In the world of tourism, increasingly focussed on providing high end luxury to the discerning traveller, often removed from the immediate natural environment to enhance a feeling of pampered comfort, Hotel Budir on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland must come as a breath of fresh air to those seeking authentic travel experiences around the globe. Dating back to the infant days of modern day tourism in Iceland, now providing more revenue that the traditional old fisheries or more recent heavy industries relying on the abundant geothermal and hydroelectric energy supplies of the country, Hotel Budir is ideally situated at the outskirts of what must be considered one of the most interesting and naturally beautiful national parks in Western Europe.
The park was established to protect and conserve the area´s unique landscape, indigenous plant and animal life as well as important historical relics while allowing visitors to explore the region in a sustainable way, paying tribute to its rich cultural and geological history. The park´s main attraction is of course Snæfellsjökull Glacier that dominates the surroundings, being the only national park in Iceland to reach the island´s shores. Mount Snæfellsjökull is an active volcano which has moulded the neighbouring landscape now adorned with moss covered lava fields, crates, caves, sea cliffs rich with bird wildlife and sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see. In this serene environment many claim to find empowering energy disseminating from the mount while the notable French author Jules Verne drew inspiration from the glacier for his novel, Voyage au centre de la Terre depicting it as a gateway to the centre of the Earth.
Whether you visit this remote and peaceful place during the magical dark months of winter in search of the aurora borealis or exposed to the ethereal light of the Icelandic summer you will be spoilt for choice of exciting activities to undertake while enjoying the comfort of Hotel Budir for rest a relaxation after an eventful day. You can have your selection of organised trips, helicopter tours, horse back riding, hiking, sea- or river-angling, whale watching or conquering the glacier with the experienced guides of eco friendly tour operator Go West. A number of museums are of interest in the region, among them The Shark Museum and The Volcano Museum in Stykkishólmur managed by one the world´s leading specialists in volcanology, professor Haraldur Sigurðsson. Whatever tickles your fancy, the concierge will be most willing to tailor any activities to your needs and interests.
And then return to the comfort of your hotel to enjoy the culinary delights this place is renowned for, not surprisingly for its many ways of preparing line-caught Icelandic fish from the nearby waters. Sourcing fresh ingredients directly from local farmers and fishermen, you embark on a journey of tastes reflecting the best Icelandic cuisine has to offer. Fish of the day will never disappoint with seasonal vegetables and local herbs while skyr and whey cheese with pear and apple compote, ryebread flakes and raspberry will give you that sense of delightful unfamiliarity that is in fact the essence of this destination, as if transposed to another world.
After a hearty meal you can enjoy a digestive from an extensive collection of cognacs and armagnacs in the comfortable seating area of the bar, admiring one of the most remarkable views you will ever be likely to find from a hotel lounge, or indeed retreat to one of the 28 comfortable guest rooms, all modest but tasteful in proportions and decoration with the calming effect of the view of the magnificent landscape surrounding the hotel, nearly without a man made structure in sight; the glacier, the sea, the mountains, the lava fields.
Finding a moment to reflect on where you are in such a special corner of the world you may well give thought to the people inhabiting this harsh land for centuries in Iceland´s relatively short history since its settlement in the year 874. One of these people may be of interest to those visiting from America, Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir, wife of Þorfinnur Karlsefni Þórdarson, who gave birth to a son in about 1004, during their stay in Vinland, now Newfoundland. This son, Snorri Þorfinnsson, is considered to be the first child of European descent to be born in North America and Guðríður´s farm, Laugarbrekka, from where she embarked on her journey and is commemorated, is a short drive from Hotel Budir.
You certainly may consider yourself well travelled having found this remarkable place but your journeys may fade compared to what Guðríður achieved in her day, crossing oceans eight times and traversing Europe on foot before reaching Rome. By comparison, cruising over Icelandic terrain in our sturdy and reliable vehicle from Lotus Cars may seem insignificant, yet we feel privileged to have had the opportunity to explore this region and enjoy its culture and comfort, sustained with respect to the environment, recently accruing international accolades such as the EarthCheck and Green Globe environmental and travel certifications. We return to the metropole energised by the mount of magic, growing ever more magical in the evening sun.