Created by the Trigano family (co-founders of Club Med) and French philosopher Cyril Aouizerate, Mama Shelter was designed by Philippe Starck, who created the Royalton in New York, St. Martins Lane in London, the Delano in Miami Beach and scores of other hip hotels, restaurants and products.
When Mama Shelter opened in Paris in late 2008, the press was beyond effusive, calling it “One of the Eight Best New Hotels in France” (Frommers) and “Best Business Hotel in Europe” (CNBC). Today TripAdvisor.com rates Mama Shelter Paris one of the “Top 25 Trendy Hotels in Europe.” The New York Times reviewed the hotel here, saying “the location gives you a new perspective on Paris; the design gives you a new perspective on the world. This is a fabulous place to stay, especially if you nab a room for €79…”
OK, so that’s Paris. The Marseille hotel is located right in the city centre at 64, rue de la Loubière. That’s near the Cours Julien district, an area known for urban art, concert halls, young designers and sunny terraces (see it on the map here). The hotel is 25 km south of Marseille Provence (Marignane) Airport and is easily accessed by the metro (Baille, Castellane and Notre Dame-du-Mont stations).
And what about the goodies? Every room gets a multimedia iMac, which allows you to watch TV, listen to the radio, connect your iPod or watch DVDs and the latest films (free). And of course, it's also a computer. Mama Shelter offers free WiFi throughout the hotel, in rooms and public spaces. Amenities are by Kiehl’s.
Other hotel features include a shop, concierge services, a list of babysitters, a business center and meeting space.
But the best thing of all may be the Mediterranean restaurant overseen by legendary chef Alain Sendererns, who had three Michelin stars at Lucas Carton in Paris for 28 years. Then he changed the name and famously “gave back” his stars, making him even more famous. "I was done with the tra-la-la, chi-chi, bling, crystal goblets, and glamour," he explains on the website Grub Street here. "I wanted to, of course, keep my purveyors and quality of ingredients, but without any of that nonsense! Nobody understood. Michelin certainly didn't understand." (As a result, the 73-year-old chef has said that customers at Senderens in Paris pay a third of the former prices and return more often, and that profits are nearly four times of what they were.)
The restaurant at Mama Shelter Marseille is large, with 132 seats inside and 60 out. No word yet on who will be doing the actual cooking but Senderens is creating the menus, writing the recipes, sourcing the ingredients--and will be of course be making frequent trips south to keep everything running just so. He also oversees food at the hotel in Paris and is involved in a new Brooklyn, N.Y. restaurant as well.
So with their central location, state-of-the-art amenities and superstar consulting chef, how can Mama Shelter’s rates be so low? Is this one of those places that gives you a great, cheap room but then nickels and dimes you with hidden charges? It doesn’t appear to be—and all fees are posted clearly on the website. Meanwhile, the hotel hasn't even opened yet but the local paper, La Provence, is calling it ''l'hotel le plus funky de la ville.''
Above: The Mama Shelter logo and the hotel company's founders: Benjamin Trigano, Serge Trigano, Philippe Starck, Cyril Aouizerate and Jeremie Trigano. The team has announced they'll open another hotel, in Bordeaux, next year.