First impression Farm? I can see the helipads but not the pigsty.
Staff High five!
Food & drinks Organic free-range artisan tequila slammers for everyone.
The crowd If Hemingway had worked for a hedge fund.
In a nutshell The great – well, totally extreme and awesome – outdoors.
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Set the scene
The sublime natural beauty of Iceland’s remote Troll Peninsula is matched by the stealth-luxe of this most un-farmlike of farms – a place where one heli-skis virgin slopes or fly-fishes for salmon in crystalline streams or contemplates the human condition while immersed in a flotation pod but as a rule does not have to trouble oneself with mucking out stables or bumping through fields in a tractor.
What’s the story?
On the sublime Troll Peninsula of northern Iceland, this is one of half a dozen small-scale lodges (and one boat), at once super-high-spec and endearingly laid-back, in the USA, Europe and the Caribbean, run by an outfit called Eleven Experience. It is the brainchild of private-equity guru Chad Pike, who, true to his name, loves fish, especially catching them. Also skiing. In 2008 he bought a fixer-upper in Crested Butte, which happened to come with private access to some of the best skiing in the Rockies. His wife Blake zhuzzed-up the interiors and a family holiday house turned into the Eleven Experience brand, for which Deplar Farm, which opened in 2016, has become something of a poster child.
What can we expect from the bedrooms?
Thickly textured Scandi-rustic. By no means vast but impeccable. There are Aesop products in the volcanic-looking bathrooms – like solidified lava.
How about the food and drink?
The farmiest part of the whole deal is the wonderful food – locally sourced meat (lamb and beef mostly), fish (salmon and char) and vegetables, simply but stylishly dished up. Less farmy but no less wonderful are the thoughtful wine pairings at dinner and the endless boozy options available at the numerous bars. The main horseshoe-shaped bar made of Siberian driftwood back at the ranch is only the starting point – you will discover or be introduced to others in all manner of unexpected places. There are fridges full of containers of suspiciously healthy-looking liquid stuff – vitamin-enriched pick-me-ups, I imagine – all over the place.
Anything stand out about the service?
An interesting alliance, the American-Icelandic one, the sometimes rather wearing ski-bummery and yo-dudery of the one offset by the more laconic guilelessness of the other. Whether your Experience rates an Eleven or not will depend quite a lot on your relationship with your Experience Manager – a sort of friend-philosopher-and-guide figure who will get the measure of your particular predilections and tailor your time here accordingly. The range of activities, at any time of year, is marvellous. Skiing and fishing are only part of it. A visit to Langhus Farm, where you can ride Icelandic horses and gaze out across the Greenland Sea towards the Arctic Circle, is essential.
What sort of person stays here?
The tribe of JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. Rich Americans with kids and a taste, which may be either extremely cultivated or purely notional, for the great outdoors.
What’s the neighbourhood scene like?
This is a super-high-end lodge for heli-skiing and salmon fishing in a remote and relatively humble community of farmers, fishermen and horse-breeders. Interesting.
Anything we missed?
The sensory-deprivation pod thingummy in the spa is a must. It is kooky and fun and once you emerge from it you will appreciate the massive views of the real world outside even more.
And anything you’d change?
The indoor-outdoor geothermally heated saltwater swimming pool is amazing and even has its own bar – but is not really designed for swimming. You keep bumping into glass panels or bits of sculpted rock. Something of a missed trick.
Is it worth it – why?
The fishing in summer is as good as the skiing in winter, and the combination of mountain and ocean scenery is as dramatic as anywhere on the face of the earth. By Steve King
Address: Deplar Farm, 570 Fljót, Ólafsfjörður, Iceland
Telephone: +1 970 349 7761
Wifi: All rooms have free wifi.
Price: Double from £1720, full board, including return airport transfers
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This hotel is one of our favourite in the world, and included in our Gold List 2019. Discover more of the best hotels in the world 2019 now.
The 78 best hotels in the world: the Gold List 2019