We started our Icelandic trip by bouncing up and down rough roads in a Jeep hired from Lotus Cars Rental. We would stop from time to time to look into a pool of volcanic water, admire the waterfalls and the impressive mountains. Deserted roads, no buildings, no trees and no people. Not uncommon travelling in Iceland. It was total bliss to watch this dramatic landscape unfold in front of our eyes and to enjoy every minute of its solitude and quiet.
Arriving at Krauma was experiencing nature from its core, this geothermal baths located in Reykholt, one hour and a half’s drive from Reykjavik is where the hot water originates from Europe’s most powerful hot spring in Deildartunguhver, at a temperature of 100 °C (212 °F). To achieve the perfect bathing temperature, the water is cooled down with cold water from Rauðsgil, which originates in the glacier nearby, the smallest glacier in Iceland.
Unlike some of the other baths in Iceland, Krauma does not lean so much on the area's natural beauty as much as its modern aesthetics. This was a collaboration with the architect Brynhildur Sólveigardóttir, the owner of Akkur Arkitektar, known for its advanced and cool designs. The layout is organic compared to the building’s geometric forms, the soft shapes reflecting the natural flow of the water.
It has a total of six baths, five warm and one cold. The baths only feature blunted soft shapes which create an interesting contrast to the square design of the buildings. Two of the baths are large and spacious, another two are shaped in the form of cochlea and a third is shaped like a large plate where guests can relax in the water while sunbathing. Last but not least is the cold bath (5 °C to 8 °C) for those who want to jump-start their blood circulation.
There is also a distinctive room for mediation and relaxation featuring soothing music and a crackling fireplace. The natural materials excavated during the construction of Krauma were also reused for roofs and support walls surrounding the building; the result is a natural yet modern look.
Krauma first opened in November 2017. Given the situation the whole world has been going through, it has been successful in keeping open when regulations for the pandemic have allowed. From 2021 Krauma will generate its own electricity with a 40 kW ORC unit to cool down the water in Krauma geothermal baths, this will be done by cooling down the hot water using the ORC on the water’s way to the pools, a considerable amount of cold water can be saved. Thus a more environmental-friendly and sustainable way of operation will be realized for Krauma.
Krauma has two steam baths in separate buildings along with outdoor showers. The steam is created by spraying water from the hot springs under timber benches located in the steam baths. There is also a restaurant that serves delicious Icelandic cuisine sourced from local farms and producers in Borgarbyggð.
As the sun comes down and we feel totally relaxed, the scenery around us remains breathtakingly striking, and sadly our exciting exploration of the Icelandic countryside comes to an end until next time, that is.