The 101 Hotel’s thirty-eight rooms, including five suites, look like the definition of hip Scandinavian design: everything, from bed and desk to open closet and shelves, is angular and geometric; the sink is a bowl that’s part of a freestanding vanity in the bedroom; the shower stalls are lined with mirrors; color is nonexistent. Conceived by Ingibjörg S. Pálmadóttir—a Parsons graduate and, according to our guide, the richest woman in Iceland—the 101 is one of those rare breeds of design hotels that not only look good but are functional too. Except for a few missteps—the black stone floors in the shower got dangerously slippery when wet, and the massive doorknobs on the heavy doors were hard to turn—the in-room details worked well and made for cozy retreats at the end of a long day of sightseeing. Pálmadóttir has assembled an impressive and eclectic collection of Icelandic contemporary art throughout the hotel, including sculpture, paintings and installations, and even designed the unique façade at the rear of the building, visible from the breakfast room, made of white stone mounds (which she has said was inspired by her sister Lilja’s pregnant belly).
Request a deluxe room on a high floor with a shower and a claw-foot soaking tub that’s positioned in the middle of the room. Just as at the Borg, if you value sleep and are staying over a weekend, ask for a room that faces the more tranquil back of the building, as the neighborhood around the 101 turns into party central (popular bar B5 is just around the corner). The hotel itself is home to one of the most fashionable see-and-be-seen lounges in Reykjavík, decorated like a stylish living room with cozy seating nooks with fur-covered armchairs, a gas fireplace, long tables stacked with photography books and the requisite crowd of beautiful people who are dressed to the nines and don’t blink at the $20 cocktails. It’s a great spot to watch Iceland’s beau monde kick off their evenings. Rooms from Kronúr 29,000 ($392).
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