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101 Hotel, Reykjavik, a Member of Design Hotels in Iceland [In-Depth Review]

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Ryan Smith

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Ryan completed his goal of visiting every country in the world in December of 2023 and now plans to let his wife choose their destinations. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publicat...
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“Hello, is this a hotel? Are we in the right place?”

It was a peculiar start to our stay at the 101 Hotel, Reykjavik, a Member of Design Hotels. Despite the quirky beginning and finding a dog at the reception desk, we mostly enjoyed the 3 nights we spent at this property in early March 2024.

The hotel’s location couldn’t be beat, and our room was spacious. However, staying at a Design Hotel does come with some downsides, such as not being able to use Nightly Upgrade Awards and not getting complimentary breakfast, no matter your elite status. We also noticed that some of the staff members weren’t the most helpful during our stay.

Were the tradeoffs worth it? For us, they were. We were happy to fend for ourselves for a few days while being smack dab in the center of Reykjavik’s tourist sites.

Let’s take a closer look at this very unique hotel.

Booking

101 Hotel, Reykjavik, is part of the Design Hotels brand from Marriott Bonvoy. This meant we could have, theoretically, booked the hotel with Marriott Bonvoy points. Our 3-night stay in early March required 168,000 points for a standard room — or 56,000 points per night.

101 Hotel Reykjavik points pricing
Award pricing for our 3-night stay. Image Credit: Marriott

The cheapest flexible rate for this same room was $288 per night for a total of $865. I wasn’t happy about it, but I paid the cash rate to avoid using my Marriott Bonvoy points at an abysmal half a cent per point — markedly below our valuation of Marriott Bonoy points.

101 Hotel Reykjavik cash price
Cash cost for our 3-night stay. Image Credit: Marriott

I paid for the stay with my Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, which earned me 6x points per dollar spent. I earned an additional 10x points per dollar spent as a Marriott Bonvoy member and another 7.5x points per dollar spent as a Titanium Elite member. That amounted to a total of 20,328 points from paying for our stay. I also earned another 1,000 points per night and double elite night credits from a Marriott Bonvoy promotion during our stay.

Hot Tip:

Learn about all of the best ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy points in our complete guide!

Location

101 Hotel, Reykjavik, sits in the center of the tourist hotspots in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. It is mere blocks away from the waterfront, the pedestrian-only zones, and numerous shops, restaurants, and cafés.

101 Hotel Reykjavik location
Location of the hotel within Reykjavik. Image Credit: Google Maps

The hotel is also across the street from a small park, meaning rooms on 1 side of the hotel have unobstructed views. We were lucky and got a room on this side of the hotel. More on that below.

Check-In

At the address on Google Maps, we found a building with no obvious sign it was a hotel, and the door was around the corner. We genuinely didn’t think it was our hotel, so we drove around the block again.

101 Hotel Reykjavik building
The 101 Hotel, Reykjavik.

The second time we passed this building, my wife thought the handles on the door looked like a 101, so I threw on the flashing lights while she ran inside to ask if this was a hotel. If not, the plan was that she’d ask for directions.

101 Hotel Reykjavik front door
A 101-esque layout to the door handles.

Before she saw any people, she saw a dog lying next to the reception desk.

101 Hotel Reykjavik dog in lobby
A dog greeted us before any person did.

Finding the front desk unstaffed, my wife called out: “Hello? Is this a hotel?”

She was certain we were in the right place, but finding no one at the desk became a theme during our stay.

101 Hotel Reykjavik reception desk
The often-unstaffed front desk.

A friendly employee confirmed that this was, indeed, the 101 Hotel, Reykjavik, and indicated that I should occupy the “taxis only” spot out front with our flashers on while unloading our luggage. When I went inside to check in, I mentioned that we weren’t sure if this was the right building, given that nothing outside says “hotel.”

She indicated that we could find a sign for the hotel on top of the building if we looked up from further down the street. To me, a more honest answer would have simply been admitting that the hotel needs a better sign.

We also immediately noticed the hotel’s art theme, which became another theme for our stay — we encountered works of art in numerous public spaces.

101 Hotel Reykjavik lobby art
Artwork between the reception desk and guest rooms.

After scanning our passports and paying for the room, we received a key unlike any I’d seen before. The employee explained that we should put the key into the hole in the door and then turn the handle — not the key itself. This key was barely larger than a quarter, and I worried about losing it throughout our stay.

101 Hotel Reykjavik key
I’d never seen a hotel key like this before.

We struggled to operate this key throughout our stay. Opening the door to our room required inserting the key just so and getting a green light before we could turn the knob on the door to our room. It usually took 2 or 3 tries to get into and out of our room.

Elite Benefits

There weren’t a ton of elite benefits offered during our stay. Design Hotels don’t participate in several Marriott Bonvoy elite benefits — one of my main gripes about the Marriott Bonvoy program.

I wasn’t able to use Nightly Upgrade Awards for this stay, nor do Design Hotels offer complimentary breakfast to elites. Instead, the welcome gift for Platinum Elite (and above) members is a measly 1,000 bonus points, which added to my other earnings from this stay.

Other than these points, the only elite benefit we received was an upgraded room. We had booked a Double Queen room (a misnomer, as the room has just 1 Queen bed) and were upgraded to a Double King room.

Amenities

Parking

Guests at the 101 Hotel, Reykjavik, have complimentary parking in a lot around the corner, which also had this nice mural. Black signs with the hotel logo indicated spaces reserved for hotel guests, and we received a paper with our checkout date to display on the dash whenever we parked in the lot.

101 Hotel Reykjavik parking
Our rental car parked in one of the hotel’s reserved spots.

The lot didn’t have a gate or any other security presence, however.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi was reliable throughout the property. While the speeds definitely didn’t break any records, uploads of 22.6 Mbps and downloads of 52.4 Mbps were sufficient for us to surf the internet and get work done.

101 Hotel Reykjavik speed test
Internet speeds at the hotel. Image Credit: Speedtest

Gym

A small gym was in the basement.

101 Hotel Reykjavik gym entrance
Entrance to the gym; our room key was required for entry.

Mirrors on all sides made the gym look large with a ton of equipment crammed in. The reality, however, was that there were just 6 cardio machines.

101 Hotel Reykjavik gym cardio machines
Cardio equipment in the gym.

Near the door, a rack held several sets of free weights.

101 Hotel Reykjavik gym weights
Free weights near the fitness center’s entrance.

Spa

Between the gym and the elevator — also in the basement — was a spa. I tried to stop by twice just to see what it offered, and the spa was impressively busy with clients both times. However, the website lists a full range of services like saunas, massages, and a plunge pool.

101 Hotel Reykjavik Kastrup spa entrance
The door to the spa in the underground level of the hotel.

Meeting Spaces

101 Hotel, Reykjavik, had 2 separate meeting spaces. A smaller room could hold up to 12 people, while a larger room had a capacity for 40 guests.

Elevator

The hotel’s sole elevator was small. It felt cramped with just 3 people in it. The mirrors on every wall inside the elevator also created a “fun house effect” we didn’t really enjoy, but the elevator worked efficiently. We never waited long.

101 Hotel Reykjavik elevator in lobby
Looking at the elevator from the front entrance.

Double King Room

We stayed in room 407. Stepping out of the elevator on the fourth floor, we weren’t sure which way to turn. The color palette was all blacks and dark purples, and black lettering indicating the room numbers was difficult to read.

101 Hotel Reykjavik guest floor hallway
Looking at our room at the end of the hallway.

We found our room at the end of the hallway on the left and began the first of many episodes of struggling to get the door open. Inside the door, we found a small tray on the wall, which was a great place to store the key.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bedroom shelf near door
A small tray on the wall inside the room’s entrance.

Bedroom

Our bedroom was spacious, and we liked it a lot. It had more than just the bare essentials, though it also had some strange design elements.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bedroom
Looking into our bedroom from the entryway.

Sitting in the middle of the room was a king-size bed. Behind it, we had a folding black partition that had been glued and mounted to no longer fold.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bed
The king-size bed in our room.

On the corner of the bed, we found a wool throw emblazoned with the hotel’s logo.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bed with blanket
A throw with the hotel’s logo.

Each side of the bed had a floor lamp and a clear plastic nightstand that felt cheap. A notepad and phone were on one nightstand.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bedroom nightstand and lamp
The lamp and nightstand next to the bed.

Along the window was a long wooden desk with a chair.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bedroom desk
The desk and chair near the window.

One side of the desk had a lamp, phone, and notepad.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bedroom desk with lamp and phone
A phone, notepad, and lamp on the desk.

The other end of the desk had these unique clay cups and a pitcher. They were accompanied by a note informing us that we could drink the tap water.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bedroom jar and cups
Handmade clay cups and a pitcher in our room.

We also found a Bluetooth speaker on the desk.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bedroom speaker
A Bluetooth speaker on the desk.

The desk also had a welcome note mentioning some of the amenities available. It wasn’t personalized.

101 Hotel Reykjavik welcome letter
A welcome note on the desk when we arrived.

Bathroom

“Interesting” is a good word to describe the bathroom.

The entry faced into this combined bathroom-closet area that had an open layout. It felt really spacious.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bathroom
Looking into the bathroom from the entry area.

To the left was an open space that led to the shower and the toilet, with mirrors on 3 sides.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bathroom shower entry
The entry to the shower, with the toilet on the left.

The shower had an open layout with both rainfall and handheld options. You had to step all the way into the shower to reach the controls, so make sure you’re ready to shower before you turn it on.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bathroom shower
The shower’s open layout with black tiles and mirrors.

Mounted to the wall, we found Balmain Paris pump bottles with shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. These had a “forest-y” smell that was really nice.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bathroom shower pump bottles
Pump bottles in the shower.

If you turned left (instead of right to the shower), a frosted door led to the toilet. A phone was in the water closet for some reason.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bathroom toilet
The toilet room came complete with a phone.

Here’s where the bathroom gets a bit odd. The sink was mounted onto this marble-topped stand that looked moveable. However, it was bolted to the floor — and was done so at an angle. It felt like the hotel was trying to do something different just for the sake of being different and not for any practical function.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bathroom sink stand at angle
The sink stand was at an angle for some reason.

A partial glass wall separated the bathroom from the bedroom area. The sink unit had 2 shelves and a decent amount of counter space next to the sink itself. I also enjoyed the bar for hanging a hand towel in front of the sink — convenient!

101 Hotel Reykjavik bathroom sink and stand
The sink and its storage areas.

A nondescript pump bottle of soap sat next to the sink’s square basin.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bathroom sink
Mystery soap for our hands.

A small tray held a Balmain Paris bar of soap and a canister with makeup pads and cotton swabs.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bathroom toiletries on sink counter
Supplies on the counter near the sink.

Immediately under the sink, we had 2 drinking glasses. Finding these here was a surprise.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bathroom glasses under sink
Drinking glasses face up under the sink.

On the bottom shelf, we had 2 metal bins, with slippers in one of them.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bathroom bins under sink
Bins with slippers and toiletries on the bottom shelf.

The other bin had an interesting mix of supplies, such as a shower cap, shaving kit, toothbrush, a shoe-polish sponge, and even ear plugs.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bathroom toiletries in bin
Individually packaged supplies in a bin under the sink.

Closet Area

On the far wall of this open space was a closet area with a bar and hangers for our clothes. We also found a luggage rack and reusable bags that we could use or pay to keep. There was 1 robe hanging here, while a second was folded and available under the sink.

101 Hotel Reykjavik closet area
Shelves and space for hanging clothes in the closet area.

There also was an umbrella that we could use during our stay at no charge, and these wooden boxes served as shelving.

101 Hotel Reykjavik closet shelves and umbrella
Shelving plus an umbrella for use during our stay.

One of the shelves held another cloth bag plus a price list for laundry.

101 Hotel Reykjavik reusable bag and laundry price list
Laundry prices and a reusable bag.

Minibar

This unique wardrobe across from the bed held the TV and minibar.

101 Hotel Reykjavik minibar closet
I’ve definitely never seen a piece of furniture like this before.

The top shelf held the TV, while another shelf held books with tourist information about Iceland. Further down, we found more glasses, nuts, and a small bottle of wine. These were for-purchase items.

101 Hotel Reykjavik TV above minibar
The TV, information books, and some of the minibar’s offerings.

Further down, we had slide-out drawers, a safe, and a minifridge.

101 Hotel Reykjavik minibar and shelves
Drawers, a safe, and a minifridge inside this cupboard.

The minifridge was replete with miniature bottles of alcohol.

101 Hotel Reykjavik minifridge alcohol options
Small bottles of alcohol in the fridge.

However, it also had chocolate bars, sodas, bottled water, and beer.

101 Hotel Reykjavik minibar fridge contents
Drinks and snacks inside the fridge.

A charge was associated with the items in the minibar — here’s a look at the price list.

101 Hotel Reykjavik minibar price list
Prices for the minibar.

Views

Our room overlooked a small park, with views toward the sea further in the distance. The park had a statue of Ingólfur Arnarson, the founder of Reykjavik. The corner of this park also served as the meeting point for numerous tour operators in Reykjavik.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bedroom view from window
Overlooking a small park with views toward the sea.

It was even the meeting spot for our northern lights tour one night, which was incredibly convenient.

Ryan and Carol with Northern Lights in Iceland
My wife and I with the northern lights in Iceland.

We also had a view up the street, with The House of Collections (the white building) on the next block, hosting a cultural and historical museum.

101 Hotel Reykjavik bedroom view
Looking up the street from our room.

We really enjoyed not having any buildings across from our window. Normally, you worry about closing the curtains before showering or changing clothes, but it was nice not to worry about who was looking into our room from across the street.

Food and Beverage

Kastrup

Kastrup was the 101 Hotel, Reykjavik’s singular restaurant, as well as its sole bar. Located on the ground floor, left of the entrance, the restaurant had a long bar with bar stools and typical tables and chairs.

101 Hotel Reykjavik Kastrup
Kastrup, the hotel’s sole restaurant.

The hotel recommends reservations for dinner during peak times. Kastrup served Scandinavian fare, offering dishes like pepper steak, seafood, and open-faced sandwiches, as well as burgers, salads, and several desserts. Dinner prices matched its upscale vibe.

101 Hotel Reykjavik Kastrup menu
The menu at Kastrup.

Kastrup also served breakfast each morning from 7 to 10:30 a.m. As breakfast wasn’t included in our stay and cost roughly $35 per person, we dined elsewhere.

Room Service

Room service was available, offering a pared-down version of the Kastrup menu. Orders were accepted from noon to 8:30 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays. On Fridays and Saturdays, service was available until 9:30 p.m.

101 Hotel Reykjavik room service menu
The room service menu found in our room.

Service

Service was hit-and-miss here. First, we routinely found the front desk empty. Whether that was our arrival or just passing the desk on the way in or out of the hotel, it was strange how infrequently we saw anyone at the desk. Instead, employees were usually in a back room that couldn’t be seen by guests, and you needed to say something to get their attention (there was no bell).

Once we found someone to check in with, she was friendly, and we got a good orientation of the hotel, its amenities, and what was/wasn’t included with our stay. We also liked the tourist information available in our room. My wife even went whale watching with a company recommended in one of these books.

101 Hotel Reykjavik books under TV
Tourist information books were available in our room.

Overall, we had very few interactions with the staff, as we didn’t eat at the restaurant and rarely saw anyone at the desk. The checkout process itself was solid, but what came after checkout was a major disappointment.

We had a 6 a.m. flight departing Iceland, and the airport is roughly 45 minutes outside Reykjavik. Thus, we left the hotel at 3 a.m. to leave time to fill up and drop off the rental car before catching an international flight. As we’d paid our bill at check-in and had no charges on our account, checkout was lightning quick. And there was even someone at the desk when we went down, which was a surprise. She took our key, emailed me a final receipt, and we headed out.

At 3 p.m., a full 12 hours later, I got an email from the hotel asking why we hadn’t checked out and whether we’d misplaced the key.

101 Hotel Reykjavik email after checkout
An email from the hotel 12 hours after we’d checked out. Image Credit: Gmail

We’d checked out in person and given the key to an employee, and this email was a bit irritating. I had an email receipt and knew the account was closed.

I immediately wondered why no one asked the other employees on duty where the key was before reaching out to me.

I then forwarded our final receipt back to the hotel and said I gave the key back in a 1-sentence email. They wrote back with an email that could be summarized as “oops” and not much more.

We essentially had 3 interactions with staff at this hotel: 1 required finding an employee to help us, 1 was good, and 1 was bad. Not a great record.

Final Thoughts

The 101 Hotel, Reykjavik, is part of Marriott Bonvoy and boasts an impeccable location. It’s not teeming with amenities, doesn’t accept upgrade awards or offer breakfast for elites, some design choices were odd, and the staff didn’t leave a great taste in our mouth. However, for self-sufficient tourists who just want a place to sleep, a prime location, and solid Wi-Fi, this is a good option.

If you want more than just the basics for your stay, this probably isn’t a good choice, and you’d likely be better served by The Reykjavik EDITION — also a Marriott Bonvoy property — just a few blocks away.

The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What year did 101 Hotel, Reykjavik, open?

The hotel was built and opened to guests in 2003.

How many rooms does the 101 Hotel, Reykjavik, have?

The hotel has 38 rooms spread across 5 floors. This includes 6 suites and junior suites.

Why are Reykjavik hotels so expensive?

Hotels in Reykjavik are regularly sold out or nearly full. Given the high occupancy rates, hotel managers have little incentive to lower prices, given that they’re filling up the hotels at the prices they’re currently charging.

What rewards program is Design Hotels?

Design Hotels is in the Marriott Bonvoy family of brands. Other brands in the Marriott portfolio include JW Marriott, W Hotels, Courtyard by Marriott, EDITION, and more. This means you can earn and redeem Marriott Bonvoy points and free nights at any of these properties. Design Hotels, however, don’t offer some of the same benefits as other Marriott Bonvoy properties. Elites won’t get free breakfast and can’t use their upgrade awards at Design Hotels properties.

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About Ryan Smith

Ryan completed his goal of visiting every country in the world in December of 2023 and now plans to let his wife choose their destinations. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publications including AwardWallet, The Points Guy, USA Today Blueprint, CNBC Select, Tripadvisor, and Forbes Advisor.

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