A luxury boutique hotel in Södermalm...

A small privately owned boutique hotel on Mariatorget in Stockholm with 99 rooms, a bistro with a bar, the Tavern, an art deco style cocktail bar, Watson's Bar, four conference rooms and a theatre with 735 seats. Rival will be "a warm, friendly and personal place for people to meet". Here is our story - past, present and future. Why Watson's is called Watson's - read more under "Events and happenings".

The Rival Hotel History

the Rival's history
In 1937, the Rival cinema opened on Mariatorget. Karl-Gerhard provided the opening speech and entertainment. The building has a great social and historical value as one of the first establishments to mix a variety of entertainment and amenities.

The building soon became an entertainment establishment with a cinema, hotel, restaurant, pastry shop and apartments. The building was designed by architect Rolf Hagstrand and the Danish Markus Madrid Lorentzon was responsible for the art deco-inspired interior design.
Read Kjell Furberg's report ( DN på Stan 1987 ) "Magnifika Rival "
Read Mats Kullander's exciting story about the "Luxury Cinema Rival"
The Rival cinema was in use as an SF cinema from 1937-2005.   

In 1974, this photo of the Rival Hotel's entrance was taken by Ingvar Lundkvist on behalf of the City Museum, a film title that feels relevant even in 2021. The Rival cinema was also renowned for hosting Bond film premieres from the 1960s to the 1980s.

In 2002, Benny Andersson, ChristerSandahland Christer Hägglund bought
what was then called the Aston Hotel and the associated Rival cinema. That same year, Caroline Eriksson was brought in as CEO. In June 2002, a major renovation of the property began, and intensive work was carried out to create what was to become The Rival. Great attention was given to details, guest perspectives and not least on creating a "place that  would be nice to visit and stay!" The Rival opened on September 1, 2003.

Renovation and extension 2002-2003

A major consideration of the reconstruction and extension phase was to ensure that there was a natural interaction between the various activities of the building as a whole. Being able to move between bars, bistro, foyers and theatre was of the utmost importance. The theatre has great historical value, underpinned by spacious foyers on three levels, wide staircases with elegant railings.

An extension to the courtyard provided 15 new hotel rooms. Rooms in the extension have a French balcony or seat balcony, all to let in more light. The attic was furnished and gave way to the Rival's Suites. One of the biggest interventions in the building is the two glazed elevators.

From the top two floors (out of a total of seven), there is the most beautiful view of the rooftops and the Church of Mary Magdalena.

Photo of the interior from 1937. The beautifully carved railings, mirror-clad columns. On the left, the SF bio box office.

In 2019, from exactly the same angle.

The Rival cinema in 1937 with 1218 seats.

The Rival Hotel's theatre in 2021 with 735 seats.

Interior designer Karin Ahlgren SIR/MSA and architect Anders Bergkrantz Architekt SIR/MSA were responsible for the refurbishment and extension of the property 2002-2003. Project manager and coordinator Hans Adolfsson, Adolfsson &Amp; Partners.

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Facts about The Rival Hotel

Facts, service and feeling
The 2003 goal remains the same – a hotel where the guest's comfort is always in the center and where the sleeping environment in the hotel room is the main thing.

 Hotel rooms you'll long to come back to! Read more

Breakfast with long breakfast hours, our taste-wizard breakfast chef and most importantly – top-notch scrambled eggs! Not to mention the butter-baked croissants... Read more

Room service 24/7. You never have to go to sleep or wake up hungry! Read more

Bistro The Rival Hotel's Bistro Over the years, the Bistro has been a gathering place for hotel guests and Stockholmers from all parts of the city. Read more

The bistro balcony for balmy evenings ( sometimes with the help of strong infrared heating ), open April-September. Dinner, drinks or breakfast.

Watson's Bar is open all year round, every day and evening without exception. Music, drinks, food, after work, outdoor dining. Read more

Watson bar

Watson's Bar outdoor dining April-September.

The cocktail bar - a classic bar rich in art deco details. Read more

the Tavern with outdoor seating, serves lunch, dinner, wine and snacks.

Lectures, streaming - the theatre at the Rival has 735 seats. Read more

Shows, theatre, concerts, live podcasts – 735 seats. Read more

Maria conference room for 22 people. Read more

Creative room with space for 8 creatives. Read more

The Boardroom for 8 people. Read more


Since 2003, the Rival Hotel's real estate and operations have been divided into two wholly owned subsidiaries of Benny Andersson Produktion AB. Jesper Henryson has been CEO of The Rival AB since 2017.  Caroline Eriksson is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hotel Rival AB and CEO of the real estate company Rival AB. The Rival is a stand-alone hotel with no chain affiliation. 

At the Rival, guests sleep tight in Egyptian cotton sheets, under down comforters in an ocean of pillows. Standard for each room are a separate pillow menu, blackout curtains, as well as 24-hour room service. Wifi and broadband, dual USB ports in each headboard, smart TV, blu ray player, speakers in the bathrooms, parking and concierge service. Hotel room decor breathes quality and design, with rugs from Kasthall, glass art by Ingegärd Råman, armchairs and chairs by Mats Theselius and Gunnar Asplund, among other things.

The hotel's target group is primarily business and leisure travelers. The mix of guests is international. In the Rival's bars, tavern and bistro, Stockholmers and the hotel's resident guests meet. The Rival is a boutique hotel, which is the opposite of a streamlined chain hotel.

The Rival has 99 hotel rooms and suites, 194 beds. Three conference rooms and a theatre with 735 chairs. the Rival's Bistro, Cocktail bar, Bistro bar, Watson's Bar and the Tavern. The Rival opened as Sweden's first boutique hotel on September 1, 2003.

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Interior décor and design

Rival has since 2002 collaborated with interior designer Karin Ahlgren SIR/MSA AE/OW Arkitekter and Hans Adolfsson Adolfsson & Partners AB. Karin Ahlgren, among other things at Rival, is responsible for the appreciated interior of the 99 hotel rooms and associated suites. the Rival's Bistro and Watson's Bar & outdoor dining is designed and decorated by architects Peter Ågren and Tina Marin, Millimeter Arkitekter.

Interior details
The whole idea of Hotel the Rival's interior design has been to create a colorful and multifaceted environment ranging from cocktail bar's festive original interior to the shape and design of our time. Everyone should feel welcome here! the Rival's different activities have given way to different designers and artists.

Hotel rooms

  • A large window between the bathroom and bedroom for optimal light and view from the bathroom.
  • Warmth and care in the material selection with yellow-stained birch panel in the entrance section.
  • Well-thought through details with profiled panels and recessed handles in closet doors. Wooden venetian blinds in the same material in front of the bathroom window.

Most bathrooms have windows with venetian blinds towards the bed room section.
The innermost wall of the bathroom is clad in glass mosaics in different colours. Kolmårds marble in patterns on the floor. Ambient lighting featuring light pillars with etched glass on either side of a large mirror. Marble-clad bathtubs in all de luxe rooms and suites. Ambiance enhancing details such as colored knobs and towel racks.

The rooms' different film motifs are matched to the varied colours of the rooms, often in bold colours.
The movie theme, on canvas or behind plexiglass, is surrounded by a generous velvet curtain. The motifs are taken from SF films from 1924 and onwards.

Glass art by Ingegerd Råman is featured in all hotel rooms. One or more of Mats Theselius (above) and Gunnar Asplund's award-winning armchairs and chairs furnish each hotel room.

The hotel rooms have wooden floors and at least one Kasthall carpet "Esther " in different colours depending on the colours of the other textiles in the room.

Suites on the 7th floor

On the seventh floor, suite 704, and in the background a glimpse of Executive Room 705.

The top floor – the seventh floor – is characterized by light as well as the feeling that you are actually in an attic; elegance under the rooftops! White-painted pine floor and white polished walls form the base. The bathrooms are bright and luxurious with white Carrara marble, brass details, a spacious bathtub and a full glass wall facing the room. The beds are low and wide. Comfy plush armchairs on soft Kasthall rugs in light wool. Light-treated oak throughout, in panels and cabinets. Brass lamps with white lampshades. 

Rival's Bistro

The velvet theme from the hotel rooms continues at the Rival's Bistro.
Italian armchairs and chairs mixed with specially designed sofas. In the bistro there are also several original green chairs in operation, the chairs come from the so called "Kungalogen" / press gallery in the old Rival cinema. Fittings Jamie Hayón (Spain), Rubn (Sweden) and Bover Barcelona (Spain). Custom carpentry design by Peter Ågren. Rival lamp, inspired by the staircase railing, designed by Karin Ahlgren. Curtains Ludvig Svensson.

In the Bistro and Café Rival there are fantastic photographs by Ulla Montan of renowned culture personalities in Södermalm.

Carouschka Streiffert has designed the wall panel with 924 "filmis". 

Cocktail bar

The cocktail bar with the original outer part of the bar - in the foreground Jaime Hayón's pendant "Josephine 6.3".

Watson´s Bar

Watson's Bar with furniture designed by Munna. Mats Theselius armchairs upholstered in Designers Guild fabrics; table, Mambo Factory; lighting, Bert Frank.
Watson's Bar was designed and decorated by Peter Ågren and Tina Marin at Millimeter Arkitekter, in collaboration with Konceptism.

 Downstairs at Watson's Bar , classic Tom Dixon armchairs are flanked by artwork signed by Milana Schoeller. Reupholstered Källemof armchairs by Mats Theselius, fabrics Designer Guild. Custom-made "photo mat" with motifs from Woodstock-68 and the iconic image of Janis Joplin, idea Karin Ahlgren, AE/OW Architects.

Meeting rooms

The conference rooms have been decorated both excitingly and informally.
In the room Maria there are Eames chairs and Chester chairs in design by Thomas Sandell and Pierre Sindre for the Creative Room's Happy Swing armchairs in design by Roger Persson. The boardroom has a more strict interior with chairs designed by Åke Axelsson and pendant luminaires by Inga Sempé. Idea and interior design Karin Ahlgren, AE/OW Arkitekter.

Unique design
The hotel has 7 floors accessible via stairwell or elevator.

The carpets in the hotel corridors are designed by Carouscha Strejffert who drew inspiration from her travels and adventures around the world..

The carpets in the Rival hallways are unique, with no pattern or color combination found in more than one place. The carpets function in part as noise dampeners in an important communication flow in the building. The carpets also give a hint of where you are in the hotel, a recognition factor. Each floor has its own distinct carpet design. The way Carouschka creates carpets is unusual. She uses a collage technique, tearing and cutting in "urban paper trash" style which she then meticulously merges into a balanced but lively surface.

In the hotel hallways, low mounted wall lamps (Kava) are found next to each hotel room door, shining a light image on the floor. What's more, the room number is etched in the glass. (Annell Light+Shape)

Graphic design
Maria Dahlgren, Metagram AB, has in her characteristic way created the now classic graphic Rival design and it can be enjoyed in its entirety at the top of this page.The rival logo with the "R" (below) is one of Maria's many contributions to the Rival's graphic profile.

Konceptism AB was commissioned to develop the Watson logo (above) and the concept for Watson's Bar.

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Events and Happenings

May 14, 2003 the Rival's fantastic journey begins with the opening of Café Rival in Mariatorget.

2003 On September 1, we opened the entire hotel. Bathrooms with windows towards the hotel room generated some attention (and a little anxiety for some) – but calm is easily restored thanks to the Venetian blind, controlled from inside the bathroom.

2003 The first earned SEK 100 bill. framework is, of course, framed.

2003 On September 13, it is finally time for the official inauguration of The Rival. We hosted an evening of entertainment by Robyn, BAO, Peter Dalle, Skärgårdspojkarna, Tommy Körberg, Claes Månsson. Maria Möller emcee. The inaugural show ended with an indoor fireworks display and then the party began... food, dancing and happenings until well into the wee hours. The picture above is from the 1937 opening of the Rival, at which time the festivities were emceed by Karl Gerhard. Read Karl Gerhard's Prologue 1937

2003 "Marrying form and function" by Tyler Brule, Financial Times, is one of the first reviews after the opening of Rival. Read the full article here

2003 Hotel managers all over the country "dreaded" Friday's hotel review in Dagens Industri. The Rival does well and gets 21 out of 25 points. Read the full article here

2003 Monty Cherry was one of the first to be hired for the opening of The Rival Hotel. Monty still works as a head waiter at the Rival Hotel's Bistro.

2004 We showed the European Football Championships in the Rival's theatre. That was long before streaming and the huge impact of sports bars. We enjoyed two fabulous, packed weeks of football and incredibly enthusiastic guests!

2006 We showcased our main product in the lobby – a made-up hotel bed complete with Egyptian cotton sheets, down comforters and a sea of pillows! The bed became immensely popular not least among our evening guests. The New York Times got wind of what we (crazy Swedes!) had done and wrote an article about The Rival (April 2006)

In 2008, we serve the first exclusive dinner on the the Rival's stage. This dinner is followed by many birthday parties where the invited guests have been very surprised by the choice of "dinner venue" of the celebrant.

2008 Gala premiere with the entire cast of the film "Mamma Mia". From left: Benny Andersson, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Agnetha Fältskog, Annifrid Reuss, Christine Baranski, Colin Firth, Phyllida Lloyd, Judy Craymer and Dominic Cooper. Photo: Mats Andersson / SCANPIX. Friday 4 July 2008 was one of the hottest days of the year, followed by a tropical night. The warm Christmas night embraced all guests and Stockholm showed its most beautiful side...and we promise, the party continued long after the sun had risen over Södermalm's magical rooftops...

2009 What's cooking? No "media chef" has combined cooking with such a liberating and entertaining personality as Per Morberg. For four evenings in January, the actor, hunter and chef visited the Per Moberg The Rival Hotel's Bistro for a guest chef performance. On the menu was a three-course meal composed and prepared by Per together with the Rival's chefs, souschefs and chefs de partie. 

2009 – 2nd Best To None lyrics and music Björn Ulveaus and Benny Andersson. Hotel the Rival's staff sing and the recording takes place under the direction of Benny Andersson in the classic Atlantic Studio on Karlbergsvägen in Stockholm.
Music Video
Behind the scenes   

2009 The Telegraph is one of many international newspapers to recognise "2nd Best to None"

2010 "Merry Christmas My friend" text and music Björn Ulveaus and Benny Andersson. Also this time there will be a visit to the recording studio on Karlbergsvägen, a lot of laughter and high atmosphere characterizes this recording. In the picture from left Sean Naughton, concierge and Tobias Wikberg, F&B manager.
Music video

2003 onwards – a selection of all the fantastic artists, concerts, performances and shows that have been performed in the Rival Hotel's theatre over the years.

On 24 January 2013, "Rainman", starring Robert Gustafsson and Jonas Karlsson, will premiere in the theatre at Rival. This will be a tremendous success and Rainman will sell out through December. Production company: Nöjeskontoret.

In 2013, The Rival celebrated its 10th anniversary. It was a big party for our employees and closest partners who have all meant so much to us. The picture is from our amazing fireworks display over Riddarfjärden that "went off" at midnight. Then the dancing continued well into the small hours.

2015 Rival becomes a proud member of Stockholm LGBT – a collection of local attractions, hotels and companies that work together to ensure that Stockholm continues to be at the top of the lists of gay-friendly destinations. All our guests should feel equally welcome, regardless of nationality, colour, religion, gender, age or sexual orientation.

2015 On 30 January, "En man som heter Ove", a one-man show with Johan Rheborg, premieres. The show is a tremendous success and is completely sold out for both the spring and autumn seasons. Production company Blixten & Co.

2016 Yet another great guest chef appearance at the Rival Hotel's Bistro. This time with gourmet couple Peter J and Marie Skogström. The guest game offered a eight-course menu with tastes of oysters, scallops, langoustines, mackerel, lamb, lemon verbana and vanilla.

2017 "You should stop when it's the most fun!" says Caroline Eriksson, who after 15 years stepped down as CEO of boutique hotel the Rival in Stockholm. Jesper Henryson took over as CEO on September 1, 2017.
"I didn't hesitate for a second when Benny and Caroline offered me the position of CEO and the task of refining and developing the hotel and restaurant business," says Jesper. Press release

2018 Bring Rival home! A new range of coffee mugs, trays, teddy bears, aprons, pepper grinders, cloth caps, cloth bags and more – everything is available on site or can be ordered. Email us!

2003-2018 Hundreds and hundreds of major events were held at the Rival's theatre. Number of participants with 300-700 people per event, often all-day events with large challenging servings of coffee, lunch and coffee. As of January 2019, we decide to put all our focus on offering a high-quality theatre for shows, theatre, concerts and lectures.

2018 premiere of Pernilla Wahlgren's show "Short, Happy and Grateful", a humour show that is a big hit.

2018 In December, the last major corporate event was held in the Rival Hotel's theatre.

2019 The Rival Hotel's stage blossomed with Lisa Nilsson; ART with Rheborg, Andersson and Schyffert; Lola with Tommy Körberg, Lill Lindfors; World History; Niklas Andersson; Charlotte Perrelli; Peter Apelgren; Pernilla Wahlgren; Magnus Carlsson and many more.

2019 Watson's Bar opens in the hotel entrance. Our owner Benny Andersson with the BAO orchestra surprise the evening's guests with super musical entertainment. On left Jesper Henryson, CEO, The Rival .

2019 Watson's Bar is named after the happy dog of the owner family. Watson is obviously in on the opening ceremony, a little tired of all the fuss but satisfied!

hotel rival2019 We started renting out Rival bikes to our hotel guests.

2020 was a strange year. In this strange pandemic period, many new ideas were born, most of which were implemented. Instead, the large contexts with many people became small, heartfelt and safe encounters between few.

2021 continues to be an innovative period at the Rival. The creative ability of employees has repeatedly paid off and resulted in new services and products. "Date Night", digital check-in and check-out, "Working day at Rival",  extended and enhanced room service, constantly upgraded menu in Watson's Bar and more. The starting point is always to create safe, quality services that prevent the spread of infection. We look forward to many more "Events and Happenings" at The Rival

2021 we are launching show packages with "best ticket, luxury accommodation and a breakfast with a golden touch".

2021 for the 11th year in a row has The Rival won Tripadvisor's Traveler's Choice Award. We wouldn't have done that without our guests' good reviews.

On 1 September 2021, CEO Jesper Henryson will start "Rivalblogging" - the same day Rival turns 18!

29 April 2022 we open the new addition the Tavern with food, drinks, snacks.

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Changes at the Rival Hotel over the years

Our "project journey" starts in 2003... Pillow menus - something completely new in a Swedish hotel. Other projects include 2013 when we installed USB ports in every headboard and 2018 when we installed powerful Bose speakers in de luxe rooms and suites. The concrete walls insulate well.

In 2007, we renovate and rebuild the entrance foyer of the Rival's for the first time. Now the first "Rival wall" is created inspired by the Rival's graphic design signed Maria Dahlgren.

2008 Jesper Henryson - then the Rival's F&B manager (now CEO of the Rival Hotel) - was inspired to design Table 1. Used for the breakfast and brunch buffet, it is also the perfect dinner table for up to 14 people in the evening.

2009 The Guest Corner was updated on level 4, allowing guests to enjoy freshly ground coffee, tea and yummy cookies 24/7. It also features an ice machine, PC and MAC, as well as printers. Of course, the Rival teddy moved in right away.

2010 the Rival's Now the third bar is ready for opening - the "Lobby Bar" on the ground floor.

2010 The theatre stage was made an extra 1 metre deep and 12 metres wide.

2012 - "Mad Men" inspired painting of toilet doors in the Cocktail Bar

2013 A new serving counter and kitchen were built in Café Rival. In 2018, the update continued with a careful renovation of guest areas.

2013 We switched from LCD TVs and DVD players to SMART TVs and Blue-Ray players in 99 hotel rooms.

2013 200 bedside lights were replaced with a more energy-efficient version of the Best Lite lamp. In 2015, each bed boasted 6 pillows instead of 4.

2015 All conference rooms were renovated. The Maria conference room (above) that accommodates 22 people, Eames chairs, high tech, and a sober interior.

In 2015, we invite our customers to celebrate the fact that our conference rooms have gone from good to ok and now become absolutely fantastic! Our interior designer Karin Ahlgren and project manager Hans Adolfsson. Photo Max's pleasure.

In 2016, the "Rival Wall 2.0" was created, which still meets our guests directly in the hotel entrance. The graphic design is by Maria Dahlgren. Interior designer Kerstin Olsson, SIR/MSA, AE/OW Arkitekter was responsible for the wall's design and lighting.

2016 The entrance foyer took on a new guise, making way for Watson's Bar. 

2019 The Main stage dressing room was renovated, now offering everything from sleeping compartments to showers and toilets. Add to that a buffet counter and kitchenette, make-up table, generous storage areas. Interior design and project management Adolfsson & Partners.

2019 Watson's Bar opened on the ground floor and lower foyer.

2019 A new digital hearing loop and an app-based hearing loop were installed in the theatre.

2019 The reception area is rebuilt, creating a more welcoming environment together with Watson's Bar.

2019 In April, Watson's outdoor seating opened right by the hotel entrance.

2019 The number of seats in the theatre increased from 703 to 735.

2019 The Small stage dressing room was renovated.

2020 Renovation of the Rival Hotel's Bistro. More velvet sofas, more comfy armchairs, and warmer lighting.

2020 The cocktail bar is given a more atmospheric lighting. Three large "Crown" luminaires, designed by Grietje Schepers, "warm up" this art deco bar. The lamps are 1.3 m high, 80 cm in circumference and weigh 1 kg each. The material is nylon, flame retardant and painted in Bronze. Read more.

2021Open Watson's Outside, a three times as large outdoor seating as before.

In 2022 , we will switch the entire range of bathroom products in all hotel rooms to Molton Brown shampoo, shower gel, conditioner, lotion and soap.
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Fact sheet The Rival 2024

Thank you for your interest in learning more about The Rival.
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If you want to know more – contact CEO Jesper Henryson.
All images on this website are owned by The Rival unless otherwise specified.

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