I don’t know how people planned trips to Europe, or anywhere for that matter, prior to the Internet.
I remember the days when we relied on travel agents, and looking at the planning going into my trip to Iceland and beyond, I have a newfound respect for their services. It was a mere 25-30 years ago where you could find a travel agent in most Cities in the USA, and I have many memories of my Father planning trips to Disney and Florida in general through travel agents.
With those days far behind us, the Internet has provided us the strength and knowledge we need to get from point A, to point B, and beyond.
Europe, and more precisely, Iceland, were on our minds, so we took our search online. We joined Facebook groups, studied blogs, and did everything possible to have the upper hand in learning where to stay, how to get there, and most importantly, not getting robbed along the way. Living in Costa Rica for many years had me feeling like a local, and when you live in a foreign land, you know the local prices. You also know the tourist prices. Being fair skinned, I was always quoted tourist prices by aggressive taxi drivers and operators of tourist attractions, only to pipe up “Yo Vivo aqui, no Soy tourista, mae.”
I live here, I’m not a tourist, dude.
The good old days of having that upper hand felt good. However, this is a new journey, and a new adventure. Iceland, here we come!
How We Planned Our Trip to Iceland
First off, we had a TON of trouble finding a luxury hotel. There is so much information out there that is so conflicting. Some people said the Hotel 101 is right up our alley. Others said it’s a dump. I consulted a tour company, (more on that later) and they said they have no experience with the hotel.
Hmmmm…..is this like the Barbados, where if you have nothing good to say, you say nothing at all? That happened ALL the time to us in the Barbados. I’d rather get real, raw opinions instead of everyone being so neutral. Then again, in small countries, if you talk bad about a place, word is bound to get back to the person or business you were trashing!
My girlfriend found out that Kim Kardashian stayed at the One Hotel, which I thought about staying at prior to booking the SandHotel, which seemed to have a bit more recommendations on Facebook groups.
I didn’t find any negative SandHotel reviews (mine is now posted here) other than some people were complaining about the noise on lower floors. There is a club located near by, and apparently the noise spilled over. On the positive side, there is a famous bakery located next door to it, so if all else fails, we’ll just eat tons of sweets and carbs. Locals eat Fermented Shark, and although I have the stomach of a crocodile, you never know how I’ll react to that. (Update coming soon.)
After booking our flights, the secured the SandHotel. Again, we were pulled in MANY different directions prior to booking this, and we were sick of the back and forth game, so we just made a leap of faith. The reviews on TripAdvisor looked like this when we pulled the trigger, so it was hard to argue with the perfect rating:
Travel Hack for Booking Hotels:
I found that Booking.com’s interface is the best way to book a hotel anywhere – not just Iceland. I just started using this frequently and absolutely love the way they showcase reviews, prices, and availability. You can book right through their site while comparing hotels. This is my go-to way to book trips now. Check out what I mean below:
Pictured above is a photo from the Sandholt bakery adjacent to the Sandhotel. It’s one of the most popular spots to eat breakfast and it’s absolutely delicious!
Private Tours in Iceland
We ended up doing a custom tour for the day which included a hike, a visit (and entry) to the Blue Lagoon, as well as a trip to see the Northern Lights, all private, for the price listed below.
Note: There were definitely cheaper options, but this option felt best. Being quite ‘ADD’ we felt the need to be on our own and pick up and leave places when we felt like it, rather than wait for a group to finish up or slow down the excursion. While the price is high, we have high hopes for this trip!
This was booked through: deluxeiceland.is and I HIGHLY recommend you book your tour through them. We found the experience first class all the way, and the convenience of a private guide and driver was something that made the trip extra special. Further details of my experience are noted below in the Deluxe Iceland review.
Resources You Should Consult:
- Iceland – Tips for Travelers (FB Group)
- Blog About Iceland
- Iceland Q & A
- What type of food do they serve in Iceland?