Two tall, beautiful brunette ladies, one dressed in cut-off jean shorts and a long, black loose singlet while her companion, decked in a long, white overflowing dress are the first people I see upon getting out of the Metro station at Mariatorget in the Sodermalm area of Stockholm. They both smiling brightly at me, as if in a competition with both the late summer sun and each other. They then stare back at each other and almost instantenously appear to have been hypnotised. Slowly, as if they can’t help themselves, they move in for a passionate kiss.
Sodermalm is precisely that kind of place, where artsy creatives live and the Stockholm Pride procession begin. It is also the location of a hotel owned by a former creative, former ABBA member Benny Andersson. The first boutique hotel in Stockholm, the four-star Hotel Rival first saw the light of day in 2003 when Andersson and his business partners restored a 1930s Art Deco Cinema and incorporated the neighbouring property to form what is now the hotel. The result? 99 film-themed rooms, a bistro, cocktailbar, cafe, a bakery whose offerings can be enjoyed at the breakfast buffet, 5 conference rooms and a cinema theatre that is the vortex of Stockholm’s high-profile cultural and cinematic events.
This is all fine and dandy, I hear you say, but how is staying at the hotel really like? Nothing short of an absolute delight. As much as I enjoy ABBA songs, I had had disturbing visions of falling into an uneasy sleep in an ABBA shrine prior to checking in. Instead, walking into a room at the hotel feels like you’ve been invited for a sleep over at your favourite cinema. The only trace of ABBA I can see is the Abba Gold CD, along with a selection of DVDs and a lcatalogue of about 100 movies from which you can choose one before calling the reception to have them bring it to your room.
And this is the hotel’s main overriding theme. Motifs from Swedish cinematography adorn the wall directly above the bed in each room, juxtaposed against theatre style velvet curtains in bold colours. The rooms are all equipped with a 32-inch flat-screen plasma television wth sophisticated state of the art surround sound system. The bathrooms are separated from the rest of the room by a large glass window which, combined with the surround system, makes it possible to enjoy a movie enjoying a relaxing bath.
By now, it has become apparent that Hotel Rival is the kind of hotel that disciplined and dedicated visitors to Stockholm and business people would look forward to returning to at the end of a long day. Some (I am looking at you, movie buffs), however, might not make it outside the hotel at all.
Hotel Rival: Mariatorget 3, 118 91 Stockholm, Sweden. http://www.rival.se Prices start at 1495 SEK for a standard room, including breakfast. Photos courtesy of Hotel Rival