walk: the harbour, numerous attractions, shopping, bars and restaurants.

Planning a trip to Iceland yourself? You can watch a video from our trip to Iceland here:

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel, Reykjavik. Our trip to Iceland was also sponsored by Helly Hansen.


Comments (12)

  1. Laura says:

    This is the one I’ve been waiting for. When I visit Iceland I want to start in Reykjavik for a couple of days to get a feel for the country. It’s great to have a recommendation for a hotel and I’ve got used to the ALTB short stay format.

  2. Rory Connor says:

    Never really thought of Iceland as a gourmet destination. That food looks great. Very clever presentation.

    • Paul Johnson says:

      Thanks, Rory… I don’t know why, but we hadn’t expected the restaurant to be as great as it was. Sadly it wasn’t all that busy when were there – maybe because it was a lunchtime rather than an evening – but it deserves to have a great following.

  3. Graham Walsh says:

    I like Radisson Blu as a brand and have stayed in a few. None of those I’ve stayed in are as elegant and historic as this one though.

    • Paul Johnson says:

      The builing (1919) pre-dates the Radisson Blu brand (1960s for Radisson, 2009 for Radisson Blu) so it doesn’t surprise me if others you’ve stayed in are in less historic settings.

  4. Piers says:

    Very simple. Very effective. Very appropriate.

    The picture of the waterfall is a great idea.

  5. Rose Davies says:

    Although there’s a traditional almost classical look to the exterior the interiors really are quite contemporary Scandi: light woods, plenty of glass inviting in the light and a clean ethos edging towards minimalism.

    • Paul Johnson says:

      Hi Rose – yes, I hadn’t give it much thought but there’s quite a contrast between the historic exterior and the contemporary interiors. I think it still works well, though.

  6. Brian Colley says:

    Looks like a nice hotel in a very convenient location. The food especially looks really great.

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