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Club Carlson Options in Reykjavik: Radisson Blu Saga Vs. Radisson Blu 1919

by on July 17, 2013 · 9 comments

in Club Carlson, Trip Reports

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When I decided to plan a very last minute trip to Reykjavik in Iceland last week, I naturally weighed up my hotel options carefully and decided on  to take advantage of my favorite Club Carlson credit card perk by staying at not one, but two, of their properties there – first at the Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, and then the Radisson Blu 1919.

I redeemed 38,000 points for a two night stay.

I redeemed 38,000 points and $0 for a two night stay.

While Radisson has a reliable collection of properties around the world, the deciding factor was that I could use my new Club Carlson credit card to get me a 2 night stay for the price of one on points. For a total of 38,000 Gold Points, I was able to stay at the Radisson Blu Saga Hotel from Wednesday to Friday. A standard room on those same nights was selling for 190 EUR per night (about $248 – Iceland is not cheap), so each point got me about 1.3 cents each in value.

The view

Sadly, I did not have a room with a view.

The hotel’s location was about a 15 minute walk from the center of town, which wasn’t too bad as it allowed me to soak in the sights while I walked but wasn’t quite as central as the description on the website suggested. Despite being close to amazing landmarks like the Iceland Glaciers and the Gullfooss Waterfall, the view from my room was disappointing – overlooking a parking lot and a nondescript building.

Wine amenity

Wine and a chocolate covered strawberry were a nice welcome gift.

However, the cleanliness of the hotel and the fact that they let me check in at 11 am when I arrived were both awesome and made up for the lack of appeal out of the window. After having a five hour flight from JFK to KEF – although it was in the relative comfort of Delta BusinessElite – it was a welcome relief to be able to relax in my room as soon as I arrived.

Another nice touch was that I received a welcome gift of white wine (surprisingly from Argentina!) and a chocolate covered strawberry.

My room

My room at the Radisson Blu Saga in Iceland.

I stayed in a standard non-smoking room that was approximately 20-25 square meters in size.

Complimentary WiFi and a flatscreen TV added to the room's appeal.

Complimentary WiFi and a flatscreen TV added to the room’s appeal.

Along with complimentary (and speedy) WiFi, the room was equipped with hardwood floors, a flatscreen TV with satellite and pay-per-view television, and a coffee maker.

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The marble bathroom was spacious and some come with bathtubs.

The marble bathroom had a single vanity and was stocked with Anne Semonin bath products including body lotion, shower gel, conditioner and shampoo.

The bathroom featured Radisson's signature Anne Semonin product collection.

The bathroom featured Radisson’s signature Anne Semonin product collection.

The Radisson Blu Saga has three on-site dining options. The Grillio restaurant is eight stories above street level and offers stunning views of the city and fine dining. Restaurant Skrudur is more basic with buffets for breakfast (only in winter), lunch and dinner, plus a huge fireplace to huddle around. Mimisbar and Lounge has burgers, beers and colorful cocktails.  I only ordered room service lunch one day and had a delicious salmon burger with undercooked sweet potato fries. You win some, you lose some.

There is also a fitness center with weights and cardio machines to burn off all that traditional Icelandic food, and a spa offering full service massages along with a seawater Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room.

Radisson Blu 1919

The historical exterior of the Radisson Blu 1919.

Checking Out the Other Radisson Blu
Following a brief stay in the sparse Hotel Holt (I will write more about my experiences there and why I don’t trust TripAdviser reviews later this week!), I checked into the nearby Radisson Blu 1919 hotel. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to book it on Club Carlson points as they weren’t available on those dates, but at least I was earning more during my stay for a future trip. I paid 334 EUR ($440) per night for a 2 night stay Saturday through Monday. Although that is more than I normally like to pay, I did get a Junior Suite with a king bed and I wanted to check out another Radisson property in the city – plus, as I said, Iceland is not cheap!

My Junior Suite at the 1919 cost

My Junior Suite at the 1919 cost 334 EUR per night

Although more expensive in cash and points than the Saga (44,000 points per night) I have to admit that I much preferred the 1919 property. The location is much more central and the exterior of the building has a more dramatic historical design to it.

Although there were no points rates for my nights there, when you can get it for 44,000 points – it can be a steal, especially during peak periods when room rates are through the roof. The location was perfect and the staff and rooms are both impeccable. I stayed in the Junior Suite, which is about 35 square meters and has a loft-style feel to it thanks to the high ceiling and offers plenty of room if you were to be traveling with children (there is a 35 EUR charge for an extra bed). Along with a deluxe bathroom, robe and slippers, added extras included Iceland Pure water bottle upon arrival, complimentary WiFi, laundry service for one item, and a Nespresso coffee machine.

Gold

My Club Carlson Gold Elite membership gave me even more rewards.

As a Club Carlson Gold Elite member, I got the added perks of free water and fruit upon arrival, early check-in and late check-out, and 15% discount at the 1919 Restaurant and Lounge – along with earning points and redemption stays for each night I was there.

The extensive breakfast buffet cost the equivalent of $22.

The extensive breakfast buffet cost the equivalent of $22.

The impressive breakfast buffet included an array of fruit, granola, cereal, yoghurt, baked items along with hot plates and some interesting local delicacies, costing 2,700 Icelandic Krona ($22 or 16.80 EUR). The 1919 restaurant prides itself on creating delicious international dishes with local ingredients and in-season produce, while the 1919 Lounge was a great spot for a cold beer in the cozy lounge soaking up the stunning city view. There is also an on-site fitness center.

A huge club sandwich and fries was an ample room service meal.

A huge club sandwich and fries was an ample room service meal.

My light lunch of a club sandwich from room service was equally as tasty (although not authentically Icelandic, sometimes when I travel I miss American classics!), with thick pieces of grilled meat amidst perfectly toasted bread.

No wine this time - but I got another chocolate covered strawberry!

No wine this time – but I got another chocolate covered strawberry!

Again, I got a sweet welcome gift of a chocolate covered strawberry plate, but no wine this time.

Overall, both properties were enjoyable – and far superior to the Hotel Holt that I sandwiched in between them! – but my heart was won by the location, service and admittedly more expensive room at the Radisson Blu 1919.

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  • LarryInNYC

    Going in a couple of weeks. Got 1 night on points at the 1919 but there’s no availability (even for money) for a second night.

    On return to Reykjavik two weeks later may end up at the Saga for 38,000 points or the Park Inn (the third Carlson property in town) for 9,000 or 13,500. Or maybe one night at each, depending on availability.

    Any thoughts on whether the Saga is sufficiently better than the Park Inn to warrant using the extra points?

    Also, thoughts on whether space is likely to open up last minute for redemptions?

  • Kacee

    No free breakfast at the 1919 either as a gold or for the $440 room rate?

  • Brian Day

    I stayed at the Center Hotel Klopp halfway up the hill from the hotel in this review. I saw the location of the hotel you stayed in and it’s a great spot! The shower in my hotel once turned on smelled like sulfer. Did you notice the same smell with the water in that property you stayed in? This review makes me want to return to Iceland for more exploration!

  • thepointsguy

    Nope :-(

  • thepointsguy

    Yep- all my showers were ultra sulfury!

  • ciana

    We were in Iceland Jun 20-24 this year and stayed at the Radisson Blu 1919 with all 4 nights being on Carlson points. We really liked the location of this hotel – absolutely close to everything in the central area – plus our room looked over toward the water and the Opera/conference Centre. We flew on Icelandair with a stopover in Reykjavik on our way to Amsterdam. Loved Iceland! Fascinating country!

  • Pingback: Trip Report: Five Days in Iceland- Horseback Riding, Whale Watching and the Golden Circle | The Points Guy

  • Rob philip

    I too am interested in the difference between the Saga and Park Inn, as I was researching hotels in Iceland just last night. And apparently right now, too..

    It looks like the Park Inn is a bit further away from downtown, but at the essentially free rate of 9000 points per 2 nights I think I can live with it. I doubt it’s a *terrible* hotel, and as TPG points out – Iceland is expensive. I’ll be staying in $50/night hostels on the ring road so I’m guessing the Park Inn will be a step up from that :)

  • Rob philip

    I’m planning a trip to Iceland next summer and all three of the Radisson hotels have availability for points – but all of them get variously bad reviews on Tripadvisor. To be fair, there are more good reviews than bad. One key observation about the 1919 is that there is a lot of street noise. And both it and the Saga have several people complaining about dirty bathrooms.

    Clearly neither of your experiences reflect this, but I’m wondering if the noise issue is one that is seasonal. I wonder if you overheard any complaints?

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