What to Expect in Iceland's Inflatable Bubble Hotel

09/18/2016 10:58 pm ET
Aurora Bubble Hotel, Iceland
Stephanie Vermillion
Aurora Bubble Hotel, Iceland

The night was clear. The rain held off. The conditions aligned perfectly for the night I’d been planning, waiting and yearning for since I bought our plane tickets to Iceland.

This was my time to finally see those fleeting Northern Lights.

This was my night in Iceland’s new Aurora Bubble Hotel, the plastic “hotel” that offers unreal views of the starry night sky.

Aurora Bubble Hotel, Iceland
Stephanie Vermillion
Aurora Bubble Hotel, Iceland

I stumbled upon the Bubble Hotel while cyber-stalking all things Iceland. It’s slightly (extremely) out of the ordinary, but the idea of sleeping in a clear inflatable tent in a remote Icelandic forest was strangely alluring. Even the whole outhouse thing didn’t scare me off.

And so, I signed up for what promised to be one heck of a memorable night. A night that consisted of constellations, crazy cloud formations and – you guessed it – those good old Northern Lights.

But sleeping in a plastic bubble does come with its own set of questions (because, um, you’re sleeping in a bubble), so today, I’ll shed some light on this unusual hotel option.

Aurora Bubble Hotel Interior
Stephanie Vermillion
Aurora Bubble Hotel Interior

Is the Aurora Bubble Hotel heated?

Yes! We stayed in the bubble in early April and while the outside was cold (read: snow on the ground), the bubble was oh so cozy. There’s a thermostat in the bubble that you can control at all times – and we did. Especially as the cold night got colder.

Where is the bubble?

The bubble is pretty close to the famous Golden Circle, near the town of Reykholt. It’s about 15 minutes from one of my favorite spots in Iceland, the Secret Lagoon, an off-the-beaten-path hot spring that feels much more authentic than the touristy Blue Lagoon.

Secret Lagoon
Stephanie Vermillion
Secret Lagoon

Can you eat in the bubble?

Well, I don’t know if there are rules for or against this, but I’ll go ahead and turn myself in: We did. We brought chips, leftover pizza (from the delicious Café Mika in Reykholt!), local beers and some big bottles of water. Now, when I visited the bubble’s outhouse had no running water, so we were responsible for bringing our own. Naturally, I misread labels and bought sparkling water, which led to a fizzy – or dare we say “bubbly”? – toothbrugh time.

(Note: They’ve made some renovations, and it looks like they have running water and a kitchen starting this month!)

What are the facilities like?

Our outhouse was great, no complaints! I mean, there is (well, was – the bubble’s getting an upgrade!) no plumbing – it all goes into a basin under the toilet – but hey, you’re sleeping in a bubble. What are ya gonna do?

What’s it like sleeping in a bubble?

Strange. A bit scary, knowing that at any moment, an assortment of strangers could be lurking outside staring at you through those clear, thin walls. But, we didn’t have any lurkers or peeping Toms (that we know about), and honestly, I’m far from a princess when I sleep, so I’m sure my tossing and turning would have turned them away quickly.

That was the bad, but here’s the good: Sleeping in a clear bubble was an absolutely amazing experience. It was cozy, it took us to a new part of Iceland we wouldn’t have visited otherwise, and it provided unobstructed views of the stars and Northern Lights … from the comfort of our bed. #Heaven.

Aurora Bubble Hotel, Iceland
Stephanie Vermillion
Aurora Bubble Hotel, Iceland

How does the bubble stay inflated?

It has a noiseless ventilation system that continually refreshes, preventing the air from getting too humid and too hot or cold. There’s also a metal frame for safety, so if you poke your bubble, it won’t collapse on you. (But let’s not test it.)

 Why the heck should I sleep in a bubble in the first place?

If you have to ask, you probably shouldn’t book the bubble…

Can you really see the Northern Lights?

Yes! I did! Of course, I mistook the Northern Lights for a strange, fast-moving green cloud at first, but then realized, um, they were THE NORTHERN LIGHTS (!!) so my boyfriend and I jumped out of the bubble and watched them from the open field just down the road.

You won’t see the Northern Lights every night – or even most nights – but if you visit in the fall, winter or spring on a clear, moon-less night, you have a pretty good chance of catching them. Just keep your eyes open, and stay awake!

Would I stay in the bubble again? Absolutely. In fact, let’s book a return trip now, shall we?!

As I mentioned, the Aurora Bubble Hotel is going through major renovations and upgrades. When we visited, there was only one lone bubble, but due to increasing popularity, the owner introduced several more this year. You can keep up with all of the upgrades, renovations and new bubbles here.

Stephanie Vermillion is a travel journalist and blogger based in New York City. Her travel writing has been published in outlets like Mental Floss, MSN, Matador Network and Travelettes, and she is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers. Follow Stephanie on her own adventure travel blog, The Wanderlost Way, or follow her on Instagram @TheWanderlostWay.

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