Hollywood Movies And Stunning Scenery Has Landed Iceland In Luxury Hotel Boom

After Jay & Beyonce and Tom Cruise gave Iceland their thumbs up, tourism and development followed quickly.

By Jeff Vasishta March 6, 2017

Amazing what a little celebrity pixie dust can do for real estate. After visits from Bill Gates, Beyonce and Jay-Z, supermodel Karli Kloss and Tom Cruise amongst others Iceland seems to be on everyone’s radar, especially developers who are building luxury hotels and apartments as if the celeb visits will never end.

Forbes reports that the number of hotel rooms in Reykjavik are expected to rise by 50 percent in the next four years. Aside celebrity visitors, many of whom go there because of work—in the case of rapper Frank Ocean, music and for Russell Crow, Tom Cruise, Ben Stiller and the cast of Game Of Thrones, film—Iceland’s big draw is its stunning scenery. Waterfalls, geysers, glaciers and rugged volcanic landscapes that will challenge the most fearless of eco-warriors, draw the hearty who don’t have to flock to a beach in a bikini to have a good time.

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Tourism is rising as fast as body heat in the much publicized Blue Lagoon. The natural spa is undergoing a redesign and enlargement, in as much as something natural can be redesigned and still be natural. Part of the development includes a luxury hotel, the 60-room Moss Hotel and Lava Cove, west of the existing Blue Lagoon. Despite sounding like something from the Playboy Mansion, circa 1975, the new spa will sit deep in the lava allowing the natural lava formations to form both the perimeter of the lagoon and the interior walls of the Spa. In the northern end of the Spa, a new restaurant on the top floor will allow views of the entire complex.

To cater to the upsurge in tourism there will be an expansion of the Keflavik International Airport, the six-floor 5 star Edition Hotel, built in conjunction with Ian Schrager, to be located on the waterfront adjacent to the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center. It will feature 250 rooms, a restaurant, another ubiquitous spa, meeting space and several bars and lounges, including a rooftop terrace. One of the principle investors is thought to be Bill Gates. There are numerous other new high end properties in Iceland that have hosted Gwyneth Paltrow, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, including The Tower Suites, 101 Hotel and Canopy by Hilton.

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The exclusive Trophy Lodge, located in the mountains beneath the Langjokull glacier was recently put on the map when Beyoncé chose the venue to celebrate her husband’s 45th birthday.

All the development is a sign of Iceland’s dramatic recovery since the financial crash of 2008 which almost bankrupted the country. Now scores of visitors from the UK, Germany and the US pour in each year, almost triple the amount in 2015 what it was in 2009, according to the Icelandic Tourist Board.

But apart from celebs and landscapes, what else has sparked the stunning turnaround in Iceland’s fortunes?

“People, culture, free-spirited atmosphere and for being one of the safest cities in the world,” mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson told The New York Times. The same article stated that the number of Airbnb accommodations in Reykjavik jumped 126 percent, between December 2014 and November 2015, according to a report from Islandsbanki Research. Clearly there is still a way to go before the supply of new development meets the demand of new visitors.

But all the new faces invading Icelandic shores has caused a concern for some.

“We have been inviting so many guests that it has become expensive to hold the party. Someone has to pay for that,” Elsa Yeoman, a city councilor in charge of culture and tourism told The New York Times, adding that still, “as locals, we have a more colorful city than ever before.”

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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