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New Paris HotelJanuary 7, 2009 By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Travel Agent recently checked out Mama Shelter, the hottest new hotel in Paris since it debuted in September. Never before have we found such a “luxury value” in the City of Light, where even hotels sans étoile can run upwards of EUR 100 a night. Created by the Trigano family (the founders of Club Med), along with philosopher Cyril Aouizerate, Mama Shelter offers sexy lodgings starting from just EUR 79. Considering that all 172 rooms were designed by Philippe Starck and loaded with swanky amenities (24 inch Apple iMacs with free wireless Internet, plush bedding, kitchenettes, rainshowers and Kiehl’s bath products), Mama Shelter is, in fact, one of the best values we’ve found anywhere.
One of many chic suites at the Mama Shelter
We sat down with Serge Trigano to discuss his new hotel concept. Rather than encourage travelers to take vacations to exotic locales (à la Club Med), the Mama Shelter model inspires folks to visit, or perhaps rediscover, urban centers worldwide. The goal is to immerse guests in the edgy, urban culture of Paris, thus Mama Shelter is located next to Père Lachaise cemetery in the 20th arrondissement, a real working quartier that is truly off-the-beaten path in Paris, known to be proudly populaire on the fringe of the city. Across the street is La Flèche d’Or, the popular indie rock club. Concerts and the city’s cultural events are scrawled on chalkboards daily on each floor of the hotel. Formerly, the hotel’s building was a graffiti-covered garage, and in its new incarnation Mama Shelter preserves vestiges of its past: walls and ceilings in the lobby and restaurant are adorned with chalk scribblings. Elevators are also filled with writing; whimsical maxims like “Porcupines float in water” and “There are 336 dimples in a regulation golf ball.” The hotel was built by Roland Castro, the prominent architect and urban planner who has been recognized for his innovative low-income housing designs in the suburbs.
Affordable, hip, stylish, and friendly, this is a hotel for the 21st century. Expansion plans are in the works for Mama Shelter. “We will develop the hotel concept in different French cities—Marseille, Bordeaux, Lyon—before expanding to the rest of Europe. Later we’ll open in New York and Los Angeles,” Trigano shared with Travel Agent. When asked about the successful incarnation of their vision for an urban residence, Trigano applauds designer Philippe Starck. “He’s a genius. We told him our price point for the rooms, and our overall budget on the project, and he did it.”
With a name inspired from the Rolling Stones song “Gimme Shelter,” there’s an air of the rock star to this new establishment. So it’s little wonder that American celebs like Adrian Grenier, De La Soul, and Mos Def have already crashed here. A-listers like these have discovered that the low room rate does not mean a compromise in service. Au contraire. The former concierge of the Hotel Plaza Athénée, Jean-Claude Elgaire, is at the helm, bringing incredible expertise to the team (who stand in awe of his encyclopedia-like knowledge). “He knows every single site, restaurant, and shop in the city in relation to specific Metro stops,” the front desk staff gushed to Travel Agent. The hotel also routinely arranges scooters or chauffer-driven hybrid cars for guests to navigate around town.
Your clients will relish a meal in the restaurant, which manages to be chic and cozy at the same time. Sinking into a sofa seat (this is communal dining at its best), they can help themselves to a generous breakfast buffet (priced at EUR 15) while reading one of many international newspapers. Locals appreciate the warm ambience, not to mention the foosball table.
Tips for booking: All rooms are equipped with the same amenities, but vary by size and configuration, with room categories ranging from 49 square feet (Mama category) to 114 square feet (Mama Suite). Book the suite on the top floor for a terrace with views of the sprawling Parisian cityscape. We also liked room #420 (Mama Deluxe) for its spacious bathroom, and room #621 for its balcony. (There are actually four Luxe rooms with balconies.) Contact Reservations Manager Anja Hohne ([email protected]; +33 (0)1 43 48 45 45) for VIP bookings, or for questions about reservations.