L’Addition, S’il Vous Plait
One of the main attractions of the hotel is its bargain prices. Well, at least by Paris standards. The 172 rooms range from 79 euros for their lowest-tier “Mama” rooms (about $110 on our last credit card statement), to 249 euros for the Mama Suite. The three categories in between run for 109, 139 and 199 euros each. Those low rates are “non-cancellable, non-modifiable and non-transferrable,” and require pre-payment in full. Guess they’re not taking any chances on no-shows.
The “Shelter” Part
We lucked out on our room and got a corner Mama Double, which was actually slightly larger than a Mama Single and had, as you might have guessed, a double instead of single bed. It also had large windows on the two walls that weren’t stylishly bare cement, a huge mirror by the bed, and a long narrow desk (where you can “write a love letter”). Though theoretically on the large side for a standard room, the whole thing must have been only about 160 square feet, and even the judicious furniture arrangement didn’t mask the tiny dimensions.
The bed was covered in white on white linens, and was perfectly adequate—firm but comfy. The side lamp, as we’d been anticipating, was a kooky plastic mask covering a little fluorescent bulb. In our room, it turned out to be the appropriately French cartoon character Asterisk (other options are Clark Kent, Chewbacca and Batman).
The bathrooms are equally tiny but space-conscious, and the roof-mounted shower heads provide a veritable waterfall of glorious cleansing accentuated by the Kiehls products stocked in every room.
The best part of the room, and the whole stay if you ask us, is the all-in-one iMac entertainment center. The 24-inch computer serves television (though no CNN!), CD/DVD player, radio and internet hub. If you actually want to use it as a computer, though, you have to put down a 100 euro deposit for a wireless keyboard. We’d suggest you bring your own laptop and surf the web for free.
Do-it-yourself-ers will enjoy the microwave, electric kettle, and mini-bar in every room. If you’re self-conscious about your wardrobe and your unmentionables, though, the open closets (what we’d otherwise call placards or even tiny cupboards) might be a little challenging. We travel light, so all we needed is a few drawers and a couple hangers.
The point of the hotel, and Paris in general, is not to spend time in your room, though. That’s why the hotel offers a variety of services, like a meeting “Atelier” with a pool table, communal dining tables, bar, WiFi, and a few LCD screens to do your computing on. You just might have to tolerate a few passersby wandering in and out since it’s a public area. There is also a parking garage—very handy in pavement-limited Paris—and a laundry room where you can do your own laundry—also very handy in a city where having your laundry done at the hotel can run you up to 50 euros a load. The hotel offers rentals of bicycles, mopeds, scooters and compact cars to boot.
Agoraphobes will rejoice in the automated check-in and check-out kiosks…no human interaction required. Though if you’re craving a personal touch, there are usually 2-3 receptionists on duty to help you. Just don’t ask them to book you a shuttle to the airport, because apparently anything other than calling a taxi is outside their current purview.
We’re habitués of Paris. Okay, maybe not habitués, but we know our way around, and hardly ever get lost on the Metro these days. So we weren’t necessarily put off by Mama Shelter’s location on the eastern side of Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris’s 20th arrondisement. The area is becoming home to more and more cool bars and restaurants, and the hotel itself has become something of a local hangout. The Trigano’s other property in the area, rocking music venue Flèche D’Or, is just across the street for instance.
A glance at the map also revealed that major Metro stops like République are nearby. The reality on the ground is a little different, though. République? Yeah, that’s a good 15-minute walk. The nearest Metro stop, Maraichers, is about 7-8 minutes of brisk walking. That’s not horrible, but if you’re new to the city and you want to hit some of the major tourist sights, the hotel might be a little too far out of the way for you.
Were we blown away? No. But for the price, you can’t beat the cool décor, the hipster caché, and the experience of staying in a thoroughly 21st-century Parisian hotel.
Tomorrow we’ll tell you all about the restaurant…