As a mother’s day gift I invite my mother on a girls’ trip to a hotel instead of giving her flowers. Last year I invited her to the lovely family-run farm hotel Hraunsnef in Norðurárdalur valley in Borgarfjörður, where we had a wonderful stay.
Both of us love the beautiful Borgarfjörður, which is not far from Reykjavík, where we live, so it makes for a perfect outing for one night.
Opening photo: the view from the terrace in front of our room
The "turf house" at Hraunsnef
It had been on my agenda to visit Hraunsnef for years and I had ogled it every time we passed it on my way up north and on my way back.
Of special interest to me was the turf house behind the hotel. But seeing that my husband and I are always in a hurry when travelling the long distance up north to Akureyri or Mývatn, and tired on our way back, then we had never taken the time to stop and have a look at Hraunsnef.
The "turf house" and Mt. Baula in the distance
The "turf house" turned out to be stalls and outhouses, beautifully camouflaged as old turf outhouses, which blend so well in with nature. You will see turf outhouses all around Iceland almost hidden in the landscape.
Unfortunately, they are disappearing little by little as they need constant maintenance, seeing that they are made of turf and rocks.
Calves at Hraunsnef
Hraunsnef hotel is a family-run hotel, run since 2005 by the couple Jóhann and Brynja and their 3 children.
It is a very cute hotel, in my opinion, and here you will find all kinds of animals; cows, horses, sheep, cats, and pigs, and during our visit, I encountered several calves and saw some lovely domestic geese on a small pond by the hotel.
They also have bootle-lambs and settlement chicken.
Our lovely room
The rooms are bright and lovely and beautifully decorated. Staying in such a lovely room made our stay a really enjoyable one. In the room, we found some comfy robes and slippers.
Guests also have access to hot pots by the hotel and that is when the robes and slippers come in handy. It was a pity that it rained so much that we couldn't stay outside as much as we wanted.
But we visited the shelter by the "turf house" where we a drink by the fire.
Having a drink by the fire in the shelter
I invited my mother for dinner in the hotel restaurant, which was filled with people, mostly my countrymen. The restaurant is located in a restored barn.
The owners want to keep their produce as fresh and local as possible and either make them themselves or buy from other farmers in the vicinity of Hraunsnef. So all the food comes from the Borgarfjörður area.
This also means that the fish on their menu is not fish caught in the sea, but trout and char caught in the Borgarfjörður rivers. Eygló, the daughter of the owners, is the chef at the restaurant.
The breakfast area
Breakfast was included in the price of the room and we had a lovely breakfast in the decorative restaurant on handmade plates. The owners of the farm make all the plates at the restaurant themselves, so each one of them is unique.
At the hotel shop, I found some drawings of the elves and the hidden people of Iceland, but the owners have mapped their homes at Hraunsnef. It is a widespread belief that we Icelanders share our country with the elves and the hidden people, who live in rocks and hills around Iceland.
Hraunsnef and the pond
I have shown you many such elf-spots and told you elf-stories in many of my travel-blogs, f.ex.:
The distinct gate at Hraunsnef farm
From what I could gather from the drawings in the hotel shop, some 6 types of elves live at Hraunsnef. The elves, who live above the farm at Hraunsnef are seemingly loud and seek attention from the humans. The hidden people at Hraunsnef often borrow tools from the farmers and are in good relations with them :)
You will notice a very prominent mountain while staying at Hraunsnef. It is called Mt. Baula and is in the perfect cone shape. I never tire of photographing this beautiful mountain while passing by it on my way up north. This rather strange-sounding name Baula means a hump, but the Icelandic verb "baula" means mooing.
A legend claims that if you climb the mountain on Midsummer's Eve you will find a pond containing a wishing stone. This wishing stone only floats up from the pond on this special day and the one who finds it will get his/her wishes granted :)
Grábrók scoria crater
On our way back to Reykjavík we visited Grábrók - Grey pants, a small volcano only 2 km south of Hraunsnef. This 170 metres high volcano created the lava-field Grábrókarhraun some 3,000 years ago.
Grábrók scoria crater is right by ring-road 1 and an easy hike with good walking paths takes you to the top of this small volcano from which you have a fantastic view of the surrounding area.
On top of the crater looking inside
This area was preserved back in 1962, to protect it from being destroyed, as heaps of material from it had been removed and used as gravel for roads. The lava field is on the Natural Heritage Register. There are some 3 craters here, but my photos are from my hike up to Stóra-Grábrók, the largest of the craters.
Glanni waterfall as seen from the observation platform
We also visited Glanni waterfall in the Norðurá river (not on our way back, but on our way to Hotel Hraunsnef, just after visiting the Krauma hot pools). It is located 5-6 km away from the hotel.
Glanni is a small (a drop of some 8 metres) but beautiful waterfall in the river Norðurá, which is well worth a visit. Norðurá river is an excellent salmon fishing river.
The sign leading to Glanni waterfall
There is only a short walk to the waterfall and the round-trip is only around 500 metres. I have heard stories about elves and gnomes by Glanni waterfall, but have not been able to find them in my compilations of folklore.
The name Glanni means both a madcap and the shining one. The shining one sounds more likely at it is a beautiful waterfall when the sun shines upon it as it did during our visit.
A short walk further along the trail will take you to Paradísarlaut, which is as the Icelandic name indicates a beautiful pond which reminds us of a small piece of Paradise.
Hraunsnef is located some 110 km away from Reykjavík, Iceland's capital city.
I would also recommend checking out the magnificent Silver Circle with all its beautiful sights. And while you are checking out the Borgarfjörður area, then you can look for the 9 Cairns of the Viking Egill Skallagrímsson from the Saga of Egill.
Have a lovely time in the beautiful Borgarfjörður :)