The leaflet says: ‘Walk in, dance out.’ That sounds like a challenge to me, and I love a challenge!
Stockholm’s Pop House Hotel is part of the ABBA Museum complex, on the stunningly beautiful Djurgården, one of the many islands that make up the city centre.
My husband and I are staying in the hotel’s ABBA Gold-themed room. He’s as excited to be here as I am: the city is the home of our heroes, music legends ABBA.
Nathan and his husband stayed in the ABBA Gold room at the Pop House Hotel in Sweden (pictured)
Both lifelong fans, one of us collects the band’s singles on 7in vinyl (over four hundred so far), and the other can quote all the band’s UK chart statistics by heart. As a seven-year-old, I remember singing The Winner Takes it All with my mum. A mere 38 years later, I find myself standing at the edge of the water, looking over at Gamle Stan (the old town), falling head over heels in love with this picture-perfect, summer-night city.
Before checking in, we spend hours running around Stockholm like children, recreating iconic ABBA record covers in the exact locations where the original photographs were taken.
We re-stage the famous park-bench pic from the Greatest Hits album, and the rain-shelter photo from the People Need Love single. We are thrilled to be granted special permission to be the visitors at Kronberg’s Atelje – not usually open to the public – in the world’s oldest outdoor museum, Skansen.
The famous artist’s studio is where the cover of ABBA’s final studio album was shot. It still looks exactly the same, decades later. We’re so grateful to Caroline from Skansen, for allowing us inside.
To date, the album ABBA Gold has sold over 30-million copies, making it one of the top-selling albums of all time.
The Pop House Hotel is part of the ABBA Museum complex (pictured). ‘Watch out for tonnes of hilarious interactive fun,’ says Nathan
Entering our room – a suite, really – having been checked in on arrival by the friendliest hotel staff we’ve ever encountered, we’re immediately struck by the dazzling array of gold and platinum discs shining down on us from every wall in the lounge area.
Reading the inscriptions, these are the actual commemorative discs presented to Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad-Reuss, to celebrate milestones ranging from the first million copies sold, to the first 20 million!
The whole room is decorated in black and gold, echoing the album’s design. The glittery-gold, wooden letters ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘B’, and ‘A’ sit on black shelves, and the large round table in the centre is printed like a huge ABBA Gold CD. The overall effect is really super. True: pernickety and eagle-eyed as ever, I notice the two wooden Bs are upside down, but that is easily rectified!
Down a short passage, past the bathroom, the bedroom is much calmer. The theming is still strong – gold scatter cushions adorn the bed – but thankfully, it’s more geared towards sleep. I have a dream, perhaps, of seeing black bed linen, instead of white, to keep in with the colour scheme, but when all is said and done, that’s a very small niggle.
The extensive breakfast, downstairs in the restaurant, consists of a fine selection of the freshest yoghurts, tastiest fruits, and plenty of other delicious morsels. We feast like true Dancing Queens!
At the ABBA Museum you can compare your sound-mixing skills with those of ABBA’s studio engineer, Michael B Tretow, pose as all four band members in a photoshoot and you can even get on stage, and perform with holographic ‘ABBAtars’
Nathan and Ben recreated iconic ABBA record covers in the exact locations where the original photographs were taken
Down in the crazy world of the museum itself, the ABBA fun goes on and on and on.
The journey starts pre-ABBA, when all four singers had very successful careers in their own rights, either as soloists, or members of other rock ‘n’ roll bands, then follows the band winning the Eurovision song contest in 1974, through the heady successes of the ABBA days, spending so long at the top of the charts, and ends with the members’ many accomplishments since separating in 1983.
Watch out for tonnes of hilarious interactive fun – everyone gets a slice of the pie: perhaps you want to test your talents as a karaoke singer? Compare your sound-mixing skills with those of ABBA’s studio engineer, Michael B Tretow? Or pose as all four band members in a photoshoot? You can even get on stage, and perform with holographic ‘ABBAtars’, as the band’s fifth member.
Scan your ticket’s barcode as you go, then log on to www.abbathemuseum.com, where you can download your videos and images, and see how well you did (or not!).
If you really hate ABBA, you might feel under attack from the constant bombardment of ABBA hits wherever you go, but even after 40 years, every track sounds as good as new. Who doesn’t get a mood lift, listening to such great music, I wonder?
Departure time beckoning, we meet with museum director Caroline Fagerlind, then, without warning, after 40-something years of giving ABBA all my love, my lifelong ambition (and Ben’s) becomes real.
See the picture (below)? That’s me on the right, Ben on the left, and the man in the middle is none other than ABBA member, Björn Ulvaeus!
At the museum Nathan and Ben’s dreams came true when they were introduced to ABBA member Björn Ulvaeus
Nathan and Ben’s version of the cover for ABBA’s final studio album – The Visitors. It was shot at painter Julius Kronberg’s studio
Nathan and Ben re-stage the famous park-bench pic from the Greatest Hits album
It’s a dream world! Should I laugh or cry? We’re so happy: how I even manage to keep it together is a miracle!
Björn is impeccably dressed, and gracious as can be. After a short chat, a picture, and an autograph, our visit is over, and it’s time to move on.
It’s a trip we will never forget.
Aside from our ABBA pilgrimage, Stockholm offers so, so much to see and do. It’s one of the world’s most beautiful cities, so why not book a trip, and stay at the Pop House Hotel yourself, where the name of the game is definitely fun, and where we really did #WalkInDanceOut.
Thank you Stockholm: we owe you one!
Nathan Taylor is an actor and knitwear designer, and the author of the men’s knitting instruction manual Guys Knit. He hosts the popular Sockmatician podcast on YouTube. For more information, visit www.sockmatician.com, or follow @Sockmatician on Instagram.
DID YOU SPOT ALL THE ABBA SONG TITLES? HERE’S THE FULL LIST HIDDEN IN THE FEATURE:
How many ABBA song titles can you find in the text above? Be warned, some of them are really sneaky! (Hint: It might be helpful to read some of the article out loud…)
Me and I
I Am the City
One of Us
The Winner Takes It All
Head Over Heels
Summer Night City
People Need love
I Have a Dream
When All is Said and Done
On and On and On
Rock ‘N’ Roll Band
As Good as New
I Wonder (Departure)
My Love, My Life
Man in the Middle
Should I Laugh or Cry?
The Name of the Game