Hotel Rival

Sodermalm, Stockholm, Sweden Book from Book from £134 per night

Stylish and comfortable rooms in a superbly designed hotel transformed from a 1930’s cinema
The well-travelled owner - ABBA’s Benny Andersson - knew exactly what he wanted from a hotel: chic, uplifting rooms with every imaginable comfort, superb food, and impeccably charming staff. You feel welcome as soon as you walk in.

Top Swedish designers were commissioned to create dazzling bespoke carpets, enticing bathrooms and sleek furniture. Bold colour schemes of pale grey, warm red and deep greens sit against polished wooden floors and huge windows with long swishing curtains in luxurious fabrics. A giant iconic image from Swedish cinema hangs above each bed. A pillow menu guarantees deep sleep, and an excellent entertainment system provides stimulus (with some ABBA on offer, of course). Rival effortlessly achieves that rare combination: striking modern design which is immediately pleasing. Add a superb bistro, a chic bar and a friendly café; the vibrant shops of Södermalm all around you - and this is arguably Stockholm's best place to stay.


  • Stunning modern design: warm and welcoming rather than cool and aloof
  • Perfect rooms: beds are wonderfully comfortable, and thoughtful details include a DVD library, an iron, ipod dock and generous toiletries
  • Great food: lavish breakfasts (among the best we have encountered), superb Sunday brunches, and the bar downstairs is popular for cocktails
  • Great location: on Södermalm’s prettiest square, with shops and restaurants nearby, but a short walk to Slussen and Gamla Stan


  • Larger than the average hotel featured on i-escape but we felt its charms outweighed any objection
  • If you get one of the rooms outside the bar, you might hear some noise - though no thumping bass
  • This is a newish building; you may prefer to stay somewhere old and historical

Best time to go

Stockholm is fun all year round, and although it’s pretty cold from November to March, Rival is wonderfully cosy in winter. Spring and autumn are lovely, and summer can be positively hot – when you should consider using the city as a starting point for a longer trip exploring the archipelago.

Our top tips

Make some time to explore the trendy shops situated close to the hotel; don't miss Humana, which sells quirky vintage items and supports various charity projects.

Great for...

City Style
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 99
  • Bistro and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym


All 99 rooms are uplifting, modern and enormously welcoming. Long corridors are made exciting with Caroushka Streiffert’s striking carpets.

Inside, the first thing that hits you is the bold use of colour - particularly cheering in winter. Sheer beech panelling contrasts with a solid wall of red; or rich green curtains sit against silvery grey walls. A giant film still from Swedish cinema evokes Rival’s history. Beds are sumptuous, with good duvets and Egyptian cotton sheets; and there’s a pillow menu to ensure you sleep deeply.

The bathrooms make the most of a small space. They feature hairdryers, underfloor heating, and plentiful Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries. Deluxe rooms have baths, all others have showers. Music plays in the bathroom, with controls for wet hands, and there are large soft white towels and robes.

These are rooms designed by people who travel: there’s an iron, ironing board and umbrella. Also: a safe big enough for your laptop (which can charge while you’re out) and a well-stocked mini bar. The entertainment centre is impressive if slightly dated: a selection of CDs is provided (yes, including ABBA’s greatest hits), there’s either a 32" or 40" Samsung Smart TV with a blu-ray player and really excellent DVDs to borrow, a docking station for your i-pod, and a PlayStation with a few games for kids to borrow. The only problem is that you’ll be tempted to stay in.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Blu-ray player
  • CD player
  • Cots Available
  • DVD player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi


Rival’s history as a cinema lives on in some superb public spaces. Climb the wide sweeping staircase to find a round art deco bar with plush red seating, and, higher still, the bright spacious bistro, with its wall of windows giving views onto leafy Mariatorget square. The furniture is modern classic - dark wooden tables lit with candles - and traditional rugs on stripped wooden floors give a homely feel.

Breakfast is a really superb help-yourself smörgåsbord, but staff are also on hand to bring you cooked breakfast orders: pancakes, omelettes and porridge. The buffet is lavish and top quality. There's beautifully made scrambled eggs and bacon, plus a choice of cereals, including excellent home-made crunchy muesli with lots of extras to add, fresh fruit and a good fruit salad, baked bread, croissants, and home-made jams; two kinds of yoghurt (both excellent), and a selection of cold meats, smoked salmon and several fine cheeses complete the spread. This has to be the best breakfast in Stockholm.

You’ll be too full for a big lunch, but Rival’s Sunday brunch is famous - book ahead. Café Rival next door is buzzing all day and serves a good salmon salad at bargain prices for Stockholm. Dinner was equally delicious and the restaurant was buzzing from early till late. Smoked reindeer carpaccio, black roe on toast and the rainbow trout with fennel confit are popular choices.

There are many restaurants nearby in Södermalm: We’d recommend innovative Woodstokholm, casual café/deli Nytorget Urban Deli and excellent Thai restaurant Koh Phangan. Take the short walk to Gamla Stan, where unmissable Eriks Gondolen is the perfect spot for drinks with spectacular views.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children's meals
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Wander the streets of SoFo - Södermalm's trendy heart - to find 20th-century classic Scandinavian design in the many antique shops, and tiny designer shops making clothes and home wares

  • Just beyond outside the hotel’s Mariatorget square, there are more lovely boutiques along Hornsgatan - beautiful jewellery at Smide och Form, and lovely things for the home at Ebba & Jag, as well as small galleries and ceramicists

  • Gamla Stan - Stockholm’s old town - is just a 10-minute walk away, over the bridge from Slussen. A delightful place to stroll along cobblestone alleyways among historical old buildings

  • Take a boat trip to see the best of Stockholm’s picturesque waterfronts. Stockholm Sightseeing boats leave from outside Grand Hotel

  • A lovely walk on a sunny day: Djurgården island is home to the outstanding Vasamuseet - not to be missed - in extensive parkland

  • And Moderna Museet, closer at hand on Skeppsholmen island, has a good collection of modern art, and a cheap café with spectacular views

  • Cocktails at Eriks Gondolen - not to be missed

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures


Children would love Rival’s bold design, and we think the hotel is best for older kids. A teddy bear greets all guests in-room on arrival, and a CD of ABBA's greatest hits (courtesy of owner Benny Andersson) is supplied in each room. The hotel is very centrally located for easy access to Gamla Stan and sights.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

An extra bed can be placed in Superior, Deluxe and Deluxe Balcony rooms, and all rooms can take a baby cot. Superior and standard rooms can also be booked as interconnecting, making them ideal for families.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available free of charge on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

There's a daily changing children's menu in the Bistro – kids beef burger or chicken with seasonal veg followed by pancakes with jam and cream.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Large DVD library
  • PlayStation for hire

Kid Friendly: Economy Single Room

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 12 independent reviews from i-escape guests


Nice room, excellent location, good atmosphere.


Rooms very small but extremely well appointed. Beds were incredibly comfortable. Staff could not have been more helpful. Breakfast excellent. Hotel is much cooler than it looks on the website and in a fabulous Central location making everything in walking distance.


Reception staff superb; cold breakfast good; pre-cooked hot breakfast buffet less good. Bistro menu excellent.


A great hotel all around. The location is ideal, just 10 mins walk from the Old Town, so near enough for a quick stroll, but far enough away to escape the hubbub of the Old Town. The hotel is very trendy and funky decor wise with a great restaurant and bar. We ate in the hotel restaurant and food, drinks and service were all good. Breakfast was also excellent, with a great array on the buffet and a good selection of other options to order too. The standard rooms weren't massive, but that said they were very well appointed,with everything you need.


A lovely hotel in a very convenient location. The room was well designed and the bed one of the most comfortable I've ever slept in in a hotel. Leaving strawberries in the room was a lovely touch.
My only quibble was that at breakfast you had to get up to ask a waiter for coffee. Not once in the 4 nights we stayed did anyone come and ask if we wanted coffee or any of the freshly cooked items.
Breakfast was not included in the price so that made the cost of the stay more expensive.


Outstanding in every respect!


I liked the maid service a lot; traveling with kids means a million little toy pieces laying around, which we always found put back nicely. The rooms are very homey, stylish, though I would have liked to turn up the heat some more, which was not possible.
Lots of cool shops (Nitty Gritty, Sneakers’n’Stuff, Drop Coffee, plus the entire Gotgatan close by to stroll by during the weekend.
Fotografiska is also walking distance.


Attractive, well appointed room. Wonderful staff and great breakfast. Good location.
But food in the brasserie expensive and limited.


I had a fabulous long weekend at Hotel Rival. The front of house staff were great - attentive and happy to help with anything. The restaurant and bar staff were also fantastic, and the food was to die for. Excellent cocktails too! The bed was super comfy, and I just loved the pillow menu. It's never an easy thing to be a solo woman traveller, but I felt safe and very welcome at Hotel Rival.


The Hotel Rival was a very positive and pleasurable part of our trip to Sweden. The hotel provided excellent quality and service. The atmosphere created from our first interaction with the staff at check-in was maintained throughout the hotel throughout our stay. We look forward to revisiting.


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Rates for Hotel Rival