So i was off to see Hotel Ion, a brand new hotel that opened in April 2013,an hours drive from Reykjavik in Iceland. It is situated next to a geothermal power station, but don't let that put you off as it is believed the power station has a direct positive effect on creating clear nights - critical for seeing the Aurora Borealis. It is believed that the steam plumes create a special micro climate which creates clear skies allowing the Northern Lights to shine through.
The setting is stunning and the drive to it is spectacular on a tiny tarmacked road winding through the mountains and lava fields. Although the hotel was exactly where my directions said it would be i was quite relieved to find it as there was nothing apart from the lava fields for miles beforehand. Perched on stilts it is nestled amongst lava fields with views over a lake.
The hotel was originally where the power station workers lived, but has been converted to be modern, fresh and airy with good size rooms with big windows with views. The owners have doubled its size and also created a stunning bar. One whole wall is glass from ceiling to floor and it is orientated to face where the Northern Lights appear. A great place to relax whilst you wait for them to arrive. If they do the hotel lights are turned off so you can enjoy them in full and you can even prebook a wake up call if they come out whilst you are asleep.
There is a spa outside and an outside geothermal hot tub. Though if i'm honest it is not as hot as i would have liked, (it is naturally heated by the heat generated underground), and so one cannot complain about nature!
Hotel Ion is on the edge of the Golden Circle, only about 3/4 hr away from Pingvellir, the mini rift valley. The drive there is stunning past Thingellir lake and through the beautiful national park. The drive is as wonderful as the sites of interest in the Golden Circle; Gullfoss (the majestic waterfall), Pinvellir - also home to the location of the first viking parliament with majestic views over the plains infront. This apparantly is the first democratic parliament in the world. Further on you have Strokkur Geyser. This is mesmerising. How many times did i say "I'll just stay for just one more eruption".....at least 10!
This hotel is a great option for self drive visitors who want comfort and quality with a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights, with some great natural sights nearby.