Pre-Cruise Check In: Hotel Rival Stockholm, ABBA Founder Benny Andersson’s Hotel

Room 307 at Hotel Rival Stockholm
Room 307 at Hotel Rival Stockholm. © Ralph Grizzle

Tomorrow morning, my daughter and I awaken early to walk to the waterfront at Stockholm’s Royal Palace to board the world’s oldest cruise ship still in regular service. We’re transiting Sweden on the Juno, built in 1874.

Until the sail-away, though, we are exploring Stockholm, and we spent the last two nights in what will surely go down as one of my favorite hotels.

Owned by ABBA founder Benny Andersson, Hotel Rival holds the number-two spot of 160 hotels in Stockholm on TripAdvisor. For the moment, however, it holds the number one spot for my daughter and me.

Greeted by a friendly receptionist, we checked in and headed up to our Deluxe category room, number 307. The view over Mariatorget (Maria Square) was framed nicely by the oversized windows, and we found the room itself to be spacious and exceptionally pleasing to our tastes.

Hotel Rival Free DVDs
We popped in the ABBA Gold CD, available in all rooms, and went down to the front desk to check out a free movie, Mamma Mia, of course. © Ralph Grizzle

With Swedish music on our minds, we popped in an ABBA Gold CD, which was available in a small stack of CDs and DVDs in our room. Hotel Rival also offers a DVD library, with selections available for use free of charge. Of course, we checked out Mamma Mia.

Hotel Rival Stockholm Bed
We were told that guests comment about the comfort of the beds and the fine Egyptian linens. © Ralph Grizzle

Bathrooms were large, featuring a tub and shower, Crabtree & Evelyn bath amenities, bathrobes and slippers and a window into the bedroom that can be made private by pulling the blinds.

Superior Room Hotel Rival Stockholm
Deluxe Rooms feature tub and shower. The blinds can be drawn for privacy. © Ralph Grizzle
Crabtree & Evelyn bath amenities Hotel Rival Stockholm
Crabtree & Evelyn bath amenities. © Ralph Grizzle
Hotel Rival pillow menu
Hotel Rival even features a pillow menu. © Ralph Grizzle

Superior rooms are about the same size as Deluxe rooms but with smaller bathrooms and showers only (no tub). Standard rooms are not advised for avid cruisers traveling with lots of luggage.

Our room also featured a mini-bar, safe, two large closets, ironing board, an extensive DVD library (free to use), large-flat panel television and plenty of workspace. WiFi was also available in our room at no additional charge. On the fourth floor is a business center with ice, free speciality coffees and a selection of tea.

Hotel Rival Room 307
Mini-bar, safe, plenty of workspace, free DVDs for viewing, large flat-panel television and more. © Ralph Grizzle

Music and theater are central themes to Hotel Rival, which in fact began life as a movie theater in the 1930s. The hotel still features a theater, used for various screenings and events. This coming Friday, we learned, Elvis Costello will be performing on stage. There’s lots of entertainment during the year, mostly Swedish artists, musicians, comedians and the like.

Benny Andersson Hotel Rival
Thank you for the music. With ABBA founder Benny Andersson as the owner, of course there's music in every room, even the bathroom. © Ralph Grizzle

Situated in trendy Södermalm, Hotel Rival is an easy metro ride (or walk) from Stockholm’s central attractions, including Gamla Stan. We used the convenient metro, perhaps three minutes walk from the hotel lobby, to reach our points of interest in Stockholm. Central Station is only three metro stops away; Gamla Stan only two.

Within walking distance is artsy and young SoFo (South of Folkungagatan). A pun on Soho, SoFo is one of the most popular areas in Stockholm and noted for its shopping, restaurants and Bohemian lifestyle.

“We’re in a real Stockholm neighborhood,” said Sean Naughton, Hotel Rival’s Concierge. “You don’t even have to go to Stockholm, because Stockholm comes to you.” In other words, Hotel Rival is a place where the locals hang out alongside the hotel’s guests.

Hotel Rival Lobby
The attractive lobby is home to locals and hotel guests alike. © Ralph Grizzle

Café Rival is especially popular among locals and guests alike as is the Bistro, with its balcony overlooking Mariatorget, a beautiful spot to enjoy the included (in most room rates) breakfast buffet on sunny mornings.

One thing I particularly liked about the breakfast buffet was that the food was exceptionally fresh and healthy, a focus on quality over quantity, plus additional items, such as omelets and pancakes, could be cooked to order at no additional charge.

Hotel Rival Breakfast Buffet
The included breakfast buffet was fresh, and delicious, with plenty of extra items that could be ordered, such as omelettes, eggs and speciality coffees - all at no additional charge. © Ralph Grizzle

When I check rates for two at the hotel, I typically find rooms from $200 to $250 per night, so with apologies to ABBA, it’s not “a rich man’s world.”

Hotel Rival exudes a certain warmth that is difficult to put into words. Perhaps it is telling that most of the staff, like Naughton, have been employed since the hotel’s inception in 2003.

My daughter and I certainly felt right at home at Hotel Rival. With its friendly staff, great location in a trendy neighborhood, easy access to Stockholm’s main attractions and comfortable guest rooms, Hotel Rival gets our vote for a memorable stay in an unforgettable city.

Ulrica Edgren, Hotel Manager, and Sean Naughton, Concierge
They have been with Hotel Rival since its opening in 2003: Ulrica Edgren, Hotel Manager, and Sean Naughton, Concierge. Sean runs a blog with lots of great tourist tips, www.stockholmtourist.blogspot.com

Be sure to check out Sean’s popular blog, The Stockholm Tourist.

 

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