Iceland is perhaps my favourite backpacking country of all time—glaciers, snowmobiles, Northern Lights, ice caves, hot springs, and so much more. It’s like no other place on earth! Before heading off to the backcountry, I set up a stay at the trendy Kex Hostel in downtown Reykjavik. The hostel is located blocks from the main strip, which houses much of the city’s nightlife and cultural attractions. When you’re not bouncing around on the various  Iceland tours, this is the place to catch 40 winks!

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I can’t count how many hostels I’ve been to since I’ve started traveling. But when I think back to how they looked, a majority of them feature an assortment of old, mismatched furniture and laminated signs put up with masking tape. Kex’s décor is second to none in comparison to other hostels. When I arrived, I thought I had walked onto a movie set. It’s obvious that every detail, every decorating decision was carefully considered and executed. It still had hodgepodge furniture, but it all seemed to work together. At this point, you may think that it would err on the side of pretentious. It is decidedly hipster, but it has a homey vibe.

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Others apparently had taken note. Besides serving as affordable backpacker’s lodgings, its lively atmosphere has resulted in the locals adopting the Kex Hostel as a prime hangout. But there’s plenty of space to go around. There were people on their laptops using the speedy wifi or perusing old guidebooks in the reading area.  Others are slamming back craft beers at the Drinx bar (I was doing both). Their gastro pub served up fresh fish and other dishes made from local ingredients. There’s even a heated outdoor patio when you want to bring your drink outside and get some fresh air. Awesome. As a self-proclaimed social hostel, their multipurpose Gym & Tonic room is adapted to host to all sorts of events, from football screenings to concerts.

KEX Hostel Interior #5

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Aside from the swank common areas, the dorm themselves were top notch, with plush beds and views of the mountains and sea. The breakfast buffet was lavish with freshly baked bread, an assortment of cheeses, Icelandic jams, among other delicious items.

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Kex hostel has set a new standard for how hostels should look and operate If you’re in Iceland and looking for budget lodging that’s beyond basic, be sure to check it out. Happy travels!

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