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Reykjavik Airbnb Review

Kitchen table with chairs in Reykjavik Airbnb.

“Calm and peaceful gem in 101 RVK”

Pros: Parking, laundry, good price, great location, comfortable, helpful host

Cons: Bare kitchen, shower may be difficult to access for older people, confusing laundry

With a group of two adult couples and a teen, we knew that we were going to need either apartments or two hotel rooms everywhere we stayed. One look at the hotel options in Reykjavik had me scrambling for apartments. Most of the hotels were $200 a room or more, which would run our group at least $400 a night, or $1200 for our three nights in Iceland.

I was excited — but a little nervous — when I found Anna Run’s three-bedroom, one-bathroom home, labeled a “calm and peaceful gem.” Excited because, at $260 per night (inclusive of fees), it was surprisingly affordable for a centrally place located Reykjavik, and the photos looked cute. Nervous because, well, it was surprisingly affordable — and with Airbnb, that’s sometimes a red flag that the place will not be very good.

Also, it only had three reviews (it has eight now, including mine). The reviews were generally positive, although one mentioned hearing the neighbors through thin walls, which made me nervous. Looking at the photos, I had thought the property was a single-family home, so learning that there even were neighbors on the other side of a wall was a surprise. (Another reviewer complained that they didnt’ find out until the last minute that the house is old. I think you can tell by the photos — the clapboard-lined walls and plank floors — that this is a charming older home.)

Like always, I messaged the host before booking. I almost always have questions, but this is also a good way to feel out the host. If they answer a polite quetion with hostility or don’t answer at all, I move on. Anna responded almost instantly and was very accommodating. At the time, the unit was listed as able to sleep five, with two in the master bedroom’s queen bed, one person in each single bedroom, and a fifth person on the couch. But looking at the photo of the couch, I couldn’t tell if it was really sleep-able. It looked like an ottoman pushed up next to a chair. Anna responded to my concern by offering to bring in an extra twin mattress, which was very kind, probably more than we needed. I noticed that now the listing says it’s only for four people.

Anna was also responsive and helpful during our stay, recommending a local pharmacy when we needed one.

One thing about the listing that I didn’t pay much attention to at first was the fact that it comes with a driveway to park in. When we booked, we weren’t planning to rent a car. But I soon learned that all the bus transfers and taxis we’d need to get from the airport to the Blue Lagoon to Reykjavik and back, not to mention paying for a tour bus on the Golden Circle, would add up to much more than the cost of a rental car. Once we reserved the car, I was grateful we had rented one of the few accommodations in Reykjavik with free parking.

The Neighborhood

Street art in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The view from one of the windows.

The house is located in Grandi, Reykjavik’s harbor neighborhood. It’s about half a mile from the heart of downtown. Immediately outside our house are other residential properities and some great street art. Within a couple of blocks, you have the harbor, a Bonus grocery store, a bunch of restaurants and bars, and the Saga Museum. Great location!

Arriving at the Airbnb

We had a little trouble getting to the house, through no fault of the owner. The first time we passed, we mistook the narrow street it’s on for a sidewalk. When we finally got turned back around and pulled in, we found a wide, accommodating parking spot and a few steps up to the entry door. The backyard is mostly weeds (Anna said this is for the bees) and a trampoline, which Anna gave us instructions for using. (Toth never ended up trying it, due to the chilly, drizzly weather and our busy sightseeing schedule.) The house looked cute and small, and we didn’t see any other occupants around. Anna’s apartment is the entire ground floor. It looked like there was another unit upstairs, but I don’t think anyone was staying there during our entire visit because we never heard a peep.

The lockbox opened as expected and I had the place open within seconds. Inside was nice and clean. You enter into a tiny mudroom, with a few hooks and a radiator that’s great for drying shoes and socks. Off this room is a door to the basement, with “steps” that look like this:

Steep staircase in Reykjavik, Iceland, Airbnb.

Opposite that is the door to the rest of the apartment. First you pass one of the single bedrooms, then the bathroom.

The Kitchen

Beyond this is the eat-in kitchen, which has a long, accommodating countertop, a nice stove, a dishwasher that worked well, a great espresso machine, and a capacious fridge. Anna had added a fifth chair to the kitchen table for us.

Trampoline in Reykjavik, Iceland, backyard.

Two windows look out at the backyard and other apartments. Later in our stay, we watched a neighbor grilling on a balcony opposite us, in the company of his dog. Then later that day we ran into that same neighbor on the street and he was very confused when we asked him if he had just been grilling!

My only criticism of this kitchen: It’s not very stocked. It’s nice if an Airbnb host at least provides cooking oil, a roll of paper towels, a washcloth and towel, and hot pads for handling hot pans. At first we borrowed a clean towel from the bathroom to use in the kitchen, but later I found what looked like kitchen towels and washclothes in the laundry room and brought those up.

The Living Room

Teenage boy asleep on the couch in Reykjavik Airbnb

Another pleasant room. There’s a large TV but no way to watch live television, as far as we could see. We did use it to cast some of our photos from our phones. Anna had placed the extra mattress right on top of the couch, but because it’s an L-shaped couch there was still space for people to sit. There’s also a comfy chair with a reading lamp, although we had to unplug the lamp in order to charge our devices because there aren’t many outlets in the house. There’s also a bookshelf full of Icelandic-language books.

tHE bEDROOMS

Midnight sun shining through thin curtain in Reykjavik, Iceland, Airbnb

The master bedroom, which is off the living room, is small, with the queen-size bed pushed up against one wall by necessity. It has an outlet behind the bed, which my husband used for his CPAP at night. It also has a drawer and shelving unit that provided plenty of storage for our clothes and luggage. A large full-length mirror leans against the wall.

The main drawback to this room: No window shade. It only had a light colored curtain, which did little to darken the room when it stays light out nearly all night. Fortunately, I brought an eye shade, but the sun shone directly at our faces in the early mornings, waking us even with eyeshades on.

Another thing that might raise eyebrows: This and the other bedrooms had an unfinished plywood boards as pocket doors. No door handle or lock. It didn’t really bother us, but of course it does give the feel of an unfinished space.

The other two bedrooms are cells that look like they were created from one larger bedroom cut in half. One is off the living room, and the other is off the hallway at the entry, but only a thin wall separates them. This was a bit of a disappointment, since the reason my parents had wanted separate bedrooms was snoring, but the thin separating wall did little to contain the sound.

All the beds were comfortable enough.

The Bathroom

First off, the shower was wonderful. Large rainbath shower head with a strong flow of water that can get very hot. Yes, the water smells like farts, but that’s geothermal for you.

Unfortunately, my dad was not able to enjoy the shower, because the bathtube was rather deep and did not have a flat surface to stand on, nor a non-slip mat. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend this apartment for people with limited mobility.

Heat, Wifi, Laundry

Although it was late June, the weather was chilly, and the radiators in the apartment were usually running. My parents found the apartment to be too cold in the daytime. I thought it was fine with a sweater on. At night, we were all a little too warm. Besides feeling like the radiators ran too much at night, the only covers on the beds were thick duvets with no top sheets. So it wasn’t possible to switch to a lighter cover when the room got hot.

The wifi was easy to get onto and worked fine.

The laundry was a challenge to use. One of the things that stood out about this listing was that it has a dryer, not common in Europe but really handy when traveling. Unfortunately, the laundry area lacked instructions that would have helped me avoid losing hours of sleep.

There are two washing machines, and they worked fine (albeit slowly, which is normal for European washers). After just a couple of hours, I had two loads of wet, clean clothes.

That’s where the problem came in: Instead of drying my clothes, the dryer would run for a few minutes, then stop. It took me hours to figure out the issue. The dryer has a water reservoir. Instead of venting the moisure from your clothes as steam, it collects the water from the clothes in this reservoir. Because the reservoir was full when I started, from the last user, my clothes could not get dry. I was doing this on our last evening, with a 6 a.m. departure for the airport, so hanging the clothes to dry was not an option.

When I finally emptied this reservoir into the sink, the clothes dried relatively quickly. Unfortuately, by then it was after 1 a.m., which meant a rough travel day for me.

The Bottom Line

As long as you have the ability to walk up a few stairs and step into a high-sided bathtub to shower, I would recommend this rental in Reykjavik. Bring earplugs and an eye shade. Check the kitchen before shopping. Make sure to empty the dryer reservoir before using.

More posts about our Multigeneration Family trip to Iceland:

Members Only: The Iceland Phallological Museum Review

In Reykjavik, the Dude Abides (at Lebowski Bar)

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

The Golden Circle

Reykjavik in a Day

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