a retreat to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland is much more than spa destination. It takes the paradisiacal experience of bathing in its legendary geothermal aqua pura and elevates it to new levels. Her beauty means every moment is an Instagram dream and it’s a glorious (and very sure) antidote to a gloomy pandemic year.
Nestled in an austere landscape of ancient lava, the hotel is surrounded by milky blue water warm enough to produce clouds of vapor, enveloping everything in haze. Guests have access to a spectacular private section of the Blue Lagoon and the water, shaped by the volcanic rocks ebbs and flows around the hotel like a moat with endless hidden corners and coves.
For the historical context, the Blue Lagoon is a combination of nature and human ingenuity. The mineral-rich seawater first came out of a geothermal power plant in 1976, and locals who started swimming in it found that it improved their skin. Scientists at Svartsengi Resource Park – a geothermal power plant producing green energy – expected water to seep through the lava and back into the earth’s volcanic aquifers. Instead, thanks to the extra silica, proper drainage didn’t happen and the result is this beautiful, opalescent water mass. Turnstiles for visitors were added in 1985, but it was not until 2018 that Retirement opened its doors.
Man alone, however, could never produce what nature has bestowed on this heavenly place – it is one of the wonders of the world. And to use another cliché, it’s ahead of its time. Long before Covid-19, The Retreat was all about privacy and social distancing. There are only 62 guest suites in a large and airy setting that could easily accommodate many more. It is wide and airy; you can walk around and not approach another person.
It’s so private and low-key, in fact, that the eerie glimpse of a Hollywood star, wearing a dressing gown and the same tousled hair as you, is both unlikely and expected. Celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Justin Timberlake and Beyonce are said to be converts (although the staff at The Retreat are far too tasteful to comment).
I spent three days here before the first one confinement in 2020 and I have never felt so good. In fact, I am convinced that this is what has sustained me over the next few months.
Just 20 minutes from Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport, The Retreat’s location makes it the perfect post-flight destination. Within an hour of landing, you can shake off the aches and pains of the private lagoon trip with chilled champagne, but from experience you will start to let go of your worries as soon as you enter.
The brains behind this haven of peace have decided on a personalized approach, in which you are greeted by your own host who acts as a guide and escort, manages routes, confirms tours, provides insight into local culture and provides information. the guests of the arrival of the Northern Lights. You feel that no request is beyond the staff who realize this holy grail of service: friendly and attentive without being in any way intrusive. Like accomplished professionals, they make it easy.
The design of the hotel, meanwhile, pays homage to its surroundings with a calming color palette reflecting the landscape’s muted tones of greens, grays and slate while large picture windows allow the majestic lagoon to take in the sun. front of the stage. It’s a breathtaking introduction.
The calming color palette continues in the guest suites, with soft, snow-gray linens and thoughtful detail. Gorgeous cotton cord holders for bathroom pieces laid side by side with luxuries and the arctic glow of plush bathrobes are a lovely sight. And, unlike some larger getaways, The Retreat is famously generous with its high-end toiletries.
My suite was a serene sanctuary with such a magical view of lava fields and opalescent waters that it wasn’t until the third day that I realized there was no TV. Not that I would have used it. The idea is that the guests have a detoxification of the body and the mind; When you soak in a marble bathtub contemplating such a sight, the last thing on your mind is Sky News.
Turndown service is also a treat with the delivery of freshly hand-made chocolates, and the plentiful bar in the suite is free. It is, however, the quality of sleep that I will remember. I’m normally an insomniac, but apparently a combination of health-promoting waters, a sleepy environment, and a king-size bed helps.
Other touches include personalized Moleskine notebooks to record feelings and thoughts. It’s amazing how quickly your mind clears up in this environment and you find yourself noting all kinds of things. As I leafed through mine on my return to London, I discovered that I had jotted down choice remarks such as: “This must be what real relaxation looks like – I can’t find the words” and: “It is. the most heavenly place. I must claim the rights of the squatters and refuse to be evicted from my room upon departure (I’m only half kidding!). ” For those looking to seriously step up the luxury, the Lagoon Suite has its own private waterfront to dive into.
The world famous spa is, of course, the star of the show. It is out of this world, and also beneath it, being built into the 800 year old inky volcanic rock. Privacy is a priority, and while guests can ask staff to take pictures of them, they themselves are not allowed to use phones or cameras in the spa.
A hypnotic atmosphere permeates the cave-like spa, which features an outdoor hammam, traditional saunas, relaxation modules and the Blue Lagoon ritual room. The latter is the jewel in the crown; where clients exfoliate, cleanse and hydrate their face and body using the natural products of water – mineral salt, silica and seaweed. The result, for me anyway, was the kind of fresh, plumped skin that I haven’t had for many years.
You could spend a wonderful week browsing the extensive treatment menu, but the one not to be missed is the full body massage in the water. Unrolling as you float on a bed like a lilo, it manages to be both deeply relaxing and tingling at the same time, and unlike a normal massage, you don’t have to slip into your clothes and hit the world. outside after. Instead, after you’re done pampering yourself, you’re just left adrift, like a trance on hot water, feeling you’ve got all the time in the world. It is divine.
It’s terribly hard to find fault with The Retreat, but I tried. A pantyhose can be put off by the faint sulfur smell of water, which everyone quickly becomes immune to, but that’s about it. In addition to its reputation for beautification and well-being, the hotel houses three restaurants. Lava is the oldest and largest, and merges Icelandic cuisine with modern European cuisine. The Spa Restaurant is a wonderful option to eat between baths, with light and healthy dishes such as arctic char ceviche, succulent sushi and barley salads.
For serious and dedicated foodies, however, the hotel’s iconic restaurant, Moss, is a must. The ambros tasting menu includes dishes like pine-smoked reindeer, appetizing Gravadlax, tangy liquorice ice cream and still hot Magdalenas pistachio. All, of course, accompanied by wine from what is arguably Iceland’s most fabulous winery.
For more down-to-earth and comforting dishes, coffee and freshly made Icelandic treats are served each afternoon in the lounge. There is something deeply heartwarming and blissful about this tea taken, with everything at The Retreat, with a mesmerizing view of the waters.
Over the past year, we have all suffered in one way or another. Those lucky enough to escape physical symptoms may have struggled silently and mentally, and anything that helps them is welcome. Whenever I am overwhelmed by an explosion of anxiety, I am lucky enough to be able to close my eyes and imagine that I am back in those warm blue waters of Iceland. They are my new one, and I suspect my forever and happy place.
To make a reservation
Read more: The best five star hotels in London