Iceland Captured: The Culturalist

Reykjavik is one of those places that is undeniably cool. Whether art, design, music or fashion, the capital city blazes its own path. And today there are a crop of new hotels and eateries to savour. We were staying at hot new enclave Canopy by Hilton, a masterclass in chic low-lighting and mid-century furnishings, and where you’ll find one of Reykjavik’s most passionate tastemakers, Chef Sommelier Alba.

We first meet Alba at the Marina cafe, another hotel under her wing where artisan coffee beans fragrance the air and you can watch boats bob on the harbour – both the café and its neighbouring Marina Residence apartments (another hip stay) are enviably located overlooking the old harbour.

Alba arrives dressed in a leather jacket and immediately launches into a warm hello. Straight talking, energetic and confident, she’s a riff on the traditional sommerlier—and pretty much the city’s brand of cool in microcosm.

As Alba takes us on a tour of her favourite city hangouts – from boutique shops to a tasting dinner at Alba’s innovative GeriSmart restaurant, and ending in jazz and expertly-made cocktails at Slippbarinn – we begin to see where the city’s cultural confidence comes from; this is a country unafraid to do things its own way.