The government has revealed the first 'green list' of travel destinations we can visit from 17th May without quarantining on return and Iceland has not only made the cut but it's one of the few allowing vaccinated British travellers to enter (check the requirements), giving us the perfect excuse to check into The Retreat at Blue Lagoon this summer.
One of the most luxurious places to stay on the island, this five-star hotel offers one of the most exceptional spa experiences we've ever had.
From the architecture and service to the relaxing ambience and thoughtful interior design - The Retreat at Blue Lagoon is like no other hotel on the planet. Think of it as the ultra-luxe spa hotel to end all spa hotels (and we've stayed at a few!).
Surrounded by thermal waters which simmer at 38 degrees and make up Iceland's most famous attraction, this unique spa destination is an epic place to celebrate your freedom after lockdown.
It's here that we had a massage like nothing else - one so heavenly you need to experience it at least once. Floating serenely in the world-famous Blue Lagoon, our burly massage therapist Oskar melted away our stresses during the spa hotel's signature in-water massage. We felt completely in our element as we were immersed in the warm water every few minutes to ensure we kept warm.
Sprawled out on a yoga-style mat as snowflakes landed on our faces while we were scrubbed with lava and massaged, it was this moment on a winter's day in February last year, that we realised we'd found the one - the spa hotel we'd never want to leave.
Set within Iceland's best-known tourist attraction, a stay at The Retreat offers you the VIP experience of the site that day visitors don't have access to.
Its nature-inspired interior and lava field backdrop, along with the remarkable dining, exclusive yet laidback approach (this is a place where wearing a robe is encouraged) and friendly, Icelandic smiles are why it attracts those in search of five-star R&R on another level.
There's no denying that the star of the Retreat is its spa, but we'll tell you more about that later....
Designing this luxurious address, Basalt Architects focused on bringing the outside in. The subterranean spa is carved into the volcanic earth and the building containing 62 spacious suites (you won't find standard rooms here) appears to be floating on the geothermal water.
Naturally, the interiors are a reflection of its ethos: expect lava detailing, carpets inspired by the moss-covered region and warm wood tones throughout.
Set on the Reykjanes Peninsula, in the southwest corner of Iceland and providing unlimited access to the Blue Lagoon, the Retreat spoils its guests with a private Blue Lagoon experience.
If you've always wanted to visit the attraction but without the crowds, this hotel comes with its own section of the Lagoon, allowing you to soak in the geothermal waters at your own pace.
For amazing views and an incredibly spacious place to relax, you'll want to check into a Lava Suite, which overlooks the mountains. Take in the views from the enormous bed, the stylish tub or the large balcony.
The suite is a spa experience in itself, with its generous shower, sumptuous robes and Blue Lagoon products for you to use (leave your facial cleanser, moisturiser and hair products at home).
You can easily spend all day in the stunning space, reading on the balcony or in the sleek seating area, soaking in the tub and simply enjoying the natural setting from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
The food in Iceland is exceptional and you'll be treated to the freshest of ingredients and a combination of diverse flavours in the restaurants at the Retreat.
Icelandic wasabi, local liquorice, lemongrass and other surprising ingredients prove that this hotel has pulled out all the stops for discerning diners. Don't leave here without booking a table at fine dining restaurant Moss. The tasting menu paired with wines from the lava cave turned wine cellar is a culinary journey you're unlikely to forget.
From the scallop ceviche to the melt-in-your-mouth beef loin alongside the cheek and the salmon with caviar, fennel, apple and wasabi, the seven-course menu is as impressive as at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Meanwhile, Lava, a restaurant open to Blue Lagoon visitors and Retreat guests is worth checking out: try the divine langoustine soup and grilled beef tenderloin.
Long days in the spa and soaking in the Lagoon (it's a tough life), will make you hungry and lunches in the Spa Restaurant are perfect for chilled out feasts in your robe. Try the caesar salad, one of the best we've ever tasted, the hummus with freshly baked seeded crackers or the amazing Icelandic sushi for indulgently healthy dishes.
One thing to take full advantage of while at The Retreat is the Northern Lights wake-up call. We were lucky enough to receive it one night at 11pm and raced to the terrace with the other guests to watch a slither of green light move across the sky. Even without the vivid display you see in the photos, the sheer excitement on everyone's faces was worth getting out of bed for.
When in Iceland we like to live like the Icelanders and breakfast at the hotel was a fantastic way to start the day like the locals. Shot glasses filled with cod liver oil and skyr are part of the spread, along with more international breakfast staples, like various types of bread, salmon and berries.
And finally, the spa...
If you need just one reason to stay at The Retreat, let it be the spa. This sublime space is like a super-cave of wellness, bringing you the usual spa suspects, such as the steam room, sauna and relaxation areas but done seriously stylish.
The star of The Retreat's spa, however, has to be the Ritual, which takes you on an invigorating journey of wellbeing.
Once you enter the underground space where it takes place, you'll move through different chambers as you exfoliate your skin with the Blue Lagoon's minerals, renew it with algae and give it a fresh, radiant appearance with silica.
Covering your hair and body with these treasures found in the geothermal water, you'll feel at one with the rejuvenating and pro-collagen powers of the volcanic surroundings.
Of course, there are treatments you can book at the spa too, such as the in-water massage and facials. When you're scrubbed, polished and massaged, you can relax in the nest-like hanging chairs overlooking The Retreat's concealed part of the Blue Lagoon.
Suites at The Retreat at Blue Lagoon start from £1,029 per night, including an a la carte breakfast.
Sign up for inspirational travel stories and to hear about our favourite financially protected escapes and bucket list adventures.
You Might Also Like