See More than the Herring Era Museum in Siglufjörður: Stay a Night and Sleep (and Eat) at Hotel Siglunes

The silent harbour, “Fog in its dress whites at ease along the horizon” (from the poet,Charles Wright)
The silent harbour, “Fog in its dress whites at ease along the horizon” (from the poet,Charles Wright)

“How do you choose your travel accommodation?” Teresa asked us at dinner one night.

We review our favourite sources. Book it ourselves. And our choices, like the temperature of Goldilocks’s porridge, vary.

There’s the primitive Rove-Inn, climbing the ladder to our narrow sky bunk above our old Land Rover. Mid-range, just-right places, like Denise’s B&B in Castiglione di Sicilia. (Except for driving through there instead of parking in the town!) Deluxe Atrio Restaurante Hotel with its modern architecture and sophisticated restaurant in Cáceres. (The manager still reads our blogs!) And quirky, small-town properties—like Hotel Siglunes, the oldest guesthouse in Iceland’s northernmost town, Siglufjörður. (Moon Guidebook describes it as the “hippest place to stay in the north.”)

When Magellan worked at Texaco, he had a boss named Halfdan Frank. Unschooled in Norse mythology, we pondered his name and laughed at his nickname, “Point 5,” unaware that he might have been named after Halfdan Ragnarsson, the first Viking King of Northumbria who also (possibly it’s said) co-ruled Denmark with his brother, Sigurd Snake-in-the-eye.

Why am I telling you this? The name of the owner/manager of Hotel Siglunes is Halfdan Sveinsson. We never met him, but judging from this photo on his Facebook page, he’s got a sense of humour.

“You’ll be in the next building over on the second floor, first on the left, room 102,” said the young man who checked us in. “Be careful on the steep stairs; sorry, there’s no elevator. Do you want help with your luggage?”

The hotel, constructed in 1934, is a collective of rooms. Cozy. Eclectic. Quirky. Retro. Vintage. Romantic. Nostalgic. Boutiquey. Contemporary. Gentrified. Nordic. Simple. Clean. Youthful. Small. Homey. Peaceful. Artistic. Cool. Hip. Most of all, memorable.

“A lot of the furniture in your room came from people in town who were downsizing or re-modelling or leaving and just wanted to get rid of it. Like the goose-foot table.” He said the vintage sofa in the lounge, where I’m sad to say we had no time to explore the collection of books and knickknacks, was made across the street.

Halfdan is interested in contemporary art. How often do you see original work by accomplished artists in any hotel room, let alone in a small hotel in a town of 1,300 people?

One could say the entire town resembles an open-air museum of art. (Although someone wrote that the harbour “represents something part junkyard part ghost town.”)

We don’t know how many visitors/tourists come to Siglufjörður. There’s only one road. Checking the cruise ship schedule for 2024, there are only thirteen scheduled stops for the season, which lasts little more than three months. However, the Herring Era Museum website says that more than 20,000 people visit it annually.

The restaurant (rightfully so we discovered) was packed. And without a reservation, we were lucky that the young man who checked us in squeezed us in for a late dinner reservation. Which was fine, because it gave us time to explore the town.

“I’m a ‘gourmet’ guy and track down the best restaurants when I’m travelling,” Halfdan said in an interview in Issu magazine. Enamoured with the food at a restaurant in Morocco, he promptly offered the head chef a job at Hotel Siglunes.

“Much depends on dinner. “(From Byron, “Since Eve ate apples, much depends on dinner.” Isn’t it the truth?) Having read about the great food Moroccan chef Jaouad Hbib is making with local ingredients and North African spices, I knew immediately where dinner would be.

Thinking about it, maybe that’s the best answer to how we (okay, mostly me) choose our accommodation—it needs to be near the restaurant I’d like to go to for dinner. Accommodation that, when Magellan asks, “Is the restaurant close enough to walk to?” I can say “Yes.”

Navigation

Arnarsdottir, Eyglo. “Siglunes: Moroccan Dining Adventure.” Issu: My North, 2018.

Gottlieb, Jenna. Moon Iceland. Berkeley: Hachette Book Group, May 2020.

Nowak, Dr. Christian; Kluche, Hans; Hug, Odin; Mecke, Andrea; and Fischer, Robert. Marco Polo Iceland. United Kingdom: Marco Polo Travel Publishing Ltd, 2019.

Siglunes Hotel website, artwork and Halfdan Sveinsson’s Facebook page.

4 Responses

  1. Very interesting town. Sounds like the food was fantastic as well. Cool hotel room.
    The Swarm II sculpture reminded us of the Holocaust Memorial Tree in Budapest. This sculpture was created by Imre Varga in 1991 to commemorate at least 400,000 Hungarian Jews who perished during the Holocaust. Such sculptures do cause one to reflect on the purpose they were created.

    1. TY Pat–just checked out “The Memorial Tree” in Budapest (we haven’t been)—how powerful—and a superb example of the power of art.

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