The first cabin constructed in Kerlingarfjöll, a mountain range in central Iceland bracketed by two glaciers and threaded with geothermal steam, was completed in 1937 and gave hikers a launchpad from which to wander the otherworldly landscape. Then, in the ’60s, a summer ski school and hostel operated on its slopes. The school is long gone, but the adventuring spirit remains, and now intrepid travellers have a sophisticated new place to stay. The hospitality company Blue Lagoon Family — responsible for the first luxury hotel at the famed Iceland Blue Lagoon — recently debuted Highland Base, a collection of accommodations that include that original cabin, seven salvaged rustic A-frames, six stand-alone lodges and a hotel with 46 rooms and two suites with their own hot tubs on private terraces. Picture windows in all of the rooms and lodges offer views of the surrounding terrain, which can be explored on foot in the summer and by snowmobile in winter. The hotel, about a three-hour drive from Reykjavík, will be open year round, though in the colder months visitors must hire a professional driver in a four-wheel-drive super jeep to reach the property, thanks to the unpaved highland roads. Once there, guests will find underground passageways connecting the hotel with the restaurant and thermal baths (scheduled to open this winter) to help them stay warm in between expeditions. Rooms from approximately $700 a night, highlandbase.is.
New hotel rooms and lodges join salvaged huts at Highland Base in Kerlingarfjöll, Iceland. Photograph Courtesy of Highland Base Kerlingarfjöll.