Trip To Iceland This Summer?

There are some destinations that have been at the top of my list of places to visit for a very long time. For whatever reason I never get around to visiting them, and seem to always say “next year.”

When planning my travel I’m usually looking for a combination of:

  • A destination I want to visit
  • A destination with interesting hotels to review
  • A destination I can get to on great airlines using miles efficiently

Anyway, at the top of my list of places to visit is Iceland, though I’ve just been perpetually pushing it off. There’s no doubt it’s an interesting destination to visit, there are interesting (though not especially luxurious) hotels to review, but it’s the third point that causes me to always push it off.

There aren’t really any especially fun or value-maximizing ways to get there. I mean, I’m not going to be flying Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, or Singapore first class to get there.

But I’ve decided that it’s time to put that aside and visit Iceland… I think.

Here’s how far I’ve gotten in my research:

Booking a flight to Iceland

A nonstop roundtrip economy fare to Iceland this summer is $1,200+.

Iceland-Airfare

One of the cool things that Icelandair does is a “free Iceland” stopover. Basically they’re trying to establish themselves as an airline you can fly between the US and Europe, and to boost tourism in Iceland they offer a free stopover in Iceland on any fare. In other words, if you book a fare from New York to Stockholm on Icelandair, it won’t cost you any extra to spend some time in Reykjavik.

So if you’re going to pay $1,200+ to fly just to Iceland, you might as well pay an extra $100 to connect to Stockholm.

Stockholm-Airfare

But then looking at business class fares, they’re basically $700 more than the economy fare. I feel like that’s worth it for four segments in business class.

Stockholm-Business-Airfare

In fairness, Icelandair doesn’t have a “real” business class product. Instead it’s marginally better than domestic first class on a US airline. But I think it would make an interesting review, and spread across four segments I do think it’s worth a premium of under $200 per segment to fly business class.

Icelandair-Saga-Class

So while I hate paying ~$2,000 cash for a business class ticket, at the same time I can do the rest of the trip on points, so it doesn’t “sting” that much… especially considering I’ll get to visit two new destinations and there’s no other super-efficient way to get there.

Hotels in Iceland

The Hilton Reykjavik is a Category 7 Hilton HHonors property, making it 40,000 points per night. However, Hilton offers a fifth night free on points redemptions, so that lowers the cost to 32,000 HHonors points per night. That’s a hell of a use of Hilton points, given that revenue rates are $300+ per night.

Hilton-Reykjavik-Points

Ultimately I realize the Hilton is a bit removed from the center of the city, but I think it’s still worth staying here given the points rate and all the benefit I’d receive as a Diamond member. I’d rather transport myself into the center of the city everyday and get that kind of a deal, than to stay somewhere there that’s more expensive without as many benefits.

I’ll also look at the Club Carlson options, given that they have a few more centrally located properties, which can be a great value when booked in conjunction with the second free night you get with the Club Carlson Visa.

Hotels in Stockholm

I’ve always wanted to visit Northern Europe. Last summer I finally visited Helsinki, which was beautiful though a bit on the quiet side for me. I’ve been wanting to visit more cities in Northern Europe ever since, and based on what I’ve heard Stockholm is probably the nicest major city.

The Sheraton Stockholm there is a Category 5 property, making it 12,000 Starpoints per night.

Sheraton-Stockholm

However, when you redeem points for a Starwood property, the fifth night is free, so that lowers the cost to 9,600 Starpoints per night.

Sheraton-Stockholm-Rate

Despite the seemingly excellent value and free fifth night, the math actually isn’t that clear on this stay. For five nights I’d pay 48,000 Starpoints, or the cash rate would be ~$1,100. That’s a value of 2.3 cents per Starpoint, which actually isn’t that compelling of a redemption rate. I value Starpoints at 2.2 cents each, and when you factor in the points you’re forgoing by booking an award stay, you actually come out slightly behind.

But oddly this is one of those redemptions where it just “feels better” to use points, I think… if that makes any sense.

And frankly I’m surprised the Sheraton Stockholm rate is so reasonable. This is the peak of summer and based on what I’ve heard Stockholm is outrageously expensive, so I would have assumed the rate would be higher.

Bottom line

I hate paying out of pocket for business class, but at the same time marginally I think the cost is perfectly justifiable. And I think that’s especially true when you factor in that I could redeem points for all the hotel stays.

What do you guys think? Should I go to Iceland this summer using this method? Or is there another method you’d use? Or should I push it off till next year and do something with better airline products instead?

Comments

  1. How much cheaper is it off-peak? Can’t you use miles, or did the Alaska partnership go away? Btw, I know you are living in hotels and all that, but what in the hell are you going to do for 5 days in Iceland?

  2. You should come to Austria!
    A new Park Hyatt just opened, beautiful rooms and a great location in an old bank!

  3. Paying for the Icelandair business class ticket is made even more painful by the fact that I don’t believe you can really earn any useful miles on that flight, either. So you’d really be “taking one for the team” to write an off-the-beaten-path product review 🙂

    I assume you’ve looked at the DL JFK-KEF flight and found no compelling cash or point redemption options?

  4. I have been wanting to make this journey for some time. just got back from the Lofoten Islands in Norway this weekend. You can get to those from Oslo or Stockholme but have to take a ferry from Bodo. Spectacular. Back to Iceland – not sure ai’d want to spend 5 days in Rekjavik but would want to get out around the island. Definately go, though!

  5. Go to Iceland =) No one ever seems to go there. Negative side is, it is unlikely you’ll see the Northern lights during the summer =( If you want to see the Northern Lights, I’d hold off on your trip and wait, but I do think you should visit eventually.

    Since you’re living in hotels FT now, I’d love it if you did some trip reports and reviewed the places you’ve visited and focus less on airline/lounge/hotel reviews. I think a mixture would be nice. It gets a little tiring reading the same reviews over and over of people going to the same places. It would be nice if you visited some less traveled places and reviewed them. I think it would set your blog apart from others and help you stand out. It would also give us ideas of new places to visit that we would have never thought of and how we can stretch our miles/points to those less traveled places.

  6. You could sample the new SAS Houston and Stavanger route, visit Oslo, then hop over to Iceland on SAS?
    I recall you saying you also want to go to LYR at some point, maybe include that, since you are close?

  7. Iceland is on the top of my list also. Hoping to get there soon. I am looking forward to reading your review.

  8. Spent just under three weeks in Iceland last summer with my family. Five nights in Reykjavik is an awful lot of nights — we spent a total of three. Also, the area around Reykjavik is probably the least interesting in the country. You could consider flying up to Akureyri or some other interesting area, but I don’t think there are any chain hotels anywhere else in the country (Akureyri itself is the only other town in the country with a stoplight outside of the immediate Reykjavik area).

    We used the Carlson hotels in Reykjavik — the 1919 for one night on arrival and the Park Inn for two nights at the end. The 1919 was okay, but nothing special. Good downtown location. The Park Inn was dirt cheap (9,000 point redemption) and pretty good. The top floor larger rooms were actually kind of cool in a 1960s, Austin Powers sort of way — although I don’t think they’d been renewed since then and were quite worn. Oddly enough, there was trouble with the hot water in this hotel (odd, considering it comes out of the ground hot in Iceland).

    By the way, I think we picked up Delta flights for $650 each a month or two before the trip.

  9. It’s pretty easy to get to Iceland on miles if you are coming from Europe and nearly impossible from the US. An alternative to what you propose would be a trip from the US to Iceland via Europe with stopovers in Europe in both directions.

  10. I so want to do this. Ideally it would be toward the end of June, for the solstice, where IIRC the sun sets at 12:30am and rises again at 2:30am.

  11. Just got back from Iceland over Memorial Day week. Amazing vacation and highly recommend it to everyone! Lots of comments so far on how to get there, so let me comment on where to stay.

    We took advantage of the Club Carlson “Last night free” aspect of the program. We stayed 2 nights each at the Radisson Blu 1919 and the Radisson Blu Saga. Recommend both highly. The Blu Saga is an older hotel, but still nice inside. Venture up to the 8th floor by the Grillid Restaurant. There are some amazing photos of its history. If you have the time, stay for the Chef’s Tasting Menu. It is spendy (especially with wine), but quite probably the best meal I have ever eaten.

    The Blu 1919 is across the street from Baejarins Beztu Pylsur. Get “1 with everything” and you will never look at hot dogs the same again.

    You would not go wrong with staying at either of the Radisson Blu hotels.

    Lastly, I would highly recommend that you start your trip in Iceland by taking a walking tour with Audur from iheartreykjavik.net. She is a local and does an amazing job giving you insights into the city and its people. It also really helps to get your bearings in Reykjavik.

    Looking forward to your trip report!

  12. We just did a similar itinerary 2 weeks ago. BOS – KEF – ARN, and stayed two days in Iceland and a few at the Stockholm Sheraton on points. Iceland was beautiful, but I would definitely go for more than two days on the next trip. We pretty much only got to see around Keflavik, Grindavik, and Reykjavik, and it wasn’t enough time. We rented a car, which I would recommend you do if you go, though know some of the gravel roads can be difficult to travel to see some of the more geological sites. On such a short flight, I don’t think the Saga class is worth it, personally.

    If you do go to Stockholm, stop by the Icebar by Icehotel, which is definitely touristy but still unique and interesting experience for an hour. I wasn’t a big fan of Stockholm, but at expensive Sweden prices, there’s no doubt the Sheraton at 12,000 points is one of the better redemptions in the area.

  13. You could always fly to Europe on miles and try flying a discount airline like Easyjet to Iceland. From there, you can fly to SEA via Icelandair or connect back to Europe. Icelandair is really cheap out of PNW and I have seen one-ways as cheap as $300 to YVR in economy, not that you would fly economy, but it is a doable distance for me as it is 7 hour flight.

  14. Definitely worth going but don’t expect to use points (unless you can find DL space). I found flights last spring for $550 each. Also, you need to get out of Reykjavik. Plenty of decent B&Bs can be had for $150 a night or less. I’d recommend Volcano Hotel near Vik and Frost & Fire Hotel in Hveragerdi.

  15. 1200? You must not be looking at the right dates. I flew to Iceland last year on a one way BOS-KEF for 300, and the year before RT DEN-KEF on DL for 458. It seems you have so much extra money to blow that you justify paying higher prices than most would.

  16. I just returned from Iceland for the first time on Wednesday. It was fantastic. I flew Saga class and found the service to be excellent but the seat is a classic domestic first class 757 seat. It is worth the upgrade. I spent 2 nights in the Hilton as a diamond member and 2 nights in the center. No question about it – stay in the center! The Hilton was ehhh. The center however is vibrant, charming, and very hip. The best thing i did while there was a day trip to the Westmann Islands. As a sidebar – it was my 100th country! Enjoy

  17. so 9 nights in Stockholm but barely 2 in Iceland? You gotta spend at least a week there, otherwise why drop $2k for the ticket?

  18. I’d love to see this review as Iceland is high on my “to visit” list. I also think the Iceland Air business-class review would be worth seeing, as I occasionally see J fares to Europe on Iceland Air that are only marginally higher than Y fares on legacy carriers and I’ve always wondered what it would be like.

  19. I only count one full day in Iceland, getting in at 6:15 am after a red-eye. I question whether you will actually be able to see much of consequence. Slow down and spend more time there!

  20. Ben go to iceland, Im in the same boat as you. I keep pushing it off every year. This year I might actually make it there since Im already in Amsterdam from Xmas to the 3rd of Jan. I heard tons of good stuff on Iceland and the krazy parties. Yes it is actually party central believe it or not. I think you should also head off to Stockholm for few days if you have never been there. Its a amazing place and the ppl and culture are very modest and down to earth. I had stayed @ the Sheraton Stockholm and was def worth it. Though prices will roll back once the summer draws to a close so you may want to wait since you travel and live out of hotels full time.

  21. >Instead it’s marginally better than domestic first class on a US airline

    That’s alright. When I flew back from Iceland I was Metallica was on the flight. If it is good enough for them, it is probably good enough for you 😉

  22. Air Berlin is another good option to get to Iceland this summer, and they have tons of economy award availability from their hubs at TXL, MUC, HAM or DUS. A one-way ticket is just 10k from Europe to Iceland using AAdvantage miles *or* BA Avios. We’re traveling from the US, but adding European stopovers before/after Iceland so we can do everything on points and explore more of Europe.

    The Club Carlson points redemption options in Reykjavik are also fantastic if you have their credit card, and the Radisson Blu 1919 is close to the city center.

  23. I’ve been to Iceland 5 times. The longest stay was 12 days and it wasn’t nearly long enough. It is an amazing country but quiet expensive. The best deal is a tour from OAT Travel which can include air from the USA.

    My experience in Saga class was that it was a total waste of the extra money. On my flight the seats were not as comfortable as domestic USA first class. they were more like European business class.

  24. Why go to Stockholm? Visit the coast of Norway instead. Stockholm is just another big city, and it’s not even by the sea.

    If you really want to see Scandinavia at its best you should visit the coast of Norway; Stavanger, Bergen, Ålesund, Trondheim or even Lofoten and North Cape.

  25. If you’re at all into music you should wait till November 5-9, when there’s a major music festival http://icelandairwaves.is. There should also be enough hours of daylight to see some of the amazing geology of the place, but this is a world-class event.

    Of course, Iceland sounds like a perfect contrast to Abu Dhabi in the summer. But I think you’ll have a better time if you try to experience it more like a local. The Nordic countries aren’t about luxury.

    BTW, I’d love to read your review of the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, but that will have to wait for a few months.

  26. I’d be down for a trip report from an off-the-beaten track country!

    BTW Lucky, just so you know, it IS possible to take a trans-Atlantic flight in economy 🙂

  27. GO! We spent four days and it wasn’t enough time. Rent a car and do the circle. Prior to your flight out, hit the Blue Lagoon for three hours. Yes, it’s over priced and touristy…but a great way to relax before the flight home. (Ladies, do not put your head in the lagoon water. Your hair will be like straw for four days. No joke). We rented a penthouse in downtown Rekjavik. Perfect for walking everywhere and the parking cracks me up. It’s every which way you can fit. Front, back, sideways or sidewalk! The National Museum is fantastic and cheap. The hot dogs down by the waterfront…super yummy. The partying. Holy Hannah. My husband took photos early Sat am of men in white suits literally hosing down the main drag. Started at the top and just kept walking and firing those hoses all the way down the street. Insane! It’s def on our must go back and spend more time list.

  28. Iceland absolutely sounds beautiful. Personally, I would tend to do it more with a travel companion because I gather there is a lot of touring outside of cities,
    In terms of Scandanavia, I found Oslo to be much more interesting than Stockholm. There are a lot of really neat places to visit if you enjoy, museums, castles, history etc.

  29. I went for the first time in March with my Aunt and we did a deal through Iceland Air for $750/person for 4 days 3nights. We flew out of SEA and one big thing we noticed was that economy was not full. So on the flight back we changed out seats with the gate agent so we were able to reserve a row with a vacant middle seat. It was a great trade off as my Aunt wanted to pay extra for Saga but because of the deal we booked, we were unable to.

    One tip though is to seriously pack your own snacks. I kept having sticker shock when going out to eat. We’re talking $20 for a cup of soup!

    Aside from the crazy expensive food, it was a beautiful country and I’m really looking forward to reading your trip report if you go!

  30. Yes, Iceland is approaching the top of my list. And yes, it’s hard to get there in a comfortable, economical way on points. So, this is not your usual style – but, for your consideration, this is my plan. Do a transatlantic cruise that includes a stop in Iceland. Princess has a sailing on September 8 this year (and a similar date next year) that departs London, stops in Bergen Norway, the Shetland Island – and THREE days in Iceland – before gong to St John’s Newfoundland and ending in NY. 14 days total. I figure I can get a nice one way business class airfare to Europe, leave London without paying those outrageous Great Britain air departure taxes, see Iceland and a few other sights. My schedule doesn’t work to do it this year, but that’s my plan for 2015. There are other transatlantic options, but Princess is the only one I’ve seen so far that includes 3 days in Iceland.

  31. I’m dying for a Houston-stavanger review 🙂 and I see flights on norwegian Bergen-Keflavik for under $200 all the time.
    Coastal Norway is gorgeous. You’ll love it, espc if you have choice privileges points to burn

  32. i’m going to Iceland mid September, for eight days.i will fly ord to reykjavic with a stop in new York.cashed in Delta points in economy.Delta’s last day of seasonal service ends September 14th.i will be on that return flight.
    I booked all my nights at the Park Inn by Club Carlson.at 9,000 points a night!i think this is a great value!
    I’m so darn excited!!

  33. You could go back to the US from Stockholm on UA 69 (which has flat beds and lands in Newark) or go via Amsterdam on KLM to New York on their new 747s (which I can’t find a good review of). Radisson Blu Stockholm Waterfront seems really good but the Sheraton could be a better use of points – you could stay at both. Hilton Reykjavik seems OK too.

  34. This post was up for just a few hours and received a zillion replies… Say hello Reykjavik !

  35. I just got back from Iceland yesterday. Contrary to a previous commenter, I really LOVED the Hilton. I thought it was one of the better Hilton’s I’ve ever stayed in, and believe me, I’ve stayed in a lot of Hiktons. I booked a single room at the “Go Out” package rate for about $212 US per night, which I thought was a bargain. The Go Out rate includes two “drinks” at the lobby bar (beer, wine or soft drinks), however, as an Hhonors Gold member I was given access to the Executive Lounge which included breakfast, beer & wine all day, desserts in the afternoon and cocktails and snacks in the evening. I was also upgraded to a Premuim Queen room with a gorgeous view of the water and mountains.

  36. If you would like to use mile to go to KEF, The star alliance has SAS to connect. While Oneworld has airberlin to connection from DUS or TXL. The availability is good too.

  37. @ Carl — Tickets can be really cheap off peak and it’s also an experience I’d like to have sometime, but I’d also really like to visit Iceland during the time of year where there are 21 hours of daylight. When I travel places I don’t sightsee all day, so really I’m just sightseeing for a few hours a day and working the rest of the time. After my New Year’s trip I found that spending five days on the ground in a city is the perfect amount of time for my travel patterns.

  38. @ Bgriff — Yep, at the end of the day even if there is saver space, it’s not worth 125,000 SkyMiles to do business class on a sub-six hour flight, in my opinion.

  39. @ Wolfgang — Would love, and would really like to do the new IAH-SVG route, though best I can tell they’re not releasing any award space on it, unless I’m missing something.

  40. @ franz — I do, but at 125,000 SkyMiles for a roundtrip saver business class ticket it still doesn’t seem like a very good deal, unfortunately.

  41. Hilton Slussen in Stockholm is much better than Sheraton – particularly if you have status for the great lounge overlooking the old town. I’ve stayed in both numerous times.

  42. Fuck miles just go – it’s worth it. And I wouldn’t intend to do much in Reykjavik except party your ass off, you don’t need more than a long weekend there.

  43. Rekjavik is an absolute delight during the Christmas season. I wholeheartedly recommend doing this trip sometime during the first three weeks of December. It’s the height of the social season with everything from concerts and operas to the infamous partying going at full blast. I’m certainly an introvert but even I enjoyed the spectacle that is Rekjavik’s raucous winter scene. Especially the cavorting in the Blue Lagoon on an especially brisk December evening. Not to be missed.

    Same can be said of my beloved ancestral home, St. Petersburg. Winter is Petersburg’ s natural element and the city is at its most exuberant during December. It is so much more interesting and vibrant than Stockholm. And I believe Icelandair has started nonstop service between Rekjavik and Petersburg.

  44. Iceland is amazing, but going there and spending several nights in a hotel in Reykjavik would be a wasted trip. The amazing things in Iceland are outside Reykjavik — the waterfalls and national parks and volcanoes and glaciers and black-sand beaches and hot springs and landscapes that make you feel like you’re on a foreign planet. Plan to stay in shitty hotels in the middle of nowhere, paying cash, and renting a 4WD car, if you want to actually have an amazing trip.

  45. Lucky,
    I had been Iceland for 6 times, I know it is crazy , esp for me from Asia…
    Personally, I like winter more than summer, Reykjavik is packed with tourists during summer and you hardly see the local on the street,however there are something that you can only do in summer, Inside of Volcano and Puffin birdwatching.
    Like Susan B said, Iceland Airwves is worthy for a visit , even just for the festival and that’s the reason why I go back to Iceland every year.
    If you have more than 2 weeks, do not miss Westfjords, the most beautiful place in Iceland.
    By the way, Hilton is in outskirt of Reykjavik, I would stay in Radisson 1919, Hotel 101 , Hotel Borg or Icelandair Marina..

  46. Lucky, icelandair offers well priced one-way tickets. Seeing the amount of miles you have, why not do one way on FI and fly back on miles?

    Also, Reykjavik is very small, so I wouldn’t want to spend 5 days there. I think Iceland is all about outdoor and adventure activities, so I would plan my trip accordingly.

  47. Lucky, I had an absolute blast in Reykjavik a few years back. Do take some time to see some of the countryside and black sand beaches. If you look south from Iceland there is pretty much nothing between you and Antarctica. I think Roger and Elton have the right idea, although I would also recommend late night hotdogs down by the docks, the Icelanders are true masters of hotdogs.

    Top tip, I’d avoid eating any seabirds, not to my taste and I’ll eat most things, tasted too much like a duck that had eaten too much rotten fish.

  48. I know its not really your style.
    But you could fly into London and then fly Easyjet to iceland (3 Hours).

    The fares they offer from London to Iceland are incredibly cheap.

  49. I agree with Ralph (#45) that the Hilton in Stockholm has better views. The executive floor rooms give you a great view out over the old town and the water and the lounge is very cosy. It’s also a short walk to Södermalm (Stockholm’s hipster district) and the hotel is right beside a major transport hub (metro, buses and ferries).

  50. Headed over there by cruise ship in August. Much better than flying there and you don’t have to eat those seabirds!

  51. Doesn’t Icelandair offer free stopovers in KEF when flying from the U.S. to Europe? It seems that makes more sense than booking only to KEF. (You mention paying $100 more to continue onward to Stockholm, but you could spend more than a day in KEF.)

    Also, what about flying from Seattle? The weather here is great in summer. In New York, it’s a concrete jungle.

  52. Iceland air seems to be one of those airlines that doesn’t charge full fare economy on one-way tickets–so you could do a one way to iceland and then connect to Europe and fly home on Miles. Cheaper and more fun!

  53. Just did a quick search for August. One way from BOS to KEF is $327 and Norwegian air from KEF to OSL is $127. You can get to Iceland AND Europe ONE WAY for under $500, and then take your time and head home OSL to EWR on miles. Perfect trip!

  54. @ Scottrick — Right, that was the intent. The dates listed were just random dates. Agree originating in Seattle is a better option, but in this case was going to be in New York anyway since I was finishing another trip there. Do love Seattle in summer!

  55. I agree with the previous posts that encourage you to schedule this trip for off-peak season, say October through February. I was there in November a few years ago, and prices were far lower, no big crowds. I stayed at the Hilton for about US$100 a night, one of the best Hiltons we’ve ever experienced. Great breakfast service in the main restaurant.
    It will be a pricey trip in US$ terms, so the more you can get free on points, the better. If you don’t like driving in a foreign country, there are plenty of tour companies with which you can take day trips to see the best sights outside Reykjavik.

  56. As a regular visitor to Iceland I can only totally disagree with the first comment on this thread. 🙂

    Iceland is a very interesting place to visit. Out of those 5 days, please send at least 1 in the Blue Lagoon and one on the Golden Circle. If you’re smart you book the first one with the one and only travel agent offering tours there – they pick you up at your hotel and return you there as well for just a few extra dollars. There are Golden Circle tours in four wheel off road vehicles (including hotel pickup) – much nicer than a regular coach tour! 🙂

    Also spend a day in Reykjavik itself. You might go whale watching- it’s an impressive experience and takes a few hours. I assume the other days are traveling days – use the other hours to do sightseeing in the main street and around. You should be able to cover everything in one day by foot.

    Iceland is actually best on the country side. Renting a car and make a 8 day stopover to drive around the country is also an option.

    For food – you might want to skip the few ‘touristy’ restaurants, which may indeed charge you $20 for a cup of soup. There are a few places that sell puffin (interesting bird, worth a try) and whale. Whale tastes like… ‘what if cows could swim?’. I also know that the main street has two very decent Italian-style pizza places. The one in the old wooden house is best.

    Only tip I can give you: try spring next year or autumn this year. Most attractions should still be available, but the prices are significantly better and the amount of tourists minimized. Bring a good all weather jacket, though.

    When it comes to traveling to Iceland, I don’t think there are many from the USA. I assume flying with SAS via Oslo or Copenhagen isn’t an option (apart from questioning yourself why on earth you’d want to spend more time than necessary on board with SAS. It’ll earn you *A points though). AirFrance/KLM also offers connections via CDG and AMS, I think. They have business class products that are a bit more interesting and may help earn or burn points. It’s just questionable why you should be willing to spend 8 hours extra on board. 🙂

    As for hotel stays: Reykjavik, just like most Scandinavian places, doesn’t really have much fancy to offer. Not too much really bad stuff either. I assume the main reason why hotels in Stockholm are cheap in July is that business travel comes to a complete stop in that month. Same goes for Norway: everyone’s off to the cabin or to southern Europe that month. As Scandinavia isn’t a very popular vacation destination apart from camping in wildlife, a lot of hotels are half empty in summer. Use it to your advantage. 🙂 Anyway, I would absolutely use my hotel points for a better cause if I were you. 🙂

    ps. I totally agree with SagaTo. The coast of Norway is just pure magic. Stockholm is a beautiful city (‘Venice of the North’ and all that), but Bergen, Ålesund and Lofoten are actually even better. 🙂

  57. Note: Don’t bring any alcohol into iceland as it will be confiscated before entering the country. Same goes if your just transiting through as well – pretty dumb imo.

  58. Do the Golden Circle, hit Thingvellir and a glacier. Maybe up to the north end to see whales. Personally I’d wait to the shoulder season and hit it with fewer tourists. Northern Lights are also a big draw to me but then I enjoy winter in the far north.

    Sheraton Stockholm is in a really strange piece of town, not too much immediately there other than Stockholm Central station. I’ve stayed in Old Town and had a great time. Summer in Stockholm is fantastic but there’s something about winter there that I love (maybe that’s just because I lived there for a year). It’s a great city, feels very small for how large it is, and the people are great. You know it’s a special city when you see baby strollers out in force in the ‘touristy’ areas. I haven’t seen Norway, I’m sure it’s amazing, but don’t give up on Stockholm either!

  59. Also, if you want to see Iceland from the late 1980s just youtube some early Sugarcubes videos. Motorcrash is a fun one to watch.

  60. If I wanted to go to Iceland and Stockholm, I’d probably book a package. For example, on gotoday,com, 1 person from JFK, spending 3 nights in Best Western Capital Hotel, Stockholm, Sweden and 3 nights in Radisson BLU Saga, Reykjavik, Iceland with breakfast, leaving 7/21 and coming back 7/28 is $2650 all-in. In Economy, but your longest flight is 6 hours! Icelandair usually has some great packages on their website as well.
    Of course, I’m not swimming in points and I find you spend way too much $ on hotels in general. I’ll take a cheaper hotel any day=as long as it’s quiet and clean with a decent location. I don’t need bellman.

  61. I brought alcohol into Iceland with no problem at all. I didn’t even realize that there was a rule that you couldn’t. Maybe because I arrived there from another Schengen country and didn’t have to go through immigration?

  62. Stayed for a few nights at the Hilton in Stockholm, after a couple of nights at a different chain in the ‘city center.’ The Hilton’s location is perfect-views and easy access to the subway. As a Diamond, the upgraded suite was quite nice. But room upgrade aside, the real benefit is the free breakfast and executive lounge for evening snacks. Scandinavia is an expensive region to be in (thanks to the high taxes)so we found the EL spread here to be of high quality and plentiful, freeing us from having dinner in a restaurant. And if you drink alcohol, then this is a bonus space to save additional $$. The restaurant breakfast was a typical, bountiful Swedish offering. Would definitely go stay there again. So use the miles and enjoy it to the fullest.

  63. Lucky – Iceland is beautiful in the summer. Just do it!! Given how much you enjoyed Berchtesgaden, I think you’d love it.

    I suggest joining a tour to see some of the wonderful scenery outside of Reykjavik. (I really enjoyed a 10 day group tour of Iceland last summer that essentially circled the island. Puffins, icebergs, whales, dolphins, and volcanoes, anyone??? EMAIL me if you’d like a referral.)

    I also recommend choosing Oslo for your European destination. The fjord scenery (and Bergen) are one of a kind. Check out the Flam railway line – take the train (or hike) from Myrdal station to the sea.

    Also, Icelandair’s one way fares “over the pond” are much more reasonable than the competition. So you have the option of flying Icelandair one way on a revenue ticket, and your carrier/alliance of choice the other way on an award.

  64. Actually, we didn’t find Stockholm to be outrageously expensive — just expensive. Outrageous (or insane) should be reserved for Norway.

    I’d recommend the Club Carlson properties. Better redemption value in my opinion. The buffet at the Waterfront (which everyone gets) is quite good.

  65. Just got back last week from almost the same trip to iceland with 5 nts Reykjavik and 3 nts Stockholm and absolutely loved both. Definitely stay at the Hilton – good lounge offerings, upgraded to Exec Club level as Gold – not over the top luxury but great value. We walked in and out of town each day – takes about 20 min to get to the shopping strip start of downtown, but it’s a perfect walk with sunglasses on at midnight.

    In Stockholm we stayed at the Radisson Blu Strand in a business class room and loved it. It was definitely dated, but the location and staff were incredible. Walked by a few others, and there was a ton of construction around the Radisson Viking & Waterfront, and I wasn’t crazy about the Sheraton location.

    For flights, have you actually tried the LH new business class yet? I don’t remember any report. But you really should compare your true love LH to Air Berlin on a new business to new business level instead of comparing to first. We flew ORD-DUS-KEF (had a great long layover in Cologne), and I have to say I wasn’t overly excited about the seat or the food. Your recent AB flights looked much better in my opinion.

    Since it’s fresh in mind happy to provide any other recommendations if you need them.

  66. I agree with everyone saying to take the shoulder season routes.

    BOS-KEF is $600ish if you’re looking at the first week of september, even considering Labor Day weekend.

    I enjoyed the Hilton, I think everyone saying “its so far way” is exaggerating its less than a half hour walk to the “center of town” and there is a direct bus line if you’re not up to it.

    We traveled the second weekend of May 2013, and had a great time. I agree with everyone saying to rent a car, driving along the side of the road in iceland is amazing, its like every 20min its a Glacier or a huge waterfall or a volcano.

    Also, I know you’re not one for beer, but if you travel with friend, don’t let them buy beer at the grocery store. Its not real beer.

  67. Iceland is terrific. Be sure to go to the Blue Lagoon. But, FYI, Iceland Air is not trying to establish itself as that airline that goes to Europe on the cheap. As someone who was a backpacker in the 70s, I can tell you that anyone who was trying to get to Europe on the cheap flew Iceland Air. They have been doing the budget thing for decades and this is nothing new at all!

  68. Iceland is terrific. Be sure to go to the Blue Lagoon. But, FYI, Iceland Air is not trying to establish itself as that airline that goes to Europe on the cheap. As someone who was a backpacker in the 70s, I can tell you that anyone who was trying to get to Europe on the cheap flew Iceland Air. They have been doing the budget thing for decades and this is nothing new at all! And did I mention that the Hilton Reykjavik is a really great place to stay? It’s a walk into town, but worth it for the lounge and restaurant

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