Located along Reykjavik’s scenic waterfront, the whitewashed building known as Hofdi House is best known as the place where US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev held the 1986 summit that led to the end of the Cold War. Images of the house were broadcast throughout the world, making it world famous.
Beautiful Hofdi House was built in 1909 and originally housed the French consul; there are still signs of this on the building, including the initials R.F. for the Republic of France. In the 1940s and ’50s, it was home to the British Embassy. The house has also hosted several celebrities and heads of state, including Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and Marlene Dietrich. Hofdi is now owned by the City of Reykjavík and is currently used for official receptions and meetings. Although the house is unfortunately not open to the public, visitors are welcome to explore the house from the outside.
Many city sightseeing tours of Reykjavik include a stop at Hofdi house, offering the opportunity to see the exterior and read the various plaques that tell of its role in international politics.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Hofdi House is a must-see for history enthusiasts.
- There is no charge to look around the exterior.
- The sculpture in front depicts pillars from the chieftain's seat of the first Norwegian settler in Reykjavik.
- The grounds are also home to a 4-ton slab of the Berlin Wall, a gift from the New West Berlin Art Gallery to commemorate the 25th anniversary of German reunification.
How to Get There
Hofdi House is located on the waterfront, on Saebraut Road. It’s about 25 minutes’ walk east of downtown Reykjavik and can be reached using bus routes 4, 12, or 16. It is also a stop on the hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour bus.
When to Get There
There are no restrictions on when you can visit the Hofdi House grounds. If you want to avoid the biggest crowds of tourists, aim to visit in the evening. The glow of dusk lighting up the water in front makes for an attractive sight.
Some people believe that Hofdi House is occupied by the “White Lady,” thought to be the ghost of a young woman who drowned. A British Ambassador who once occupied the house was so unnerved by the ghost’s presence that he persuaded the British Foreign Office to sell the house back to the Icelandic government.