At Iceland’s most Instagrammed attraction, the Blue Lagoon, we escaped the madding crowd via its worst kept luxury secret – the sublime five-star Retreat Hotel. An architectural extravaganza, showcasing the very best of Nordic chic, the 62-suite escapist resort melds into the rugged volcanic landscape – as if built directly into the lava rock – a fine example of how man-made and nature can exist happily and beautifully side by side.

The understated entrance soon opens up to a cavernous space, flanked by floor-to-ceiling windows that presents what OutThere travellers will love most about this property, a private, by invitation-only section of the Blue Lagoon – in all its geothermal, turquoise blue and silica white splendour – exclusively for hotel guests and wellness day-visitors only.

The Spa here is the main event, an effortlessly chic and sprawling space with the best version of everything you’d expect from an afternoon, day or week(!) of pampering, limited to just a handful of guests, a far cry compared to the more (way, way more) public Blue Lagoon next door. Here, we opted for a stress-busting, signature, floating massage, where we were delicately stroked to carefree bliss by a handsome therapist dressed all in white – a baptism indeed. Unable to speak, or protest (then again, why would we – he was handsome!), we were ushered into a zen space where we performed ‘the ritual’ – an Icelandic hammam-like bathing concept that uses mineral exfoliation and silica mud for the ultimate in rejuvenation.

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Because of the VIP nature of the Retreat Spa, pictures are not allowed, so to protect the privacy of its A-list guests. But at the far end of the space, there’s a little door that opens up into the main Blue Lagoon, where you can get Instagram happy. With the main pools opening at noon each day, we recommend arriving at 11.55am to have it all to yourself. If you just simply want to catch a glimpse of it, head to the roof just beyond the sauna for an incredible view.

Lunch in the Spa restaurant is an informal affair, but the food is fresh, light and delicious – the sushi is thoroughly recommended. But dining here is just a taster of the lavish fine-dining affair to come at the Moss Restaurant, that serves up a theatrical, tasting menu of mouthwatering local flavours that will elevate your palate, matched only by the spectacular view of the otherworldly volcanic landscape. To toast a spectacular day a drink in the subterranean wine cellar with the hotel’s sommelier is just the ticket, but if you prefer a digestif instead, they’d serve in ‘on the rocks’ – quite literally.

Escaping to our spacious Lagoon Junior Suite that overlooks the waters, we soaked (yes, more) in a bath with a view before retiring in our comfortable bed, part of a minimalist design concept that’s simple, yet elegant, all executed to really champion the view just outside. And as our visit was in summer, we were afforded hours and hours of it, but to return in winter could reward us with an entirely different experience, that of the Northern Lights.

OutThere travellers who want to go all out? Ask about the hotel’s top-secret suite, said to be one of the most lavish in the world.

www.bluelagoon.com

Photography courtesy of The Retreat at Blue Lagoon