Places & Spaces: Mama Shelter, Paris, France

Mama Shelter is your hip new hangout in the city of love, courtesy of Monsieur Philippe Starck.

Paris in the springtime – yes, it’s a cliche, but who’s going to say no? Super-chic hotel Mama Shelter, in the tourist-free 20eme arrondissement, is irresistibly, and dangerously, affordable. The money you saved will, of course, immediately be spent on a painfully chic outfit from Colette in this season’s soft pastel shades, with matching macaroons from Laduree.

This place is all about simplicity with style – it’s the brainchild of Club Med and is designed by the tireless Philippe Starck – and a sense of humour. Rooms are small and dark, with block-coloured walls offering large mirrors, flat-screen monitors, and quotes etched onto black surfaces both horizontal and vertical; many ceilings and floors around the hotel also provide writing inspiration. Bedside lamps are comic book character masks, which you can try on yourself, should you feel the urge. Bathrooms are white-tiled and clinical, but with the hard edges softened by Kiehl’s products.

Each guest room (there are five sizes, from single to suite) comes with iMac complete with thoughtful location-specific bookmarks, and which also acts as an in-room camera so you can document your activities for the public photo album (hiding your identity with the mask – clever, eh?), CD/DVD player, free WIFI and free movies on demand, as well as a microwave and minibar. What the rooms lack in floor space, they more than make up for in gadgets.

The bar is like something from a nightclub, with an open central serving area surrounded on all sides by counters; not for wallflowers. The fun, big-kid theme is continued with table football; there’s also an outside terrace and a rooftop in summertime, with barbeques. Live music on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays ensure the joint is jumping; this place is hugely popular with locals.

You can eat at the restaurant, presided over by a two-Michelin-starred chef described as a “cultural wink,” or brasserie with its long wooden tables and benches and hanging pots and pans. There’s also a pizzeria, complete with red-checked tabletops. If you get tomato sauce on your newly-purchased chemise, fret not: you can launder it in the on-site machine, rather than being ripped off by a sky-high-priced laundry service.

Rates start at $103 including tax, and the opportunity to mix with (other) beautiful, cultured, bohemian types.

Photos: Francis Amiand/Mama Shelter

Places & Spaces is a travel guide that will inspire you to carve out a vacation on your calendar. All of the gorgeous locations and accommodations in our guide share our concern for the environment. From tent glamping to lavish built environments, fair warning, you’ll feel compelled to pack your suitcase.

Fiona Flores Watson

Fiona Flores Watson covers Places & Spaces for EcoSalon and currently resides in Seville, Spain.