Nick Hofstadter is among the inner circle of elite travel advisors in Los Angeles. When he's not planning over-the-top vacations for his high profile clients, Nick can usually be found eating his way through the world’s greatest cities and scoping out the latest luxury hotel openings. A proud Angeleno, Nick is a self-proclaimed luxury hotel junkie and travels the world to give his client’s his firsthand experience and expert advice on where to go next.
We sat down with Nick to get the skinny on his latest trip to Iceland and why this beautiful, quirky destination is a must-do for adventure seekers everywhere.
The beautiful scenery, the endless adventure activities the natural landscape provides and the people
Unspoiled, majestic, friendly
Either the Blue Lagoon or The Golden Circle. You can certainly find a natural hot spring in other locations, but the Blue Lagoon is known the world over and now there is a way to experience it in exclusive luxury, which is unique. The Golden Circle is a series of natural wonders located relatively close to one another, and again – you’ll certainly see waterfalls, glaciers and geysers elsewhere on earth, but not in such close proximity and at this level of grandeur.
The “innocence” in a certain way. It’s just about to hit the saturation point of tourism, which as of right now, the country can’t really the handle. The entire country has 330,000 people – Far less than NYC! Reykjavik isn’t a huge European capital like you might think it would be. There are really only two main streets with shopping and restaurants in its historic heart, the 101 neighborhood. Life is simple in certain respects – people are happy just living (even in the cold!), you don’t see any big designer stores there…it’s refreshing.
I loved the glacier hike. At one point, our guide bent over this narrow stream running down the glacier, cupped his hand into the stream and drank the water. I went “eww, really?!” After telling me it was the freshest water I would ever drink, he helped me plant my walking stick horizontally over the stream, get into a plank pose and advised me to just open my mouth and drink. It was indeed the most delicious water I’ve ever hand and an experience I’ll never forget.
You don’t go to Iceland for luxury. There are no destination hotels and the finest properties are four star at best. I definitely recommend staying in the 101 neighborhood where all the fun restaurants and shops are. I happened to really like the Konsulat, though once the Edition is finished, that will be a game changer. The Retreat Hotel at the Blue Lagoon was pretty stellar.
Modern and traditional seafood are seamlessly combined at Messinn. The honey and almond-crusted arctic char shouldn’t be missed and it’s a great place to try plokkfiskur, a classic dish that’s basically a fish and potato stew. The bread and butter was unexpectedly amazing, and the most famous restaurant is Reykjavik is a hot dog stand that has been there for almost a century! I hadn’t eaten a hot dog in 22 years, and I ended up eating the whole thing!
There are many adventurous things to do, and while the glacier hike was probably my favorite, I think snowmobiling in very poor visibility was the most thrill-seeking. Off-roading over lava in an ATV was also pretty awesome.
A majority of the signature experiences involve active travel, so if that’s not your thing, Iceland may not be the best destination for you. In addition, do expect a lot of driving with daytrips.
Packing the right clothes. You need to have layers because you’ll be in different temperatures. For example, it will always be warmer in Reykjavik and along the coast than it will be up on the glacier. And remember, you don’t go to Iceland for the luxury.
It depends. It’s certainly warmer in the summer and some clients may like that because of the more pleasant weather and the fact that a lot of the scenery isn’t covered in snow. However, the warmer weather means that some activities may not be available.
Lots of layers, waterproof hiking boots, gloves, waterproof pants. The lightweight puffy Uniqlo jackets and vests are great to stick in your day bag if you need it.
The Golden Circle and The Blue Lagoon.
The Golden Circle.