In each installment of Hotel Report, I profile a hotel that I’ve personally enjoyed and think you’ll enjoy too. Here, you’ll find the need-to-know info, insider tips and photos that’ll help you have a perfect stay of your own.
REASONS TO STAY
You want to get way off the beaten path and experience Iceland like few other travelers.
You’re serious about adventure, but also the finer things in life // You want to heli ski someplace unique and untouched.
Deplar Farm as seen from the front // The original, but totally renovated, 1,500 square foot farm house sits at the front of the property.
Deplar Farm as seen from the back // Naturally blended into the original farmhouse, the property is now 28,000 square feet.
The property is low-lying and feels at home in the environment with its turf roof // Seen here: one of the hot tubs.
The back deck.
The side deck…and one of the helicopters parked in the front yard.
Troll Peninsula, Iceland // A remote area along the north central coast
Roughly the location of Deplar Farm (just a little to the left).
Deplar Farm’s custom Mercedes Sprinter (the most comfortable way to conquer almost any terrain) // The vehicle picks up guests from Akureyri Airport, a small airport in the country’s north, 40-minutes via plane from Reykjavik. Airport transfers are included in the cost of your stay.
The back road to Deplar Farm // This mountain pass is normally impassable in winter (but conditions during my trip were favorable). Arriving via this road makes it feel even more like you’re traveling to the end of the earth // The drive from Akureyri Airpot takes about two hours via the main roads; 45 minutes less when you take the mountain pass.
The “main” road to Deplar Farm, a one-lane country road, is also a stunning drive.
The unassuming mailbox and sign at the end of the driveway.
Deplar Farm is owned by experiential travel company Eleven Experience, whose small collection of exclusive and intimate adventure lodges specialize in crafting over-the-top outdoor experiences for discerning travelers — or as Eleven Experience calls them, “Adventure Capitalists.” Eleven Experience also has outposts in Colorado, the Bahamas, Florida, the Netherlands and France.
The 13-bedroom property is, without question, the most high end hotel in the country. However, it’s far from stuffy. The vibe and the staff are warm, friendly and relaxed (they actually don’t like to call themselves a “hotel” because they say that sounds too impersonal). Here, you feel like you’re allowed to kick your feet up and relax — becasue, well, you are.
To illustrate that point, people have been known to wear a bathrobe to dinner and I felt right at home, unpacking my suitcase into my bedroom’s dresser, wearing my slippers to breakfast and never feeling the need to lock my door when I left my room. Basically, staying at Deplar Farm is more like staying in someone’s home than it is a hotel.
Being here, tucked away in this remote mountain valley, I felt like I’d been let in on a secret and granted access to a world few get to see.
The indoor hot tub // Directly to its right, the pool begins inside and continues outside (guests can swim under the wall and into the outdoor portion of the pool).
The hot, freeform pool features a swim up bar (housed in the little bunker to the left).
Me enjoying the pool…and the view.
Sauna #1: the indoor sauna with a glass wall to take in the view.
Sauna #2: the outdoor sauna, housed under a turf mound.
The gym. Again, it’s all about the view.
The yoga studio // Several types of yoga classes can be arranged — including apre ski yoga (focused on stretching your muscles after a long day skiing).
One of the several places to sit and enjoy the view (outside of the dining room and next to one of the hot tubs).
Above, two of the several indoor sitting areas.
The large bar/lounge has as pool table, foosball table and ping pong table. It’s a welcoming and comfortable room — and usually the location of pre-dinner drinks.
While a trip to Deplar Farm can be adventure-packed (horseback riding, surfing, snowmobiling, hiking…) it’s also a perfect place to kick back and relax. Travelers organizing their own trip and adventures around Iceland should consider finishing their journey with two nights of Deplar Farm to simply enjoy the beautiful property, pool, spa and feeling of being far, far away (plus, a nightly rate excluding activities is the most affordable way to visit).
Eleven Experience specializes in crafting unique and over-the-top experiences. While planning your trip, work with your Eleven Experience experience manager well in advance if you’d like to organize custom excursions (like a helicopter ride into the mountains for a picnic or custom heli ski trips).
Come ready to have fun and meet new friends! A gourmet dinner is served nightly at a long communal dining table where you can meet other guests and discuss the day’s adventures. Private meals can also be arranged. Also, while Deplar Farm is serious about adventure and providing top-notch experiences, they don’t take themselves too seriously — for example: don’t be surprised if someone pulls out a rack of costumes for a costume party.
The spa lounge area.
The dining room.
Costumes night // Guests and guides jamming on the fully equipped bandstand.
The Best Room
While you likely won’t be disappointed with any of the 13 rooms at Deplar Farm, my selections are the four Gallery Rooms (the Frigg, Auður, Freyja and Skaði) and the Flóki.
Of the four Gallery Rooms, which are identical in size and layout, I recommend the Frigg or the Auður which face southwest and feature a dramatic view of the mountains. However, the Freyja and Skaði, which face northwest and feature a field and lake view, won’t disappoint.
The Flóki, a room located on the attic level of the original farmhouse structure, is spacious yet cozy with its separate living space, slanted ceilings and views in three directions. Deplar Farm describes this room as “arguably the nicest.”
One of four spacious Gallery Rooms. Each features a comfortable king bed, bathroom with steam shower, balcony and loft.
The ladder leading up to my Gallery Room’s loft.
Each Gallery Room’s loft features a hammock (a surprising touch) as well as a double bed.
The original farmhouse portion of the building houses the Flóki room, mentioned above. It’s located at the top left of the building.
HOW TO SPEND YOUR TIME
A stay at Deplar Farm can be as action-packed or a relaxed as you want. Several activities are included in the all-inclusive rate, but trips with Eleven Experience can also be highly customized and only limited by what guests can dream up, and of course, the depth of their pockets.
In the winter, which in this region usually lasts into June (with April and May typically seeing the best snow), activities include trips to hot springs, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, horseback riding, whale watching, surfing and skeet shooting. But the main draw in winter, for most, is the skiing.
For kids (or new skiers) Deplar Farm has their own ski cat which is used to climb the gradually sloping hills directly outside the front and back doors. Then, there’s the heli skiing programs (I did the four day, four night program). Taking off directly from the front lawn, guests chopper into the surrounding mountains to ski terrain that few others have. Custom heli ski trips to further afield locations, including glaciers and volcanos, can also be arranged. Fun fact: if a guest skis a run no one has ever skied before, they get to name it.
Deplar Farm is also a dream destination for fly fishers — the season begins around April 1st — so it’s possible to heli ski in the morning, then take the helicopter to a nearby river to fly fish in the afternoon.
In summer, activities include hiking, sea/lake/river kayaking, trips to hot springs, surfing, mountain biking, private whale watching tours, stand up paddle boarding, horseback riding, skeet shooting and private sailing trips to nearby islands. Customized fly fishing trips as well as white water rafting are offered for an extra charge.
Deplar Farm’s guides are highly trained, certified and have years of experiences guiding around the world (including at Eleven Experience’s skiing operation in Crested Butte, Colorado). Left: guide Alan Bernholtz (who used to be the mayor of Crested Butte) introduces us to helicopter safety. Right: guide Mike Barney teaches us how to use an avalanche beacon.
Jumping from mountaintop to mountaintop in the heli.
Guide Mike Barney helps bring the helicopter in for a landing.
Hiking up to a drop-in point. That’s me pulling up the rear. (Photo by Eleven Experience)
Me with the mountains to myself. (Photo by Eleven Experience)
That’s the Arctic Ocean in the background, top right. That dot on the mountain in the foreground is me, bottom right.
No tourists in sight.
Part of our group at the top of a mountain. We landed to the right and joined them.
One of the most memorable travel meals I’ve had: our gourmet picnic lunch served in the mountains while heli skiing.
A list of ski run names, with newly skied runs written in at the bottom.
Deplar Farm owns a fleet of snowmobiles. Exploring the local area is a must.
A waterfall spotted while snowmobiling.
Skeet shooting in Deplar Farm’s backyard.
Deplar Farm is about a 25-minute drive from the Arctic Ocean // There are two nearby farms from which to go horseback riding.
We drove to closest horse farm, mounted up and took the horses down a dirt road to the beach.
At the beach (where Deplar Farm owns an old fishing village warehouse which they eventually plan to renovate into a beach outpost for the hotel), we arrived to music and a bar set up by Deplar Farm.
The bartender served spiked hot chocolate, champagne, wine and beer.
There was also a bonfire.
Back at the hotel, enjoy the steam room (left) or a massage with a view // I got a deep tissue massage after my second day of skiing and it was incredible.
Watch the Northern Lights while soaking and sipping a cocktail in the pool // The photo was taken during my stay; I’m in the pool there somewhere. (Photo by Eleven Experience)
Try these unexpected amenities: float in a sensory deprivation chamber (the hotel has two) or take a dip in the ice-cold plunge pool
Deplar Farm is a year-round retreat, pictured here in summer. (Photo by Eleven Experience)
$1,000 – $3,000 per night, depending on the time of year and whether or not you choose a rate that includes or excludes activities and alcohol. All rates include all meals.
Seen here, the all inclusive, four day/four night heli skiing program (room, heli skiing, other activities, all meals and alcohol): $11,200 person
I was a guest of Deplar Farm. As always, my opinions are my own. My trip to Iceland was also featured on Business Insider. Check it out here.
All photos are mine except for those credited to Eleven Experience