The luxury boutique hotel Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland is a place where extraordinary vistas blend with dazzlingly stylish design, all surrounded by the natural wonders of the earth. The vision for the Retreat at Blue Lagoon was truly holistic, requiring a design that reflects the outstanding natural beauty of the region with clarity and simplicity, in a manner that is environmentally considerate, while appealing to the desire for luxury and rejuvenation.
Set among rugged lava rock fields, their approach was to create a hotel experience as dramatic and otherworldly as the natural Icelandic surroundings, where the man-made and natural environments can coexist, integrate, even synergise.
With respect for nature, the Retreat Hotel incorporates an understated design that allows the extraordinary landscape to take centre stage. Its minimalist design means the jaw-dropping views of the surrounding moss-covered lava fields and geothermal water take centre stage, with oversized picture windows offering pure escapism to the Icelandic wilderness.
The results are incredible: the soothing grey exterior blends seamlessly with the surroundings, while interiors draw inspiration from the landscape. Modern and angular, the building, with its strong linearity and horizontality, folds itself into the craggy black volcanic landscape. To sensitively integrate the build into the natural surroundings, the exterior of the entrance hall and some of the rooftops are covered in moss and lava rocks. To temper the sun streaming in, an exterior screen runs across the top of the glass wall.
The striking black screen lining the windows of the Icelandic luxury boutique hotel embodies the organic interplay of high technology and pure nature prevalent throughout the luxury boutique hotel’s interior and stunning design. A cross-section from a lava rock was digitised to create this latticework, providing the template for air and material: the black aluminium screen is perforated in a water-jet cut pattern based on the air pockets in lava stone. Elegant, understated and comfortably timeless, the stylish interiors radiate a clean aesthetic that is in constant dialogue with the refreshing natural surroundings.
The overall design is deeply rooted in this glorious landscape and is marked by the use of natural materials both within and outside. The strength, beauty and rawness of concrete, rock, and lava, combined with the warm richness of wood and the delicacy of glass, create an inviting atmosphere whilst maintaining a streamlined elegance. Referencing the dazzlingly blue lagoon that surrounds the site, water elements have been incorporated into the design.
The fine palette of muted colours takes cues from the starkly stunning scenery: the greys of the striking lava landscape, the earthy tones of the moss plains and the intense iridescence of the surrounding aquamarine waters. It is all brought together by huge floor-to-ceiling windows and glass walls that let the endless light flood in, while hypnotically affording infinitely transforming panoramasof the lagoon and the sprawling lava fields.
Furniture is finished with natural materials in shades of green, blue, grey and red to echo the moss, the water, and the oxidized lava features. B&B Italia provided all the millworks and the furnishings of most hotel areas, and the decorative lighting of the hotel, restaurant, library and spa. Some of the B&B Italia classics include pieces by acclaimed furniture designers such as Antonio Citterio and Patricia Urquiola. The interiors of the luxury boutique hotel also feature an extensive number of custom-made furnishings by B&B Italia.
Also, solidified lava slabs have been broken into rough-hewn bricks to create a signature fireplace or levelled to form a statement bar.
Each of the Retreat’s three components – the hotel, the spa, and the lagoon – has its own unique lighting requirements, which were masterly articulated by Iceland’s Liska and Italy’s iGuzzini.
The Retreat hotel’s lobby is decorated with a rotating collection of Icelandic ceramics from the country’s Museum of Design and Applied Art. Blue Lagoon gave the museum a grant to purchase the pieces, dating from the 1930s to the present, and now has the right to exhibit them.
Overall, the team of Icelandic and Italian architects have created a spectacular luxury boutique hotel infused with craftsmanship and attention to detail, focusing on an experience that is further augmented by the connection to the senses via the extreme and powerful forces created by nature.