Great for solo travelers: A review of Hotel Borg in Reykjavik
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I visited Iceland shortly after the country reopened to Americans in March. During my visit to Reykjavik, I stayed at three different hotels: one Hilton, one IHG and one independent property. The independent hotel — Hotel Borg — was the last on my itinerary, and it was one of my favorites.
Hotel Borg is centrally located in downtown Reykjavik and close to the city’s restaurants, bars and cafes. It’s decorated with elegant art deco style throughout the hotel and its 99 guest rooms. The hotel is light on amenities, but the price makes it hard to pass up — especially if you’re traveling solo.
The hotel has an interesting history, too. Hotel Borg was built by Jóhannes Jósefsson — an Icelandic Glima champion — after he competed in the 1908 Olympics and toured the U.S. with the Barnum & Baileys circus. The hotel opened in 1930 as one of the classiest hotels in Reykjavik and has since been remodeled to its former Art Deco glory.
Here’s what my stay was like.
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I booked my stay at Hotel Borg through Hotels.com and paid $159.52 per night for a standard single room. In late March, prices were comparable with booking direct, but I chose to book with Hotels.com to earn Hotels.com Rewards nights.
Rooms are comparably priced this May, with prepaid rates starting at $154.37. However, you may want to book a refundable stay given the uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic in Iceland.
Prices increase over the peak summer months. This June, a one-night weekday stay in a single room starts at $210.98 per night when booking the prepaid rate.
You’ll pay a premium if traveling as a family or a couple, as the single room can only accommodate one guest. A standard double room starts at $275.81 this June on a prepaid rate, or $306.45 per night on a refundable stay. You can also pay more for nicer rooms and rooms with spa access as well.
At just over $150 per night, a single room is a good deal for a four-star hotel in downtown Reykjavik. Remember, things are expensive in Iceland, and hotels are no exception. Other hotels in this part of the city frequently top $200 per night in a standard room, so Hotel Borg can be a great option for solo travelers who want a nicer-than-average room.
You can also book stays through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal if you want to use points to cover the cost of your stay. Your redemption rate will vary depending on the card you have. I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which redeems at 1.25 cents per point through the portal. Unfortunately, rates are higher through the Chase portal — you’ll pay $185.11 per night in late June for a non-refundable night on the portal, or 14,809 points with the Sapphire Preferred.
Alternatively, you can pay for the stay with a Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and redeem your miles toward the charge at a fixed value. If you book a stay in May at the $154.37 rate listed above, you can use 15,437 points to cover the charge. You can offset any travel charge with your points so that you can book direct or with your Online Travel Agency (OTA) of choice.
As discussed in the intro, Hotel Borg is located in the center of downtown Reykjavik. It’s within walking distance of some of the city’s best eateries, bars and cafes. And since it’s a relatively small city, you can walk just about anywhere in 20 minutes. There are numerous bus stops nearby that can take you to the airport and other parts of town.
Check-in and lobby
I walked from my previous hotel — the Mr. and Mrs. Smith Kvosin Hotel — to Hotel Borg two hours before the stated check-in time of 2 pm. The friendly front-desk agent greeted me on the way in and told me my room was already available. He asked for my vaccine card, passport and credit card and handed me a room key.
The hotel’s lobby is small and has limited seating, but it’s a perfect place to wait for a taxi or work on your laptop for a short period. The art deco style is very apparent in the lobby, with 1930s-style lights, chairs and finishes.
There’s also an interesting selection of paintings and statues placed around the lobby that are worth a look.
Getting to my room was easy enough. I took the elevator up to the third floor and walked to room 322. The hallways were pretty nondescript, but kept the Art Deco style throughout. Unlike the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica, there are no seating areas in the hall or views of surrounding nature. This is in large part because of the hotel’s more urban location.
I booked a standard single room and was surprised at how large it was when I walked in. In typical European style, there are two single beds in the middle of the room with a nightstand on either side. This was more than adequate for me as a solo traveler, but it’s easy to see why larger groups can’t book single rooms.
Across from the bed is a workstation with a Bluetooth speaker, Nespresso machine, phone and an information booklet. The chair wasn’t the most comfortable, so I sat in the lounge chair to the left of the desk when working. The Nespresso machine — one of my favorite parts about European hotels — worked great and was stocked with two kinds of coffee. You’ll also find power outlets and two USB charging ports to the right of the desk.
My room also had a small patio that overlooked a courtyard behind the hotel. There was no outdoor furniture, but this may change during the warmer months. However, it snowed for the majority of my stay, so I didn’t have time to enjoy it anyway. Either way, it’s a great touch and makes the room feel premium.
There’s a large closet near the entrance with plenty of storage, a laptop safe, a shoe cleaning kit and a minifridge with a minibar. In the minibar, you’ll find a range of snacks, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks. The prices were pretty reasonable (for a minibar, that is), too, especially for Iceland. For example, a can of Viking beer was $6.80, a Coke was $2.80 and a small bottle of sparkling wine was $12.39.
The bathroom, however, was the star of the show. It was a relatively small bathroom, with a compact vanity and toilet area, but it more than met my needs as a solo traveler. On the other hand, the shower area was large and had both a handheld and rainfall showerhead available. The toiletries were in dispensers and were by Molton Brown of London, a nice touch.
The best part, however, was the floors. The bathroom had heated floors that made all the difference when stepping out of the shower in the morning. There was no way to control the temperature, but they were always on and never too hot. This was an especially nice feature during my stay when it was cold and snowing for the bulk of my time there.
Overall, the room had a classic European feel and was just right for a solo traveler. The room wasn’t overly luxurious but felt upscale with the patio and heated bathroom floors. It was spotlessly clean and had daily housekeeping, so make sure to use the do-not-disturb sign if you’d rather skip it.
Hotel Borg has a restaurant (more on that soon) and spa on-site. I have Hotels.com Silver status and was entitled to free spa access (and if you book direct with the hotel spa access is also complimentary), but due to local COVID restrictions, it was closed for the duration of my stay. If you’re interested in the spa, you can view all available spa treatments on the hotel’s website. Everything from facials to full-body massages are available when the spa is operating, as is access to a sauna, steam room, hot tub and workout room.
There was free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel as well, but the speed was lacking. I ran a speed test from my iPhone and got 5.59 Mbps download speeds and 3.97 Mbps upload. This was far slower than the other hotels I stayed at in Iceland and could be a problem on long Zoom calls or when working with large documents online. At the same time, it should be enough for basic internet browsing.
Food and beverage
There’s an on-site restaurant at the hotel that offers both indoor dining and room service — or so I think. I tried visiting the restaurant for lunch on the second day of my stay, and it was closed despite seeing customers inside the day prior. Google Maps claimed that the restaurant should’ve been open, so call ahead before making dinner plans.
Another oddity: I tried ordering room service the day before and was met with a disconnected phone line. The booklet in the hotel room had a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu that was mostly filled with American-style dishes. I can’t say I was too disappointed not to have sampled the food, but notice as to why the restaurant was closed would have been appreciated.
Thankfully, Hotel Borg is located right down the street from a handful of great restaurants. I highly recommend checking out Duck and Rose for dinner during your stay. As the name suggests, duck is the restaurant’s mainstay, but it has a great selection of fish, too.
Beyond the mysterious restaurant closure, I had a great experience at Hotel Borg. The front-desk agent was friendly and recommended a great coffee shop when I asked. Throughout my stay, the staff asked how the room was and if I needed anything. They were also accommodating when my key card stopped working halfway through the stay, going so far as to watch the security camera to ensure I made it into the room without issue.
Overall, Hotel Borg is a solid hotel option in Reykjavik. The price is right for what you get, but don’t expect over-the-top luxury. You get a clean room and quick access to everything that Reykjavik offers at an affordable price. I’d have no qualms about staying at Hotel Borg on a future trip to Reykjavik and am excited to visit when the spa and restaurant open post-COVID.
With this in mind, I think Hotel Borg is great for solo travelers. The nightly rate for a single room is reasonable even during peak summer travel months, and the room is more than enough for a single person. Couples and families will enjoy their stay too, but I’d compare pricing with other hotels in the area before booking.
Oh, and the biggest takeaway? Heated bathroom floors are an essential hotel amenity.
Feature photo by Andrew Kunesh / The Points Guy
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