Evindarhólar, Iceland

Photo: UMI Hotel

Only a few months into the new year, the world came to a halt. China was the first. Italy came next. The rest of Europe begrudgingly followed suit. It wasn’t long before the whole world had to do the same. All of your painstakingly planned trips were abruptly canceled. You were barely leaving your house, much less boarding an airplane to travel to another country. So you started dreaming.

You were supposed to go back to Iceland this year. That’s obviously not happening. Active geysers, black-sand beaches, deep fjords, gurgling volcanoes, hidden hot springs, and powerful waterfalls were on your list. They all have to wait. There is one good thing about this frustrating delay, though. You have plenty of time to refine your itinerary for the land of fire and ice.

Refining your plans quickly turns into adding to your plans. There’s a lot more to South Iceland than you initially realized. The Golden Circle—Thingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gulfoss—is the starting point. Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, and Vatnajökull National Park are definite additions. So are Jökulsárlón and Reynisfjara. Now you’re thinking about Dverghamrar, Dyrhólaey, and even the Westman Islands. No wonder it’s the country’s most-visited region.

Photo: UMI Hotel

So it looks like you’ll be spending a lot more time on the south coast than you originally planned. This could now become a South Iceland trip—plus a few days in Reykjavík, of course—if you really wanted it to. There’s even a new boutique hotel, located just two kilometers off the Ring Road, that you can claim as your home base.

UMI Hotel took over an abandoned farm near Eyjafjallajökull, the pesky volcano that disrupted European air travel a decade ago. Its long, low-rise building has a view of the volcanic mountains, Holtsós (a tidal lagoon), Heimaey (the largest of the Westman Islands), and the gray Atlantic Ocean. Breki, the Umi family’s dog, greets every guest and shows them into the lounge. Its bar and fireplace are the heart of the hotel. Seafood, lamb, and skyr are served in the restaurant. Chairs on the terrace face the setting sun. While a path leads down to a windswept beach. There’s no doubt you’re in Iceland.

The rooms are the last pieces of this puzzle. There are only 28 of them. Each one is simple in its design and cozy with its accents. Your double room features a king-size bed, a sleek bathroom, and Sóley Organics toiletries. The best part continues to be the view. At least it is in your dreams. You’re ready to see it—and return to Iceland—yourself.

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