“ Address: Raudararstigur 18 / 105 Reykjavík „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Usually when reviewing a hotel I would explain why I'd chosen that hotel and go on to say whether my expectations had been met and comment on the value for money. My stay at Fosshotel Lind in downtown Reykjavik was, however, part of a competition prize of a long weekend in Iceland courtesy of Jet2.com so I didn't get to choose the hotel myself.
Jet2 did send me the details of the accommodation in advance, though, so I was able to see the hotel website and look at the location. The impression I got was of a simple but smart budget hotel, close to the centre but not so close that we'd be likely to be disturbed by noise in the early hours on a Friday or Saturday night.
This hotel is situated on the edge of what is known as 'downtown Reykjavik'. There are hotels much closer to the 'centre' but if you are capable of walking you can be at the city hall or the harbour in less than fifteen minutes. There's a supermarket just round the corner as well as the Phallological Museum so if you are particularly interested in willies then this hotel is ideally located.
All the tour companies offer free pick up and return from just about every hotel in Reykjavik and Fosshotel Lind is no exception.
Fosshotel is probably the biggest Icelandic hotel chain and have a number of hotels in Reykjavik as well as a few scattered around the island generally. Lind Hotel is one of the chain's two hotels in central Reykjavik. It has a typically Nordic exterior and is pretty unremarkable among Reykjavik hotels which tend to look very similar, differing mainly in size/number of floors.
We arrived mid-morning but check in wasn't available until 2.00pm. While a number of the other passengers on our trip moaned and whined, we simply stashed our bags where indicated and went out to explore, coming back after 3.00pm when we were able to check in without queuing. The luggage store was actually a tiny room off the hotel restaurant and not at all adequate for the amount of luggage that needed to be stored. (On our last morning we left our bags there again and when we returned to collect them a large party had just arrived and almost half the restaurant had been taken up with their cases, making it difficult to get to the luggage store-proper to collect our own bags.)
The hotel lobby is small and has only a few chairs. This proved to be something of an issue each morning as guests waited for pick ups for tours because it was too cold to stand outside and so everyone was crammed into the lobby.
Superficially the rooms at Fosshotel Lind look fine, but they are undeniably bland. The painting on the wall just above the bed might have injected a bit of much needed colour to the room but the subject matter was somewhat dismal, depicting six colourful but glum looking ladies.
The look is undeniably Scandinavian with light laminate flooring, white walls and plain white bedding. I can't bear to stand on soft laminate with bare feet so I cringed each time I had to stand on it; a rug would have made the room look a bit warmer and more homely. There were no curtains in our room, only blinds, so the light would pour into the room very early (and remember, it hardly gets dark at all in midsummer). Photographs of Lind's room on the Fosshotel website, however, show rooms with curtains.
At first we thought that the windows were draughty but it transpired that two had not been shut tightly and once rectified the situation improved. The plastic knob to alter the radiator setting was broken, making it difficult to adjust the heating; we should have complained but we knew we'd spend so little time in the room that we couldn't be bothered to ask to switch rooms.
The rooms at Lind are not bad, just ill thought out. The flat screen television was placed opposite the bed at such a height that the picture was far too dark to be viewed from either the bed or the chairs and no amount of adjustment would make it any clearer. There were bedside lamps but the bedside tables had to be pushed away from the side of the bed so the lamps could be plugged in and in order to extinguish them, one had to get out of bed. Similarly the table on which the kettle stood had to be moved in order to plug in the kettle. Although there is wi-fi throughout the hotel, there was no desk in the rooms and the only table was a tiny low level on that is hardly practical for anyone wishing to use a laptop. I ended up lying on the bed to use my netbook but when the battery was almost empty I had to lie on the very edge of the bed to allow the cable to reach the wall socket.
According to the hotel's website this hotel has 77 standard rooms and one 'junior suite'. Looking at the photograph of the hotel exterior you might think that the fourth floor room where the window juts out proud from the others is the junior suite but that is actually our room which had the underwhelming advantge of an extra two feet of floor space. We jokingly referred to it as the penthouse suite.
On the bright side the rooms do have facilities for making a hot drink and a selection of teabags (but no coffee) is provided which we were very grateful for given the cost of a cup of tea in Reykjavik cafes (between £3.50 - 4.00). I wasn't much impressed by the provision of cardboard rather than ceramic cups, though they proved to be more resilient that I had anticipated.
The bathroom was small but functional and clean. The size would not have been an issue had it not been for the fact that it was essentially a wet room and the water didn't drain especially well. We'd shower before breakfast and go back to the room to brush our teeth again before going out but the floor was still wet and quite slippery when we returned. As one must expect in Reykjavik the water smelt distinctly eggy (from the sulphurous water that comes from the hot springs under the city). I knew to expect this but I was still surprised by the strength of the smell when I took my first shower.
A buffet breakfast is served in the breakfast room in the hotel basement, a large room but somewhat crowded because everyone appeared to be taking breakfast at the same time (as there is a standard departure time for most morning or full day tours, this is highly likely). As a result of this it did get a bit congested around the buffet.
While the breakfast was not spectacular, there were plenty of different options including ready prepared fruit salad or slices of watermelon or pineapple, muesli and other cereals, sliced meats and cheese, and hot items such as dinky sausages and (proper) baked beans (possibly available because there was a large contingent of Brits that weekend). In addition there were four different types of pickled herrings/herring in a dressing and they were really delicious. I adore herrings anyway but it was nice to have something typically Nordic among the breakfast choices. The bread selection was not the best I've ever seen but there were several kinds of rye and spelt bread which, again, was something a bit Icelandic among all the usual fare. All items were fresh and tasty; my only criticism would be that the hot items were only just lukewarm.
Coffee was from a machine and I passed on it, sticking to juice. I'm not a fan of machine coffee unless freshly ground and although there was a decent selection of tea bags, the cups provided were too small for practical tea-making.
Breakfast is included in the room rate.
The Other Bits
We didn't use the unfortunately named 'Confusion' hotel restaurant because we always prefer to see what's on offer outside of our hotel so I can't comment on that, nor the hotel 'bar' which shares the restaurant space. I think I would find it a bit odd to be having just a drink when other guests are having dinner but the bar is open from 5.30pm. We are not late nighters but when we came back from our first evening on the town in Reykjavik we were surprised that the bar was already closed at 10.30pm although the website states that it is open until 1.00am on Friday and Saturday nights. The restaurant is only open in the evening.
Hotel reception can arrange airport transfers and book tours though we booked ours online saving 5 per cent. An array of tourist information leaflets can be found in reception.
For guests who have hired a car for their stay, there are parking spots at the front and side of the hotel. Although it is not 'secure parking' motor vehicle crimes are uncommon.
Fosshotel Lind is a pretty average hotel. There are some issues around simple practicalities in the rooms and I would not recommend the hotel for business travelers because not only is there no suitable workspace, the location of electrical sockets is annoying impractical too. Although the corridors and doorways appear exceptionally wide there did not appear to be any ground floor rooms for disabled guests and the lift was very small.
All the staff we came into contact with were extremely helpful, though not all of them friendly. All of them speak impeccable English including the young breakfast staff who I believe were Spanish. Housekeeping standards were good and I saw no evidence of poor cleaning.
For leisure travelers this hotel does represent excellent value, despite the flaws. Looking at the Fosshotels website for May 2013 there are double rooms available from £89 most nights with just a couple of Fridays and Saturdays coming in at £135. There are lots of different price permutations, some dependent on a minimum number of nights booked, the inclusion of wi-fi or on whether you can cancel your booking, so it's worth looking at all of the options available.