This is the fourth in a series of posts covering my June/July 2018 trip to Iceland. You can read an overview of the trip here.
There are three Hilton-family properties in Reykjavik, all managed by the same company. The oldest is the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica, which is a traditional Hilton, has an Executive Lounge, and supposedly treats Hilton Honors elite members well. There were reasonable award rates there for my stay – 58,000 points (with cash rates close to $300 a night). But the hotel’s location is lacking – a good 30-minute walk from the heart of the city.
In October 2016, Hilton opened its second property in Reykjavik – right in the heart of town. It was actually the very first location of Hilton’s new “Canopy” brand- described as a “lifestyle” brand, whatever that is. (Four other locations have opened since – incidentally, 2 in the DC area, plus one in Dallas and one in Portland. Sixteen more have been announced.) I knew that the reports were that the Canopy didn’t really have great treatment of Hilton elites- no lounge, and breakfast is included for everyone, and it cost a bit more than the Nordica – 70,000 points (with cash rates over $400 a night), but the location and the fact I have tons of Hilton points made it a good choice for my first night, Saturday, when the convenience to nightlife made a lot of sense.
Finally, in March 2018, Hilton opened a third party, the Reykjavik Konsulat – part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, its fast-growing higher end/boutiquey brand that includes a lot of previously independent properties. (Some aren’t that high-end, in my opinion.) This was a new build, though, in the older part of center-city Reykjavik- about a 7-minute walk. The Canopy wasn’t available using points for both nights, so I figured this would be a good use of my free weekend night certificate I got with my Hilton Amex Aspire card, since the base room was going for a whopping 90,000 points – and about $600 in cash. (Although, it seems it often is now going for 70,000 points – the same as the Canopy.)
It was a short walk from the Culture House Airport Express stop to the Canopy. The hotel itself is deceptively large. It’s six interconnected buildings, some new construction and some older and gut renovated. The entry lobby is super tiny though. You walk in, and there’s a small café/snack bar on the left, the small check-in table on the right, and then a few chairs, then a seating area besides a staircase. Despite being branded as a “Millennial”-focused hotel, there was also a card table set up for Viking River Cruises, and there was an older American woman at check-in who was arguing when they said her room wasn’t ready at 10:30, saying “but I asked for early check-in” over and over.
When I was helped, I was told that the twin room I had reserved (the only room available on points) was already ready, or I could wait and he could see if he could upgrade me to a room with a double bed. The reviews I had seen online suggested there wasn’t that much difference among most rooms, and I was tired, so I just went with the twin room. As a Diamond member, I was given…a bottle of water and small “book” about Reykjavik (basically a sightseeing guide). Definitely one of the least meaningful Diamond experiences of my life. I was also told that there were free bikes available for rental, that there was a half-price happy hour from 4 to 6 at the bar, and “snacks” and a local tasting from 6 to 7. I was also told I could borrow a record player and choose amongst one of the vinyl records and take it up to my room. Who goes to Reykjavik to listen to records in their room??
Upstairs one level of stairs was the bar and more standard lobby. Because the hotel is on a hill, that lobby/bar also opens out onto a square at street level.
My room was on the third floor, which was…low. Since there was no air conditioning, the windows were open, and there was a lot of street noise. There also wasn’t much of a view; I mostly saw the Danish Embassy across the street but could see Harpa in the distance.
The room itself was fine. Everything was very new, and the Icelandic design scheme definitely shone through. The room wasn’t very large, with the two twin beds fairly close together, taking up nearly all of the room. There were light hardwood floors, covered by a large area rug with geometric design elements in the bedroom area. There was a desk and desk chair under the TV, and one small chair on the side. Plenty of outlets. (Sorry for the dark photos, the lighting was terrible.)
In the entryway, in lieu of a traditional closet, there was an open industrial-looking rack/closet rod/luggage storage thing. There was also a tall cabinet with a Nespresso machine, with an empty mini-fridge below.
In the afternoon, I went downstairs to the gym, which is next to a door marked “Transfer Lounge.” The Transfer Lounge, available before and after checkout, is a nice touch, but it’s really just a shower and locker room – and also serves as the bathroom/locker room for the gym. The gym itself was pretty small, though I wasn’t expecting much. Just some cardio equipment and a rack of handweights.
I showered quickly after the gym and headed down to the “tasting of local food and drink” in the café off the lobby that the hotel had promoted heavily, and that many reviews had played up. It was definitely disappointing. It was scheduled for 6pm to 7pm, and when I arrived at 6:25pm, there was no food left, but rather piles of tasting spoons. I was able to get a sample tasting of Gull beer from the very enthusiastic staff member manning the counter, who very was enthusiastically reminding guests that they could sign up for Hilton Honors and that they could borrow record players. As I downed my beer, a tray of more tastings came out, which was a literal one bite of salmon, lamb, lemongrass, and bread from the hotel’s big restaurant. Overall, it’s a nice touch, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to go to the tasting, and it certainly isn’t a substitute for an executive lounge.
Breakfast, on the other hand, was excellent. Served at the main restaurant for all guests, the buffet wasn’t massive, but it was all very high-quality. There were a range of hot dishes, including egg dishes and French toast, lots of pastries, a variety of Skyr-based dishes, fruits, cereal, etc. There was a carafe of coffee at each table, and fancier espresso drinks available for a fee.
In all, the Canopy was totally fine, as long as you don’t expect a ton, particularly in terms of Hilton Honors elite benefits. Iceland is just very expensive, so you shouldn’t expect the price point to indicate much. But it was well-located, clean, and had a good breakfast.
I don’t know why, but when I read descriptions of the new Konsulat hotel, including that it was a converted “1900s department store,” I expected it to be quite grand. Indeed, many Curio Collection properties are massive grand hotels or resorts. But not the Konsulat. Don’t get me wrong—it was very nice and definitely a bit more upscale than the Canopy, but it was more along the lines of a nice boutique property than a grand hotel.
Location-wise, the Konsulat is less than 10 minutes walking from the Canopy, and pretty centrally located. I had a slight preference for the Canopy’s location, closer to nightlife and further east, but both are fine. (The Konsulat is right by Baejarins Beztu Pylsur for hot dogs, though). The Konsulat isn’t that easy to find, though. The building is very unassuming, and construction on the blocks around it make it even harder to get to. But for the construction, it’s a quiet block in the older part of town.
When you walk into the hotel, the elevators to rooms are on your right, and there’s an elegant lobby, bar, check-in desk, and restaurant on the left. The agent working was very friendly, and apologized that they would not be able to upgrade me despite my diamond status. He gave me a note and a small box of chocolates, and told me he had given me the “most spacious room” in my booking category, and it was facing the street, not the side of the hotel facing construction. It’s interesting because the side where the construction faces Harpa and the waterfront, but even when the construction is done, the new buildings appear to be very close, and the hotel is pretty short, meaning no view on either side.)
My room was at the end of the hallway, and was a bit of an odd, triangular shape. It was maybe a little bigger than my room at the Canopy, but hard to tell due to the shape There was a king-size bed, with a range of historic photographs framed above it. There was no desk at all, though the TV mounted on the wall had a little pull-down shelf. There was also a small cocktail table and an armchair between the TV and the bed. The room had hard-wood floors and an area rug, like the Canopy. Whereas the Canopy had a modern Nordic, more minimalist style, the Konsulat had more of an early 20th century vibe with modern accent pieces. The room had a more standard closet in the entry way, and a mini-fridge, Nespresso maker, and tea kettle. (One oddity: the hotel had the same phone system as the Canopy, which shows the guest’s name and room number on the LCD display. At the Konsulat, it showed another guest’s name.)
The bathroom was a really weird shape, with a triangular walk-in shower and some higher-end toiletries. While there was air conditioning, it didn’t seem to work very well.
There was no happy hour or tasting at the Konsulat, or free bikes or record players (or lounge). I did explore the spa and fitness center on the lower level. The good part was the “bath house.” There was a sauna and a small thermal pool, along with chaise lounges to relax on, with fruit water, etc., which was pretty relaxing. Inside the bathhouse was a shower room with robes, slippers, and lockers. It’s open until 10pm, and I was the only guest there my time there. It’s one of the highlights of the hotel.
The gym was a bit more disappointing, as it was even smaller than the one at the Canopy. There were two treadmills and an elliptical, and one small rack of weights. There was also a giant punching bag with the hotel’s logo embossed, which seemed to just be stupid. The décor reminded me of the gym at the Fairmont Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg, just a lot smaller.
Breakfast was also not as good as that at the Canopy. It was a smaller cold buffet, and the only hot dishes were scrambled eggs and overcooked bacon. Coffee was self-serve, which seemed surprising in a hotel at this price point. The one woman who was working breakfast, busing tables, etc., seemed a bit overwhelmed. An older American guest was asking her questions about whether the cereal was Cheerios, which is of course a stupid question, but she was very confused.
As I waited to check out, I realized that the hotel front desk staff serves traditional front desk functions, as well as those of a concierge and that of a doorman, helping with luggage and taxis. At such an expensive hotel, that seems odd.
Is the Konsulat a nice hotel? Yes. Would I stay there at a price premium over the Canopy? No. Neither hotel has meaningful benefits for Diamond guests, and the better breakfast and location probably beats the “plushness” and the bath house of the Konsulat. They’re both good uses of points, though, given how few major chains there are in Reykjavik. (The Radisson Blu Saga, which I stayed in one night and hopefully will have time to review, was horrible.)
One thing to add: neither hotel credited me with the MyWay benefits I was supposed to get – 1,000 points per stay – or stay credit. They didn’t respond to my email, and I had to contact Hilton Customer Care. Via email, the customer care team insisted I had to email them a copy of my folio from checkout. I didn’t have one, and one wasn’t showing online. When I called, the agent insisted that you don’t get points as a MyWay benefit on an award stay – which is completely not true. Finally, via Twitter, I was able to get the points added to my account. A lot of work for 2,000 points.