Steam swirled around as the warm, geothermal water I was soaking in met the crisp winter air. Waves from the North Atlantic Ocean gently lapped at the craggy shoreline, shaping a seemingly endless panorama of deep blue as the late morning sunrise cast a soft pink hue overhead.
The only sounds were trickling water and a waterfall gushing out of black lava rocks behind me, and I embraced the tranquility of the moment as I’d somehow been lucky enough to steal a few moments all alone in the incredible Sky Lagoon in Iceland. A very happy birthday, indeed.
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The Sky Lagoon Iceland
The Land of Fire and Ice is famous for its geysers and natural hot springs, so it’s only natural that one of Iceland’s newest attractions would be a spectacular geothermal lagoon perched along the waterfront. The restorative retreat boasts a dramatic 75-metre-long infinity pool, secluded hideaways, a sauna, steam room and swim-up bar, making the Sky Lagoon the perfect setting to celebrate another trip around the sun.
Our group of nearly a dozen ladies arrived shortly before opening time on this brisk December day, to make the most of the few hours of sunlight this part of the world gets around the time of the winter solstice.
Conveniently located just a few minutes’ drive from downtown Reykjavik in the suburb of Kópavogur, Sky Lagoon’s modern, minimalist and natural design elements were inspired by historic turf houses, and we admired an impressive feature wall at the entrance where turf was layered into an intricate herringbone pattern.
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Rich woods, natural stones and the palette of creams, deep greens and grey-blues used throughout seamlessly blend into the surroundings, and the massive boulders shaping the lagoon were built up from lava. That attention to detail combined with the fundamentals of the spa experience have made the Sky Lagoon a treasured spot for both Icelanders and tourists since opening in 2021.
The Seven Step Ritual at Sky Lagoon
While some guests are content to simply relax in the pool and enjoy the serene surroundings, the heart of the Sky Lagoon is an add-on called the Seven Step Ritual.
“The traditions of bathing culture are integral to the Icelandic way of life and are at the core of the Sky Lagoon experience,” says general manager Dagny Petursdottir, who we met later that afternoon at the Sky Café while dining on local specialities like reindeer pâté and pickled herring from the Djúpivogur fishing village.
The Ritual combines warm and cold waters, steam, dry heat and fresh air, which Petursdottir describes as a “rejuvenating and transformative experience.” Following a leisurely soak in the lagoon with a champagne toast, our group made our way toward the separate building that houses the Ritual, guided by Ragnheiður Haraldsdottir who works as a marketing manager for Sky Lagoon.
The hot sauna beyond the closed doors beckoned–but first up was a cold plunge.
“It’s so good for you, and you feel it when you go in that it’s not only empowering, it’s really refreshing,” Haraldsdottir explained, coaxing us toward the frigid water. “It’s energizing, and it’s strengthening you.”
She was right: submerging yourself in what feels like a vat of ice is one way to get your immune system firing in true Viking style, and while I wasn’t brave enough to dunk myself past the waist I still felt the benefits as I quickly got out and made a beeline for the hot haven that awaited inside the Ritual.
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The next 45 minutes were spent following the next five steps, with one of the most impressive being the sauna which is used to open pores, remove toxins and cleanse the skin. Its massive fourth wall is made entirely of a single window pane gazing right into the ocean, which is somehow kept so sparkling clean it appears there is nothing but air.
Next up was a light mist of showers that felt like a refreshing rainfall, before rubbing the signature Sky Body Scrub all over our bodies.
Heading into the steam room, the air was so thick we could hardly see, and I felt myself melting into the seat as every muscle relaxed. When I couldn’t take the heat for a moment longer, I felt my way back out towards the showers, my skin feeling baby soft as the salty scrub rinsed off.
“Going through the circle is going through the ritual, and once you’re back to the lagoon you can relax, go to the infinity edge, take in the view again…or head straight to the bar!” Haraldsdottir said with a laugh, as we emerged back into the daylight.
Taking her advice, that’s exactly what we did. Our glasses filled with sparkling Moët & Chandon, we glided back towards the infinity edge, toasting to the perfect birthday at Iceland’s Sky Lagoon while watching the golden sunset disappear over the horizon.
If you go: Sky Lagoon prices and packages
Sky Lagoon Reykjavik is open to guests aged 12 and up. 12 to 14-year-olds must be accompanied by an adult, and non gender specific change rooms are available.
There are three packages:
- Pure Lite Pass: includes admission, towel rental and public changing facilities.
- Pure Pass: includes admission, towel rental, public changing facilities and access to the Seven Step Ritual. Click here to book
- Sky Pass: includes admission, towel rental, access to the Seven Step Ritual and private changing facilities with amenities like the signature Sky Body Lotion made with sesame, grape and almond. Click here to book
Click here for current pricing and details on multi-pass savings.
Globe Guide experienced Sky Lagoon in collaboration with Pursuit.
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