What’s so special?
Built in 1937, the Hotel Rival has been at the centre of Stockholm’s hospitality industry for decades. Now owned by Benny Andersson of Abba fame, it is a special, quirky place to stay. Original features include an art deco cocktail bar and a restored cinema dating back to the 1940s.
How they rate it
The hotel “has an art deco, cinematic theme running throughout,” says EasyLiving.co.uk. “Think black and white film canvases hanging over the bed, a velvet curtain surrounding your room and an extensive DVD library.” There is a “pillow menu” so you can choose the ideal room to rest your head. “We stayed in a deluxe room with a balcony, complete with views of the boule games on the square and keep-warm blankets for chilly evenings.” If you like what you see in your room, a suppliers list makes it easy for you to track the items down and buy them yourself.
Enjoy Swedish food at the hotel’s bistro with dishes including veal, butter fried cod or Swedish bouillabaisse. “Trust us, you have to try their sourdough bread,” says EasyLiving.co.uk.
Prices start from £150 for a double room. Find out more at www.rival.se or call 00 46 854 5789 00.
What’s so special?
The Lydmar in Stockholm, the Swedish capital, takes an unusually sociable approach to hosting: you are encouraged to treat the place as if it was your own home, and there are communal seating areas on each floor. Actor Daniel Craig apparently enjoyed his time here while he was filming The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
How they rate it
This is an “errant yet elegant small hotel, right on the water and seconds from the capital’s icons”, says The Sunday Times Travel Magazine. “Rooms are giant, ceilings are sky-high, windows are vast, and views leafy or watery – all giving you the five-star feel (hence the prices) without the five-star frostiness.” The hotel is “unorthodox: the general manager greets guests in his jumper and jeans, and each floor has a communal lounge to encourage banter and out-of-room boozing (gorgeous spaces of shabby velveteen sofas and moody dark-glass chandeliers)”.
The hotel restaurant serves up classics such as steak tartare, French onion soup and lamb shank.
Double rooms cost from £341, including breakfast. For more information visit the website at www.lydmar.com or call 00 46 822 3160.
Three affordable yet luxurious retreats
Hotel Paradis, Paris: This 38-room hotel is “fashionable yet cosy”, says Condé Nast Traveller. The bathrooms are “far from swish (improvements are under way) and there’s not much room for major unpacking, but you do get space to move and breathe – not a given at the affordable end in Paris”.
Just a ten-minute walk from Garde du Nord, the train station served by Eurostar, the location is “an absolute winner”. Doubles from around £85. See Hotelparadisparis.com.
Hotel Arte Vida, Tarifa, Spain: This “tiny, electric-blue hotel, with 13 colourful rooms”, has its own surf school, and a laid-back atmosphere to match. Just be warned that Tarifa is the kitesurfing capital of Europe and so quite windy: “a degree of involuntary sand exfoliation comes with the territory.”
But it’s worth it to “laze in a sun-bleached hammock” outside your room. “If you’re after exceptional value, a great beach location and plenty of character, Arte Vida is bliss.” Rooms start from about £70. See Hotelartevidatarifa.com.
The House Hotel Galatasaray, Istanbul: This restored 1890s mansion has 20 suites. “The high ceilings, imposing staircase (there is no lift) and tiled floors are original,” says Condé Nast Traveller magazine, while the interiors are contemporary.
Rooms are decorated “in an easy palette of white, cream and dark brown” and the lounge bar is a pleasant place to relax, with great views. Doubles from £105. See Thehousehotel.com.