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Saturday 1 November 2014

Change in the air for the quirky Mama Shelter hotel brand

If I need somewhere to stay in Paris that doesn't break the budget, then Mama Shelter is my "go to" address. 

And a friend who stayed last month on my recommendation reported that it is as good as ever - although things may be about to change. 

Mama Shelter Paris is both stylish and affordable - but it is in the 20th arrondissement, a district that is not even on the radar of most visitors to Paris. It’s gritty, ethnically diverse and unashamedly working class.
It’s the other side of the tracks from the chic five-star hotels of the Avenue Montaigne, Champs-Elysees and Left Bank and the only reason most tourists would have for coming to this part of town would be to explore the huge Pere Lachaise cemetery, where Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde and composers Chopin and Bizet are among the residents.
Until Mama Shelter; a former derelict, graffiti-covered multi-storey car park that overlooks a disused railway line, opened six years ago

With Philippe Starck doing the design and the Trigano family of Club Med fame running the operation, this former eyesore has morphed into one of Paris’s hippest hotels. 
All the rooms have mini bars, iMacs with TV and wi-fi internet access, microwaves and CD/DVD players. The beds, too, are hugely comfortable with crisp cotton sheets – many guests ask for details of where to buy the mattresses.
The theme is quirky design chic – but that’s all part of the fun. The lifts are wallpapered with trivia – in English and French and the rooms are small but functional.
Best of all the prices, at the first Mama Shelter and its offshoots, are rock bottom.

There’s nothing remotely stuffy about Mama Shelter, the bar area is covered in faux graffiti, a nod to the real thing on the old rail track that runs beside the hotel.

It is a 10-15-minute walk to the nearest Metro stations (Gambetta, Alexandre Dumas and Porte de Bagnolet are equidistant). Handily, there’s a stop at the front door for a bus that meanders its way to the rue de Rivoli and The Louvre.

Now the Mama Shelter portfolio, which also includes hotels in  Marseille, Lyon, Istanbul and Bordeaux range, is about to get bigger. 

The massive multinational hotel group Accor has just acquired a 35% stake in the company - and about 20 new Mamas are due to open over the next five years.

The partnership gives Mama Shelter access to Accor's development and distribution network with Los Angeles, Lille, Zurich, Mexico City, Seoul, Amsterdam, Barcelona, New York and London in the pipeline, as well as a second Paris address.

But Mama Shelter's charm is its quirkiness. Accor is the world's leading hotel operator with more than 3,600 hotels and 470,000 rooms in 92 countries. 

Will the two combine successfully? Only time will tell. 

Mama Shelter Paris, 109 Rue de Bagnolet, 75020. +33 1 43 48 48 48., Rooms from 79 single and 89 double. Luxe rooms from €109. 

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