Close to Père-Lachaise in the up-and-coming 20th arrondissement, this large hotel has a fun and funky interior designed by Philippe Starck. Don't expect an ounce of classical Parisian charm—the hotel is an experiment in quirky postmodern countercultural cool, and the mothership in the now international Mama Shelter "budget" hotel empire.
For the best rates book as far in advance as possible.
Rooms are small and stylishly spare, with iMac media centers, graffiti carpets, and Halloween-mask lampshades, and whimsical quotes tattooed on the wall as design elements. XL Mama Terrace rooms have huge balconies.
YOU SHOULD KNOW A hip, youthful vibe pervades the hotel, and the ground-floor bar and rooftop are always lively (locals love the terrace bar in the summer). Try to get a room far away from the noise.
Small, white, streamlined bathrooms offer walk-in showers, all the basic amenities, and that's that. Bathrooms in suites are quite a bit larger.
The concrete reception area has a chic boutique, complete with chic items, like art books, T-shirts, and Mama Shelter souvenirs, along with a few staples, and opens into the restaurant and bar.
The spacious restaurant-bar-lounge, with a recently revamped menu by 3-Michelin-star chef Guy Savoy, attracts an international mix of hip young people, who then head to the popular Fleche d'Or nightclub across the street. The food is reliably good (enough), though the service is not always spot on. The ground-floor pizzeria is a good option for a well-priced gourmet pizza before drinks on the roof. Mama Shelters are known for their excellent buffet breakfasts, with plenty of hot and healthy choices, plus a machine for fresh hot chocolate.
The downstairs Island Bar is very popular among guests and locals. Cocktails are inexpensive (for a hotel bar) and very drinkable. Live music or DJ parties on weekends can get quite lively, so if you're looking for quiet, ask for a room on the upper floor. In warm weather the rooftop terrace is a great place for a drink or to relax in the sun or for the BBQ at night. Nice views, too.
YOU SHOULD KNOW You must reserve for the rooftop bar in the evening.
The Gambetta metro station is a few minutes walk away. True to the Mama-Shelter credo, the Paris hotel is an out-of-the-way neighborhood, but one that's been popular with young Parisian artists and hipsters for quite awhile now. If you're willing to stay open minded, you'll find plenty of off-the-beaten-track Parisian fun, including La Ceinture, Paris's newest park, built in the tracks of the old beltway train and some cool art galleries. Two excellent parks—the beautiful Buttes-Chaumont and the Parc de Belleville, with breathtaking views and a vineyard—are within easy walking distance. Branch out and take a street art tour, and be sure to visit marvelous Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Fulgrances (10-minute walk), gets rave reviews for exciting dishes and a chic atmosphere. Across the cemetery, in the 11th arrondissement, beautiful Le Servan (32 Rue Saint-Maur) is one of our hands down favorite tables in Paris, with an up-and-coming chef one of the best-value lunch menus in town. A ten-minute walk takes you to the rue de Charonne, home of Clamato and the ever-fabulous Septime.
Set on the roof of an old industrial building, Le Perchoir is the neighborhood's most popular cocktail bar, with panoramic views of the city and a young, hip crowd. Be prepared for a wait. Across the street, La Flèche d'Or is Paris's most happening indie nightclub set in an old train station and featuring live electro concerts and international DJ nights.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Stylish, inexpensive (if you reserve early), friendly, and in a Bohemian neighborhood that's great for exploring, Mama Shelter also has plenty of in-hotel perks, especially for families and youthful guests looking for a readymade nightlife. A night or two here will show you another side of the city, and there's nothing wrong with that.