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On every worthwhile international trip, there are distinctive cultural cues to remind you just how far away you are from home. On my trip to Iceland last month, that reminder came in the form of cod liver oil pills, strategically placed in the Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel’s breakfast buffet. It’s widely known that Icelanders are among the happiest and longest-living people in the world, and if that meant starting off the day with a healthy dose of Omega-3, I was ready to assimilate.
Rest assured, however — travelers from the U.S. will feel right at home in downtown Reykjavik’s Radisson Blu 1919. As a Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group-operated property, the Radisson Blu 1919 puts an emphasis on customer service, from doting waiters at 1919 Lounge to a front desk staff that seemed to know the answer to all of my questions (of which there were many). The 88-room hotel also offers a few fun perks, such as a complimentary iPad to browse, free Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the hotel, late checkout until 6 p.m. (when available) and Grab & Run breakfasts for clients on the go.
“Our flexibility and high level of service is something that all of our travel agent partners value,” said general manager Frode Jansson. “Being the only international-branded hotel in Reykjavik city center, we have the knowledge to anticipate our guests’ needs and assist travel agents with their execution.”
The hotel occupies a historic building — formerly the offices of a freight shipping company — dating back to the year 1919. Although the property is outfitted with contemporary furnishings and art, the building’s past life does not go unnoticed. Original wrought iron railings twist up and down the hotel’s white, green and black marble staircase. A mural in the stairwell suggests what life was like at the shipping company, and the exterior of the property looks much as it did in the early 20th century, save for new signage and a fresh coat of paint. Even the property’s meeting rooms nod to the past, taking their names from the company’s three ships (Laxfoss, Dettifoss and Gothafoss).
Another selling point is the hotel’s location, which is within walking distance to Harpa Concert Hall & Conference Centre; the marina, where whale- and puffin-watching tours depart; and countless restaurants, shops and bars. For me, having a number of bars and clubs surrounding the hotel was perhaps equal parts blessing and burden. Icelanders are serious about their partying, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights when dance music echoes in the streets until 4 or 5 a.m. — so be sure to book clients on a higher floor or ask specifically for a quiet room to avoid disturbance.
When it comes to selecting guestroom categories, skip Standard Rooms, which can feel cramped at 174 square feet, and opt for the slightly roomier Deluxe Rooms or, even better, the Junior Suites, which offer upward of 375 square feet of space to relax and unwind. Suites also include breakfast and come with a Nespresso machine, free laundry service for one item, luxury bath products, bathrobes and slippers.
Accessible rooms and amenities are also available for guests who have disabilities.
“There are many factors that differentiate Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel from our competitors,” said Jansson. “However, the main factor is our highly skillful and service-minded team. Nothing is too big or too small for us, and we go to great lengths to make sure every guest has an enjoyable stay."