A Nordic city with quiet charm
A journey north to many conjures up imagery of quaint houses, picturesque seaside towns, and year-round expectations of a winter wonderland. To use such a description for Reykjavik would barely be scratching the surface. The small city will oblige the painted picture, with its low-rise painted roofs spread across the sprawling city. The recession has left behind a faint scar across the city, but the sub-arctic metropolis has begun to welcome a thriving cultural resurgence, led by a legion of local talent that are making waves across the country, though Reykjavik is a clear stronghold.
This small, family-run harbourfront restaurant is housed in a renovated warehouse, which has been painstakingly refurbished using reclaimed wood into a space chef Lucas Keller describes as somewhat of an art project. Coocoo’s nest offers honest fare with fresh locally sourced produce, and is best known for its sandwiches made with sourdough bread baked each morning. The focus here is on small, seasonal menus done well in a bright and comfortable environment.
Grandagardur 23, 101 Reykjavík;
Tel. +354 552 5454
Chef Gunnar Karl Gíslason takes the helm of Iceland’s first Michelin-starred restaurant, garnering a reputation for contemporary cuisine that balances a respect for traditional Icelandic dishes with innovative culinary methodologies. The aptly named restaurant boasts a large herb garden, which takes pride of place on the menu. The minimalist, industrial space boasts soft finishings that add an air of luxury to the affair. Dill is celebrated for its wine cellar, and the seven-course wine pairing dinner seamlessly blends together the two pillars of the restaurant.
Hverfisgata 12, 101 Reykjavík;
Tel. +354 552 1522
Iceland’s tempestuous relationship with alcohol has only recently been resolved, with the prohibition on alcohol only lifted in its entirety in 1989. However, the country has since seen the rise of a craft beer movement, due in no small part to the annual Beer Day festivities. Kaldi Bar in the city centre lies at the heart of this movement; offering four of the microbrewery’s own beers on tap as well as a selection of other local lagers. Inkeeping with Iceland’s rich musical heritage, a piano takes centre stage in the bar, with patron’s welcome to try their hand.
Laugavegur 20B, 101 Reykjavík;
Tel. +354 581 2200
Images via Facebook
A self-proclaimed ho(s)tel, difference is of the utmost importance at Oddsson; a place where karaoke meets fine dining experiences. Housed in the same building as the Reykjavík Art Academy, the industrial, minimalist interiors at Oddsson are contrasted with bright and colourful statement furniture from designers across continental Europe. In keeping with its hostel roots, a lost-luggage program helps travellers who’ve suffered at the ends of tight connections and baggage woes, but the similarities stop there. While bunk beds are available, as are lofty suites, and master perfumer Andrea Maack has created a signature fragrance for the rooms and public spaces.
Hringbraut 121, 101 Reykjavík;
Tel. +354 511 3579
Local designs take pride of place at Kraum – the first store in the country to sell products exclusively by Icelandic talents. Kraum is housed in one of Reykjavík’s oldest structures, which has held many a function since its construction in 1762. In its latest incarnation, the building now emanates modernity within its historic exterior, hosting the creations of more than 100 local designers with items ranging from textiles, homeware products and jewellery.
Basement, Bankastræti 7a, 101 Reykjavík;
Tel. +354 517 7797
Images via Facebook
Iceland’s rich musical legacy is not one that has been left relegated to the past; the reality is anything but. With independent musicians garnering critical acclaim internationally, with an ever-growing reputation as the Valhalla of independent music. One record label responsible for popularising Iceland’s musicians abroad is 12 Tónar, which has opened its doors to musicians and patrons alike to browse their collection of CDs, LPs, and plethora of magazines and music literature.
Skólavörðustíg 15, 101 Reykjavík;
Tel. +354 511 5656
KISSING IN ICELAND
by Eliza Locke
Locke’s poetry anthology takes readers on a journey around the globe through her lived experiences. Romantic at times; haunting at others, Kissing in Iceland is an intimate portrayal of love and travel. A chapter dedicated to Reykjavík includes the poems April 12, 2005, Snowdays, and Slipshod. The book features sketches from the award-winning illustrator Kelly Carmody, adding an air of innocence to Locke’s composition in a similar vein to the partnership between Dahl and Blake.