Former Abba Star Plays Hotel Host

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What's the name of the game at Stockholm's Hotel Rival? Quirky chic, masterminded by a man who has seen the inside of more hotel rooms than he cares to remember.

After years of globe-trotting, Benny Andersson — one quarter of that legendary Swedish pop group Abba — hit on the idea of converting a 1930s Art Deco cinema, in the now fashionable district of Södermalm, into a boutique hotel. But banish all thoughts of an Abba-themed property from your mind. The group's music may enjoy continued success — most recently, their songs formed the basis of the movie smash Mamma Mia! — but at the Hotel Rival the connection is barely discernible. One of the group's albums is always among the CDs in each bedroom, and the occasional shot of Abba in their 1970s heyday can be found amid the cinematic posters and prints that are a feature of the hotel's décor. But that's about it.

The sleek, modern design of the Hotel Rival's lobby gives way upstairs to vibrant carpeting and dramatic lighting celebrating the building's cinematic origins and its continuing function, the 700-seater auditorium having been beautifully restored as a venue for film festivals and conferences. The thickly carpeted guest rooms are meanwhile individually designed with impeccable Swedish taste. Comfort, rather than any showbiz excess, is the keynote — an approach exemplified by the choice of eight different pillow types, and the noticeably informal dining options (a café and a bakery). It isn't all money, money, money, either. Rates start from about $180. See for more.

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