In a working-class district on the eastern edge of Paris, a think-outside-the-box team including French design star Philippe Starck has created Mama Shelter, an oddly named and unique hotel whose charms make it worth the trek to and from the center city. A sense of fun pervades the place—a small music stage (the hotel’s across the street from the Flèche d’Or, a temple of Euro pop-rock) stands next to the gigantic Island Bar, and the “restaurant zone” holds wildly eclectic seating including schoolroom chairs, beaded African-motif thrones and stools resembling sawed-off tree trunks. A long communal table is embedded with video screens so guests can breakfast atop a Buster Keaton film, while serious documentaries are shown on the ceiling of the toilettes. But the rooms are all high-tech comfort, with palace-worthy beds and linens, mini-kitchenettes, Wi-Fi and 24-inch iMacs in every room. While prices range from a mere €79 to over €200, the only difference is in the size of the rooms, not the amenities. Among many whimsical touches: instead of lampshades, reading lamps sport masks ranging from Tweetie Bird to Chewbacca.
Mama Shelter: 109 rue de Bagnolet, 20th, Métro: Gambetta, 01.43.48.48.48. website
Originally published in the October 2008 issue of France Today
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