Mama Shelter



Services & Prices

Urban Crossroads

Mama Shelter or the story of a mother hen... This could be the caption of a hotel which is the meeting place, in the setting of an urban project, of a joyous concoction of ideas ranging from the bohemian intellectual to the modern business-design, which has placed the hotel among the most interesting recently-imagined hospitality initiatives in Paris.

And you have to admit, the cast list is almost beyond compare.

To start off with we have a fallow plot in the middle of a historic district, the village of Charonne, a somewhat forgotten neighbourhood in the midst of the 20th arrondissement with a sensitive social problem, an adorable medieval church and a revival wave among the Parisian bourgeois-bohème, for which the emblematic concert hall the Flèche d'Or is undoubtedly partly responsible.

Then Roland Castro, a star of French urban architecture, enters the scene and succeeds in creating a dynamic between the media library, the private lodgings and the hotel, all of which must find their place in this architectural adventure in the heart of Charonne.

On top of that we add the generous ideas of Cyril Aouizerate, citizenly intellectual as well as urbanism workforce affiliate, who is already at the origin of Bercy Village.

And why not also bring in the Trigano family, who possess a certain experience in hospitality thanks to their small collection of holiday resorts (...yes, that does indeed refer to the founders of ClubMed)

Put in a dash of Philippe Starck for some stylish steals.

Get a hold of Nexity, solid builders of planned cities, to take care of the construction.

Shake well, and after some years of reflection and assembly, you get the Mama Shelter.

So, what does it look like?

Well, exactly what you would expect: a rather successful mixture of a variety of intentions.

¼ rock & roll, ¼ business, ¼ public structure, ¼ modern design

Like all cocktails, even if the ingredients are good, the success of the brew depends on the dexterity of the barman.

And in this case, the project has a secret weapon in the choice of its director, the former head concierge of the Plaza Athénée. However, the hotel is just starting up (September 2008), and so everything is new including the staff, who nevertheless are not lacking in good intentions.

That's all well and good, but what does it look like?

For the overall structure, the architect has designed two separate constructions - the hotel and the library - side by side, each with the same geometrical elegance of clean, balanced lines, clearly with no endeavours to impress future generations with the incredible audacity of his aesthetic, but quite the opposite, with much care in creating a contemporary look, appreciable by everyone as of today.

Discreetly alluring, immersed in its surroundings, nothing would suggest that the building on the left is a hotel.

The entrance, indicated only by a glass awning and a few shrubs, opens to reveal a reception area resembling an urban grotto. Black stucco ceiling, grey velvet curtains, concrete walls draped with a beige batik, and a floor covered with charcoal-coloured tiles reminiscent of waxed cement, give a very sombre air to this room whose volume stretches out lengthwise.

Offsetting this in front of the reception desk, like a spontaneous flight of fancy, in which the establishment is never lacking, are a series of display cases bearing silver eagles who, with wings spread wide, protect diverse contents up for sale, from impeccable republican bicornes to magnificent pétanque balls, a collection of condoms, Kiehl's cosmetics, masks and Pasolini DVDs.

For all tastes and pleasures.

In a similar fashion, on the ceiling inscriptions, sketches and catch-phrases constitute a sort of composite rock & roll fresco, drawn in coloured chalk by some inspired artist.

At the back of the lobby is the access to Mama Shelter's forte: its common space, formed by a fine succession of restaurants and bars, and totally open in plan.

If it shares the same backdrop as the lobby - black stucco ceiling decorated with a frieze and charcoal-tiled flooring, this place of living and exchange expands in a variety of designs, playing on the types of chairs, couches and sofas, alternating bar spaces with their counters and the more tranquil lounge or dining areas.

And always, hiding in the corners, we find oblique or unusual items, poetic winks on the part of Philippe Starck, from birdcages to Eiffel Tower lamps to an immense table football unit for no less than 12 players.

Everything seems open, involved and alive in the heart of this space, the kitchens as much as the bars or the tables d'hôtes, echoing the cultural programs on the house's list: concerts or lectures, improvisations or debates, all you need to brighten up your nights.

A paradise for smokers on the exterior side of this long room, facing the abandoned rails of the petite ceinture, runs a sheltered, heated terrace, scattered with stylish sofas in heavy plastic, bistro chairs and olive trees.

But what about the rooms?

Ah yes ... the rooms, you say?

For a start, there are 172 of them, in four different types: single, double and deluxe rooms, and several suites with balcony.

They are all cast in the same mould, except for the size of course: charcoal carpet with various urban motifs, iMac fixed to the wall with access to the media network (television, music, film...), concrete walls, Simmons bedding, piles of plump pillows and blankets covered in immaculate silky white sheets.

If the space is well sufficient, agreeable and secluded, and if the desks inspire work, two small failings may be noted: the absence of a corner in which to relax in the deluxe rooms, and the not-quite-practical nature of the lighting.

Aside from that there is nothing to criticise - while of no excessive luxury, the materials are high quality, internet is free and there is air-conditioning and a micro-kitchenette with sink, microwave and mini-bar. Very convenient, the bathrooms are all tiled in white and equipped with just a shower, Kiehl's products and heated towel-rails.

For a hotel room on a budget, the amenities are easily up to standard: nicely executed, gently original, very sober and without excess.

In keeping with the level of service: no room service or luggage attendants.

But that is of no consequence: one doesn't come to Mama Shelter to vegetate in one's room all day like blissful Alexander, one comes here to share a moment among society.

And who knows, maybe even explore the district? There is no lack of interest, on the contrary, it merits an attentive curiosity, although it seems highly improbable that many of its guests would be of the pressed-for-time variety - the closest metro calls for a ten minute walk and the principal monuments are a long way away.

But come to think of it, why is Mama Shelter the story of a mother hen?

Between the hotel's name (‘Shelter' explains itself) and its logo (the feet of a gigantic chicken), we might begin to formulate the beginnings of an answer...!


The clientele

With the exception perhaps of the snobbish and families with young children (no possibility of an extra bed - except for just the one triple room in the whole hotel), Mama Shelter is made for an eclectic but smart clientele: for those who are curious, those who tire of the traditional, for the economic-minded, the party-minded, for the intellectual, the hip, for people who are in love with the area, or who are just in love, and of course, for those adventurous souls ready to take on the congenial and vibrant streets of popular Paris, whatever their age, sex, colour or hairstyle.



Starting at 139€ Book now
Comfort Rating
Room size 7 Rating : 7
Room amenities 7 Rating : 7
Property amenities 8 Rating : 8
Global Rating 7 Global Rating : 7

Contacts & booking

Mama Shelter

109, rue Bagnolet

Metro station : Gambetta
Bus station : 26