What is it?
A stylish hotel bar and restaurant known for its support of Reykjavík’s artistic community.
Housed in the only art-deco building in Reykjavík, Hlemmur Square’s commitment to the city’s creative scene sets it apart as a home for both international and Icelandic artists. In previous years, Hlemmur Square has sponsored the Reykjavík Fringe Festival. It’s also hosted Reykjavik Culture Night, Secret Solstice, and Iceland Airwaves, among others. Its festival launch parties incorporate a variety of acts, including drag queens, live bands, and improv troupes. Hlemmur Square is also a screening venue for the Reykjavik International Film Festival (RIFF) and Stockfish Film Festival. It features a rotating collection of art installations from local artists in place of stock artwork, including work from up-and-coming visual artist Helga Th.
On less active evenings, the bar is quiet enough to hold a conversation and makes for the perfect stop off after a long day’s work. Those sitting solo can easily content themselves next to the fireplace, people-watching or curled up with a good book. In that sense, Hlemmur Square often feels like a retreat from the quotidian. Pulsa, the hotel’s bistro, only caters to hotel guests, but those lucky enough to qualify can expect traditional Icelandic recipes—tender lamb, langoustine soup, and other locally sourced dishes.
Despite its obvious charms, patrons may find some aspects of Hlemmur Square not up to muster. Seating is limited, and the bar also closes earlier than most others in the city because of its attachment to a hotel (though its ambience is totally unlike that of a ‘hotel bar’).
But there’s a strange satisfaction in knowing that Hlemmur, now a proverbial watering hole, was once an actual watering hole for the city’s horses. It boasts one of the largest collections of bottled beers in the country, as well as a range of mixological miracles and rotating craft beers spread across 13 taps. Due to its close proximity to city’s major bus station, Hlemmur Square is one of the most accessible places in the city to chill out in an uptownesque setting, particularly during Happy Hour (featuring half-priced beers and speciality cocktails).
As the Hlemmur neighbourhood develops into Reykjavík’s restaurant row, Hlemmur Square is poised to ride the new wave of interest through a mixture of affordable happy hours, festive launch parties, and live events.
Hours: Daily: 3PM-11PM
Price Range: Beer: 1.200ISK; House Wine: 1200ISK