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Guesthouse recommendations needed

I loved Iceland and wasn't there long enough. It also felt very safe and friendly to me. I plan to go back, probably in early November (since that's a good time for me since work is slow and I have a lot of time off I need to "use or lose" this year).

I am going to go back as a solo traveler this time so I won't have the restrictions I had when I took my mom. I also plan to rent a car. But I will be a solo traveler and that might be lonely, so I want to stay someplace more social than a hotel. To that end, I am thinking about guesthouses. I was wondering if anyone here has any favorites they can recommend.

I would prefer quiet, rural areas to Reykjavik, but I might spend one night there. And while I am okay sharing a bathroom, I would prefer a private bathroom if possible. I usually do my hair and makeup in the bathroom and don't want to hog things and inconvenience other guests or feel rushed because I know someone might be waiting. But I can adapt if need be, it's just a preference.

My plans are to go back to the Golden Circle and spend more time there, Kerid Crater (which I skipped), Secret Lagoon, tour Snaefellsnes (a day or two), go on a Icelandic horseback riding tour, and do some volcano touring on Reykjanes. I am considering hiking a glacier too. But I think that's on the South Coast (still looking into it). That might be too much as I only plan to be there 10 days.

Thanks!

Posted by
2098 posts

Amongst other trips there, one has been in November. My first thought on this is do you have significant winter driving experience? I ask because that is full on winter and it can be very difficult driving, but also roads get closed ,etc so you need to have backup plans.

Assuming that you have that experience, then go for it, but be sure to check the road and weather conditions multiple times each day and heed any warnings.

If you are coming from the US, definitely stay overnight in Reykjavik or close enough to KEF so that you can safely get over jet lag before hitting the road for longer.

There are so many guesthouses, way too many to list. Go to booking.com and look at the towns you want to stay in and see what there is. That said, here are a few places we have stayed, and places we are staying for our upcoming trip.

On Snaefellsness, in Stikkisholmur we stayed at Akkeri Guesthouse and loved it. The rooms have private bathrooms. in the evenings, the breakfast room is where people gather and when we were there, there were two couples from Reykjavik on holiday and we sat for several hours sharing wine and chatting. For our next trip, we are staying at Hotel Egilsen.

Take a look at Hotel Edlhestar which is a horse farm and they have all sorts of riding tours. They are just outside of the town of Selfoss.

If you do a glacier hike, you need to go much further up the south coast. We have done that as well as ice caves up there. You will want to find a place sort of between Jokulsarlon and Hofn. Just outside of Hofn is Guesthouse Nypugardar which has shared bathrooms.

Just outside of Vik, take a look at Gildjur Guesthouse. It is on a farm and there are some shared baths, but also some private ones.

In the Golden Circle, look at Arbakki Farmhouse Lodge.

Any of the farmhouse stays that we have stayed at tend to attract clientele that like the mingle, so that should work for you.

For 10 days, you can easily get up to the Jokulsarlon/Hofn area. I would make sure to stay the last night closer to the airport. Just in case of road closures/weather/etc. That way you won't get stuck and miss your flight home.

Another option for socializing is to hit the local pools in the various towns. Those are very inexpensive, around $8 US dollars, and very enjoyable.

Posted by
76 posts

Thanks on the recommendations. There are just so many guesthouse options it's like overload. And the ones in Rick's books seem to be half full for November already (or maybe they aren't open).

I am honestly not clear on what, "significant" winter driving experience means. I've driven in snow and ice many times in my life with the latest being driving on icy roads going to upstate New York (it was just me and the semi trucks, I watched them as my canaries in the coal mine... if they seemed to slow down, so did I assuming they knew about ice ahead/could see ice better). The worst driving I ever did was in a surprise blizzard a few years ago. It was supposed to just be a few inches but it ended up being a few feet. I barely got home (lots of cars and trucks were abandoned by the side of the roads). But it's not like I drive on that kind of thing all the time. I live on the coast, near Philadelphia and we don't get a lot of winter weather and they clear the roads rather quickly. Those are few and far between and I usually avoid driving until the roads are cleared after most snow storms.

I am going to open up the idea of September too I think (I can't in October for work reasons). I originally picked November because it's a slow time of year for me at work and things seemed cheaper, but I didn't realize it was full blown winter in early November in Iceland. What I was reading made me think it would be like early April (I was there just a few weeks ago).

Posted by
2098 posts

It sounds like you know how to drive in winter conditions, but be aware that it really isn't snow that is the issue most of the time, it is the black ice and winds. The winds can and do blow cars off the road, so you really have to be careful. November is typically more winter like weather than April, but not as bad as Jan/Feb. Still, it sounds like you have the experience, so just use your common sense and keep up with conditions and don't head out if there is any question at all.

Yes, places tend to book about a year in advance, even for the winter months. If you change to September, get on it asap. I booked our stuff about a month ago now for late September, and had to really finagle our itinerary because of trying to find lodging.

Posted by
7397 posts

Below is a cut and paste of a paragraph from my trip report. I question the wisdom of staying on an UNPAVED road during the Icelandic winter, but you asked for recommendations. I should note that this guesthouse has purpose-built rooms detatched from the host's home, so it may not be as social as you are looking for. In winter, I would suggest that you may need to lower your expectations for meeting others in Iceland - but I've only been there in the summer. It sounds like you should stay in a much busier place, on the fully-paved ring of Snafellsnes.

(copy of my own work)
Our second stay was two nights at a new-ish, rural place, Drangar Country Guesthouse. (This was a jumping off point for the Snaefellsnes peninsula loop drive.) It has a lovely sea view, and substantial continental breakfast buffet in the morning. The shiny new, purpose-built rooms are compact but comfortable. Great private bathrooms and plenty of hot water. (2020 Iceland architecture award-winner.) The main road is unpaved, 25 minutes from a paved road, and 45 minutes from the nearest restaurant. It’s well run, and it was not hard to get a reservation. They use an internet service, but also take email/phone reservations. Note that Drangar is sort of an estate name, actually the previous dairy farm. It’s not the name of a town.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/western-iceland-by-car-summer-2023