Harlem is the latest in the illustrious line of trendy Reykjavík bars known more for their cool clientèle and great nights out than for their furniture, décor and ambience.
Let’s start with the negative and build to the positive, shall we? That’s how they do it in court, after all.
Harlem is a dark, windowless room which is too big for comfort when it is quiet and rather cramped when busy — although the crush of dancing bodies is one of Reykjavík partying’s biggest attractions to many people.
The furniture is sparse and a lot more drab than the bar’s young age would suggest, and the toilets are usually unpleasant — as is the case in all the city’s favourite watering holes.
But, now to the positive: the walls are painted with murals by some of Reykjavík’s most iconic street artists and you could almost treat the place as an urban gallery…with beer.
The beer is reasonably priced compared to many rival establishments; and happy hour only makes for even better value. Despite this, the bar is often ghostly quiet in the early evenings, which is why it’s so good that the staff are chatty and friendly, and the music is famous.
The music would predictably be good considering this is a bar frequented largely by musicians and artists. Don’t be scared, though: Harlem has somehow escaped the pretentious and/or condescending atmosphere of many of the coolest hangouts in town. Here you’ll probably just find people dancing like crazy to the upbeat electro and house – no matter if they’re tourists, sculptors, roofers or heavy metal singers.
Harlem is at Tryggvagata 22, by the corner opposite Reykjavík Art Museum and the Customs House.
WOW Werdict: check it out!
See other bars in our Reykjavik nightlife guide