Rest Your Head

Located in the heart of an 800-year-old moss-covered lava flow on the Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland’s unique man-made geothermal spa – Blue Lagoon – is famous the world over, and routinely billed as one of earth’s health-giving wonders. Just a 30-minute drive from Reykjavik in the island’s southwest, Kim Kardashian has swum in its clear blue mineral-rich waters, as has Justin Bieber and Beyoncé, all of them basking in its unique composition which features three active ingredients: silica, algae and minerals. But Blue Lagoon is also one the country’s most crowded attractions, with one million visitors descending upon its geothermal waters last year alone – a number which is only set to increase as Iceland’s tourist industry continues to grow. Bill Gates sidestepped the lagoon’s overcrowding issue when, in 2015, he reserved the entire lagoon for a private swim. But not everyone has Gates’ financial clout.

Until recently, discerning travellers and the celebrity crowd had never had a five-star place to rest their heads in the vicinity of Blue Lagoon, but this has all changed with the opening of The Retreat. A 62 all-suite luxury hotel within the Blue Lagoon complex, The Retreat it a hospitality game-changer for both the world-famous spa attraction and the country.

Furnished in tasteful Scandinavian style, all suites offer floor-to-ceiling windows so that travellers can best take in the destination’s unique setting, complete with deep freestanding tubs overlooking the surrounding volcanic landscape. There are five types of suite to choose from, ranging from four layouts of junior suite all at the same price point, to the top-of-the-range 60sqm “Moss Suite” complete with a separate lounge and 26sqm private balcony. Suites on the hotel’s lower level have private terraces facing the lava fields and surrounding waters. Many also have direct access to the geothermal waters via private terraces. Upper level suites have private balconies and benefit from dramatic, sweeping vistas of the moss-covered lava fields.

Unsurprisingly, wellness is a big component of the onsite Retreat Spa, which offers a range of deluxe amenities including a steam room, in-water massages and a cold well, plus a full-service restaurant serving sushi and fresh-pressed juices. Spa guests staying at The Retreat can also take part in a Blue Lagoon Ritual, whereby guests travel through a series of interconnected rooms, covering their bodies with healing silica, algae and minerals as they go. And if all the healing and pampering gets too much for you, beyond the lagoon complimentary yoga classes are also available, as are guided hikes and bespoke tours to see the Northern Lights.