Hotel Rival {Stockholm}

You know you're in for a treat when the hotel you stay in is partly owned by Benny Andersson, one of the members of Abba. And when you see that they have a brochure that looks like this, the anticipation builds because you assume the place is going to be quite special... And with a website like this, Hotel Rival really knows how to build anticipation. But the question I had before arrival was, will it stand up to its claim of being a posh retreat?

Oh yes, it did. It surpassed my expectations, and given that we only paid around $150 USD per night, Hotel Rival is quite the budget find. Located at Mariatorget 3 in S?dermalm, the trendy southern island facing a quaint square complete with park and fountain. There are tons of nearby cafes, restaurants, shops, even a grocery store around the corner for picking up the toothpaste that you forget to pack. The super clean subway is one block away and the neighborhood was safe and clean, extremely quiet at night (except for the church bells) so you'd never guess that you were in the center of the city.

The hotel has a restaurant, cafe, bakery, meeting facilities, even a movie theatre - so there's no such thing as feeling stranded in the middle of nowhere - this hotel has it all and is located in the center of all the action. Just a short stroll to the waterfront, too. Another Stockholm bonus - the salty fresh ocean air. I loved it.

This is the lobby, and the image in the top right corner is of the bar area (I didn't take that photo, it's from their brochure but all the others are mine). I loved the lighting in the lobby and the fun wallpaper in Art Deco style.

These two images are from their brochure, so now you can see what the rooms look like completely styled and of course, the front of the building with their adjacent cafe and bakery, a cafe that I adored (must try: sweet rolls and a mango yogurt smoothie). Scroll down for the cafe images. But first, let me tell you why this hotel was so special to me.

First of all, location. Super easy to navigate Stockholm from this point. Next, the staff. Everyone made you feel like the most important guest, and this is quite a special way to feel when you are thousands of miles from home. They're super friendly and chatty, everyone speaks fluent English (I must add that I think this goes for the entire city), and they'll help you with anything you need. And of course, there's the property... Exquisite sums it up for me. It makes most of the places I've stayed at in the northeast (US) for three times the price look like Motel 6. I'm stunned that such a posh city like Stockholm doesn't come with extremely expensive hotel rates like you'd expect. I'd love to see American cities get back to offering beautiful places to stay at affordable rates because they're hard to come by - yet I'm finding here in Europe, even in cities like Berlin, the rooms may be small but the standards are very high and the rates are extremely affordable. And it's all about luxury.

Entering our room from the hallway... When I say 'our' I'm speaking of Danielle and I, she's a friend from the Netherlands who is a blogger, the editor of the Style Files. I liked our balcony and the pretty view of the apartments surrounding it. The flat screen plasma and the stereo system that allowed you to plug in your iPod was a bonus of course, but the bigger bonus was when we discovered the bathroom was in stereo -- fully wired right into the shower. And of course, the marble tiled heated bathroom floors and the huge all glass shower wasn't bad either. :D
This view is from our balcony. The room was mostly white with an orange hallway and workstation, orange and gray curtains, and a gray door. To the right where you see the desk, there are built-in cabinets with a mini bar, safe, hair dryer, storage, closet, iron, etc. I liked how well this small space was designed. To the left of the desk was the bathroom.

This view taken by standing in the same position as above, only turning the camera to the left a little more. The blinds can be opened so that while you are showering, you can give your roommate a little show, perhaps? But with Danielle as my roommate, there was no performance happening in this room! But the feature was cute and of course, practical as the bathroom had no natural light so this windowed shower was a smart design feature while being slightly cheeky as well. I must add that the lighting in the bathroom was adjustable so you could shower by candlelight so to speak with your favorite tunes playing, which made for a very relaxing evening shower before bed, especially after walking all day. We listened to Michael Buble and Sade, the best music for evening relaxation with our piles of design magazines, snuggled in our super comfortable beds.

Abba was over the bed, I imagined that they were playing Dancing Queen the entire time because it's the only song I could hear looping in my mind each time I entered the room. The cutest thing about Hotel Rival is that the rooms come with a small selection of CDs and of course, one of them is Abba Gold. They'll even loan you additional CDs, Playstation games, and DVDs at no additional charge.

And I have to mention the rugs in the hallways, each floor had a different design. This is the 5th floor, the hallway leading to our room. Isn't the carpet the coolest? So original. I learned that they were designed by Swedish artist Carouschka Streiffert. The rug designs were inspired by ?urban paper waste? incorporating images of restaurant bills, movie or train tickets. I should add that the overall interior design of this hotel was pulled together by designer Karin Ahlgren of Ahlgren Edblom Arkitekter. Their portfolio is extensive and impressive.

And here are some images from the hip Hotel Rival cafe. I liked all the colors, each wall was different and very bright. But it was the smell of baked goods and the photography displayed on the walls that lured me in. Good food and good design? How can you go wrong?

I couldn't take my eyes off of the gorgeous photography of Ulla Montan. Isn't it arranged so well, and the lighting -- this photographer is so talented! My favorite is portrait of Cecilia Frode (37-yr-old Swedish actress), she is so beautiful.


So, if you travel to Stockholm and would like to locate the perfect city hotel, make Hotel Rival your hotel of choice. You won't be disappointed, I'm sure of it!

(images taken by holly becker for decor8 unless otherwise noted beneath the image)