Being a lover of bookish travel, I couldn’t pass by the opportunity to poke my head into Hús máls og Menningar while in Reykjavik. I have seen several videos showcasing this fantastical place pop up on my social media feeds, and from what I could tell, it was a big bookshop with a lively bar inside that often has live music events.
Iceland’s most bookish venue
I headed to the bookshop bar for opening time at 10am, and was immediately struck by the size of the place. There are three big floors, and all walls are floor to ceiling with books. When I arrived, it was early by Icelandic standards, and unsurprisingly, I was the only customer in the whole place. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to to order a hot waffle along with my morning coffee, and settled down to write this article while I waited for it to cook.
I have wondered around the three floors and taken in the rather special feeling (and amazing smell) that comes along with being surrounded by books. The patron came over and had a quick chat with me, which I often appreciate as a solo female traveller. He showed me a video on his phone of the live music that played last night, and told me that I should come back later to experience the vibe myself. While I am otherwise occupied tonight, I may well come back tomorrow to indulge in a drink and live music surrounded by books!
The books themselves seem to be exclusively in Icelandic bar a small section that are in English. From what I can tell, a great many of the books are available to buy, along with a handful of bookish and live music related merch.
If you want books for the aesthetic and the vibe, this is a great place to come and experience. If you want to actually read books but don’t read Icelandic, this might not be the place to visit! As I have been sitting here writing this, the ground floor has started to fill up and the candles on tables have been lit. I am surrounded by people who mainly seem to be German and French, wearing cosy jumpers and hats, and flickering candles. There is an undeniable feel of hygge, and it’s wonderful.
Before I leave to explore more of the city, I am tempted to indulge in the lamb soup that’s advertised on several posters here. ‘Enjoy a warm nutritious bowl of the Icelandic delicacy’ are enticing words right now!