Discover Reykjavik, Iceland
By Jason & Ruby S. Nichols, almanacofstyle.com
Youthful and historic, quirky yet sophisticated, Reykjavik is rightly the gateway to Iceland with a booming nightlife and rich culture of music, food and art -- all set against nature's majestic backdrop.
My better half, aka my husband, Jason Nichols, was lucky enough to visit Iceland and was able to report back.
Jason is a proud founding member and Creative Lead at Enso, a lovely little ad shop that's out to change the world by helping brands make a positive social impact. He also happens to be the best travel mate and one of the most stylish men I know, pulling off casual pocket squares and tabi socks on a Tuesday at the office. NBD. I know I'm biased, but I'm certain you too will fall in love after reading his guide to Reykjavik.
Beautifully cooked meats, perfectly poured cocktails and massive murals of birds define this new-ish eatery. Iceland is a sort of meat and potatoes kind of country, and the chefs at Kol know how to handle their meats. Because my colleagues are people who love to challenge the physical limits of the human body, they ordered the roasted half chicken with vegetable stuffing, topped with foie gras and served with duck fat french fries. It’s hot bird-on-bird action that's far more elegant than turducken, but should not be eaten in its entirety if you have plans later that evening.
The cocktails are crafted by professionals. They’ve perfected the classics while introducing “comfort food” into their drinks with concoctions like Duck Season, made of smoked duck fat washed bourbon, maraschino and lemon.
This was easily one of the more interesting and strange places I experienced in Reykjavik. Edison bulbs swing above the bar, illuminating a never-ending parade of custom drinks that are modern takes on classic punches, cocktails and elixirs. The large back fire escape provides a chilly respite for dance-weary smokers and drinkers.
The first most important thing to know is a dress code is enforced. The second most important thing to know is that all is not what it seems there. As the night went on and the dance floor began to fill with Reykjavik's most cool and creative, I noticed a disproportionate number of attractive, single, middle-aged women holding court and definitely on the prowl. They behaved like a mafia, accepting drinks and dances as tokens of well-earned respect. They were powerful and alluring, dressed to the nines and bewitching men like sirens with their gyrations. They also might have been vampires. I steered clear and enjoyed my time there.
This store felt extra amazingly “Iceland” (from my outsider perspective). As soon as I walked in the door I was greeted by a sawhorse draped in the fluffiest, most sleep-inducing long-haired sheep pelts the world has ever known. Sweaters, knit from the wool of the immediate family members of those sheep, line the walls and blanket the tables. There are outdoorsy looking jackets and boots and bags that can handle anything the outdoors can dish out, but also for looking fashionably outdoorsy. They even have a grownup onesie downstairs that I imagine some Icelandic hulk of a man could somehow make look normal. I am not that man.
During my entire adventure in Iceland I wished my wife was by my side, but never more than when I explored this almost hidden treasure. Vibrant textiles splashed color over the walls and fixtures. Dresses burst with florals, ombres and watercolor washes, draping themselves along displays and onto the floor. I wanted my wife wearing everything.
Men who enter this store are men of discerning taste, of experience and wisdom, who are meticulous about the way they present themselves to the world. The men who work here are craftsmen of a rare sort, laboring in a tradition of old to help men transcend their status and bring elegance back to a society that is sorely lacking in it.
These employees are also in a sort of pinup calendar wearing their finest digs, which may undermine the whole elegance thing but does a great job of capturing the vibe and look of the store. It's pretty damn funny, too. On purpose. I think.
Dedicated to the renowned sacred poet of Iceland, Hallgrimur Petursson, Guðjón Samúelsson's design of the church takes inspiration from materials and iconic natural landmarks around the country. The exterior resembles a mountainous rocket ship more than a house of God. It is said that his rippling block pillar facade is designed to resemble the basalt lava flows of Iceland's landscape. Its observation tower is the tallest structure in Reykjavik and is the only place that provides clear views of the entire city and surrounding landscape.
*Images courtesy of Iceland Design Centre, Gunnar Hammerle and Jason Nichols