A Hotel of Distinction
It’s like stepping back into another era and another time. Touches of old world charm, elements of classical interior design and nearly 500 works of art by renowned Icelandic artists set this mid-century, boutique hotel apart from the rest.
Steeped in history
The elegant hotel is located in what can be perhaps called the most quintessential neighborhood of Þingholt with its quiet streets and quaint 19th-century timber and corrugated iron clad houses. Since in it’s beginnings in 1965, the 4-star hotel has attracted many of Reykjavik’s artistic, social and political vanguard, and continues this tradition by supporting local artists and events as a part of its ongoing mission.
A permanent art collection
The hotel houses the largest privately owned art collection in Iceland and features numerous works by several of Iceland’s most cherished late 19th century and early 20th century artists—Johannes Kjarval, Jón Stefánsson, and Ásmundur Sveinsson along with works by notable women artists of the same period—Kristín Jónsdóttir, Gerður Helgadóttir and Júlíana Sveinnsdóttir. The walls of the upper floors are lined with old maps and 134 lithographs by the artist M. August Mayer who accompanied French naturalist Joseph Paul Gaimard on his voyage to Iceland between 1835 and 1836. Nearly 500 works of art are scattered throughout the hotel and are numbered and cataloged for easy reference. Hotel guests, as well as restaurant patrons are invited to book a guided tour (known as The Art Walk) of the ground floor art collection.
The Geode Effect
As with many Icelandic buildings, Hotel Holt’s façade belies its rich interior; marble floors and gilded antiques grace the hotel lobby. The events hall contains brilliant works including three impressive bronze sculptures by Jón Benediktsson which were commissioned for the hotel in commemoration of the return of Saga manuscripts to Iceland from Denmark in 1971. The adjoining “Kjarval stofa” (or Kjarval’s living room) is a wonderfully quirky room where an early Kjarval B&W sketch from his studio covers the walls from floor to ceiling.
The lay of the land
Some forty-two rooms spanning four floors are furnished with the clean lines of contemporary Icelandic decor and include all modern amenities, ensuite bathrooms and, it goes without saying, comfortable beds throughout. Standard rooms are cozy and comfortable and there are also 4 spacious suites and 8 junior suites, all with king size beds.
Fourth floor rooms are all equipped with balconies where you can enjoy fabulous views of the city and beyond.
The Holt Bar
The plush armchairs are upholstered in rich, tawny leather; the portraits on the walls are pure Kjarval─delightful and playful. Taking center stage, an imposing stone fireplace, lit every evening, makes this possibly the coziest…and the classiest bar in Reykjavík. Behind the counter, an impressive collection of craft beers, wines and spirits stand ready to liven things up. Tempting snacks, amuse-bouches and fish of the day are also available at the bar.
Where the visual arts meet the culinary arts
I would be amiss if I didn’t mention Hotel Holt’s restaurant, which has been one of Reykjavík’s finest dining establishments since it opened in 1965. The restaurant, known for its classical cuisine, incorporates Icelandic culinary creativity into its distinguished menu. It comes as no surprise that the restaurant has earned top marks in international rankings and has had the honor of hosting dinners and events for visiting ambassadors, dignitaries and royalty down through the years. Among the 17 paintings that adorn the walls, The Picnic (1939) by Jón Stefánsson has become something of an icon and is one of the first paintings that greets your eye as you enter the room.
The Old Library
Relax in the old library with its beautifully preserved collection of leather-bound volumes including Icelandic poetry, the Sagas and even a Bible from 1728.
Hotel Holt is located in Bergstaðastræti 37, five minutes’ walk from the main streets of Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur and within easy walking distance of Hallgrímskirkja Church and the Old Harbour area.