The concrete facade of UMI simultaneously blends with the mountain face that looms behind and stands apart from it. A clever juxtaposition of the man-made and the natural. Which typifies UMI really. The entire design, inside and out, takes inspiration from its surroundings while maintaining that luxury feel you need after a day of exploring the wilds.
Founder Siggi spent many childhood summers on a farm close to the hotel. When his own children were born, Siggi and his wife, Frida, decided it was time to follow their dream and bought some abandoned land to start UMI. Adding to the renovations whenever they could, bit by bit the hotel was born.
The love that’s infused into the hotel is palpable. The couple’s daughter Sandra, an interior and lighting designer, put the finishing touches to her parents’ creation. Her design invites you in and envelopes you in calm.
The browns of leather and wood are complemented by accents of green in the walls and fabrics, which mimic the tones found in the surrounding land. We especially love the faux-foliage that backs the hotel’s signage in reception.
Where is it?
UMI is right on the south coast. In fact, the mountains behind it used to be cliffs. Iceland is expanding 5cm every year as the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates shift apart. So at UMI you’re actually on 5km of naturally reclaimed land. Look further than the immediate peaks and you’ll discover the Eyjafjallajökull glacier volcano, famous for messing up thousands of European flights back in 2010 when it inconveniently erupted.
UMI gives you an up-close-and-personal view of this dramatic scenery. Each room has enormous windows that look out over the stunning mountains or vast seascape of the North Atlantic.
What to do
Iceland spans the seasons. Summer is for hiking the waterfalls, volcanoes, glaciers and black-sand beaches. Seljalandsfoss, one of the country’s best-known waterfalls, is close by. It’s famed for having a path you can actually walk behind (turns out this is usually more of a movie thing than a reality). Take a private Jeep tour to Seljalandsfoss and Eyjafjallajökull.
Come November it’s all about the Northern Lights. Cruise out to sea, go off-road or settle down for the show in comfort at the hotel. The viewpoint is up to you. Spend the short days that bookend this phenomena out on the snow. We recommend adventuring by snowmobile up onto the glaciers behind UMI. Because in these conditions, there’s no better (or more exhilarating) way to travel.
How to get there
Fly into Reykjavik. UMI is a two-hour drive from there. The hotel can helpfully organise all the transfers for you.