Benny Andersson, of Abba fame, is now the owner of the Rival Hotel, an eccentric establishment in the bohemian Sodermalm district of Stockholm. Housed in an art deco building, the hotel has a bakery, a Friends-style café, a bistro and two cocktail bars. The pièce de résistance, however, is a plush restored cinema, which featured in the original 1930s building and sets the tone for a movie theme throughout.

The decor shuns minimalism in favour of maximalist silver-screen glamour. The walls are swathed in vivid red, yellow and green, while Pop Art-style carpets cover the floors. A double bed sits shamelessly in the jazz-filled lobby and is regularly draped with chic Stockholmers sipping cocktails. A sweeping staircase leads to a 1940s bar, complete with glass chandelier and blue mural, where DJs play and revellers dance at weekends. Beside the lifts there are three original Warhols of local heroine Ingrid Bergman.


Hotel Rival, Mariatorget 3, Sodermalm, Stockholm, Sweden (00 46 8545 78900; Situated in a picturesque square in a formerly working-class island suburb dubbed "the Notting Hill of Stockholm" due to its unconventional residents, the hotel is just a 10-minute stroll to the cobbled streets of the old town (Gamla Stan).

Time from international airport: the main airport at Arlanda is a 45-minute taxi drive away, from around 375Dkr (£27). For those flying to Skavsta airport, take the 90-minute bus to Central Station (199Dkr/£14 return), an easy three metro stops from the Rival (30Dkr/ £2).


The film theme continues in the 99 rooms, with giant monochrome screens above the beds depicting iconic movie scenes - or, in a handful of very lucky rooms, Abba. The deep reds, mustards and jade, combined with oak floors and woollen rugs, are warm and welcoming. The rooms also showcase Scandinavian lighting at its best, with low-hanging sculpted globes and dimmable pillars of light in the bathroom. Heated bathroom floor-tiles, Egyptian-cotton sheets, a pillow menu and a teddy bear boost the comfort factor. For those too lazy to step downstairs to the cinema, each room has a 32in plasma screen and a selection of DVDs to rent. A window between the bathroom and sleeping area, and speakers, mean that you can watch TV while soaking in the bath.

Freebies: Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries.

Keeping in touch: There is wireless internet access in all rooms.


Doubles from 1,390Dkr (£100), with breakfast.

I'm not paying that: Check into Hotel Bentleys near the city's Central Station: Drottninggatan 77, Norrmalm (00 46 8 14 13 95; Double rooms start at 899Dkr (£65), including breakfast.