Entering the long house reception area of Torfhús Retreat, we were greeted by Viking paraphernalia from Norse effigies to ornate drinking horns – just in case the rugged countryside we experienced on the drive in was not enough to ensure that we knew we were in the heart of Iceland’s Golden Circle.
Inside, rural and rustic Icelandic interior decor dominates, the centrepiece, an old fishing boat fashioned into a sofa, positioned perfectly for us to drink in the epic landscape just outside over a glass of Icelandic gin and tonic. Nature here is inspiring and was the perfect setting for the ‘get away from it all’ tone of our trip. From here out across the meadow, we spied our ever welcoming accommodation amidst the undulating backdrop of snowcapped, volcanic mountains and the glowing Langjökull glacier beyond it.
Torfhús Retreat is a collection of turfed-roofed (and sided) houses built in the same style that Icelanders used to live in from the earliest settlements, right up the mid 20th century. At Torfhús Retreat are luxurious versions of their originals, but they are built to almost exacting architectural standards. Their exterior walls, made of basalt stone from a nearby quarry is laid painstakingly by hand and its grassy roofs are remarkable, melting seamlessly into the natural landscape; peppered with sprouting, colourful wildflowers in the summertime when we visited and cloaked in mossy green, or pure white snow in winter, so we’re told.
Our sprawling two-bedroom Torfhús came with full kitchens. There are also the smaller, single-suite ‘Torfbaer.’ Our favourite feature though was an inviting outdoor, basalt hot-tub, where we spent the midnight sun hours staring up at the milky sky. The décor is homely: what you’d expect of a swish Nordic outpost: natural rugs, pine headboards, old-world telephones and industrial lighting – interior design so well executed that it took us a while to notice the gigantic smart television. Then, there is also the surprisingly quirky – high-saturation photography digitally printed on soft furnishings, ravens sculptures and a giant, etched-glass shower screen featuring an Icelandic horse.
Rounding off the characterful personality of the dwellings is the retreat’s culinary prowess. Leading the kitchen is award-winning chef, Thorannin Eggertsson with some unconventional Icelandic-Asian fusion – each bite a delight – and mostly using local ingredients. Each night, an innovative tasting menu is presented, available only to in-house guests – a truly special treat.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
If you’re inclined to leave the retreat (and we recommend that you do), get in touch with Private Travel Iceland (PTI) who can create memorable private experiences: from helicopter journeys over spellbinding waterfalls to adventurous glacier safaris; as well as intimate moments: from romantic dinners in caves on private black sand beaches or in the middle of pine forests to secret thermal baths away from the madding crowds.