Ion Hotel — Arnessysla, Iceland
Perched on the slopes of Mount Hengill, near Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park, Ion was an old inn catering mainly to workers of a nearby geothermal power plant. Local couple Sigurlaug Sverrisdóttir and Halldor Hafsteinsson snapped up the abandoned building (only an hour’s drive from Reykjavik) in 2011, and with the help of Santa Monica-based studio Minarc, they renovated and added a striking new wing.The concrete and black lava-themed exterior complements the volcanic landscape, while inside driftwood and other natural or recycled materials appear extensively. Under the helm of head chef Gudmundur Sverrisson, the hotel’s Silfra restaurant offers local contemporary dishes such as seafood and lobster soup, or fillet of lamb from a neighbouring farm. Activities include visits to geysers, glaciers and the famous Gullfoss waterfall, as well as whitewater rafting and riding. Once back at base, guests can admire the Northern Lights above Lake Thingvellir from the panoramic bar, or even from the geothermal 10m hot tub.