Mention Iceland and you often conjure images of glaciers, waterfalls, volcanoes and most of all, the Northern Lights. Electrifying lights dancing in the night skies, lighting up the darkness with all kinds of color – this phenomenon occurs in few places in the world, and Iceland happens to be one of the best spots to see them. Like many others, we were here in Iceland to hopefully catch the Aurora Borealis in its full glory.
As part of our attempt to see the Northern Lights in action, we based ourselves at Aurora Central, Hotel Rangá. This countryside resort is not just a hotel on its own right, it’s a world-acclaimed expert in Northern Lights, specializing in aurora forecasts, studies and photography. Surrounded by the volcano Mt Hekla and a range of mountains and glaciers and the Atlantic Ocean, the resort’s geographical location in South Iceland creates perfect conditions for the phenomenon. In fact, Hotel Rangá has been dubbed the best place on Earth from which to witness the Aurora Borealis by The Sunday Times Travel Magazine.
Upon arriving at the country lodge, it’s hard to associate this charming and humble wooden lodge with worldwide fame. Standing lonesome in the midst of rolling hills, by the Rangá River, the hotel looked like a traditional family-style cottage: cosy, warm and welcoming. Once inside, I was swept off my feet by a world of sophistication. Within the glazed wooden walls were elegant leather furnishing, stylish designs, state-of-the-art facilities and a touch of countryside traditions. Retaining the alpine feel, the hotel manages to provide four-star comforts in the remote, country setting.
The hotel also has its in-house restaurant to thank for such worldwide fame: its acclaimed gourmet restaurant is popular with both tourists and locals alike, especially attracting Rekis who drive out to dine here on weekends (the hotel is just one hour from Reykjavik). Best known for adopting the concept of a ‘Farmers Market’, the restaurant uses only local ingredients of the highest quality and freshness, including fresh salmon right out of the Rangá River straight to it kitchen.
Featuring a gigantic polar bear figure as a centerpiece, the hotel’s lobby leads to rows of tastefully designed rooms and suites. The World Pavillion suites at Hotel Rangá literally brings you around the world in seven days – with each suite designed and themed after each of the seven continents (I found the Africa suite to be particularly attractive). We opted for something simpler: its deluxe room featuring wooden panels, white sofas and a balcony that opened up to an outdoor hot-tub and a gorgeous view of the river.
Magic of the Northern Lights
Every evening, we would return from our action-packed excursions in the area (including ice-climbing on the nearby Sólheimajökull Glacier and hiking the recently-erupted Eyjafjallajökull Volcano) to soak away our exhaustion in the bubbling hot tubs at sunset. Under the starlight, we would step outside to keep watch over the skies, hoping to catch a glimpse of the magic. We requested for the hotel’s 24-hour round-the-clock wake-up call service to give us a nudge if the Northern Lights ever made an appearance. Although at the end of our stay, we didn’t manage to catch any Northern Lights – we weren’t the least bit disappointed, because we know we would be back – with another excuse to see the aurora and perhaps, to enjoy this unique experience at Hotel Rangá once again.
Our stay at Hotel Rangá was sponsored by the hotel, while our Aurora Nights experience was hosted by Discover the World. All opinions expressed above are my own. Read more about my adventures in Iceland here or follow my updates on Facebook and Twitter.