Stockholm hotel takes entertainment focus

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STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Sweden's capital will get its newest boutique hotel property when the Rival Hotel opens Aug. 6 in the former three-star Aston Hotel in the trendy Sodermalm district.

The property will be a small, modern inn boasting 97 rooms and two suites outfitted with the latest Sony technology, including 32-inch plasma-screen TVs, wireless Internet access and DVD players, said managing director Caroline Eriksson.

The Rival will provide guests with a DVD library -- but no adult movies -- in lieu of pay-TV service.

The entertainment focus is particularly fitting, she added, as the Rival -- part-owned by former ABBA band member Benny Andersson -- is part of a complex that also houses a movie theater dating to 1937.

The renovated, 700-seat Rival Theater will host events and meetings during the week and screen films on weekends.

In addition, the Rival Hotel will include an art-deco cocktail bar, restaurant, bar/bistro, cafe and bakery; access to a rooftop honesty bar will be restricted to hotel guests. The cafe and bakery, on the ground floor, opens this month.

Eriksson said she hopes the entertainment and dining attractions make the Rival complex a destination for visitors and residents alike.

"Sodermalm is the most interesting part of this city," she said, adding that guest rooms and public spaces will be decorated in a style evocative of Stockholm itself. "We're trying to connect the atmosphere to the city in terms of design, style and color."

The Rival Hotel aims to further distinguish itself from competing properties -- including the nearby Hilton Slussen and Clarion, and "lifestyle" hotels such as the Diplomat and Lydmar -- by making sure guests get what they pay for, historically a problem in Scandinavian hostelry.

"One of my main goals is that if clients pay for a deluxe room, the deluxe services they're looking for are provided," said Eriksson. "Sweden has not been that good on that point."

Sample rate information was not available at press time.

As U.S. travelers -- "an interesting group to work with" -- are notoriously demanding guests, the Rival should prove worthy of them, she noted.

"Americans are very important for us, and I'm sure when things cool off in the world, their travels will resume."

Travel agents also loom large in Eriksson's game plan. The hotel will pay retailers 10% base commission but will supplement that during intermittent agency promotions.

The Rival Hotel will be bookable via the Supranational Hotels reservations systems.

Supranational Hotels can be reached at (800) 843-3311 or at www.supranational.com. To contact the Rival Hotel directly, call (011) 46-85 457-8902 or visit www.rival.se.

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