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Sleep beside a volcano and bathe in ash at this Icelandic power plant turned hotel

If you were planning a trip to the Nordic island country of Iceland, how probable would it be that you’d book a few nights at an abandoned power plant? The answer to this question is likely “not probably at all,” but you should know that the abandoned power plant in question isn’t the stuff of horror movies. This once-decrepit building actually received a gorgeous face-lift from a Santa Monica, California-based design studio named Minarc five years ago, then reopened as the ION Adventure Hotel. Did we mention it also sits at the foot of the active Mount Hengill volcano? Yeah, we’re salivating at the prospect of staying here, too.

Despite its abandoned past, the now-remodeled ION Adventure Hotel is the perfect combination of style and comfort while remaining incredibly friendly to the environment. Built using a prefabricated paneled building system, the additions to the existing structure reportedly exceed environmentally safe building standards. Furthermore, each room’s sink was built using recycled tire rubber, while the electricity used throughout the building is generated via the cooling of volcanic water beneath ION. Used water is also cleaned and filtered before being redeposited beneath the hotel, where it can be used again.


“As we were talking about the concept, from the beginning, we were very determined to make it as sustainable as possible,” said ION Adventure Hotel owner Sigurlaug Sverrisdottir. “A profound sense of connection to and responsibility toward the natural environment is a big part of what it means to be Icelandic.”

Sverrisdottir’s passion for country shines bright in terms of the hotel’s interior. Local rock and repurposed wood adorn the insides of ION and its 45 rooms, which are more than aesthetically pleasing when set against Mount Hengill and the area’s lush surroundings. Additionally, the hotel boasts an authentic farm-to-table restaurant, as well as a partly exposed spa that allows visitors to relax and make use of its mineral-rich volcanic ash and clay.

“We know that we cannot control the weather, cannot control volcanoes, earthquakes,” Sverrisdottir added. “We’ve learned how to live with and respect nature.”

Aside from the hotel’s pure beauty and the fact it’s a wildly attractive destination, Sverrisdottir hopes more than anything that its innovative sustainability practices catch on with other area hotels and tour groups. To her, that’s “what Iceland is all about.”

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