Once in awhile the Black Forest comes alive with music and everyone´s invited. PIC svartiskogur

Once in awhile the Black Forest comes alive with music and everyone´s invited. PIC svartiskogur

W ell traveled individuals know the drill. More often than not the very best places to lay one´s hat for a night are found by pure accident and not through some fancy colorful brochures or websites.

This is especially the case in today´s Iceland where tourism has almost overnight become the most important industry in the land and demand for tours and accommodation far outweighs supply in the high season.

Trouble usually follows rapid growth in one form or another. In Iceland the pristine highland is no longer very pristine and nature overall is taking a beating in the most popular tourist spots where throngs of folks have tripled in just a couple of years or so. A pretty good reason to visit now before it all goes to waste because few are doing anything to counter the destruction and the tourism industry itself wants not to spend a dime for the public good.

Less known is the fact that the wealthy individuals responsible for taking the whole country to the brink economically in 2008 were smart enough to escape both much punishment and indeed most were left standing with their fortunes regardless after the crash. Question is, what to do with all that cash in a ruined economy?

Tourism to the rescue. Almost overnight a massive tourist boom took over as the bona fide industry in Iceland even surpassing fishing which has historically been the pillar of the local economy. Nowadays, most fancy hotels and guesthouses and even swathes of attractive areas have been bought up by the wealthy in order to cash in on the boom. Not surprisingly it is those same hotels and places that you find in the many free tourist publications widely found here. Most smaller places simply do not have the funds to advertise much and therefore often overlooked by visitors. Which is horribly wrong if you ask us. A lose-lose situation if there ever was one. Visitors lose out on very special places still operating for the pleasure and passion of it instead of just money in the bank and locals lose out to the same individuals grinding many folks to the ground in 2008.

Which is why we at Total Iceland make an effort to alert you of the smaller places left in this country still wholly owned and run by families and not investors. We believe it is simply the right thing to do in most cases. Share the wealth folks!

All this brings us to the Black Forest of Iceland or Svartiskogur in the local language. For Germans that should conjure up images of a huge and lovely forest area but admittedly that is not quite the case with the Iceland one. It is a small country hotel in the East of the country in a secluded area although just a stone´s throw from the Ring Road of Iceland.

This is not a five-star accommodation by any stretch of the imagination but then again a five-star accommodation is not the same for everybody. All are not looking for being pampered to hell by lowly paid staff. Which is probably why many of the top accommodations recommended on TripAdvisor and such sites are often not the very grandest and plushest hotels.

As everything else in Iceland this is a small place but certainly surrounded by forest. Here it is crucial to keep in mind that not so long ago two trees together made for an Icelandic forest since this place has for eons been completely void of anything resembling a forest. Most all trees found in Iceland today have been planted by hand in the last 80 years or so.

The small wooded area of Black Forest offers ambiance par excellence and tremendous views over the most majestic mountain range in the East, Dyrfjoll mountains. Within walking distance runs the glacial Jokulsa river and also not far away the Heradssandur beach where seals are often encountered basking. Hiking here is a must and a number of interesting sights found throughout.

Most importantly and what is five-star about this place is the welcoming committee. The owners still make sure everything is in order for every guest 24/7 and any problems quickly dealt with. They make you feel truly welcomed as no big investor hotels can offer. A place to lay your hat after a nice day and sleep more soundly than you´ve done in centuries.

* Team Total Iceland is in no way connected to this place or the owners. We stayed there five nights in summer 2014 incognito and got no better or worse service than anyone else. Only complaint was the whiff of sadness when leaving.

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