Ion City Hotel

Rooms 18
The Original Sigurlaug Sverrisdóttir

Hotels Facts & Figures
The Original Sigurlaug Sverrisdóttir

Sigurlaug Sverrisdóttir

Icelandic pastoral

With the game-changing Ion Adventure Hotel in Iceland's dramatic hinterlands and the Ion City Hotel in Reykjavik, Sigurlaug Sverrisdóttir has dreamed up town and country resorts that are as conscientious as they are irresistible.

Sigurlaug Sverrisdóttir is certainly no stranger to the virtues of travel. Prior to the 2013 opening of Ion Adventure Hotel, the Icelander and former cabin-crew member established a successful company that organized adventure tours and provided training and recruitment services to airlines. But it was Sverrisdóttir’s extensive (and often unsatisfactory) experience as a guest at luxury chain hotels around the world that most profoundly influenced her current sensibility.


“I would see they were not true to the environment. You would not get any concept of where you were,” says Sverrisdóttir.

I wanted guests to experience exactly where they were in the world.

Sigurlaug Sverrisdóttir

I wanted guests to experience exactly where they were in the world.

Sigurlaug Sverrisdóttir

So at Ion Adventure Hotel, in the rolling Icelandic countryside, she adds, “I wanted the guests to experience the Icelandic nature, the culture, the trends, music, design, and everything we like and appreciate. I wanted them to experience exactly where they were in the world." 


Indeed, from the volcanic marvels of Mount Hengill to the urban sophistication of Reykjavik nearby, Iceland's unique landscape plays a pivotal role in the rich design of the 45-room hotel, which leans heavily on sustainable practices and the natural features of the island. Icelandic rock and locally sourced, repurposed wood fill the hotel’s interiors, which were designed by Santa Monica-based Icelandic studio Minarc.


Sverrisdottir’s enduring passion for local authenticity, not to mention her razor-sharp sense of aesthetics, extend to the ever-rotating local artworks and music that fill the hotels, as well as to the farm-to-table cuisine at Silfra Restaurant & Bar and the partially exposed Lava Spa—both at Ion Adventure Hotel—where guests can luxuriate with herbal products made from organic, mineral-rich volcanic ash and clay sourced from the immediate vicinity.


Inspired touches range from a sink made of recycled tire rubber to an ambitious green energy project, carried out in collaboration with the local government, that allows electricity to be generated through the cooling of volcanic waters sourced beneath the geothermal parkland on which Ion Adventure Hotel is located. The water throughout is then filtered and cleaned before it’s released back into the ground for future use.

“As we were talking about the concept, from the beginning, we were very determined to make it as sustainable as possible,” says Sverrisdóttir. A profound sense of connection to and responsibility toward the natural environment, says Sverrisdóttir, is a big part of what it means to be Icelandic.


“We know that we cannot control the weather, cannot control volcanoes, earthquakes,” she says. “We’ve learned how to live with and respect nature."


One aspect of this, she adds, is a heightened awareness of the unfortunate reality of climate change. As a child growing up on a small peninsula near Reykjavik, Sverrisdóttir recalls whale carcasses often drifting onto the shore, forming great fleshy trampolines on which she and her friends would play. Her schoolteachers would later bring them down to study the whales’ anatomy.


“Now there are hardly any whales, she says wistfully. “Climate change is right there in front of you. You don’t have to go back in time to realize how intense it is.”


Sverrisdóttir’s love for Iceland and its nature extends to the feelings she has for her homeland’s capital city of Reykjavik. So to ensure that one enjoys sophisticated, international flair in a world defined by local design, and all set in a structure that exposes the capital in its best light, she also created Ion City Hotel. And just as Ion Adventure sets such an important precedent in the area—with its many sustainable innovations and practices—it seems certain that Ion City will inspire more followers. And being followed is something a leader like Sverrisdóttir has always been comfortable with. 


“It’s been inspiring to see other hotels go into something similar,” says Sverrisdóttir. “Because this is what Iceland is all about.”

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