Review : Hotel Rival, Stockholm

One of the key highlights of my recent trip to Stockholm was my stay at the stylish Hotel Rival.

Entrance to Rival

From their website, I was immediately drawn to this rather glamorous looking boutique hotel. Upon further research online, we found an exceptionally good deal on Expedia to stay for four nights and five days during December. Prior to our journey, Expedia also upgraded us to include free breakfast every day for the course of our stay, which further sweetened the deal for us.


From the airport, you can take the Arlanda Express and change at Central Stockholm station to a bus or tube (Mariatorget is the nearest underground station) which is a faster way to get to the hotel. Fortunately Hotel Rival’s proximity (7 minute walk) to Stockholm Södra Station means that you can take an overground commuter train direct from the airport at a fraction of the cost. Although slower (34 minutes), it is a nicer and more affordable way to get to the hotel.


Hotel Rival is located in the fashionable and bohemian district of Södermalm, overlooking the beautiful Mariatorget (Maria Square).

Overlooking Mariatorget

There are various advantages to staying at Hotel Rival, thanks to its convenient location close to most of the city’s hot spots. It is a 15 minute walk to Gamla Stan – Stockholm’s famous historic and picturesque old town. You are also a mere five minute walk from Slussen, which is a major transport hub. The Pier from where ferries depart daily for Djugården (to visit famous museums like VASA, ABBA, Nordiska) is also a walk or short bus ride away.

Reception lobby

Hotel Rival is owned by Benny Andersson (of former ABBA fame) and is built around a former cinema that existed in 1937, which adds to its charm and historical significance.


As you go past the revolving doors, you are welcomed into the modern and swish main foyer, with the bar to your left and the reception to your right.

Entrance Foyer

Upon arrival we were greeted by the Hotel Rival’s friendly concierge, Sean Naughton. Prior to our departure, Sean had already given us some tips about Stockholm via his fabulous blog The Stockholm Tourist


We were further delighted to be upgraded to their Superior room which was really good news. Our check-in was fairly smooth and fuss-free and we spent some time in the Cafe Rival next door whilst our room was being prepared.



The interiors of the main hotel foyer is like a walking into a red carpet event. Lush, upholstered seats in bright colours of warm reds, deep pinks and orange, dreamy velvet curtains, colourful art works and designer lamps by Philippe Stark make this an attractive and glamorous space, full of theatrical flourishes. The ambience is evocative of Hollywood glamour.



Loving the colour scheme
Colourful artworks

The overall scheme of the hotel is bright, cheerful, contemporary with pops of colour and fun graphics.

Colourful corridor


Our Superior room was bright and sunny (thanks to the full height windows), overlooking a quiet inner courtyard.


The bed was a good size, complete with Egyptian cotton bed linen, duvet and the softest of pillows.


For extra comfort, they also had a pillow menu which is quite unique and something I wish that every hotel would include.


Wardrobes in bright reds complimented the blonde wood furniture and the overall monochromatic scheme.


For those who like their technology, the room came equipped with a plasma screen, a DVD/CD player and a selection of DVDs and CDs. A special mention here of their complimentary WiFi – it was one of the fastest I have seen anywhere and definitely a USP.

A neat little writing desk

Next to our bed we had a gorgeous pink Källemo armchair, which was a firm favourite with my husband as it was super comfortable.

Featuring Teddy Björn
It was hard to move him from his chair

The bathroom, though small, had a walk-in shower and all the modern amenities and travel essentials.



It was stocked with luxurious bath products from Crabtree and Evelyn, London.


We also had complimentary bathroom slippers and luxury bath robes which were really handy.

Slippers and bathrobes

The room also had a safe, iron, ironing board, umbrella, shoe horn and a well-stocked mini bar.



All in all, I would say our room was tastefully decorated and a lot of thought had gone into the little details to make our stay extra comfortable.

Our floor also had a complimentary tea and coffee station (with ice and water dispenser) which was convenient for those sudden caffeine cravings!

Tea and coffee station


Breakfast in Rival was a wide selection of continental and Swedish staples. There were plenty of cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurts, fruit juices, nuts and seeds to choose from alongside a large array of Swedish local breads.

Healthy kale, apple and ginger shot
A variety of breads

They had a fairly exhaustive cold food selection – cuts of cured meats, cheeses, pates, salads with smoked salmon and Toast Skagen (Swedish prawns on toast) as something a bit extra.




Cured meats and cheeses

You could also help yourself to a cooked buffet of eggs (choice of boiled and scrambled), sausages, cooked new potatoes and bacon.

Hot buffet section

Made-to-order breakfast was also available that included delicious pancakes, stuffed omelettes and French Toast.

Pancakes with jam and cream
Cheese omelette
Poached eggs on toast

All of that lovely food was accompanied by croissants, doughnuts and other pastries, washed down with lots of really strong black coffee and tea (although you could order speciality coffees as well).


Pastries for breakfast

Needless to stay, we were spoilt for choice for breakfast at Rival.


Given the choice, we tend not to hang out at bars of hotels that we stay in, as there is always a nice bar or pub round the corner to discover. However, the bar at Hotel Rival was a destination in its own right.


The interior design was contemporary with touches of cool glamour, plush upholstery and a statement semi-circular bar with interesting lighting.



Almost every evening, it was packed by Stockholm’s beautiful and elite, rubbing shoulders with the more casual tourists; everyone generally seemed to be having a really good time.



On our first day in Stockholm, we also checked out Cafe Rival which is next door to the hotel. In contrast to Rival’s eclectic and glamorous interiors, the cafe had a more minimalist style. Fresh, modern and lively, this casual and informal cafe is buzzing with locals. One can enjoy the legendary Swedish ‘Fika’ or the daily coffee break here.


Here we tried a delicious cheesecake and cup of coffee, whilst planning our itinerary for the next few days.

Lemon cheesecake

Besides coffee, they also serve beers and wine, as well as savoury dishes like homemade soups, fresh salads and sandwiches.


If you happen to visit, be sure to grab a seat upstairs for some people watching.

People watching with coffee


One of Rival’s most unique features is its 700 seater theatre which used to be a former cinema. For the duration of our trip, it was closed for performances but we requested the staff to give us a little sneak peek.  They happily obliged!



Rival Theatre

You can book shows here and it can get you discounted rates to stay at the hotel. Rival was the location of the Stockholm premier of Mamma Mia (The Movie). I couldn’t believe that I was standing on the very spot where Meryl Streep and members of ABBA greeted thousands of spectators in 2008!




We were amazed by the lavish scale and grandeur of it all, hidden inside the bowels of the hotel. Watching a performance here is definitely on my list now!


The Bistro is located on the first floor of Hotel Rival. The eclectic interiors comprise of dark oak floors and yellow panelled walls made of thousands of photographs of Swedish film stars (in keeping with the cinematic theme). The scheme was peppered with colourful carpets and richly upholstered seating.



During the day, it is open for breakfast. On weekends, they have started doing brunches which seem to be really popular with the general public.

Bistro by day

However, during the night, it is transformed into an elegant and lively bistro serving classics such as Biff Rydberg.

Bistro by night

My partner and I were absolutely thrilled that we chose Hotel Rival as our hotel during our trip to Stockholm. It made our visit special and memorable. Needless to stay, we would love to stay in this charming hotel again when we return to Stockholm.

More information on the hotel can be found here

N.B. This blogpost is not sponsored by Hotel Rival. All opinions and views expressed in this blogpost are my own. The photographs used have been taken by me and my partner. I review anonymously and pay for my hotel stay and meals. 


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