The Beer Spa in Iceland
Updated: Nov 9, 2020
A Luxury Travel Review of Bjorbodin Spa - Dalvik, Iceland
As a luxury travel lover, as well as a active travel nut, I always have an eye open for ways to pamper myself in conjunction with our physical outdoor adventures. A warm bath IN beer… while drinking beer?? Well, that’s a twist. So when planning our Iceland Ring Road trip, I read this description, looked at the website photos and was instantly intrigued. I am predominantly a wine drinker. But have always loved a good Imperial Pale Ale or cold Lager on hot day. I’ve also spent a few of my younger years as a Hash House Harrier, which created my appreciation for fun experiences related to beer. So I knew we had to try this.
Where is it located?
For us, it worked our perfectly on our itinerary. My husband is a professional landscape photographer and we had planned to deviate from the typical ring road route after Myvatn to explore the northern coastal region and beautiful little village of Siglufjordur.
Bjorbodin Spa is located just south of Dalvik, which is about a 30 minute drive north of Akureyri. So if you are staying in Akureyri, you can easily drive there and back. However, we’d recommend taking a day to drive Hwy 82 / 76 to Siglufjordur, and stop at the spa en route. You will still have to drive an hour past the beer spa, but at least you will be exploring somewhere new. Besides, Siglufjordur is a really quaint village, with a fabulous luxury hotel, some wonderful restaurants and many great photo opportunities. (see our 11 day Iceland itinerary for Photographers and Explorers here). The location does make it a bit challenge to drive once you have had several beers. But there are several guesthouses and cottages in the area, if you’d prefer to stay locally for the night. There is a restaurant on site as well, and plenty of areas to relax and sober up a bit before heading off.
The property consists of an indoor spa with private tubs, an indoor steam room, an outdoor sauna, two outdoor hot tubs with regular water and the restaurant, which serves beer of course. You can rent towels and robes as needed.
Options include soaking in the standard water-filled outdoor hot tubs, which hold 8-10 people each or opt for an individual or couples soak in a private beer bath. You can also do both. But they actually recommend not rinsing off the beer brine you soak for 3-5 hours afterwards, in in order to maximize its benefit.
In case you are wondering (like I was), the beer you soak in is not drinkable. It’s in early stages of fermentation and has a lower ph which makes it a gentle cleanser for your skin. The brewers yeast is also supposedly a great source of vitamin B, potassium, protein, iron, zinc and magnesium. The hops are the source of the anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories and have an relaxing effect on the body. The baths are heated to about 98-102 degrees F (37-39C) and each tub is drained, cleaned and refilled after each use.
How it works
When you choose the private beer soak, you will be escorted to changing rooms and provided robes, towels and a key for your personal belongings. Swim suits are not recommended. (unless you must get that Instagram selfie). Then you are escorted to your private tub with keg to enjoy for the next 25 minutes. And of course... you are free to drink as much beer as can in that time period. A gentle door knock lets you know your time is up and then you are escorted upstairs to a ‘relaxation room’ otherwise known as the Nap Room. Air conditioned, dark and with double-wide day beds set up, this was a little slice of heaven after our soak and drinking several beers. If you have an unfinished beer from your soak, they ask you to leave it outside the relaxation area. But when done, we were able to pick it up again and finish it either in a steam room or anywhere on the property that we wanted. We decided to get some food in our stomachs and give their restaurant a try. The menu represent typical Icelandic prices. But we shared the $25USD burger and it was fantastic. So if you plan to have a meal here, I doubt you will be disappointed with the more traditional entree choices.
Kaldi brewery is the genius behind this experience. And the entrepreneurial story behind Kaldi is unique as well. A local fisherman, after 26 years at sea, was recovering from a knee injury in 2005 and pondering the potentially difficult times ahead. His wife saw a television show filmed in Denmark about the growing popularity of microbreweries around the world. At the time, there were no microbreweries in Iceland. But they did have one thing in abundance – fresh, pure water. So the idea was born and one week later, they were off to Denmark to visit the brewery they had seen on the show. You can read more about this incredible story here.
Is it worth it?
At first glance, the price may seem steep. But let’s break it down and take a closer look. For the private beer bath, its 7,900 isk ($74 USD) for individuals or 14,900 isk ($140 USD) for a couple. Alcohol in Iceland is expensive. So unless you come across a Vinbudin shop, you will pay 1000+ isk ($10-$11USD) per beer at restaurants or at a bar. So using that as a guide, for a couples bath, if each of you drinks two beers during your soak, that’s about $44USD of the total cost. So now we are under $100 USD for two people to enjoy 60-90 minutes hours at one of the most unique, and beautiful locations in the world. If you can drink three? You can do the math. If you only want to soak in the outside water-filled hot tubs, it’s only 2,000 ISK ($18-$20) per person and they even discount it to 500 isk ($4-$5USD) if you do want to soak again after your beer bath. But with the outside tubs, you buy your beer separately.
So yes, it’s a bit of an indulgence. But hey, if you’ve been traveling the ring road, and making conscious choices to save money where you can, I say treat yourself to this unique experience. You deserve it!