Our Iceland posts are finally here, and I am starting at the very beginning with our first night at Silica Hotel at the Blue Lagoon. After months of planning every little detail of this trip (including writing a very detailed, organized, down-to-the-minute itinerary), I couldn’t believe it was finally here. This was our second time in Iceland this year, and I was stoked that we were about to head back and visit new corners of the country.
We flew into Keflavik airport from New York on Icelandair, but it wasn’t without some drama. That day, there happened to be aggressive rainstorms with dangerous wind, which kept delaying our flight. We were already on the plane and had pulled back from the gate, so we literally circled around JFK airport on the plane until a safe route opened up for us. Unfortunately that took 2.5 hours. By that point, we should have been halfway to Iceland so I definitely became a bit crabby.
But once we finally took off, we got a special treat on the plane – the Northern Lights! I had seen on numerous Iceland tourism Twitter accounts that there was a strong aurora forecast, and at the airport I mentioned it to Tor. If we were still awake at the right time, we would be on the lookout for them. In between Greenland and Canada, they appeared! Tor took out our camera and began snapping away as I watched my very first Northern Lights show in awe. Something interesting I discovered about the Northern Lights is although they appear bright green in photographs, they’re actually a powdery white mass in the sky! Yes, I will be honest and admit I thought they were naturally green. Nope, that’s just what happens when you snap a photo or video of them!
We may have landed 2.5 hours late, but luckily I had an easy day planned for us. After grabbing our rental car, we drove the 20 minutes east towards the Blue Lagoon. We visited this spot at the end of our trip back in January (see post here), so we felt it was the right way to begin this trip. We fell in love with Silica Hotelat the Blue Lagoon the last time we were here, so we decided to book a room there again. The hotel used to be a spa clinic (hence the name Silica), and you certainly feel like you’ve checked in at a luxurious spa when you arrive.
Tip: If you’re flying in from the USA and plan on staying at Silica, book your room for the night before your arrival so you can check in and go right to your room. We booked our room for the night before so we didn’t have to wait until 3 pm to check in and collapse on the bed. Trust me, since you’ll be jet-lagged and exhausted, it’s worth it.
We arrived at the tail end of breakfast, and we were surprisingly hungry for it despite having had no sleep and it being 5 am back in New York (2 am back home in Los Angeles). After scarfing down waffles, eggs, and hot chocolate, we decided to force ourselves to stay awake a little while longer and hop into the lagoon. What we love most about Silica Hotel is the fact that the hotel has its own private section of the Blue Lagoon reserved just for hotel guests. While the main Blue Lagoon in itself is an experience, the private lagoon is much quieter and less crowded, plus it’s only steps from your room and the hotel restaurant if you fancy a nap or a snack. It’s also open later than the Blue Lagoon. The lagoon at Silica Hotel closes at midnight, whereas the Blue Lagoon can close as early as 9 pm.
In case you were wondering, the water is heated by natural fissures in the ground and is cleaned out every 3 days. Since there’s no chlorine in the water (just silica mud and sulfur), it’s required that you shower before and after entering the water. The temperature in the lagoon is usually around 102F, making it nice and warm against the chilly, brisk air outside.
Tip: DO NOT get your hair wet with the water at the Blue Lagoon. Since it’s very high in minerals, it’ll completely stiffen and dry your hair, making it difficult to comb or brush through. I usually wash my hair before entering and leave conditioner in my hair twisted up into a bun. I then rinse out my hair in the shower after my swim in the lagoon.
After a half hour dip, we were really starting to feel the exhaustion hit so we headed back to our room. We took a nice and cozy 4 hour nap before waking up to have a late lunch. After lunch, the sun was starting to set. We knew it would make for great pictures, so we donned our swimsuits again and went back into the water. Sunsets in Iceland at this time of year take a long time, which we weren’t going to complain about since it meant prettier colors for a longer period of time.
After our evening dip, we headed back to our room to get ready for dinner since we had a dinner reservation at Lava Restaurant at the main pavilion. It’s about a 5 minute walk through the moss-covered lava rocks from Silica Hotel to the main Blue Lagoon. When we got there, we made a quick pit stop at the shop and bought scented lava rocks for our living room (something to remember Iceland by). We dined at Lava last time we were here in January, and it’s so tasty that we decided to eat there again for our first night in Iceland. After a romantic dinner by the big glass windows overlooking lava rocks and the main Blue Lagoon, we started to walk back towards our hotel.
But when we stepped outside, we saw crowds of people pointing their phones towards the sky. We turned around the corner from a massive lava rock in our way, and there they were again – the Northern Lights! Despite being completely full from dinner, we RAN back to Silica Hotel, grabbed our tripod and cameras from the room, and dashed back outside to a quiet, low light spot to snap some more pictures. This show was even brighter than the show from the plane the night before! It was really special getting to begin our 2.5 week Iceland road trip with a spectacular view of the Northern Lights two nights in a row.
If you plan on visiting the Blue Lagoon, I highly recommend a stay at the Silica Hotel. We tell all of our friends to splurge on at least one night here, since it’s the best way to either begin or end a trip. Plus the beds are also really comfy!
Read Part 2 of our grand Iceland adventure here.
Photos by Torrance Coombs.