Even though flying on Icelandair was the cheapest option to get to Norway, I didn't book it until I found an affordable hotel first. I had heard horror stories about how expensive Iceland was, especially so after the 2008 financial crisis. (A high school friend visited around that time and said he spent $50 on a pizza.) Since I was traveling alone, I figured hostels were my best bet. A bit of Googling turned up this Dwell article on Kex Hostel, a relatively new hostel that was hipster heaven with its mid-century modern furniture and other vintage fixtures that were sourced from America and Germany. The article mentioned that even locals visited to enjoy the restaurant and bar. Sounded pretty good to me.
There were a limited number of private rooms, so I ended up booking a bunk in a 10-bed mixed dorm room for 4,300 Icelandic krona (ISK) a night, roughly $36 USD. It was also another 1,000 ISK ($8 USD) for a comforter and towel for both nights. They did not charge a fee for not being a member of their hostel, which I had read other places do. I also booked my bus ticket from Keflavik airport to the hostel through them for 3,500 ISK roundtrip ($30 USD). There were some back and forth emails as I inquired about tours and whatnot, and every single person who responded to me was super, super nice. Also, even better, they did not charge my credit card until I actually arrived.
The back side of the hostel is located just a few blocks from Laugavegur, a popular shopping street. To the left of the hostel, the black glass building at the bottom of the picture is Harpa, a new concert hall and conference center. There are a bunch of restaurants located around there, so not too far away. The Embassy of India is across the street. Kex Hostel faces the water so there's a nice view of ships heading out to sea.
The check-in desk is located on the second floor and there are no elevators. After catching the shuttle from the airport and lugging my stuff upstairs, I arrived a little after 8 a.m. I asked if it'd be possible to leave my luggage in the storage locker (It was.) and if I could grab a shower even though it was too early for check in. The front desk guy suggested I shower at the Blue Lagoon, since I was headed there anyway. I can? Well, that's what I'll do then.
The first shuttle doesn't leave for half an hour, would I like breakfast? Sure why not? Breakfast was discounted since I was a guest, so it was 1,200 ISK ($10 USD).
The usual assortment of cold meats, veggies, fruit, nuts, jams, juices.
The homemade granola with toasted hazelnuts was so good.
The homemade bread was amazing. Nice crunchy crust and just so fresh.
I sat in the corner by vintage somethings. I think for making shoes?
My breakfast the first day.
So simple, but so delicious that I opted to have breakfast again the next day before heading out on another tour. I made sure to get several slices of bread this time.
That jar that looks like yogurt? It's not yogurt. It's skyr, an Icelandic soft cheese that has the taste and consistency of very thick Greek yogurt. It was soooo delicious. Sooooo delicious. I wish Iceland would export it here.
What exactly does hipster heaven mean? Let's just say, Kex Hostel would be right at home in Portland, so it felt very familiar indeed. A bit of an industrial vibe. Love the library.
Even though Eames lounge chairs really aren't my style, this one was in gray plaid. Plaid!
Bird cages dangling from the ceiling. And more books.
Those are some gigantic beer steins!
Mason jar lights.
There was even a guy dressed like a hipster on the patio. See? Totally Portland vibes.
That was the little corner where I enjoyed breakfast.
Off in the far distance, a view of the Sun Voyager sculpture. I'll have to check it out later.
Propped my feet up later that afternoon waiting for my tour shuttle to arrive.
At the end of a very long day, I finally made it up to the common area upstairs where the rooms were located. Since I had rushed out the door without packing, I didn't get around to it until then. Both of my suitcases were perfectly safe in the storage locker, and I kept my laptop with me at all times.
There's a whole row of private bathrooms so no need to wait or share.
At the end of the second night at 4 a.m., I went into the kitchen to eat my leftovers -- Iceland lobsters, but that's a story for later.
Anyway, so that's the communal kitchen.
Kex Hostel has free Wi-Fi that was very reliable. The beds were clean with white cotton sheets and comforters. Although, the beds weren't numbered or assigned. The first night, I didn't get into the room until after midnight and the one top bunk that was available did not have a blanket. Hey! Someone stole my blanket! I paid for one and didn't get one! Hmph! I ended up using my long winter coat as a blanket instead and only slept for two hours so it wasn't really an issue. The bunks were really high though (Those Vikings!) and I literally fell out of bed climbing down the next day because the ladder rungs were spaced really far apart. The next night, I ended up being up the whole night anyway because of jetlag and having to be up early for a shuttle back to the airport, so I didn't use the room at all except to leave one suitcase. I noticed one of the guests though, had his bed stolen too, and ended up crashing on the couch in the lobby. If I had stayed longer, it might have been an issue if I wanted a bed for more than a few hours. So just beware, make sure you stake out your spot early if you're in a dorm room, or book early and get a private room.
Overall, I had a great experience at Kex Hostel and highly recommend it. The staff were all friendly and helpful, breakfast was delicious, all tours can be booked through here, the location was ideal, and the bed was clean (if you can get a spot).
All Europe posts can be read in Series: Europe, but I suggest reading the Iceland trip in this order:
Saigon's Bakery and Sandwiches - San Gabriel
Kex Hostel - Reykjavik - Iceland
Blue Lagoon - Grindavik - Iceland
Icelandic Phallological Museum - Reykjavik - Iceland
Sun Voyager - Reykjavik - Iceland
Mid-Atlantic Ridge - Thingvellir National Park - Iceland
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5 years ago today, Buttermilk Biscuits from homemade buttermilk, a by-product of my homemade butter.