Monday, February 27, 2017

Where to Stay in Iceland: Our Borgarnes Airbnb

We recently stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb property in Iceland, and I'd love to share some photos with you, if you'd like to see.

John found this beautiful black timber house near Borgarnes, in West Iceland, which is about an hour an forty-five minute's drive from Reykjavik. It can sleep up to six, but it looked perfect for just the two of us too. With snow-capped Mount Hafnarfjall as a backdrop and a bay as the principal view from the windows, this house works equally well for a summer or winter stay.

I was smitten. A blogger/Instagrammer's dream, the house is owned by couple Kristinn and Rut, who have a second Airbnb home in the south (an incredible-looking barn, which looks like something straight out of Grand Designs).

The home's stunning palette of dark blue, grey, and natural wood is thanks to Rut, an interior designer known across Iceland for her work in private homes, shops, and restaurants. The mezzanine level (which houses two twin beds in the eves, along with a space to chill out and watch TV) overlooks the living room and part of the open kitchen - a chandelier, which would seem incongruous in this homely, farm-house space but just works, dangles from the ceiling.

The entryway features a long bench, above which hooks hang for jackets and a straw basket for grocery shopping in town.

The view of the main bedroom from the entryway evokes an immediate sense of peace and calm: a simple, white chair sits poised in front of logs piled high in an unused fireplace. The bed, dressed in dark grey and brown linen, was deliciously satisfying to climb into after a long day of hiking and sightseeing.

But the bathroom, with its free-standing tub, vintage glass cabinet bursting with fresh white towels and a vignette of antique perfume bottles - is the breathtaking piece de resistance of this house. Well, in my opinion at least. After facing bracingly cold winds at the top of Mount Hafnarfjall, we delighted in a soak in this deep tub, though a shower looking out across the surrounding countryside was just as welcome.

The house overlooks a bay and on a sunny day, you can see Borganes clearly in the nearby distance, the clouds reflected in the water. While the tide was out, we traversed slightly steep and rocky terrain below for a morning stroll to the lighthouse a few kilometres away. Although cars frequently pass through the main road situated at the foot of Mount Hafnarfjall, we didn't encounter a single person during our walks.

But we did meet these Icelandic ponies grazing in the field at the edge of the driveway.

Previous entries in the house's guestbook reported sightings of these adorable, fuzzy creatures, so I was disappointed not to see them on our first day. But on our way back from the lighthouse on the second day, there they were. Curious, they trotted over to us for a visit and I tried not to melt into a puddle of happiness as they allowed us to gently stroke their manes.

Borgarnes itself is a small and sleepy but charming town. It also served as the setting for some of the scenes filmed in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (the Ben Stiller version), with the bakery being transformed into a Papa John's for the purposes of the film.

Food and produce in general is very expensive in Iceland - ingredients for a simple dinner and breakfast set us back the equivalent of £30, and two soups (albeit delicious ones) with bread and butter rang up at a total of £40 at the Borgarnes Settlement Center.

But we were frankly too enthralled by our surroundings to care, cancelling a reservation at a popular seafood grill in Reykjavik in favor of that hike up Mount Hafnarfjall instead.

Honestly, if you're going to stay in Iceland for a few days - skip the hotels and book an Airbnb. There are so many beautiful properties that are even nicer than hotels, often with jaw-dropping views (like ours had).

Have you stayed in an Airbnb before? Did you like it? We loved the one we stayed at in Bordeaux too.

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