Blue Lagoon Options Demystified
My husband is not a spa guy. But I dragged him along for a five-hour experience at the Retreat Spa at the Blue Lagoon. It is the last full day of our trip to Iceland, and I thought it would be fitting to unwind and relax. Turned out it was a good choice.
We are spending our last night in one of the Blue Lagoon’s two hotels. The Retreat Hotel had a two-night minimum for the weekend (and it’s a Saturday), so we are at the sister property Silica Hotel. As I sit typing this, I have a full view of one of the Lagoon’s milky-blue tentacles against the black lava. It’s beautiful.
Iceland’s most famous geothermal spa is not a natural site, but man-made in the 1980s with water supplied by the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power station; basically, it’s the wastewater by-product from the plant. Someone was a marketing genius. Open year-round, the Lagoon is located in a lava field about 45 minutes from Reykavik and about 20 from Keflavik airport. Its 100-degree warm waters welcome an average of 3,000 people a day in the public area.
The water is naturally renewed every 40 hours and due to its rich mineral content is reported to have restorative powers. It’s comfortable for adults to move around because the depth varies between waist and chest height. Both hotels have private lagoons and include entry to the world-famous Blue Lagoon. You don’t actually have to stay at one of the hotels to make a reservation at the Retreat Spa.
Staying at either hotel, or visiting the Spa, gets you direct access to the big lagoon, and each hotel has its own private lagoon as well. I think the private lagoon at the Silica Hotel is prettier, but both provide a much more private experience.
The five-hour Retreat experience includes a private changing/shower room and three full body skin treatments you apply yourself with the guidance of the friendly, helpful staff: salt, silica, and algae. You can also spend time in the relaxation areas, which include a lava room with water features, hanging nest baskets, sauna, steam, cold plunge pool (no way), the private lagoon, and my favorite, the fire lounge. In this room, comfy seating and platform bedding are placed around a fire pit with, what else, lava rocks. No cell phones or photos are allowed in the Spa (sorry). During our visit on a Saturday in June, it was never too crowded, sometimes we were the only ones in an area. You enter the big public lagoon through a secret door that leads out of the spa from an indoor pool (note, you cannot access the public lagoon from within Silica).
At first, I thought 5 hours might be too long, but it really does take that amount of time to get through the various stages, experience all the specialty areas, and see the lagoons. You start with a shower (which is why it’s nice to have a private area), and they recommend you put conditioner in your hair to protect it from drying out. You keep showering after every stage but are in your swimsuit after the first. Before you know it, it’s time to go, and you are well set up to shower privately a final time before leaving. Your changing room is equipped with a huge walk-in double shower, lots of towels, bathrobes, flip flops, dryer, flat iron, bath gel, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotions. Warning, the bag they give you for wet swimwear is not very thick – bring your own, I was glad I did.
We enjoyed a really nice lunch in the spa restaurant, and there are ample opportunities and encouragement to stay hydrated. Everyone who goes into the Blue Lagoon is provided a towel and silica mud mask as well as a complimentary drink. The hotels have the same drink benefit, but you can choose to have your drink in the hotel bar, which is what we did. The Spa also offers various treatments, but we passed on those. Hotel and Spa guests are given plastic wristbands that serve as electronic room keys and access to all private areas.
There are two nice restaurants for dinner – Lava and Moss. Moss is the fancier, but Lava was lovely. You can access Lava from the Blue Lagoon or from the Retreat Hotel. The hotels can shuttle you between the locations, or you can take a long walk.
Keep in mind, no matter your choice of visiting the Blue Lagoon directly, staying at a hotel, or going to the Spa, you should make advance reservations. In every case, you will have to take an au natural shower before you enter the water.
I can see why many, including those in their teens, 20s, and 30s, would prefer the more festive environment in the public portion of the Blue Lagoon. But for my money and relaxation, it was fun to experience it for a bit and then move back to a more private setting.
It was a lovely way to finish off two busy weeks in the land of fire and ice.