ow would you like to disappear to one of the most beautiful spots in the globe for a few days? We were lucky enough to do just that and visit Iceland last month, spending a few days in her capital city, Reykjavik. Although is was a bit too early in the season for the 20-hours of daily sunlight that gives Iceland the nickname “land of the midnight sun”, we found Iceland to be one of the most majestic, breathtaking and naturally beautiful countries we have visited yet. One of our favorite finds was Kex Hostel, nestled in on a quiet street just two blocks from Reykjavik’s main drag, Laugavegur.
Limited private rooms are available
If sharing lodging with fellow global nomads suits your fancy, you’ll find a growing number of social hostels are breaking out of the traditional hostel format, creating destination properties for what we would consider a generationally-driven subculture of travelers. Kex Hostel is a gem in a sea of such properties. A large part of the appeal is the atmosphere, which we found to be timeless.
The idea for the Kex Hostel came about when a couple of friends were scouting the abandoned biscuit factory (Kex means biscuit in Icelandic) for a movie location. The spot captured their hearts and soon they were imagining the place bustling with lively patrons, great eats and social gatherings. They didn’t at first envision a place for lodging, but upon investigating the space and its infrastructure further, the team realized the value and potential of it all and made plans to build Kex Hostel.
left: Bar, serving brandless draught beer | right: Saemundur i Sparifotunum gastro pub
Halfdan Pedersen, a partner in Kex and movie set designer, embarked on the creating the spaced which him and his partners envisioned. All three floors of the old factory were stripped and Pedersen had the perfect blank canvas. Working from references to Bob Dylan, Neil Young, vinyl albums, Björn Borg, Paul Weller, Paul Smith advertisements, barbershops, and industrial buildings, Pedersen’s perfect hang out was conceived. Walls were moved, knocked down, and built. The floors were built with reclaimed wood. Pedersen and his wife travelled all over the US and Europe to outfit Kex with pristine mid century furniture and fixtures, including Amish church benches, lamps from WWII bunkers, Bauhaus lamps, and cabinets from a tabac.
The travel library
Beyond serving the basic lodging needs of budget minded travelers, Kex Hostel is a destination for the latest Icelandic culture. It’s hosted live music, concerts, movie premieres, and art parties in its lounge areas and outdoor patio (heated of course). Locals frequently drop in to enjoy fresh seafood and craft beer at the gastro pub. From the typography of its stationary its playlists, every small detail of the patron experience has been considered. Kex Hostel has paid careful attention to create a authentic, cool environment, so much so that any previously negative associations with hostel lodging will be erased from your mind. And for those hesitant to stay in room with strangers, don’t worry, Kex offers private rooms.