Hotel and Hostel Meet in Iceland’s Hlemmur Square

hotel and hostel meet in icelands hlemmur square
Klaus Ortlieb is a gregarious man. This quality is valuable in any person you meet, but especially so in a hotelier, a man who is responsible for creating places you will spend the night—for designing hotels all over the world. Hotels such as Claridge’s in London, the Excelsior Hotel in Cologne, Germany, and the Gotham Hotel in New York City.

Ortlieb’s generosity of spirit is evident in his latest creation, Hlemmur Square, the half-hostel, half-hotel located in beautiful Reykjavik, Iceland. “You are going to have the older people with money staying in the hotel and the younger kids staying in the hostel, but the bar will be filled with young and old alike. Who doesn’t want to be around young, beautiful people?”

The five-story Hlemmur Square building—formerly an early 20th century Reykjavik rest stop and then used as government offices—will hold hostel rooms that fit up to eighteen people on its lower floors and then change over to eighteen luxurious hotel rooms (all with balconies) on it’s upper floors. The unifying trait? Comfort and style.

“If a backpacker wants room service, they can have room service,” says Ortlieb. “All hostel beds have comfortable duvets and pillows. I call it an upscale hostel.”

This unique combination of hotel and hostel is what initially drew Ortlieb to the project. He also loved Reykjavik’s surrounding natural beauty as well as the “eccentric” quality of the Hlemmur Square building itself. The first floor, originally built in 1919, has significantly higher ceilings than the rest of the building, and over the years, as each successive floor was added, it came with its own particular designs. As Ortlieb describes it, from floor to floor “there was an evolution of heights and widths, as well as in the exterior.”

The other appeal of the project was that Ortlieb was the sole designer on the hotel-hostel from start to finish, something he had not done in any of his other hotels. He chose the furniture, paint colors, the lighting—everything. “I knew exactly what I wanted to do in Reykjavik. I wanted to bring old and new together and I felt that translating it all to an interior designer would be a disaster. It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it immensely.”

Though Hlemmur Square is currently in its soft opening phase, guests are already enjoying the communal bar (“There was already backpacker there who was hit on by every woman,” says Ortlieb). When the lodging fully opens, the restaurant, children’s playroom and in-house movie theater will be available to hostel and hotel guests alike.

“The Grand Opening will be on June 21, the longest day of the year. There’s twenty-two hours of daylight and we are going to have bands, horse carriage rides and young and old alike. It’s going to be a party—you just have to come!”

Klaus Ortlieb is a difficult man to say no to, especially when he is opening one of the most singular hotels in the Western Hemisphere.


The Sheats-Goldstein Residence Is Everything We Want in a House

Even if you don’t know the name, you know the Sheats-Goldstein Residence.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look Inside a Mattress Factory

A mattress is a mattress, right? Wrong.

Traditional Meets Contemporary Style at Casa Jardín 58, a Sleek Mexican Retreat

Sliding glass walls open up to perfectly manicured green spaces, blurring the line between inside and out.

Milk Barn is the Perfect Catskills Getaway and It Could Be Yours

Built in 1873, Milk Barn sits on 15 private acres and includes two guest houses, three glamping cabanas, a treehouse, and a spring-fed swimming pond.
Food & Drink

How to Eat Your Way Across Texas Barbecue Country

Brisket, brisket, and more brisket. Here’s how to eat it like a king in Texas barbecue country.
Food & Drink

Ohio Is Home to the World’s First Brewery Hotel (with In-room Taps!)

In-room taps and well-stocked shower fridges? Sign us up!
Food & Drink

Win a Luxurious Travel Cocktail Set In Honor of The Manual Spirit Awards

Only two can win. Will it be you? Enter to find out.

Tips for Staying Healthy on the Road from People Who Get Paid to Drink

Though spirits brand ambassadors have pretty much the coolest job ever, constant travel can take a serious toll. Here's how some of the best stay balanced on the go.

The View of an American Road Trip from the Back of a Motorcycle

When I was in architecture school I bought a small 250cc Honda Rebel a) because it was a cheap way to get around town and b) because it allowed me to explore the mountains near my university in a way I hadn’t experienced before. Mountains…

You Can Play Real-Life Mario Kart on the Streets of Tokyo

Banana peels and red turtle shells are strictly forbidden, but Mario mustaches are encouraged.
Fashion & Style

Peak Design’s Travel Line Is the Kind of Compartmentalized Luggage Bag We love

This bag has pockets inside pockets inside pockets!

5 Best Cities to Celebrate Oktoberfest Outside of Germany

Munich isn't the only place that loves lederhosen, märzen, and oompah bands.

Burstner Harmony 3 Is One of the Sexiest Camper Concepts We’ve Ever Seen

Sometimes "roughing it" should include an espresso maker and a rainfall shower.
Food & Drink

A Brief History of Oktoberfest and Why You Should Celebrate in 2018

How did a Bavarian wedding in the 1800s turn into the biggest beer celebration in the world?