Where to Stay in Iceland: The Buubble Hotel
The Golden Circle Loop is one of the most famous and highly recommended drives to take when visiting Iceland. And, considering that the Loop begins just a short 50 minutes’ drive outside of Reykjavik, it’s an ideal itinerary (I’ll write about all of the spots I recommend stopping at on this Loop in a separate post!) especially if you want to get a taste of all of Iceland’s most intriguing and awe-inspiring geographic wonders in a short amount of time. For many, a drive around the Golden Circle is an all-day affair, visiting can’t-miss sights like waterfalls, geysers, and craters all before ending up back in Reykjavik, where many of the most traditional and easy-to-book hotels and Airbnbs can be found. But, for adventurous travelers looking for a more unusual, off-the-beaten-path, unforgettable experience while coasting along this Loop, that’s where this place comes in.
Located less than 2 hours outside of Reykjavik and about a 25 minutes’ diversion from the Loop, the Buubble is exactly as it sounds–a translucent, heated “bubble” that you can actually spend the night in. The “5 million star hotel” was designed to help travelers a fun and unique way of sleeping under the stars and hopefully (but not the case for us, unfortunately) a means of seeing the Northern Lights from the warmth of your own bed. The accommodation has just a handful of bubbles all nested privately within a small forest away from main roads, and naturally, books up extremely quickly and well in advance (for reference, we booked ours back in March for a 1-night stay in October).
We checked into our bubble after a day spent exploring the Golden Circle. Upon arriving at the provided coordinates, we were greeted by a cheerful member of the staff (who I believe resides nearby in case any needs arise during your stay) who helped direct us to the exact location of our individual bubble. Inside, the bubble is warm, and you’re provided a giant bed (or two, as you’re able to split up the bed into two fairly spacious twins), 2 lamps on either side (a surprise to us, actually), power outlets, towels, and extra blankets. A short walk away from our bubble was a cabin-like common area complete with bathrooms, showers, wifi, and a kitchen that you’re free to access 24 hours. Since many grocery stores close at 6 pm on Sundays, and–unknown to us at the time but key knowledge when planning your upcoming trip to Iceland!–government-regulated liquor stores aren’t open on Sundays at all (and, this is the only place you can buy liquor, beer, and wine. They’re called Vinbudin. You’ll see them when you’re out and about in Iceland), our plans to show up stocked with bread, cheese, salad, and wine for the evening were sunk. So, we showed up empty-handed. The Bubble doesn’t provide food, but if you do plan ahead and bring your own groceries, there is a kitchen in the common area you can use to prep a meal. Since we didn’t bring anything, and it was definitely dinner time, we were recommended to head to a restaurant up the street called Mika, which is actually a pretty renowned, relatively new and therefore a still secret from many tourists, spot known for its langoustine dishes and handmade chocolates. It was delicious. If you arrive at the Bubble earlier in the day (before 4 pm) or are just generally in the Golden Circle area during the day however, I seriously 100% recommend you stop for a bite at Friðheimar! An adorable, but by no means quaint, greenhouse and farm, Friðheimar is a tomato wonderland in the middle of Iceland, providing 18% of the entire country’s tomatoes all year long. The greenhouse is extremely sophisticated in design and tantalizingly inviting from the moment you walk in. Between 12 and 4 pm every day, they serve up “bottomless” fresh-from-the-vines-behind-you tomato soup and bread, as well as other ridiculously delicious treats like a green tomato bloody mary and green tomato and apple pie. Definitely worth a visit! We went here for lunch and then stopped at Mika for dinner.
Back at the Bubble, we cozied up in the thick, warm blankets provided, and stayed up late into the evening watching a movie we downloaded on one of our phones. Ever hopeful and just trying to take it all in, I almost couldn’t will myself to go to sleep. Being in the warmth of a see-through bubble in the middle of the forest was equal parts terrifying and calming. I was hyper-aware of the sounds of the leaves falling, the rain drizzling, and the wind blowing all around me, perfectly incubated what can only be described as an inverse snow globe (and by the way, I can only imagine how amazing this place must be after a snowfall). I stayed up until as late as I possibly could waiting for even just a glimpse of the elusive Northern Lights. Unfortunately, we didn’t get so lucky, but the sky at 2 in the morning was the most beautiful, royal blue I’d ever seen. I fell asleep sometime after that.
In the morning, we were woken up by the light drumming of raindrops on the “roof” of our bubble. We stayed in bed watching the rain for at least 2 hours, just trying to soak up every last moment in this crazy, blissfully unique experience before checking out. At around 8:30 in the morning, the sun broke through the clouds and the rain stopped. We took some pictures, flew our drone around for a little while, and made some coffee in the common area. We left shortly after we finished our coffee to continue making our way around as many stops as possible along the Golden Circle. Of course, I wish we could’ve stayed longer. But, if you’re pressed for time and can only manage 1 night here, I’d say it’s definitely enough time to at least go for the experience. It was honestly one of the most relaxing, surreal nights in our entire trip to Iceland.
A special thanks to Robert, Brittany, and the wonderful staff at the Buubble for hosting us during our stay.