As the magical Aurora Borealis has begun its swirling sky dance and the first snow has dusted the ethereal Icelandic landscape, now is the time for adventurers seeking thrills and chills. And with an impeccable touchdown at the newly-opened ION City Hotel in the country’s capital of Reykjavik, Nordic hospitality beckons the intrepid among us.
Here, a supremely stylish 18-room property is redefining the modern Icelandic experience, bringing together homegrown architectural heroes, top international design brands, and now with the opening of Sumac Grill + Drinks, a destination-dining worthy culinary program—and what’s more: a ‘speakeasy’ chef’s table soon to come. www.designhotels.com/Ion-city-hotel
As if the wild wonder of this Northern port of call wasn’t enough to lure, ION City Hotel is giving new reason for explorers of the country to stop and stay a while in the beating-heart city of Reykjavik. Located on the city’s main avenue Laugavegur, both the hotel and newly opened Sumac restaurant next-door enjoy a fortuitous vantage point to take in the city’s quaint yet lively street-level buzz. Designed by childhood friends of owner Sigurlaug Sverrisdóttir, the Icelandic raised and Santa Monica-based architecture firm Minarc brought their signature sleekness to both the hotel and the 86-seat restaurant. Floor-to- ceiling windows illuminate an airy and open space that’s both industrial and warm thanks to the generous splashes of rust-orange leather that offsets concrete and exposed pipes. An open kitchen is framed by emerald green tilework that creates the pattern work of fish scales, the background to which the carefully orchestrated cinema of the kitchen crew is framed. Think the international swagger of Beirut meets moody Reykjavik.
The country’s culinary Olympic team director Thrainn Freyr Vigfusson and Head Chef Hafsteinn Ólafsson—who was recently awarded Iceland’s Chef of 2017—have together brought to life the North African-tinged restaurant Sumac, using Icelandic ingredients prepared with spices commonly used in Morocco. The pair are taking inspiration from the region’s pristine seasonal ingredients and elevating them with the bold aromatics for which North Africa and Lebanon are known. Diners can expect convivial shared platters of mezze and grilled proteins like roasted cauliflower with cumin-spiced yogurt, fried cod cheeks and sumac aioli, or lamb ribs with lentils and grapes.
As this city’s dining scene begins to stake its claim on the international scene, Sumac is elevating the growing food and drink culture found here, and the soon to come Rót ‘speakeasy’ will solidify this address as a culinary destination in its own right. Opening discretely in January, Rót is an eleven-seat restaurant hidden behind Sumac Grill + Drinks. At Rót, expect ancient Icelandic traditions served with a contemporary twist and borrowing from across Europe. Guests in the know will find themselves seated in front of an interior reminiscent of Old Iceland where they are served a spirited 13-course dinner.