(Iceland) Smoked puffin, lashings of Skyr & lunch in a sauna: The D|R guide to Iceland

En route with Icelandair (and a nice hat)

En route with Icelandair (and a nice hat)

Cold beer in a hot sauna? Now that’s my kind of party. And just one of many crazy, once-in-a-lifetime experiences encountered on an incredible trip to Iceland with Mr Detox|Retox (read the review HERE for full details on what we got up to, including dancing in waterfalls, wild horse riding, and helicoptering in to Game Of Thrones country).

Icelanders are said to have the healthiest diet in the world - and they have the longest life expectancy - but is hard to be super good there on vaycay thanks to a killer combination of long nights, low temperatures and a sexy cocktail culture.

But with a bit of willpower over the breakfast cake table (yes, this is a thing) and so many awesome hiking/trekking/swimming/exploring opportunities to take advantage of, it IS possible to not fall too far off the wellness wagon. 

ICELAND DETOX|


MAKE FRIENDS WITH SKYR...

...the uber popular, protein-packed yoghurt that thinks it's a cheese. This slightly sour-tasting yoghurt is served in various forms for breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner and dessert, and many put Icelanders' record-breaking health levels down to it (get it in the UK at Wholefoods). 

Skyr and blueberries = a key part of breakfast at Reykjavik's Hotel Marina

Skyr and blueberries = a key part of breakfast at Reykjavik's Hotel Marina

 

START THE DAY IN REYKJAVIK AT HEILSUHUID ORGANIC FOOD & JUICE BAR...

...the best place to get your superfood and wheatgrass fix on the island (apart from the Joe & The Juice bars near the airport). This shop serves up juices, supplements and organic treats to the city's health crew before they head up Laugavegur street to browse the vintage clothes shops or get their beards trimmed at one of its uber hip barbers.

[tip] If you're veggie, vegan, or very particular about healthy food it's worth stocking up on snacks if you're planning on travelling around as non-meat options are pretty limited as soon as you leave Reykjavik.

 

ADD FONTANA SPA TO YOUR ITINERARY...

... a boutique spa built around hot springs and featuring steam baths and geothermal pools , Fontana is slightly off the tourist trail and so offers an altogether more chic experience than the crowded Blue Lagoon.

Dressing for dinner at the Fontana spa

Dressing for dinner at the Fontana spa

After a paddle and pummel we were treated to lunch in one of the natural steam houses featuring more Skyr, trout caught from the lake next door, rye bread cooked in the baking hot soil beneath us and a pint of pilsner to wash it all down.

NB: Icelanders like to public shower and spa naked. You might do, too, but just a friendly heads up incase this is news.

Trout fresh out of the lake next door

Trout fresh out of the lake next door


ICELAND |RETOX

Matching my drink to my top at Slippbarinn

Matching my drink to my top at Slippbarinn

KICK OFF THE NIGHT AT SLIPPBARINN...

...the buzzing bar at the Marina Hotel is one of Reykjavik's destination drinking spots and the young team here are pushing booze boundaries serving up barrel-aged cocktails and homemade herbal tonics to a good-looking, bejumpered crowd.

On busy nights they open a ‘pop-up’ in the hotel lobby just for guests so they aren’t kept waiting with the 'normal' people at the main bar. Touch.

[tip] If you're a gin fan make yours a (large) Martin Millers. The brand is a delicious blend of British style and Icelandic water and its light, flowery taste goes brilliantly with any mixer.

 

WORK YOUR WAY THROUGH THE TASTING MENU AT KOPAR...

...a few minutes away from the Hotel Marina the charming Kopar restaurant offers an innovative menu and mesmerising views of snow-capped glaciers.

They catered to our picky group of journalists with no fuss (two veggies, one pescatarian, one gluten-free, all booze hounds), and we spent many happy hours there working our way through a stunning 9-course tasting menu including cod tongues, grilled Tusk, duck breast with date sauce and Dime bar cheesecake. 

Views and booze at Kopar

Views and booze at Kopar

 

SIP A SCOTCH (OR TWO) AT RANGA HOTEL...

... a luxury range built for stargazing and snowmobiling, and home to stranded international journalists covering the 2010 ash cloud as well as the country's largest whisky collection (coincidence? I think not). 

The Ranga Hotel in the south is also a great spot to catch the Northern Lights from an outside hot tub at certain times of the year (rooms feature live feeds from webcams in case of any activity in the sky) and don't leave without trying the smoked puffin and a glass of Brennivin liquor in the restaurant overlooking a beautiful salmon river.

Puffins might be cute, but they also taste great

Puffins might be cute, but they also taste great


DETAILS

I visited Iceland on behalf of the MailOnline and Icelandair to celebrate the launch of the #incrediblestopover service.

Icelandair’s year-round Stopover service offers passengers travelling to the U.S.A. the opportunity to stay in Iceland for up to seven nights at no additional airfare.