Magazine Feature

Icelandic Artists Dish on Where to Stay and Eat for Super-Chill (Literally) Iceland Airwaves Music Festival

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A performance during Airwaves Festival at the Blue Lagoon.

Icelandic artists dish on the best of Reykjavik, a city surrounded by lagoons and volcanic rock and home to the Iceland Airwaves festival (Nov. 4-8)

Founded by Icelandair, the country's national airline, and first held in an airplane hangar in 1999, the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival now boasts more than 200 acts across nearly a dozen venues in the capital city of Reykjavik. Though this year's edition will have such U.S. acts as Father John Misty, Ariel Pink and Beach House hitting the stage, the festival has remained true to its mission of showcasing local talent. Nonstop flights from JFK Airport in New York are six hours, and English is widely spoken.

Alexander Matukhno
The Flaming Lips performing at the 2014 Airwaves Festival.

Where to Stay

Andrew Toth/Getty Images
Asgeir Trausti Einarsson in 2014.
Asgeir Trausti Einarsson in 2014.Andrew Toth/Getty Images

Hotel Reykjavik Marina

Musicians Asgeir (inset) and Hide Your Kids agree: Hotel Reykjavik Marina is one of the best options for lodging near the water. "It's close to Grandi [harbor area], where great restaurants are popping up," says Asgeir of the nautical-chic hotel that sports a satellite feed of Icelandic sights in the lobby. Rooms start at $169.

Courtesy Photo
Hotel Reykjavik Marina

Hotel Borg

A favorite of Sigur Ros band members and FM Belfast's Loa Hjalmtysdottir, this art deco-accented retreat is "one of the oldest and most beautiful hotel buildings," says Hjalmtysdottir. With a long history of celebrity guests including Marlene Dietrich, Ella Fitzgerald and Anthony Hopkins, it also is a pricier option. Rooms start at $310.

Courtesy Photo
Hotel Borg in Reykjavik.

Where to Eat


Grillmarkadurinn (or The Grill Market) gives diners an upscale opportunity to taste what Iceland has to offer (try the whale steak or puffin miniburger). Says Asgeir: "They work closely with local farmers, and their menu is a great fusion of traditional and modern cuisine." Björk is among the clientele to have eaten here.

Bjorn Arnason
Grillmarkadurinn (or The Grill Market)

The Coocoo's Nest

If you can locate this tiny restaurant that is tucked into the harbor area, the green eggs and ham are worth the effort. "It's the best brunch in town," says Asgeir.


This happening bar-restaurant is bedecked with vintage record players and draws the country's top musicians. "They have the best cocktails in Iceland," says Daniel Jonof of Hide Your Kids.

Courtesy Photo
A dish from Slippbarinn.

Post-Festival Must-sees

1 The Blue Lagoon -- Jay Z and Beyoncé visited this geothermal spa, which is surrounded by a lava field in Grindavik, in 2014 to celebrate the rapper's 45th birthday.

Suppalak Klabdee/Getty Images
Iceland's Blue Lagoon.

2 Gulfoss Waterfall -- The breath­taking scene is one of the natural wonders visited during the Golden Circle tour, which leaves daily from Reykjavik.

Mark A Paulda/Getty Images
Gulfoss Waterfall in Reykjavik.

3 Northern Lights -- One of the country's biggest draws, the bright display of charged particles (aka aurora borealis) is most visible from September through mid-April. For tour info, go to

Goh Hak Liang/Getty Images
 Aurora Borealis over Iceland.


Sin Fang

The indie-folk solo work of Seabear's Sindri Mar Sigfusson.

Nov. 6 at 12:50 a.m. at Harpa Nordurljos


Stefan M. Prager/Redferns
Olafur Arnalds in 2010.


BAFTA-winning composer Ólafur Arnalds' and Janus Rasmussen's electronic project.

Nov. 7 at 9 p.m. at Harpa Silfurberg

Hide Your Kids

The group's '80s synth-infused tunes have made the band a buzzy favorite.

Nov. 7 at 9 p.m. at Harpa Silfurberg

?This story originally appeared in the Nov. 7 issue of Billboard.