Q: What is it? A: A modern hotel of more than decent standard in central Reykjavik. Superb staff.
Reykjavik turned modern.
The first few times I visited Iceland, I was puzzled. Even around lunch time, people of all ages were dressed like they aspired to take the stage in “Top of the Pops” the very same night. Nightlife was, (and is), crazy. But the city itself seemed to have fallen behind. The first time, I stayed in something that looked like an abandoned terminal building, (which would have been cool if the hotel hadn’t been so… bad!). The next time I stayed in what some kind of dorm house that doubled as a hotel when the students where out of town. If you wanted to stay somewhere decent, the old-fashioned Hotel Borg was the only alternative. Not exactly what you’d expect from a dynamic capital city. Plus, the price tag almost forced me into crime. That’s why the 101 Hotel felt like a breath of fresh air when it opened in March 2003.
It must have felt very modern…
The owner, (and designer), Ingibjörg S. Pálmadóttir didn’t exactly cut corners when overturning the former headquarters of the Social Democratic Party into a very boutique-y hotel with 38 rooms and suites. The grand opening was delayed with about 12 months due to problems with contractors and the Icelandic Gods know what. On one hand it feels like the quintessential modern hotel with very few surprises. On the other hand it feels like a very well thought-out modern hotel, which is especially true when it comes to the room design. It’s quite an accomplishment by Pálmadóttir, as they still feel modern, (see above!), eight years after the hotel opened.
An extra star added for great service.
Sometimes when you’re travelling, life seems to treat you in a not-so-nice way. Things like unreliable cars and GPS-receivers, (thank you so much Hertz!) can definitely ruin your day. Then it feels very nice to run into people like Linda. Managing the front desk and doubling as a concierge, catering to our ever-changing schedule with so much efficiency and a smile, she definitely made the 101 Hotel stand out among others. She alone is worth an extra star and Linda, if you read this, I can’t thank you enough for handling the booking at Sjávarkjallarinn* in a such brilliant manner!
A very central, very busy place.
If a hotel attracts a local crowd, it’s usually a good sign. On Fridays the 101 Hotel turns into a rather busy place, especially when Reykjavik’s younger professionals leave their cubicles and start to intoxicate themselves with hard liquor. That is not entirely a good thing. When booking, you may want to request a room that is not facing the street, especially since Icelanders apparently are allowed to bring their alcohol outside, while they leave the hotel bar to smoke.
But the big picture is a quite positive one. The 101 Hotel is essentially a competent operation. To be honest, there are very few alternatives to it in Reykjavik, but if you are lucky enough to find Linda behind the front desk, you will instantly feel that it delivers something that Iceland has been lacking before.
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*The Sjávarkjallarinn (the seafood cellar) was Icelands best restaurant with a kitchen that would hold its own in any city, anywhere. When their celebrated young chef Hrefna Rósa Sætran left, the edge was lost.