How to Go (Far, Far) Away—and What to Do There


Photo courtesy of Deplar Farm

Is there any place that feels as far away as Iceland? It’s not so difficult to get to from the US, but the sense of being far, far removed from the grid—and the grind of twenty-first-century American life—is profound. Floating in a geothermally heated pool made of black volcanic rock, perched in a small mountain valley somewhere along the Troll Peninsula in the north of Iceland—mesmerized by a near-hallucinatory display of northern lights—might be one of the more luxuriously remote experiences there is.

sheep on a hill

Ducking under a thundering, ice-cold waterfall (protected by a dry suit you were outfitted in an hour earlier) to discover an entire cave lined in neon-green moss, having your words drowned out by a chorus of seabirds nesting in the cliffs of an island seven miles from the Arctic Circle, or heli-skiing down wild, untouched, enormous verticals leaves you with a similar, soul-relaxing sense of total retreat.

That you can do all these things from a chicly black-painted, sod-roofed, gorgeously decorated, and supremely comfortable home base makes whatever experiences you choose all the more transformative. At Deplar Farm, the staff has thought of everything—and they take “everything” to new levels.

The stunningly spare, modernist spa opens out onto a Viking sauna built, per ancient tradition, into the hillside (you watch the grasses and wildflowers on top of it wave in the breeze as you lower yourself gingerly into the adjacent 4°C plunge pool after sweating for longer than you think you can bear in the sauna).

  1. HigherDOSE Infrared Sauna Blanket V3, goop, $500

    Infrared Sauna Blanket V3
    goop, $500


  2. Roman and Williams Guild Curly Shortwool Pelt, goop, $120

    Roman and Williams Guild
    Curly Shortwool Pelt
    goop, $120


hotel interior

Cocktails (imaginative, inventive ones, both alcoholic and non) and all manner of delicious hors d’oeuvres are served from a similarly carved-from-the-hill sod hut at the side of the thermal pool (the swim-up barstools are chunks of basalt chiseled from the mountainside) and also at the sleek yet cushy lodge bar set about with low sofas, cozy blankets, glowing lamps, an arsenal of games and books, and a giant fireplace.

  1. Tala Walnut Knuckle Table Lamp, goop, $165

    Walnut Knuckle Table Lamp
    goop, $165


  2. Alexis Steelwood Go Long Party Board, goop, $400

    Alexis Steelwood
    Go Long Party Board
    goop, $400


  3. Blacksaw The Siempre Recycled Blanket, goop, $298

    The Siempre Recycled Blanket
    goop, $298


  4. Hangai Striped Three-Toned Purl Knit Yak Down Throw-INV, goop, $525

    Striped Three-Toned Purl Knit Yak Down Throw-INV
    goop, $525


  5. Sir Madam Solid Bass Coasters Set of 4, goop, $45

    Sir Madam
    Solid Brass Coasters Set of 4
    goop, $45


  6. Ghia Non-Alcoholic Apéritif, goop, $33

    Non-Alcoholic Apéritif
    goop, $33


  7. Richard Brendon Diamond Single Old Fashioned, goop, $112

    Richard Brendon
    Diamond Single Old Fashioned
    goop, $112


  8. Namu Home Goods Charred Zelkova Wood Moon Jar, goop, $2,900

    Namu Home Goods
    Charred Zelkova Wood Moon Jar
    goop, $2,900


  9. WS Game Company Maple Luxury Edition Scramble, goop, $200

    WS Game Company
    Maple Luxury Edition Scrabble
    goop, $200


hotel dining area

Breakfast and dinner are served at a single long table in a long room seemingly built for it that opens on both sides to absolutely incredible views of the valley, and the food is both healthy (the fresh vegetable juices in the mornings are incredible, as are the salads, broths, and roasted veg) and indulgent (the meat and fish, the desserts, and the just-baked breads with Icelandic butter and Icelandic salt are out of this world, and the wine list is epic).

  1. Nordur Salt Arctic Sea Salt Flakes, goop, $16

    Nordur Salt
    Arctic Sea Salt Flakes
    goop, $16


  2. R+D.LAB Bilancia Large Flat Bowl, goop, $92

    Bilancia Large Flat Bowl
    goop, $92


  3. Hurom Hurom H-AA Slow Juicer, goop, $459

    Hurom H-AA Slow Juicer
    goop, $459


  4. Foundrae Handblown Carafe, goop, $1,320

    Handblown Carafe
    goop, $1,320


  5. Beast Health Beast Blender + Hydration System, goop, $185

    Beast Health
    Beast Blender + Hydration System
    goop, $185


  6. Atelier Saucier Ivory Twill Napkins 4-Piece Set, goop, $66

    Atelier Saucier
    Ivory Twill Napkins 4-Piece Set
    goop, $66


  7. Zeus + Dione 3 Graces Candlestick Holders, goop, $205

    Zeus + Dione
    3 Graces Candlestick Holders
    goop, $205


  8. Namu Home Goods Black Walnut Oval Footed Vessel, goop, $275

    Namu Home Goods
    Black Walnut Oval Footed Vessel
    goop, $275


  9. goop Home Oval Roaster, goop, $150

    goop Home
    Oval Roaster
    goop, $150


chairs inside a hotel overlooking a mountain view

As you’re sipping your breakfast smoothie on your first day at Deplar Farm, your wilderness guide—there’s one per group or couple—appears, and what sets Deplar apart from other gorgeously designed, sumptuously luxe resorts around the world slowly emerges. Your guide is with you all day, whether you’re hiking, kayaking, heli-skiing, fishing, biking (they have Scott electric bikes), horseback riding (over the millennia, Icelandic horses have developed a famously soothing, easy-to-ride gait, along with a signature small stature), whale watching, or island-cliff-scaling. And your guide knows their sh*t. Ours, a gigantic and impossibly fit Welshman named Griff who really should be the next Marvel superhero, not only knew every bit of the landscape (as in, you’re kayaking down a stunning mountain river, and he stops you at the perfect pool to jump out of the boat and just float, then later has you duck behind the waterfall to see the hidden emerald cave) but also knew all the gear we’d need (from ski boots and water bottles to wet suits and dry suits) and had it prepared before we set out. (Deplar Farm’s entire wellness effort, including the wilderness guides, is run by an outfit called Eleven Experience, which does this for a number of hotels around the world, and they are truly without peer.)

  1. Judy The Mover Max, goop, $195

    The Mover Max
    goop, $195


  2. Corkcicle 40 oz Sport Canteen goop, $45

    40 oz Sport Canteen
    goop, $45


The things you learn in the absolutely unpopulated expanse of Icelandic mountains and coastline include: You can lie down in the lush grass because there aren’t any ticks in Iceland. There are blueberries growing everywhere underfoot. You can drink the water fresh from the streams, and there are no mosquitoes to bite you. The only things faintly resembling a predator in all of Iceland are the arctic fox and a hawk that hunts puffins along the coast.

snowy mountain view

When you return, worn out from not exactly roughing it, the spa, with its wide slate corridors and huge expanses of glass, beckons. The massages and facials are next-level, as are the futuristic isolation tanks, yoga room, many saunas, and the indoor-outdoor pool that’s actually a hot tub. Even simply lounging in the spa chaises, staring out the walls of windows, creates an indelible memory.

  1. Bearaby Cotton Napper Weighted Blanket, 15 lbs., goop, $249

    Cotton Napper Weighted Blanket, 15 lbs.
    goop, $249


  2. Soma 10-Cup Water Pitcher, goop, $39

    10-Cup Water Pitcher
    goop, $39


hotel room interior

For spaces that you don’t spend much time in, the rooms (designed by No. 12 Interiors) are spacious, cozy, luxurious, and particular—and they’re equipped with everything from blankets to hot drinks. You feel like you’ve got the best, farthest-away-from-anybody guest room at an especially beautiful private home.

  1. R+D.LAB Città Jacquard Blanket, goop, $545

    Città Jacquard Blanket
    goop, $545


  2. Fellow Clara French Press goop, $99

    Clara French Press
    goop, $99


  3. Fellow Stagg Stovetop Kettle, goop, $79

    Stagg Stovetop Kettle
    goop, $79


The best advice our guide gave us was not to skip the field trip to the unglamorously named Drangey Island (we were planning to). You take a thirty-minute ferry out into the ocean toward what looks like a giant rectangular medieval castle sticking up out of the water, land on a tiny dock in deep-turquoise water ringed by enormous cliffs teeming with nesting seabirds (the sound is deafening), hike up the near-vertical (yet nonetheless doable) cliffs to the flat, grassy top covered with wildflowers and puffin tunnels (puffins nest in city-like networks of tunnels they build in the grass). You lounge in the thick grass, watching whales spout and seals sun themselves far, far below; seabirds swoop and glide around you. There are few places as peaceful, anywhere.

Though the flight to Akureyri (the small city nearest to Deplar) from Reykjavik is short and easy, if you can, drive instead. Iceland is one of the most charming—and at the same time, spectacularly deserted—places to visit. You’ll pull off the road at the end of a totally empty fjord to find a beautifully maintained but person-free public hot spring pool to jump into, or taste the most delicious fish soup at the least-promising-looking diner-café (every restaurant—even the gas stations—has its own particular version of Icelandic fish soup, and we did not taste a single bad one), or look out the window to see whales cavorting in the fjord as you speed by.

seaside cliff

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