Old School Hospitality

Dorms become quality hotels - a brief history of Hotel Edda

Old School Hospitality

This year we celebrate the 55th anniversary of Hotel Edda. Ours is quite a unique story, rooted in the nation’s inherent characteristics that still to this day define our standard of service. If the somewhat harsh nature has taught us anything through the centuries, it is practicality and hospitality towards strangers. Therefore, it was perhaps inevitable that the boarding schools in the countryside, vacant during summer breaks, would assume a new role as the increasing intercontinental air travel in the 1950’s made Iceland a more viable destination for tourists.

At that time there was virtually no infrastructure available to travellers from abroad, outside the capital and a handful of the largest towns. One either had to camp in soggy tents or rely on the generosity of farmers or villagers. So how were we to accommodate the growing number of foreign visitors, waiting to see our waterfalls, glaciers and barren highlands? The answer was obvious: New and modern boarding schools were strategically positioned around the country, with all the facilities and readily available, since summer breaks were exceptionally long to allow students to return home to work on the family farms during the busiest months of May to September.

And so Hotel Edda came to be in the spring of 1961 at the boarding schools at Laugarvatn and Akureyri, soon to be followed by more than a dozen locations in other parts of the country. Over the next decade, the makeshift summer hotels proved to beneficial to both travellers and locals alike, offering the former a good place to stay while enjoying the spectacular nature and the latter a fresh job opportunity in an ever-growing service sector.

Most things were different back then. Travelling around the country was extremely time consuming. Rough, single-lane gravel roads were the only available option and the largest glacial rivers weren’t bridged until 1974 but had to be forded when and if conditions allowed. And although only some of the country schools are still operated and the accommodation at Hotel Edda has changed from dorm rooms to comfortable hotel rooms of modern quality, our staff still welcomes visitors with the relaxed attitude of someone offering up their home for a weary traveller. We call it, fittingly, old-school hospitality.

Welcome to Hotel Edda.