Rest, rejuvenation and relaxation are all on the agenda at The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, which offers a luxury-centric experience at this wonder of the world
Iceland’s geothermal spa, the Blue Lagoon was declared one of National Geographic’s Wonders Of The World in 2012, and ever since then, the lagoon’s eerie waters have captured the imagination of tourists the whole world over. However, The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, the brainchild of medical doctor and Blue Lagoon founder, Grímur Sæmundsen, is redefining how people experience this incredible natural phenomenon.
The hotel and spa, designed by fellow Icelanders Sigríður Sigþórsdóttir of Basalt Architects and Sigurður Þorsteinsson of Design Group Italia, is designed with not only ‘timeless sophistication’ as its watchword, but also seeks to reflect the nature of its location. From the carpet patterns mimicking the moss-covered lava fields that put lunar landscapes to shame, to the rotating collection of traditional Glit pottery proudly displayed in lines the hotel’s reception area, The Retreat at Blue Lagoon’s inspiration is purely Icelandic.
As well as its spa, a huge draw for the Retreat is its private access to the Blue Lagoon. Swim, have a glass of wine or just be in the pale blue waters, which, FYI, gets its colour from a mix of silica, algae and minerals and is proven to have healing properties, all while avoiding the queues and crowds of the main lagoon. Post-treatment dining options include the onsite Moss restaurant, which was namechecked by the Michelin Guide this year. Their seven-course tasting menu takes you on a culinary journey through the flavours of Iceland, with each course meticulously paired with wine from The Retreat’s impressive wine cellar (which is housed in a cavern made of lava from an eruption in 1226, of course).
The unparalleled levels of service. When each guest or group of guests arrive, they are assigned a ‘host’, who basically ensures that their trip is as pleasant as possible, with a level of Scandi-cool that you can only aspire to. Their roles can range from booking an ATV tour of a nearby volcanic peninsula, to leading the daily hikes that leave from the hotel: the staff here are definitely fans of the multi-hyphen method.
Nothing was too much trouble for our host Heimir, whether that was his encyclopaedic knowledge of the local area, its flora, fauna and its (generally bloodthirsty) sagas during our hike, or patiently acquiescing to our constant requests for updates on whether the Northern Lights would make an appearance. Icelandic hospitality on this level is something that has to be experienced.
The phrase ‘room with a view’ was created for The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, as each of the 62 rooms looks out onto a particular element of the jaw-droppingly beautiful Icelandic landscape. We stayed in one of the Junior Moss Suites, overlooking a tributary of the lagoon which weaves through the moss-covered lava field surrounding it. Try and wake up to see the sun rise: the combination of ghostly cerulean water and verdant green moss when the light hits is surreal. If somehow that’s not enough, three suites have access to their own private section of the lagoon, so you can swim whenever it takes your fancy.
After all the fresh air, pampering and general wholesomeness, you’ll need some sleep, and the rooms are perfect for this: all you need to do is turn the lighting. Free rein of the minibar, and Icelandic style chocolates left for you every night mean that it would be rude not to enjoy a glass of wine and some sweet treats while lying in the free standing bath that lets you gaze out on the volcanic landscape. All the toiletries in the room are of course from the Blue Lagoon, so every evening can become an in-room spa treatment – crank up that Björk and up the bliss factor
It’s a spa hotel – the vibes are inevitably going to be pretty relaxed, but The Blue Lagoon manages to up this with its spa experience. The 4000m² spa, whose ‘no smartphones’ policy is wonderfully enforced, offers combinations of steam, dry, heat, fire and lounging to create a relaxation experience like no other. The breadth of extra treatments available is equally as impressive. A special mention has to go to the hour-long hot stone massage, which got a knot out of my back that meant that I couldn’t stretch without a huge amount of pain for the last two months – täkk Laura.
Even if you don’t opt for additional treatments when you’re in the spa, the Retreat’s signature Blue Lagoon Ritual is included and is a total must-do. An extraordinarily satisfying combination of DIY skincare, the three-stage process involves the feeling of mixing and then smearing silica then algae and then exfoliating with mineral Its hands-on nature was reminiscent of spending time mixing ‘potions’ as a child, and the end result left my skin baby-soft.
You must try
An in-water massage in the Blue Lagoon. Floating on a foam board and covered in a fluffy, yet sodden blanket, doesn’t sound like the most relaxing, but once you realise it requires no effort from you whatsoever, it is the closest to a dream-like state that I have ever had in a massage.
Even when you are gently bobbed under the water by your masseur to make sure your blanket stays warm in the freezing cold is soothing, and opening your eyes to see the wild Arctic sky above you is otherworldly.
Along with the included daily hikes, the relaxation factor is upped by the daily yoga classes are also available for all guests, taught by one of your multi-talented hosts. These relaxed classes focus on breathing and stretching, and take place in the hotel’s purpose-built yoga studio. Decked out in dark wood, with huge windows showing off huge windows showing off the lethal combination of lava field and lagoon, it is certainly the chicest yoga studio I’ve ever had the privilege of entering.
A special shout-out also needs to go to the food options at The Retreat. As well as the fine-dining Moss option, guests can choose à la carte (and the pleasure of eating while wearing dressing gowns) in the Spa restaurant, or in the main Blue Lagoon restaurant. Breakfast is as a buffet, with an option to order hot options off the menu, in the lobby area, which also doubles as the location for the daily afternoon tea, comprised of Icelandic coffee, biscuits and an indulgent glass of champagne.
Whether you’re outside hiking next to the Blue Lagoon, or taking in the gluggaveður in the library with an Icelandic G&T from the honesty bar, The Retreat at Blue Lagoon is the last word in Icelandic hospitality.
Suites at The Retreat at Blue Lagoon start from £927 per night (ISK 144,000), including an a la carte breakfast. For more information, or to make a reservation, please visit retreat.bluelagoon.com or call +354 420 8700. Icelandair (icelandair.com) has return flights from London Heathrow to Reykjavik from £180.