Lonely Planet Writer

Remote Icelandic island solves bed shortage with high-tech sleeping pods

Japanese-style sleeping pods have arrived on an Icelandic island famous for puffins and pirate attacks, reports Iceland Monitor. The high-tech pods on the Vestmannaeyjar  open for visitors later in June – each berth fits one person and includes a television. They offer a novel solution to Iceland’s accommodation shortfall – thanks to the country’s burgeoning popularity, summer beds are in short supply for tourists. They are 2m long and 1m wide.

Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland.
Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland. Image by Julien Carnot / CC BY-SA 2.0

This model of sleeping pod first came to Reykjavík earlier this year, and the city’s Galaxy Pod Hostel offers 38 of the beds. But the Vestmannaeyjar, or Westman Islands, are a more adventurous destination than Iceland’s popular capital. Located off the south coast of Iceland, the 15 islands were formed by underwater volcanoes – the most recent island, Surtsey, only rose from the waves in 1963.

The 40 pods are found in Hamar guesthouse on the largest of the islands, Heimaey. “Originally we had intended to install bunk beds but the pods are much more comfortable for tourists, each one has a television and a plug for their computer or cellphone,” one of the owners, Svava Gunnarsdóttir, told Iceland Monitor.

Heimaey, Iceland.
Heimaey, Iceland. Image by belkassine… / CC BY-SA 2.0

Heimaey is only a few kilometres from the mainland, but feels like a very different destination, covered in jagged lava flows and surrounded by the North Atlantic. Millions of puffins come here to breed every year, and the island is an increasingly popular destination for tourists. Visitors can also hike through the distinctive landscape, visit a volcano museum, dive into a saltwater swimming pool and join mass singalongs at Iceland’s largest outdoor festival, Þjóðhátíð.

Heimaey has also been a key target for pirates. English marauders raided through the 15th century, and built a fort here. Algerian pirates attacked in 1627, kidnapping 242 people (almost three-quarters of the population) who were sold into slavery. Years later, 27 of the islanders had their freedom bought back for them.

Heimaey can be reached by air from Reykjavík, or by ferry from Landeyjahöfn or Þorlákshöfn. A night one of the pods costs Kr6000-7000 (approx €34-40).