Located on Bankastræti in downtown Reykjavík—just a few minutes walk from Harpa Concert Hall, Hallgrímskirkja, and Tjörnin (the city pond)—Loft Hostel is a cozy, multi-story hotel complete with a café, bar, and a rooftop terrace that offers stunning views of the city and the northern lights during the winter months.
For locals, the hostel is also a popular venue for intimate concerts and poetry readings, as well as small social events that demand a laidback vibe and atmosphere.
We found Matthew Morgan, a Londoner who decided to make a stopover trip in Iceland, relaxing in the Loft Hostel café shortly after he competed in a local gingerbread-decorating contest to welcome in the holiday season.
Although he arrived in Reykjavík during the heart of winter, Matthew quickly realized that Iceland is a special place that definitely lives up to its hype.
A Stormy Arrival
Matthew spent most of his first night in Reykjavík shuddered indoors due to an uncharacteristically strong winter storm, but he did not let that deter him from enjoying himself and catching up on some rest and relaxation.
“I’m travelling via Iceland to go to Canada, but I decided to take a three-day stopover here,” he explains of his travel itinerary. “I’m travelling for two months, so this is part of a long vacation…I intended yesterday to see the northern lights, but we were told not to leave the building due to the windy weather!”
Although the storm put a temporary damper on his plans, Matthew was surprised by one aspect of the weather: “I actually haven’t been that cold since I’ve been here. I’ve dressed for the weather, and I’ve felt perfectly fine.”
Matthew intends to hit some of Iceland’s hottest tourist destinations before he departs for Canada, taking in as much as he can of the country’s gorgeous landscape and scenery.
“I’m going on a Golden Circle tour tomorrow, followed by a northern lights excursion, and then I’m going to stop at the Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport,” he explains. “It’s a shame that it’s been so cloudy, but from what I’ve seen so far, the landscape is absolutely beautiful.”
Matthew’s travels will take him not only to see the spectacular waterfall Gullfoss but also to experience Þingvellir, Iceland’s glorious national park, where the first meeting of the nation’s parliament, known as the Alþingi, took place over a millennium ago.
One of the highpoints of Matthew’s stay has been interacting with the locals while spending time unwinding after his plane flights. When asked about his conversations with Icelanders, he jokingly says, “They’re so rude!” before adding “I would definitely recommend booking a flight to Iceland. So far I’ve really enjoyed my stay. The people are really lovely and unbelievably friendly.”
In Search of Vegetarian Cuisine
A prolific voice actor, who has done voiceover work for Sky News, BBC, and various other media companies in Britain, Matthew has noticed something quite interesting about Iceland’s hardy cuisine during his stay.
“I’m a vegetarian and tried to order a vegetarian hot dog, which exists in a lot of places like the U.S. and Canada, but not here apparently,” he explains. Due to Iceland’s harsh environment and cold climate, meat dishes, mostly fish and lamb, have dominated the Icelandic diet for centuries. However, slowly but surely, vegetarian options are catching on in Reykjavík, with popular restaurants like Gló and Fresco offering a range of vegetable-focused options for vegetarian or health-conscious travelers.
All in all, after a night on the town and a relaxing stay at one of Reykjavík’s homeliest hostels, Matthew has high hopes for the rest of his stay in Iceland: “I can see why it’s a popular destination for tourists. It’s a really beautiful country, with lots of interesting and friendly people.”