The Bottom Line: One of Paris' quirkier offerings in the quality lodging realm, Mama Shelter is a solid choice if you're a fan of contemporary design, sleek and whimsical settings, and lots of nightlife. Tucked away in a nearly untrodden corner of the 20th arrondissement in eastern Paris (near Pere-Lachaise cemetery) and a favorite spot for hip Parisian professionals, Mama Shelter's interiors were designed by celebrated architect Philippe Starck, who created an atmosphere that's playful yet sleek.
Nightlife fans will like that the popular indie rock club La Fleche d'or, owned by the same family, is right across the street, along with a smattering of bars on the nearby Rue St-Blaise. If you're looking for absolute tranquility, however, you may want to seek elsewhere: not only is the restaurant and adjoining bar and pizzeria at Mama jam-packed with fashion-conscious locals on the weekends, but (at least in our room) you can hear the revelry drifting up from the bar into the rooms, including a distant thud from the bass beat. Noise and crowd-sensitive travelers would do better to abstain from a stay here.
If, however, you can handle less than perfect silence, are looking for an off-the-beaten-track experience of Paris, and enjoy the convenience of having solid dining and nightlife options at your fingertips, give Mama a try.
- Whimsical, original and sleek design
- High-quality dining and bar facilities; excellent buffet breakfast
- Provides an unusual, more local perspective of Paris
- Great nightlife scene, at the hotel and in the area
- Large selection of free in-room movies (cinephiles will appreciate this)
- Rooms are small and lack certain standard amenities (eg free toiletries)
- A bit noisy at times
- Not in very close reach of metro stations
Mama Shelter Practical Information
Address: 109 rue de Bagnolet, 20th arrondissement
Tel.: +33 (0)14 34 84 848
Metro: Gambetta, Porte de Bagnolet or Alexandre Dumas
Reservations: Book a room at Mama Shelter
Rooms: Standard, "luxe", and suites.
Decor: Whimsical, ultra-contemporary, and original design from Philippe Starck, with an emphasis on charcoal greys, white and black, dim lighting, and original furnishings (bedside lamps fitted with Batman and Shrek lamps, for example).
In-room services (standard room): 24-inch iMac with free cable TV, free movies, minibar, safe, free wifi.
Restaurant and Bar:
- The pizzeria is open most nights from 12pm to 1:30am and serves fresh Italian-style pizza and other Italian specialties, as well as wine and beer. No reservations are required. The pizzeria is closed on Sundays.
- The Restaurant, with cuisine from chef Alain Senderens, is very popular with locals and is always packed on weekend evenings, so make sure to reserve a table ahead. Serving trendy French and continental cuisine. The full bar is at the center of the restaurant on the ground floor.
Check in/check out: Check-in starts at 3:00pm; check-out is at 12:00 pm. Breakfast served in the restaurant beginning at 7:00am (complimentary with some packages)
Payment Options: All major credit cards accepted
Visit the official website
Other: Small pets and seeing-eye dogs allowed. All rooms are non-smoking. Nearby Attractions: Pere-Lachaise Cemetery, La Fleche d'Or Nightclub, the Gambetta/Bagnolet Neighborhood.
My Full Review of Mama Shelter
The Ambiance: A stay at Mama Shelter definitely errs on the unique side. From the lobby with its glass cases filled with vintage-style novelty items, toys and other goodies, to the pizzeria with its red-checkered tablecloths and the large glass bar in the restaurant area, you're plunged into Starck's meticulous concept as soon as you walk through the doors. Even the elevator is a major part of the decor, plastered with the signature white script also found in the rooms and relating all kinds of odd facts and anecdotes. The dim lighting, predominance of dark colors and starkly contemporary furnishings (no pun intended on the designer's name) is offset by the whimsical presence of cartoon figures and the warmer or brighter tones featuring in the bar, restaurant and pizzeria.
The Room: Our standard room (with an extremely comfortable king-sized bed) was very small, but the designer used the limited space in an intelligent and stylish way. The room was equipped with an iMac which served as a TV and movie player, city guide, and internet portal (to use internet on the iMac, ask for a keyboard at the front desk; a small deposit is required).
The low lighting and plush carpeting adorned with Starck's aforementioned scripted lettering was charming and definitely added to the ambiance, but the deliberate lack of overhead lighting was a little troublesome when trying to look for something in the suitcase or decipher the restaurant menu.
The bathroom was a bit of a disappointment: no bathrobes, as a previous reviewer of the hotel had claimed came in every room; a shower but no bathtub, and the complete absence of complimentary toiletries (not even a bar of soap). Considering that the room was currently advertised at 299 Euros per night, the lack of such relatively standard amenities seemed odd.
We did sleep very well on the perfectly soft-yet-firm mattress, although some noise from the restaurant/bar did manage to filter up to the 5th floor room. As previously mentioned, those who are noise-sensitive may have problems with certain rooms at the hotel; ask for a room oriented away from the bar/restaurant when in doubt.
The buffet breakfast was excellent, and featured only fresh, high-quality ingredients (freshly squeezed orange and grapefruit juice, pastries and bread, crepes, eggs, and very good coffee and tea.)
Overall, I found the service at this hotel to be excellent, even in cases where staff was not likely to be aware that I was there to write a review. With the exception of one less-than-smiling staff member at breakfast one morning, Mama Shelter staff was consistently friendly, warm and helpful.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer of this review was provided with complimentary accommodation for the purpose of reviewing these services. While it has not influenced this review, TripSavvy.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.