Standard and Deluxe Rooms feel average for the price
No fitness center
Some rooms face a parking lot
Situated about 75 minutes south of Reykjavik, the Hotel Ranga is a 51-room luxury property that's in proximity to some of Iceland’s most spectacular natural and remote wonders. It’s best known for its exceptional views of the northern lights, and even has its own observatory with high-end telescopes for serious stargazers. Frequented by celebrities and honeymooners, the hotel features cozy cabin decor, an exceptional restaurant with a free breakfast, and outdoor geo-thermal hot tubs. Guest rooms range from continental-themed suites to Standard and Deluxe Rooms with simple decor; most have hot tubs and outdoor terraces. Travelers hoping to see the northern lights at a lower price point could try the nearby Stracta Hótel Hella.
Situated in a classic dark wood log cabin with large windows, the remote Hotel Ranga is a luxury property that has hosted everyone from celebrities to honeymooners. Aimed at leisure travelers, the hotel is primarily built around the opportunity to experience the natural wonders of Iceland, in particular the magnificent Aurora Borealis (aka the northern lights). Renovated in 2008, the hotel offers a cozy ambience with decor reminiscent of a hunting lodge or ski cabin. Clean, well-maintained, and stylish -- particularly in the common areas, the hotel features a natural beige and brown color palette set with brown leather chairs, natural pine wood walls, and brown and beige checkered floors. The lobby has a 10-foot tall taxidermic polar bear, while the dining area is a simple room with a tiled floor and wood ceiling surrounded entirely by windows with views of the land and river. The game room features a distinctive antler chandelier light, an elegant wood billiards table, a polar-bear-skin wall hanging, and windows that extend into the ceiling. The hotel is geared toward luxury leisure travelers, couples, and honeymooners who want to catch a glimpse of the northern lights.
Remote location in south Iceland, ideal for spotting the northern lights
Located off a main road heading to the south coast of Iceland, the Hotel Ranga is situated along a small river in relatively empty grassland in the south of Iceland. There is little industry nearby except for farms and agricultural businesses, but it’s a convenient spot from which to venture to some of Iceland’s more remote natural wonders like glaciers, volcanoes, black sand beaches, and hot springs. The Skógarfoss waterfalls are about a 40-minute drive from the hotel, the seafront Dyrhólaey nature reserve is about an hour away by car, and the Mount Hekla volcano is visible from the hotel’s windows. But the main draw here is the northern lights, which may be visible September through April and look especially beautiful in a place removed from the interference of city lights. The hotel is a 75 minute drive to Reykjavik and about a two-hour drive from Keflavik International Airport (KEF). Free parking is available on-site.
Continent-themed suites, en-suite hot tubs, and minibars
Standard and Deluxe Rooms offer the look of a traditional cabin, with lots of wood furniture and pine-wood accents. Higher-end rooms are more wildly decorated with continental themes. Junior Suites, for instance, may be inspired by traditional Native American or Japanese decor. The Antarctica-themed Master Suite is a real standout, decorated entirely in chic black and white. For this caliber of a hotel, though, guests tend to be disappointed in the Standard and Deluxe Rooms, each of which is small with simple decor that includes light wood floors, perhaps a mural, and a pine-wood accent wall. The dark wood furniture looks like standard fare, and the comforters look dated. Eighteen of the 24 Standard Rooms have twin beds that must be pushed together for couples. Still, all rooms are clean and functional and have a range of amenities including flat-screen TVs, electric kettles for coffee and tea, safes, well-stocked minibars, and outdoor terraces or balconies. In Standard Rooms, bathrooms are neutral beige-tiled, but most have hot tubs. Rooms also have bathrobes, slippers, hairdryers, and individual toiletries. All rooms are non-smoking. Guests suggest snagging a room that faces the river, as the other rooms face the parking lot (albeit, with a volcano in the distance). River-facing rooms on the ground floor also have easy-access to the outdoor hot tubs.
A gourmet restaurant with free breakfast and special features for stargazing and viewing the northern lights
The Ranga offers a well-reviewed riverside restaurant that uses seasonal ingredients to create modern Nordic dishes. While guests tend to enjoy the food, it also tends to be pricy, and there are no other dining options in the area. But the restaurant serves a free breakfast daily with everything from European meats and cheeses to classic American waffles. A downstairs bar is fully stocked with liquor and beer and offers a daily happy hour. Room service operates 24 hours.
The hotel’s most special features are those aimed at viewing the northern lights and stargazing. The hotel has its own Hotel Rangá Astronomical Observatory, located in a hut about 100 yards from the hotel. The building can hold up to 30 people and has a retractable roof and high-end, computerized telescopes. Guests can see details on the surface of Mars, the rings of Saturn, or observe the sun with a special white-light filter. Guests also enjoy the stars from the hotel’s three outdoor geo-thermal hot tubs. Massage facilities are on offer as well.
The northern lights get special treatment, and reception keeps a list of guests who want to be informed when the lights appear. Special warming suits, blankets, and outdoor recliners allow guests to watch the lights in comfort without getting chilly. While guests aren’t guaranteed to see the northern lights, they often appear from September through April, and the hotel’s remote location makes the phenomena all the more visible without the haze of city lights.
The hotel can also help organize meetings, events, and weddings. The dining room can accommodate up to 200 people and the hotel has plenty of stylish common areas including two meeting rooms, a game room with billiards and chess, and an upstairs event bar and lounge with plush leather seating. Wi-Fi is free throughout the property, and laundry service is available.