Experience the wonders of an Icelandic winter under the northern lights at the ravishingly remote Deplar Farm.
Deplar Farm’s geothermally heated indoor-outdoor pool—complete with swim-up bar—makes for the ultimate spot to catch a northern lights show.
From the Blue Lagoon to the famed Golden Circle, the sights of southern Iceland have been splashed all over social media by tourists from all over the globe (including yours truly).
Floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the property frame the surrounding epic landscape.
Hop a 45-minute flight from Reykjavik to the northern town of Akureyri, however, and a wilder world reveals itself: a majestic, mountainous landscape that dramatically hugs the nation’s longest fjord on either side, with winding roads meandering past farms and the occasional quiet fishing village. As I learned on a memorable visit last winter, also tucked among the epically rugged lands of the Troll Peninsula is one of Iceland’s most breathtaking luxury destinations, Deplar Farm.
The indoor-outdoor pool beckons with equally stunning views.
Set on a converted sheep farm in the remote Fljót Valley, Deplar is just 90 minutes from Akureyri. As we made the drive along the mountainous coast, turning inland to snake our way to the farm on a snowy, windswept December afternoon, though, it felt like we had left civilization behind, with mountains towering high above on either side of the protected valley and signs of habitation few and far between. The property itself exudes a rustic charm befitting its origins, with grass sprouting from the roofs of the cluster of black timber-clad buildings, making for a profile so low that the farm blends effortlessly into the rugged landscape.
The cozy bar is an ideal place to unwind with a cocktail in front of the roaring fireplace.
Step inside, and that ruggedness gives way to the ultimate in posh Nordic comfort. Thirteen en suite rooms—each given an Icelandic name like Flóki or Gunnar—are chicly decorated with plush sheepskins and Moroccan wools; an airy bar and lounge beckons with a roaring fireplace and piles of curated art books; the hushed, nearly 10,000-square-foot spa tempts with facials utilizing Icelandic products and a Viking sauna ritual that alternates intense heat with bone-chilling ice-water plunges. And around a long dining table (with a hotel capacity of just 32, communal meals are a delightful tradition), 2018 Iceland chef of the year Garðar Garðarsson presents exquisitely prepared seasonal cuisine, from pan-fried puffin with parsnips three ways to local scallops with seaweed, tomatoes and skyr. All this in the coziest of settings with floor-to-ceiling windows framing the dramatic mountain views, and the farm provides the perfect setting for relaxation and indulgence after days of adventures.
Deplar Farm is nestled in the remote Fljót Valley.
And what adventures await. One of the true marvels of Deplar Farm is its immediate access to outdoor action. That’s a signature of the Eleven Experience brand (Deplar is one of the outfit’s 11 properties), and it’s on full display here. Determined to make the most of the limited daylight—in December the sun doesn’t rise till 11AM, then hovers low in the sky and sets again around 3PM—we filled our days with excursions.
Each of the 13 rooms is decked with plush furnishings for the ultimate in Icelandic comfort.
We strapped on snowshoes and crunched across the valley’s awe-inspiring wintry terrain till our gloved fingers were numb, then enjoyed a warming lunch at the property’s renovated lake house. And in the nearby fishing village of Dalvik, we cruised the fjord on a private whale watching excursion, marveling as giant humpbacks fluked and frolicked next to the boat.
Whale watching is just one of the adrenaline-pumping experiences available to guests.
From snowmobiling and early spring heli-skiing to dog sledding and even surfing (and, in warmer months, fishing, kayaking and sporting clay shooting), Deplar offers an abundance of ways to get your adrenaline flowing and experience the stunning natural surroundings.
In late winter and early spring, heli-skiing draws throngs of adventure enthusiasts to the region.
After each action-packed day, we retreated to the farm and to what was easily our favorite place of all: Deplar’s expansive geothermal indoor-outdoor pool, complete with swim-up bar. Surrounded by towering mountains, drink in hand, weary muscles soothed by the warm waters, we were treated to an incredible northern lights show on our first night, and then our second, and our third, each more astonishing than the last. Cocktails with a view have never been so epic, and those otherworldly showings were the perfect cap to an unforgettable stay at one of Iceland’s most enchanting destinations.
The northern lights are often visible from Deplar Farm.
While there’s no guarantee that visitors to Deplar Farm will witness the awe-inspiring phenomenon of the aurora borealis (aka the northern lights) during their stay, the property’s remote setting with very little light pollution and warmer conditions than many Icelandic viewing areas means that getting a glimpse of these shimmering waves of green (and red, and yellow, and blue, and even violet) dancing across the sky is quite common. Best viewing times are during the long, dark nights between September and mid-April—and easily the best seats for the show at Deplar Farm are bar-side in the toasty geothermal heated pool for an experience you’ll never forget.