Airbnb in Iceland, or accommodation to help you fall in love with Iceland even more deeply

Everyone’s been talking about Airbnb lately. Well, not quite everybody, because quite often when I told people we used Airbnb in Iceland they’ve replied with something like, “Oh yes, B and Bs are such great options for meeting people,” and I’d try to say that actually I mean the website Airbnb. But anyhow, it is definitely gaining in popularity, and for good reason.

Airbnb in Iceland

For the uninitiated, Airbnb is a site where owners of houses, apartments and spare rooms can advertise their places and we can rent them for a night or a month. It “works” because both owners and guests get reviewed by each other, and because guests need to provide some kind of ID so that owners can see they are legit, and because the guests must pay in full when they book, but the money isn’t transferred to the host until the guests have checked in. That’s my version of it, anyway, and it’s correct as far as I know!

From a traveller’s point of view, Airbnb is great because it gives you a lot more options. It is fantastic if you’re travelling on a budget, but it’s not exclusively for budget travellers by any means – I know this blog has a reader who gets a mob of friends together to rent castles and the like on their travels (hi, Lesley!).

NB: If you’re intrigued to use Airbnb you can get an A$35 credit by signing up through my link.

Airbnb in Iceland

When I started booking our accommodation for our recent Iceland trip, I soon realised I had left it a bit late, since we would be in Iceland during the summer peak (because tell me honestly, who really wants to go to Iceland in winter? Well, not me, anyway!). On top of that, accommodation in Iceland (and pretty much everything in Iceland) definitely leans towards the expensive side. Airbnb places quickly surfaced as our best bet and what’s more, I realised they would be way more interesting and unique than the budget hotels that were going for equivalent (or higher) prices. And so, to prove this: some examples!

A grass-roofed cottage in Iceland

As a child, I was fascinated by the grass-roofed cottages I saw in Norway – it was an image that really stuck with me. As an adult, when I saw that there was a grass-roofed cottage for rent in southern Iceland, between Hvolsvöllur and Hella, I immediately knew we just had to stay there!

This is where Airbnb becomes something much more unique than regular accommodation. It was an adventure in itself to reach our cottage. The owner (a former Icelandair pilot no less) had given us detailed instructions on how to get there by road and then told us that once we saw the white rock next to a gate, we should phone him. I only saw this at the last minute and hurriedly emailed him the night before to say we didn’t have a phone in Iceland and what should we do, but of course I had left that message too late and we couldn’t read his reply.

So there we were, at a gate next to a white rock with a vast expanse of pretty much nothing in front of us. Not even a path or a road, though we could see telltale vehicle tracks spread across the field ahead. We took the plunge and drove in, not a house in sight, and kept driving, following the tracks, forded a stream (oh yes, and I closed my eyes!) and eventually came over the crest of a hill and found the owner’s home and, very excitingly, our grass-roofed cottage.

Airbnb cottage near Hvolsvollur and Hella in Iceland

The door to our grass-roofed Airbnb cottage near Hvolsvullur, Iceland.

I found it fabulous staying in this cottage in the middle of nowhere. You could look for miles and see nothing and then right on the horizon were amazing snow-covered mountains and volcanoes (and yes that included the famous Eyjafjallajökull!). In one direction we could see the hangar where our host kept his own small aeroplane – unfortunately the only time he took off in it was the middle of the night (still very light of course!) and my son and I were asleep. And beyond this we could gallop through the Icelandic version of the bush. It was simply brilliant.

A designer house by the lake in Iceland

After a couple of nights at the grass-roofed cottage it was time to move on and our next adventure was finding this amazing designer house next to its own lake, an hour or so north of Reykjavik and not far from Borgarnes. It was like nowhere we’d ever seen and it was utterly bizarre how this seemingly very modern design fitted right into the lake, bush and mountain scenery surrounding it.

Designer house near Borgarnes, Iceland

Our Airbnb house by the lake near Borgarnes, Iceland

My educated guess about this place was that the owners had run out of money in the building of it, because they hadn’t installed a kitchen and there wasn’t even a sink in the main bathroom – but they’d made do with some plugged in kitchen appliances on a table and a sink around the corner in what was probably the laundry. And because of that, this incredible house was being rented out at a rate we could afford (yet enough, I guess, to fund the next building phase for the owners at some stage). I call that a win all round. (Edit: I just read in the review comments that they’re about to upgrade/complete the kitchen but continue to rent it on Airbnb!)

The cabin on Iceland’s most beautiful mountain

This is the place where I utterly fell in love with Iceland. Absolutely head over heels! It was totally unexpected. We passed through the small town of Grundarfjordur in the late afternoon, following instructions from our host that our wooden cabin was just on the other side of town.

Cabin on Kirkjufell near Grundarfjordur in Iceland

Our cabin on the gorgeous Kirkjufell, near Grundarfjordur in Iceland

And it was, but what I hadn’t realised was that it was a pretty large wooden cabin, and it was built on the side of Kirkjufell, which gets billing in the tourist brochures as Iceland’s most beautiful mountain, because of its unique shape and its position by the water. We had a direct view up the mountain, and then across the lakes, and from just down the driveway we could look across the town and the sea.

View from our Kirkjufell cabin away from the mountain, Iceland

View from our Kirkjufell cabin away from the mountain

This was the sunniest day of our entire Iceland stay, and of course, the sunniest night. It’s utterly surreal to have bright sunlight streaming in to your kitchen table at 11pm. I couldn’t get enough of it and I certainly didn’t get much sleep there, but mostly because I wanted to soak it all in. I wished we could have stayed for weeks. Standing at the foot of Kirkjufell was the moment I knew that I absolutely had to come back to Iceland again.

So, should you use Airbnb in Iceland?

Definitely! Icelanders are so honest that it’s probably one of the best places in the world to use Airbnb without having any concerns at all. Each host was friendly but not in an overbearing way – they were available to us if we needed help but otherwise left us alone – and some just left the key more or less under the mat ready for us and left us to our own devices.

Iceland is the kind of country you really need to have a rental car to drive around, and that makes using Airbnb accommodation easy because you can drive to the local supermarket (with its dodgy fruit and veg) to stock up on food and then cook your own (also handy since restaurants are pretty pricey).

We also used an Airbnb apartment in Reykjavik which was great (though not on the same gorgeousness level as these three), with a perfect location opposite a small supermarket, a swimming pool (my son and I enjoyed that immensely!) and walking distance into the city centre.

If you’re curious about the exact places we stayed at, links are below (but if you’re reading this sometime later, of course, I can’t guarantee the owners still have the properties listed on Airbnb):

All these really unique places to stay made our trip to Iceland that much more fascinating – hope they do the same for you!

Comments

  1. I love that grass roofed cottage! How cute. You chose some great accommodation – the designer place looks amazing too. And how beautiful are those views!

  2. Oh wow, how fun! I’ve never used Airbnb but this looks amazing. I’m off to check it out. Thanks.

  3. Have ever tried air b’n’b but you’ve sold me ! #teamwanderlust

  4. I have never used Airbnb and only found out what it was in recent months. I’ve heard mixed reports about it. Some say it is more expensive than normal holiday accommodation and others have said it works more in favour of the owner than the guest. One person’s host’s cancelled the booking on him at the last minute because they no longer wanted to go away. Anyway, it is something I haven’t delved into much but perhaps I should? Definitely some awesome homes offered here.

    • Hi Sam,
      I think the price varies greatly and that’s because some of the places are really fancy- but I’ve found there is something for every budget. In my experience it has saved us a lot of money and given us way more space than a hotel would. I haven’t had any bad experiences yet (about 10 good ones though!) and you’re right, I have heard of occasional instances of last minute cancellations – I always look at the reviews of the host/accommodation a lot before I book which probably helps – and I still prefer to use it over pretty much any other accommodation! Definitely try it out sometime and see what you think!

  5. We just got back from Iceland 2 days ago and we used AirBnB for the first time there. It was the best experience we’ve had with accommodations! We also stayed in a guesthouse in rural eastern Iceland which was a great experience, but we will definitely AirBnB more in the future. It felt nice to have a cozy place to return to after a day of exploring.

  6. We stayedin the cabin on kirkjufell too! It was amaaaazing!

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