Astonishingly deep geologic faults divide parched lava fields fringed by great big craggy rocks which are cloaked in moss fed by glacial streams. It doesn’t much sound like the setting for a modern hotel, does it?
But next month, Ion Hotel opens at the foot of Mount Hengill, on the edge of Thingvellir National Park, in south-west Iceland.
The design of the hotel, supported by driftwood-like beams, is inspired by explorer Ingólfur Arnarson, who reportedly founded Reykjavík in 874AD at the precise spot where the wooden poles that he had flung overboard upon sight of shore landed.
Illustrations of Icelandic wildlife soften the severe interiors which, as well as reflecting Iceland’s unforgiving landscape, make use of it, too, with driftwood furnishings and lava lampshades.
Icelandic langoustine, locally caught arctic char and skyr (homemade yoghurt) are all served up at the restaurant. And beyond the main structure, a cantilevered bar balances seemingly precariously above the mountain slope, and has floor-to-ceiling glass windows on three sides, making it a fantastic vantage point for watching the northern lights dance above Lake Thingvellir.
Adventurers can try all sorts of iced-based activities, such as hiking, diving between two of the earth’s tectonic plates, and fishing, or hole up in the warmth of the hotel, where the Lava Spa offers facials and massages – no health-benefitting sub-zero pools of water to plunge into here.
Ion Hotel, Nesjavellir, Selfoss, Iceland (www.ioniceland.is). Discover the World (01737 214291;www.discover-the-world.co.uk) offers a three-night trip from £781 per person, staying full-board at Ion Hotel, including flights from London.