Iceland Part 8: South Iceland and Hotel Rangá + Vlog

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We are almost there folks! I know it’s been a month of blog posts from our Iceland road trip, but that’s what happens when you travel around the whole country for nearly 3 weeks. Our second to last stop in Iceland took us full circle back to where we first visited in JanuaryHotel Rangá in South Iceland. It’s so good that we came back for a second visit in less than a year, plus it’s the perfect spot if you only have time to explore Iceland’s southern coast. Before we checked in, we made a quick pit stop at Skógafoss, as it was in between our cottage in Vík and Hotel Rangá in south Iceland. We missed this waterfall back in January, as we were determined to make it all the way to Jökulsárlón before it got dark at 3 pm (yay Iceland winters!).

Unfortunately, we chose a somewhat bad day to visit Skógafoss due to the weather. Severe gale winds were forecast for South Iceland for the next 48 hours, which isn’t uncommon for this time of year. It felt like the winter storm that began at Deplar Farm days ago was following us and sticking around. The winds had begun to pick up just as we arrived, which made the water from the waterfalls give every visitor a bit of a cold shower. Cold and wet, we got back in the car and headed straight for the hotel but not once did we regret our decision to finally see Skógafoss (Added in 2019: This waterfall was recently featured in Game of Thrones’ final season’s premiere episode).

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Hotel Rangá

You’ve heard me say it before, and I am going to say it again – Hotel Rangá is one of my favorite hotels in the world. It is incredibly unique and luxurious without being over the top. From the moment you check in, you feel as if you checked into a home away from home log cabin for the weekend. There are only a handful of luxury hotels in Iceland, with Hotel Rangá being one of the originals and recently inducted into the Small Luxury Hotels of the World family. Pulling into Hotel Rangá‘s long driveway made me giddy and dance in my seat. I had actually missed this hotel and I was so excited to be back. I was happy to see that not much had changed in the nine months since we were last here, and it felt just like home.

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Hotel Rangá

We had lunch in the dining room as our suite was tidied before check in. We were told we had been booked in a master suite, which we were pretty intrigued about. Hotel Rangá’s suites are known for their individuality, as they are themed after each of the seven continents. For this trip, we were placed in the Africa Suite, much to Tor’s delight. As soon as we got all of our bags into the room, he immediately began blasting Toto’s “Africa” as well as Infant Sorrow’s “African Child” (folks who have seen Get Him To The Greek will know that song!). Tor and I have never been to Africa (yet!), but our suite, which felt straight out of The Lion King, gave us a bit of a glimpse. Who knew you could feel like you’re in Africa while in Iceland?! Be sure to watch our video below where of course I included our little dance recital.

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Dinner at Hotel Rangá

What I was most excited about was dinner, since Hotel Rangá’s restaurant was one reason why I was aching to return. The food at Hotel Rangá is outstanding. From their delicious, melt-in-your-mouth langoustines to their decadent mushroom soup (the ONLY place in the world that can get me to eat mushrooms because normally I hate them) to their delicious garlic barley, I was in heaven once again after digging into my first bite. And while Tor continued to sample as many Icelandic alcoholic beverages as he could, I continued to savor all the delicious white wines on Hotel Rangá’s wine menu.

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We took it easy on our first day, since we had been go-go-go since we first landed in Iceland 2 weeks ago. After rolling back to our rooms with stuffed bellies, we listened to a severe thunderstorm (yes, thunder and lightning and everything!) rage on outside as we turned off the lights and prepared for another day of adventure in South Iceland…

…or so we thought. By now, winter had officially arrived in Iceland, and there’s one thing Tor and I learned on our last trip to Iceland – Icelandic winters can be extremely unpredictable, so it’s best to not be married to your plans. Adapting to Iceland’s weather is just part of the adventure year round. During the night, winds of up to 80mph (which is the same as a category 1 hurricane) ripped through south Iceland, as did hail, snow, and rain. While Hotel Rangá braved all those conditions except snow, most areas around us did face heavy snow and winds, thus closing a lot of the roads.

Tor and I had planned on waking early and visiting Haifoss waterfall (one of Iceland’s best kept secrets) as well as Gamla Laugin and the restaurant/greenhouse Friðheimar in Reykholt, but with the severe winds, ice, and snow, it wasn’t going to happen. Considering that everything else on our 2.5 week trip had gone according to plan (except the flight from NYC to Reykjavik), this wasn’t the end of the world and we considered ourselves lucky that we already got to experience so much. Plus, I know I will be back in Iceland frequently within the next few years.

With our initial plans scrapped, we decided to stick close by and explore around south Iceland. We wanted to get an epic drone shot along the Ring Road, but unfortunately our desired location was battling severe wind gusts which is a big no-no for drones. So we ended up backtracking past Hotel Rangá where we found an abandoned bridge and farmhouse along the river.

Alyssa Campanella of The A List blog visits Hotel Ranga in South Iceland

It began to snow while we were out and about, and the winds began to pick up again, so we thought the safest option would be to head back to the hotel for lunch and then enjoy the hot tubs and the hotel’s game room in the afternoon. After lunch, we enjoyed a nice long walk around the hotel and the river before we noticed the sun start to come out. That was our cue to hit the hot tubs…

…or so we thought, again. It’s really true what they say about weather in Iceland: if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes. In this case, the opposite happened. We loved the weather, and after 5 minutes, the clouds came back, opened up, and ended up dumping a bunch of hail on us as we sat in the hot tub. We couldn’t help but laugh and also put on our hats so our heads wouldn’t get injured. Hostesses getting ready for the dinner service in the restaurant even popped their heads out to see all the hail coming down and began taking pictures in it. Despite the hail, the sun managed to come back out for one final time to show off a glorious and romantic sunset.

Alyssa Campanella of The A List blog visits Hotel Rangá in South Iceland

The next morning, after sleeping in a bit, we woke up to find the sun beaming down strong on Hotel Rangá. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. There wasn’t even any wind. It was such a stark contrast in weather compared to the last few days. Despite the crazy weather, we had enjoyed our return visit to Hotel Rangá and we were sad to have to check out. It’s really the perfect spot in south Iceland for those who only have time to explore the southern coast as well as being the perfect pit stop on your trek around the Ring Road like us.

It’s less than two hours from Reykjavik, and about a 3 hour drive to Jökulsárlón. It’s also less than a 90 minute drive from the Golden Circle, and just minutes away from Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls. If you’re looking to go ice climbing, snowmobiling, or glacier hiking, Arcanum Tours is less than an hour away. I’d definitely consider this hotel on your next Iceland trip.

Alyssa Campanella of The A List blog visits Hotel Ranga in South Iceland