Q: What is it? A: Former ABBA-member Benny Andersson’s hotel in the “trendy, charming and unique” area of Södermalm in Stockholm. And for the record: Benny was the keyboard-guy.
Does it feel designed? Not very.
Does it feel modern? So-so. Does it feel cool? Well, not exactly. If you take a look at the different hotels in Stockholm, they are rarely mentioned among the coolest places in the universe. Zaha Hadid, Ron Arad or Marc Newson don’t have design outposts here. Design in Stockholm is just about sufficient, just right – the Swedish lagom syndrome is in full effect. Despite numerous articles hailing Stockholm as a modernist heaven, there are very few hotels in the city that feel very cutting-edge. When the second ‘B’ in ABBA decided to get his own hotel, he didn’t hire Karim Rashid, but the lesser known Karin Ahlgren. Instead of quirky, details or kidney-shaped bathrooms you will find comfy chairs by Mats Theselius and glass by Ingegerd Råman. It feels quite Swedish, (even for a Swede), but not in a very Wallpaperish sense of the word.
It is built around a former movie theatre, hence the name.
Hence also the decoration of the rooms and bistro – there are frames from Swedish cinema classics just about everywhere. A friend of mine stayed in one of the suites that reportedly had a giant ABBA photo on one of the walls. The movie theatre opened its doors to the public in 1937 and I remember seeing quite a few movies here as a kid. There may not be something happening every week, but it’s enough to give the place a more vibrant and less secluded feeling than many hotels. Rooms on the other hand feel cosy rather than flashy and there are clever little solutions such as the fold out DVD-player and the window separating bathroom from bedroom. The design is flawless but certainly not there to impress anybody.
More importantly, the staff is as good as it gets.
The Grand Hôtel may still be providing the gold standard for Sweden, but you won’t find many places in Stockholm with better service than at the Rival. Members of the staff are friendly, knowledgeable and they know how to turn a too early breakfast in the bistro into a pleasant meal experience. Speaking about breakfast, the Rival version is a very good combination of espressos and eggs made to order, (a novelty in Sweden where most hotels have adopted the buffet format), and a very fine selection of cheese, ham, fruit, cereal and whatever you might need. The hotel is constantly rated high in surveys and polls and I am positive that the staff play a huge part in this. With this being said, it’s not overly easy to get a room here. With 99 of them, the Rival is by no means a small hotel, but they tend to be booked quite fast. So will I give it five stars? Yes, five stars – with a smile!
Box 175 25
118 91 Stockholm