Hotel Rival

Sodermalm, Stockholm, Sweden Book from

Unquestionably Stockholm’s most stylish and comfortable rooms in this 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 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.

Great for...

City Style
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 96
  • 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


It’s so rare to find everything you need in a hotel room - ‘function and beauty and a few surprises’, just as the room notes promise.

All 99 rooms are uplifting and modern, showcasing the superb design for which Scandinavia is famed. Cool people will find them very cool. Everyone else will just find them 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. And the lighting is just right: directionable bedside reading lights, and even bathroom lights have dimmer switches. 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: natural light floods in from the bedroom, but there are blinds you can shut from the shower for privacy. Deluxe rooms have baths, all others have both telephone- and rainhead-showers, a hairdryer, underfloor heating, and plentiful Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries, in big enough bottles to be worth taking away. Music plays in the bathroom, with controls for wet hands, and there are large soft white towels, with pleasing little mauve glass knobs to hang hand towels from. There are bathrobes in every room - though you need to ask for them in standard rooms, as the wardrobes aren’t quite big enough to leave room for coats in winter.

These are rooms designed by people who travel: there’s an iron, ironing board and even full water spray in every wardrobe! 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: 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 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
  • Internet access
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


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. One wall is of honeyed wood with a subtle art work combining hundreds of film star collectors cards. 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 on hand to bring you cooked breakfast orders: pancakes, omelettes and porridge. The buffet is lavish and top quality. Hot dishes are constantly replenished with beautifully made scrambled eggs and bacon, cold meats, excellent smoked salmon. There’s freshly squeezed fresh orange juice, and other concentrated juices in cute cans: grapefruit, pineapple and tomato. Three kinds of leaf tea - with those sprung, one-cup filter things, and big white mugs. Proper coffee can be made to order.

Then there’s a choice of cereals, including excellent home made crunchy muesli, with lots of extras to add: walnuts, sunflower and flax seeds, raisins, prunes, apricots. Fresh pink grapefruit halves and kiwis, as well as a good fruit salad, then 5 choices of freshly baked bread from Rival’s own bakery, croissants, and rolls of all kinds; home made jams, two kinds of yoghurt (both excellent), and a selection of cold meats and several fine cheeses too. 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.

There are many restaurants nearby in Södermalm: reception staff are infinitely knowledgeable and will tell you exactly where to find what you need. We’d recommend fish at Sardin, the cool Pet Sounds bar; excellent Thai at Koh Phangan, among many others. Gamla Stan is a short walk away, and the one not to miss is romantic Eriks Gondolen for drinks with spectacular views.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children 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 who would be in PlayStation heaven. A teddy bear greets all guests in-room on arrival. And a CD of ABBA's greatest hits is all 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, all rooms can take a baby cot. You can also connect a superior and standard room together

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request free of charge

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 Activities on site:

  • Large DVD library
  • PlayStation for hire

Kid Friendly:

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