Iceland is has a well-deserved reputation for being drop-dead-gorgeous. It is.
It also has a reputation for being fairly expensive. For the most part, that’s true too.
Though we tend to stay in more private, comfortable accommodation options these days, our desired locations and activities always drive our decisions. If there’s only basic accommodation in the area we’re headed, we go regardless. If we want to travel long term, we tend to favour hostels and Airbnbs apartments to help cut down on our spending (with the added bonus of meeting other travellers and locals). If we’re headed to an expensive area, you can be sure we’ll reduce the amount we spend on accommodation, putting our savings towards amazing activities, as opposed to missing out on those.
So when we found ourselves looking at accommodation in Iceland, we knew we’d have to look at alternatives. We were there to see the country, not blow our budget on hotels – after all, nobody goes to Iceland just to sit inside their fancy room (though if you are looking for one, we know just the place where you can treat yourself!)
Located in an old biscuit factory and decorated with salvaged materials, this hostel has a distinctively eclectic, industrial feel – one that’s impossible to miss. It’s also known locally for hosting the best musicians in town – one of our tour guides even recommended it as the place to be come evening.
Funky, quirky and certainly memorable, Kex provided us with everything we needed in a comfortable base.
What We Loved About Kex:
- Kex is well located, a comfortable walk from the centre of the city. As far as position goes, the hostel is spot on.
- Breakfast is hearty, filling and plentiful. It’s reasonably rustic – don’t come expecting pancakes and eggs cooked to order – but for a hostel, it’s easily the best we’ve ever seen.
- Earplugs are on offer at the front desk free of charge – take some! Though our roommates (we were in a four person co-ed room) were incredibly respectful, there was a fair bit of noise coming from outside on the first night of our stay. I made the mistake of passing on the earplug and regretted my decision for a number of hours as I lay there, wishing the noise away. Learn from my mistake a grab a few packets! We used them the next few nights and slept really well – no complaints from us.
- The quirky vibe of the place was awesome. Kex has a unique feel to it – it makes you take yourself a little less seriously (which is never a bad thing).
- There’s a room configuration (and quality) to suit a range of travellers. Sure, it’s not a high-end, boutique offering, but with a range of rooms from industrial mixed dorms right through to private hotel-style rooms (which come with private bathrooms – yes!), there are plenty of options on offer.
- If you’re travelling by yourself or would just like someone else to take care of your activities, they offer a selection of day trips from Reykjavik – too easy.
- There’s free WiFi and a fully equipped kitchen (another great way to save money in Iceland – we found eating in to be significantly cheaper than eating out).
Things to Note:
- In true European fashion, showering is a communal affair at Kex. I remember the feeling that washed over me when I first walked into the woman’s bathroom to find all of the shower heads grouped in the one big cubical – I must admit, my first thought certainly wasn’t “oh yea!”. With that said, there are a few unisex single showers so as long as you’ve got time on your side, you are able to have a private shower if you prefer. One morning we had to race out the door and the single showers weren’t available so I braved the communal one – it turns out I shouldn’t have been worried at all – not a single soul walked in whilst I was in there (but I still get kudos for being brave so it’s win-win).
- Being right by the city, Kex doesn’t have any private parking. This means that, if you’re driving, you’ll either need to figure out the pay and display machines out front, use the carpark building a few hundred meters down the road or do as we did – check out the spots around town and then come back once the free parking begins (which, from memory was at 6pm – just don’t overstay your welcome the next morning as we did see a car get ticketed).
Though Kex houses 215 guests, we never once felt crowded or like we saw even a portion of those guests. Granted it wasn’t absolute peak season whilst we were there but the private rooms were fully booked, leading us to believe they were running at a fairly high level of occupancy.
If you’re looking for a polished, luxury hotel, there’s no doubt this isn’t the place for you. However, if you’re looking for a bit of fun and a hostel you won’t soon forget, Kex could be the place for you!
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Thank you to Kex Hostel for so kindly hosting us for the purpose of this review. As always, all thoughts are our own.