Edited by: Nick Ellis
& Keri Stooksbury
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Update: As a Mr & Mrs Smith property, this hotel was part of IHG One Rewards at the time of the stay but is now part of World of Hyatt.
Although Iceland is a popular travel destination, it’s also known as an expensive place to visit. I know hotel nightly room rates during the peak summer season tend to stretch beyond my travel budget, especially when traveling solo without another person to help split costs. However, when I heard great accolades from a fellow traveler regarding the Kvosin Hotel in Reykjavik, I was hoping to experience a stay there at some point, even if I needed to break my budget.
Imagine my excitement when I learned the hotel was available using IHG One Rewards points, of which I had a healthy stash! I’ll talk more about the process of how I booked my stay shortly — but first, a little background on the hotel.
The Kirkjuhvoll building, which currently houses the hotel, was built around 1900 and was the first known residential apartment building in the city to have central heat. While the once-residential building has since been occupied by several different types of businesses over the years, in 2013 it was beautifully renovated to its current mix of old architecture and modern design.
The Kvosin Hotel is a truly unique boutique hotel that continues to be a favorite of travelers to Reykjavik, and its superb location makes it an ideal choice for a stay downtown. In 2019, the hotel was even granted TripAdvisor’s Circle of Excellence designation.
Here’s everything I learned about the hotel and an overview of my experience there.
The Kvosin Hotel is located right in the heart of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city. You can reach the hotel in approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour from Keflavik International Airport (KEF), where most international flights arrive. The airport is designated by the blue star on the map below.
The city of Reykjavik has a unique network of designated bus stops — separate from the public city bus route — that makes it easy for tour and transportation companies to pick up and drop off travelers at, or near, their hotels or city landmarks. The Kvosin Hotel is ideally located at Bus Stop #1, meaning it’s an easy 2-minute walk to the hotel or to board your transportation back to the airport, the Blue Lagoon, a Golden Circle Tour, a South Shore Tour, and more.
The hotel is also less than a 10-minute walk to the harbor from which the whale watching and puffin boat tours depart. The area around the hotel is filled with restaurants, bars, shopping, and many city sights. I’ll talk more about what there is to do in the surrounding area later on in this review.
A huge benefit of the Kvosin Hotel is that it is a Mr & Mrs Smith-branded hotel. This brand has a partnership with IHG Hotels & Resorts, meaning the hotel can be booked with IHG One Rewards points. The property has 24 rooms in 5 distinct categories.
You can select from the Cozy Room (limited availability), Big Room, Bigger Room, Biggest Room, and the Top Floor Apartment. During the summer it can be difficult to secure any room with points, and even if you manage to book in advance, you may pay in excess of 100,000 IHG One Rewards points per night during peak summer months.
I booked 4 months in advance for my early June 2022 stay and was able to secure a Bigger Room for an average of 78,750 points per night. The cash price for the nights I selected would have been over $600 per night, including taxes. Since we value IHG One Rewards points at approximately 0.5 cents each, this would equate to using an average of $393.75 worth of points per night for my stay. I was quite flush with a stash of IHG One Rewards points, so I was more than willing to part with enough to secure a great room in the heart of Reykjavik instead of paying hundreds of dollars per night.
During the shoulder seasons, rates are much lower with rooms going for as few as 45,000 points per night, or around $300. In late October I even found rooms for 37,500 points per night or around $250 for a cash rate. If you’re considering using rewards points, be sure to book well in advance.
If I had not used points to secure the room and for some reason decided to pay the cash rate, I would use my IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card to book as I would earn up to 26x points per dollar spent for using the card and could leverage the Platinum Elite status that comes with the card.
Hot Tip: Get the fourth night free! Cardholders of an IHG-branded credit card who book 4 or more consecutive reward nights will not be charged points for the fourth night.
Here’s a rundown on how to get to the hotel and what to expect when you arrive.
You can arrange private transportation or take a taxi (starting at $160 or 20,490 ISK) from KEF airport to the hotel. There are, however, alternative transportation options. On this occasion, I chose to take the Flybus.
The convenient and comfortable Flybus costs approximately $35 per person one-way (4,599 ISK) and includes transportation to the central bus station where you change to a smaller shuttle that takes you to a stop near your hotel (included in the price). You can also opt to be dropped off at the central station (approximately $26 or 3,299 ISK).
You can book the Flybus online in advance, grab a ticket on arrival from one of the kiosks in baggage claim, or stop by the booth located in the arrivals area. If booking at the kiosk, be sure to select your hotel from the drop-down box when booking, versus the central station drop-off, to ensure the shuttle extension option to your hotel.
Buses, like the one pictured below, will be parked outside the terminal, so just walk out to an awaiting Flybus when your flight arrives at KEF airport. There is no set schedule because bus departures are timed to arriving flights. Show the driver your receipt and you’re ready to go.
Another option for transportation to the city is the Airport Direct bus, which allows you to schedule a departure time. You can select the same service as the Flybus, with central station drop-off (approximately $24 or 2,990 ISK), the option to include a shuttle extension to your hotel (approximately $32 or 3,990 ISK), or opt for a door-to-door Premium shuttle service (approximately $51 or 6,590 ISK) with no stop at the central station. The Premium option includes direct transportation via a smaller minivan that seats about 8 people.
The Flybus and Airport Direct hotel extension shuttles both utilize the bus stop system and will drop you off at Bus Stop #1 near the hotel. In fact, you can see the hotel about a block away when you exit the shuttle. Airport Direct Premium service will drop you off at the hotel’s front entrance. All of these services offer complimentary Wi-Fi on either the bus or shuttle.
I’ve used each of these bus and shuttle transport options (not the private transport/taxi) and have been pleased with each one. The Airport Direct Premium service was about a 25-minute wait due to a preset scheduled departure time, however, the service was great.
The last option is to take public bus #55 from KEF airport to the central bus station. The bus departs 11 times per day and operates from 7:53 a.m. to 11:53 p.m. The journey will take approximately 80 minutes and will cost about $14 (1,840 ISK).
You won’t miss the light blue building that houses the Kvosin Hotel, as it stands unobstructed in the surrounding space. There is a spacious access area behind the parked cars in front of the entrance to the hotel but no real designated drop-off area.
The hotel does not have parking facilities but there are public parking garages and street parking surrounding the hotel. Learn more about parking in Reykjavik.
Behind the row of parked cars outside the hotel, you’ll find the entrance.
Many international flights, especially from the U.S., arrive in Iceland early in the morning. It’s not unusual, especially in high season when hotels are full, to be unable to check in prior to the official 3 p.m. check-in time.
I arrived at the hotel around 9:30 a.m. and while my room wasn’t yet ready, Andrew informed me that he would try to expedite cleaning as soon as the occupants checked out. I was given the Wi-Fi password, a comfortable place to sit in the bar area, and enjoyed a complimentary cup of coffee. I also took a nice walk to check out the area. The hotel will hold your luggage for you if your room is not yet ready.
Sure enough, my room was ready when promised and far ahead of the official 3 p.m. check-in time.
Andrew explained the features of the hotel and the surrounding area. I was also given a voucher good for 2 complimentary drinks at the bar.
The rooms are accessed not by key card but by key code.
One section of the reception area has necessities and snacks for sale, as well as books and games to borrow and complimentary toiletries.
If you need a beverage or a quick bite to eat before heading out for the day or to take up to your room, you’ll find a large assortment of beverages, beer and wine, fresh fruit, and cheeses for sale in the cooler near the front desk.
Remember, you won’t need bottled water in Iceland, just a container to carry tap water, which is some of the best water in the world. The tap water in the hotel, in fact, is ice cold and refreshing, so do take advantage of this resource.
The Kvosin Hotel is a historic building with little extra space for amenities such as a fitness room or business center. Space is well-utilized where it matters, however, with spacious guest rooms and plenty of outdoor common areas.
This delightful common space was located in the back area of the hotel’s ground floor behind reception. Other outdoor spaces included the decks expanding across the room entrances.
Earlier I mentioned that the rooms are classified as Comfy, Big, Bigger, Biggest, and Top Floor Apartment. I initially booked a Big room but then noticed in the description it had just 1 queen bed. Since my traveling friend and I wanted separate sleeping arrangements, I changed my reservation to a Bigger room (which cost me additional points) which offered a double bed plus a sofa bed. Unfortunately due to a last-minute COVID-19 exposure, my friend was unable to travel.
Since I was unable to downgrade the room (the hotel was sold out), I enjoyed the Bigger room. Here’s what to expect if you book the Bigger room at the Kvosin Hotel.
Each room has a unique name. My room, #308, was labeled Búkolla. I looked up the meaning and found that, literally translated, it means “mother’s milk.” However, it is also the name of a beloved magical cow featured in a famous Icelandic fable of the same name. I went with that definition for the rest of the trip.
Entering the room I found a stunning space that was bright, cheerful, and spacious. The place felt much more like an apartment than a hotel room.
There were 3 distinct rooms, including the living/kitchen space (above), the bedroom, and the bathroom.
The bathroom area was located between the living space and the bedroom.
The living area had a nice sofa bed, side table, TV, and wall-mounted shelf. The shelf held some local reading material, a phone, a notepad, an air freshener, and a radio.
While the TV was on the smaller side, perhaps 32 or 36 inches, there were a lot of options for viewing and listening, including syncing a mobile device and connecting an HDMI cable.
It’s great to have a kitchen when traveling — and this compact version had everything you’d need.
The island had a sink, induction stove top, drawers containing silverware, cups, saucers, plates, pans, and a cupboard area holding dish cleaning supplies and a first aid kit.
The countertop had lots of space for food preparation or dining. Plus, there were 3 barstools for seating.
In addition to the coffee maker, the island had a small refrigerator bigger than most minifridges you’d find in a hotel room.
The kitchen island had drawers stocked with everything you’d need to prepare a beverage or meal.
In additional drawers, there was a generous stock of coffee and espresso cups, saucers, and a couple of glasses.
Eating your hotel room meal on a real plate is a step above eating off paper plates in a normal hotel room.
Look under the sink for a first aid kit and dishwashing supplies.
The bedroom wasn’t huge, but the main living area was incredibly spacious so there was little time spent in the bedroom.
Each side of the bed had a wall-mounted side shelf, lighting controls, and an electrical outlet.
The closet structure in the bedroom held a robe, an extra towel, hangers, and a room safe.
The bathroom was spotless and sported a modern design with an open vanity, towel warmer, and delightfully fragrant amenities.
It’s always a nice treat to have a towel warmer in the bathroom.
The Sóley brand hand soap and hand sanitizer are premium products made with organic wild Icelandic herbs. The products are made in a small village near the northern fjords and are said to have healing properties.
The shower was quite spacious and had a handheld wand extension.
Once again, the aroma of the Sóley products, plus the moisture of the essential oils, added a little luxury to shower time.
There wasn’t a designated work area that included a desk or chair, so I ended up using the kitchen island. The stools were a bit high for computer work so I alternated standing at the island and sitting on the sofa. Who stays in the room working when in Reykjavik anyway?
The internet speeds were great throughout the stay.
My room encompassed an entire end of the building so, with 3 large windows, I had 3 distinct views. Looking out the entrance side of my room, I saw the deck approach and surrounding buildings.
Out the living area window, I could view the parking garage entrance, City Hall, and Tjornin Pond. The pond is surrounded by lovely park areas offering several places to stop and have a picnic, relax, or just walk and take in the scenery.
The building next to the pond is City Hall. Bus Stop #1 where the airport and tour shuttle buses pick up and drop off is right in front of that building.
Looking out from the kitchen area, I had a direct view of the Parliament building. The area adjacent to the Parliament is also a nice park area surrounded by bars and restaurants.
The Parliament is the oldest in the world, founded in the year 930.
In addition to grabbing a beverage or snack in the lobby pantry and cooler, you’ll be able to catch breakfast and later visit one of the city’s popular bars, the hotel’s Aldamót Bar.
The Aldamót Bar serves a dual purpose as both the breakfast room and the bar, depending on the time of day.
The hotel does not have a full-service restaurant but manages to serve a delightful light breakfast spread each morning from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the bar area.
Breakfast is not included in the room rates and costs €20 (~$21) per adult or half price for 12 years old and under. For those 2 years and younger, there is no charge.
Start by grabbing a coffee, grapefruit or orange juice, and water.
If you enjoy cereal, you’ll have a couple of selections.
My favorite Icelandic discovery years ago was skyr. It’s similar to yogurt but smoother and thicker (that’s my take on it). You’ll find 2 choices of yogurts plus skyr at the hotel breakfast.
A fresh assortment of salad fixings, hard-boiled eggs, and meats and cheeses was offered.
I am always amazed at the quality of the fruit served in Iceland. Here’s an example of what to expect at the Kvosin Hotel:
In addition to fresh fruits, meats, and cheeses, you’ll find a few pastries and a bread selection.
You can make your own toast then enjoy one of the provided spreads, including peanut butter, jams, or honey.
The Aldamót Bar area is long, narrow, and divided into 2 sections that follow the street-level sidewalk. It’s a popular spot for hotel guests and also for locals.
The first section is used at breakfast time, then transformed for the 3 p.m. bar opening.
The second section of the bar is closed off during breakfast and then opened later for cocktails.
Happy Hour runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. I was able to use my voucher for 2 glasses of my choice of 4 wines. The bartender was so knowledgeable and knew how to describe each individual wine, allowing me to quickly select the one perfect for me.
The bar specializes in some signature cocktails that are quite creative.
While you’re sipping your hand-crafted cocktail, beer, or glass of wine, you can also order some snacks.
Once again, the hotel does not have a formal restaurant, but it sits at a prime location with plenty of dining options within walking distance. In fact, TripAdvisor says there are 161 restaurants within 0.3 miles.
Just don’t miss the bar at the hotel before you head out for dinner.
Whether it’s a boat adventure to see puffins, whale watching, or exploring the rest of the island, the Kvosin Hotel in Reykjavik can serve as the perfect base. You can walk to the harbor to catch a boat tour or select from an endless list of excursions with tour operators that provide pickup just a few steps away from the hotel.
The front desk can help you arrange a variety of tours.
In front of the hotel, you’ll want to check out the oldest church in Iceland and the Parliament building mentioned earlier.
Don’t miss Fly Over Iceland on a bad weather day to experience the country from the “air” but indoors. You can walk to the adventure venue from the hotel.
There are too many sights nearby to mention but here are a few practical items of interest:
While there isn’t a full-service supermarket in the immediate area around the hotel, you will find a couple of excellent corner convenience stores just blocks away. Krónan and Pétursbúð are 2 that are close and especially well-stocked.
You can also find a more expansive Bonus supermarket about a 15-minute walk up Laugavegur street.
If you’re in Reykjavik on the weekend, don’t miss this eclectic collection of items for sale at Kolaportid, including a selection of local Icelandic foods. The market is open on weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Less than 3 blocks from the hotel you can enjoy a world-famous hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. Serving its lamb-based hot dogs since 1937, the brand is an institution — just ask Bill Clinton or Kim Kardashian. It’s certainly one of the best dining values you’ll find in Iceland.
Learn more about attractions to visit in the area surrounding the hotel.
I received top-notch service while at the hotel. Aside from the warm greeting, helpful suggestions, and the sense of urgency to get my room ready, Andrew at the front desk offered additional assistance.
My scheduled tour was canceled at the last minute but the company did not process the promised refund, even after I had contacted them twice. On hearing the story, Andrew didn’t hesitate to make a quick call and we got the process started.
Then he booked me a replacement activity, a puffin spotting boat tour leaving from the nearby harbor.
I’m definitely a hotel guest who asks a lot of questions (so I can pass the answers on to you), but Andrew answered with patience. He’s a real asset to the hotel.
I really enjoyed my stay at the Kvosin Hotel in Reykjavik. Having access to everything the city has to offer right outside my door made it convenient to see a lot in a short period of time.
Everyone at the hotel is a proud ambassador of the property and happy to share the history with you when you visit. Be sure to ask as you’ll find it quite fascinating.
I’m happy to have the option to use my IHG One Rewards points for such a unique property. I plan to stay at the hotel again later this year and will try the Comfy room for my solo stay.
If you make prior arrangements, the hotel will accept guide dogs, subject to the hotel’s discretion. All other animals and pets are not allowed at the hotel.
Yes. You can use IHG One Rewards points to book your stay and you’ll earn IHG One Rewards points for each dollar spent at the property.
No. The hotel is not located near KEF airport. You will need to secure transportation for the approximately 1-hour trip from the airport to the city of Reykjavik.
The hotel can be reached via taxi or prearranged buses that drop off at Bus Stop #1. The hotel is located about a block from this bus stop.
The hotel does not have its own parking, however, there is street parking and a parking garage nearby.
Yes. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel and bar area.
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