Contributed by Jens Hoffmann
We checked in at the cheeky addition to Marseille’s quiet back streets, the lovely Hotel Mama Shelter, this time in Marseille not in Paris.
Marseille was the European Capital of Culture 2013 – two cities get the title annually- often spotlights a destination that has become an up-and-comer on its own merits in the last few years, which is certainly the case with this ancient port town on the Mediterranean.
Our location: The Mama Shelter by Mr. Trigano.
This 127-room hotel becoming a prominent trendy yet casual boutique establishment on Marseille’s hotel scene. Conceived by the French philosopher and urbanist Cyril Aouizerate and the Trigano family, who are also behind the Club Med venture, this Philippe Starck-designed hotel is the second outpost of the brand, which opened Mama Shelter Paris in 2008 (take a look).
The aim is to offer a high-quality experience at low-end prices. The result is impressive. Mr. Starck’s touch and the convivial atmosphere of the restaurant and bar go far. In the industrial lobby, a former butcher’s shop, the unconventional details — a bench with school chair backs at varying angles, staff aprons printed with bright Pop Art-inspired portraits of the founders’ mothers — will make you smile.
Mama Shelter is nestled in a cluster of charming stone houses in the Notre-Dame-du-Mont neighborhood, close to three metro stations. It is a bit in the outskirts and a walk to the old port, popular for its bars and restaurants and for the Notre-Dame church atop a hill that towers above it all.
At check-in, you have the options: a street view or a rooftop view. We went with the rooftop view, on the sixth and uppermost floor.
The double bed faced the wall instead of a window, but it did have elements of warmth. That bed, for example, was supremely comfortable, dressed in white high-thread-count cotton and an array of different pillows to suit a range of sleepers. The room’s highlight was the sloping roof and skylights, allowing you to look at the stars or across Marseille’s terra-cotta chimneys and tiled rooftops.
Small and basic but sleek and functional. Delicious smelling Kiehl’s products and fluffy towels made us feel pampered.
Wi-Fi and video on demand are free in the rooms. There is no room service, which doesn’t count as a drawback because you’re not meant to stay in here. On the ground floor, the bar and restaurant has a resident D.J., the local celebrity D.J. Bobzilla, who during the daytime can often be found giving guests advice on what to see in the city. On Wednesday to Friday evenings live bands selected by the French rapper Roçé perform in the restaurant. In addition to music, the bar serves up creative cocktails that shouldn’t be skipped, despite their 12-euro price tag, and another bar offers Pastis on the patio until 10 p.m. The restaurant serves French food with a Mediterranean twist, and everything on the menu, from the burger and fries to the sea bream ceviche, is a sure bet.
So it was lots of fun, stylish with an excellent casual restaurant, the place provides a comfortable base for exploring the charms of Marseille’s old port without breaking the bank.
A vibrant ethnic melting pot, Marseille is also home to an increasing number of contemporary art and avant-garde performances. Exhibition spaces include the 2,000-seat Le Silo, a landmark granary that’s been transformed into a theater; the Panorama, an ex-tobacco factory now home to modern installations; and J1, a hangar on the old port that will host a number of events.
Its not the Waldorf or Ritz but in Mama Deluxe you’ll be delighted -even in the normal rooms – with the space of 30m², equipped with a 27″ iMac, with TV, radio, internet and free WiFi access and on-demand movies, a minibar and a desk where you can play computer games or simply unpack your latest purchases.
Mama has also thought about those of us with reduced mobility, offering you an all inclusive offer.
Resto tip in Marseille:
We would highly recommend the “Une Table” au Sud Restaurant, Marseille.
The resto is located in the old port, on the first floor of one of he oldest bulidings in Marseille.
Basically you are right in the heart of the old port, without actually being there.
They cook using local ingredients and Mediterranean vegetables.
They serve delicious seafood and Chef de Cuisine Ludovic Turac select the fish from the fishermen just outside the restaurant.
We had our meal with a fantastic Vintage Brut Chardonnay Nicolas Feuillatte Champagner.
Vivre la France, the perfect experience.
Take a look: Mama Shelter