The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland Offers a Sanctuary for the Senses

03.11.20 | By
The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland Offers a Sanctuary for the Senses

Very few places can rouse such deep and lasting awe for both the grand and intimate, the dramatic and placid, than the “Land of Fire and Ice”. A land redolent of another planet, Iceland’s pockmarked landscape chronicles an epic, ongoing struggle between fire, water, and earth – steamy exhales from the deepest depths of the earth surfacing at every corner, sinews of lava intermittently spilling forth, and ragged volcanic rocks permitting only the most vigorous of life to thrive. Iceland’s violent contrasts along its most mythological and primordial south western Reykjanes Peninsula make for a unique backdrop for the nation’s only 5-star resort, The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland, a serene oasis hidden in plain sight within Iceland’s most popular destination.

The winding roadway toward the property’s front door follows the contours of the surrounding 800-year-old lava flow, only revealing the reservedly welcoming doorsteps of architecture seemingly floating across the terrain, a welcome punctuated by its own miniature steam vent.

Silence isn’t merely golden, it’s a relaxing luxury served daily at The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, heightening the sensation of being enveloped by the stark surrounding landscape. \\\ Photo: Gregory Han

The first thing you may notice upon entering The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, after the first promising glimpse of those turquoise waters, is the remarkably mute atmosphere that emanates into every corner of the property. The silence is strikingly noticeable in contrast to the ebullient crowds swarming only a building away at the public end of the geothermal pools of the Blue Lagoon, a section cordoned off from this 62-room resort using a gentle combination of architecture and landscape. The hush welcome bodes well for anyone seeking an escape into an entirely different state of mind and body.

A small collection of ceramics is on display in the main lobby. Once belonging to Icelandic artist Anna Eyjólfdóttir, the collection was acquired by the Icelandic Museum of Design & Applied Art with a grant from Blue Lagoon.

Checked in, guests are invited to escape daily stress, crowds, and in observance of this elegiac landscape, unnecessary noise. Conversations seem to emerge as quietly as steam from the naturally heated cyan waters surrounding the property, and in winter the snow draped volcanic rocks dampen sounds even further to a gentle hush while guests navigate a lava rock landscape through silica and algae enriched waters. But while a respectful observation permeates, the general atmosphere is rather relaxed, something underlined by the prevalence of plush white bath robes worn by all nearly everywhere across the hotel.

The Moss Junior suite takes subtle cues from the communities of mottled green that cling to the steam-warmed volcanic rock.

In respect to the unique site upon which the property occupies, Icelandic firm Basalt Architects made great efforts to protect and magnify the beauty of the Reykjanes UNESCO Global Geopark by heavily referencing the landscape (occasionally even permitting the sections of landscape into rooms).

Similarly, guests rooms are decorated with a sedate and sophisticated eye, extending occupants’ gaze inward out. Design Group Italia was tasked to furnish each suite, and they’ve done so with a medley of decor sourced from B&B Italia, Axor, iGuzzini, EFLA, and Liska; the entirety complements the warm wood interior detailing, while gracefully permitting the mute Icelandic landscape the rapt attention it deserves, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows in each suite.

Photo: Gregory Han

Guests are treated to a daily collaboration between earth and sky at sunset. The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland invites guests up to a rooftop observation deck where all can appreciate not only the departure of the sun, but on occasion, the arrival of the Northern Lights late at night. \\\ Photo: Gregory Han

There’s really not much to do while staying at The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland except relax, eat, and take in the geothermally warmed waters each day. That’s not a complaint, but an enthusiastic endorsement of the focus the hotel delivers in service of reawakening a relaxed state. The pinnacle of the experience is revealed upon entering the Retreat Spa, where guests descend guided by simulated starlight into the hotel’s centerpiece network of spa and water treatment rooms to peel away stresses of both physical and psychological nature one dip at a time.

The Retreat Spa directs guests into a cavernous underground network of private and semi-private rooms toward various access points into the water for a floating massage. The Blue Lagoon Ritual is another centerpiece of the spa experience, a three part treatment of silica, algae, and minerals, all reputedly beneficial for the skin.

A glance downward to steps situated above the subterranean wine cellar of Moss Restaurant, built directly into the landscape and naturally cooled by rock. \\\ Photo: Gregory Han

The hotel’s Moss Restaurant is decorated with special editions of previously unavailable furniture by 20th century Icelandic designers chef’s table, but the surprise feature is a large-scale luminaire situated over the restaurant’s chef table. Fitted with 106 individually controllable OLED panels, the lighting fixture moves in accordance to the diners and staff below.

Photo: Gregory Han

Photo: Gregory Han

What: The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland
Where: Norðurljósavegur 11, 240 Grindavík
How much: From $1,259
Highlights: The warm, soothing waters of the geothermal lagoon is reason to visit, but the hotel’s tranquil ambiance, multi-sensorial spa treatments, and handsomely appointed suites – the epitome of relaxation – is why you’ll want to stay.
Design draw: Time your visit right, between March 25th through the 29th, and you can attend Iceland’s annual design festival DesignMarch in nearby Reykjavik.
Book it: The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland

Photos courtesy of Blue Lagoon Iceland (except where noted).

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Gregory Han is a Senior Editor at Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at