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Hotel Mama Shelter Marseille Hotel 0 star
Marseille, France -
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Amy Adejokun Section editor

The second hotel in a long line to come, the Mama Shelter Marseille is already proving to be extremely popular despite its recent inauguration (April 2012). A former butcher's and storage unit, founders, Trigano father and son duo and worldwide celebrity designer, Philippe Starck, have realised an unlikely feat. Entirely designed by Starck, the hotel is contemporary and original, while remaining extremely affordable. The hotel is located in the South of France, in Marseille's back streets a 15 minute walk from the old port. The hotel is ideal for a range of clientele, from couples to groups of friends and families. A very reasonably-priced hotel with good dining facilities, a lively bar and an outdoor terrace; it is worth stopping by for dinner, even if you are not staying at the hotel.

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    • Hotel Mama Shelter Marseille

      Mama Shelter Marseille   -   © Alexis Bidegain/Easypresse

    • Hotel Mama Shelter Marseille

      Mama Shelter Marseille   -   © Alexis Bidegain/Easypresse

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    Location 5.14 /10

    Located in Marseille's back streets, close to the Baille metro in the Notre Dame du Mont area, the hotel is a 15 minute walk from the old port and five minutes from Bohemian village, Cours Julien. The hotel is situated at the heart of a residential area, but there is a casual local restaurant on the square just outside the hotel, where guests can have a drink in a more authentic local context. Otherwise there is a handful of cafes and shops to explore in the surroundings, although your best bet for a spot of shopping is the Cours Julien.

    Accommodation 7.20 /10

    The hotel has 127 rooms split into several categories that vary mainly in size (approximately from 20m² to 30m²). There is one suite, with two spaces - living room and bedroom - and it is the only room at the hotel to have a bath tub. The room is spacious and pleasant.

    The starting category is small, so not ideal for guests who like their wardrobe space, but great for a few nights if you are on a budget and you want to stay somewhere of a good standard. The rooms we preferred were those on the sixth floor, due to the slanted roof and windows boasting a beautiful view of Marseille's rooftops.

    The rooms are spread over six floors and are all the same in terms of décor and facilities. Although on the small side, the rooms' walls, a combination of exposed concrete and minimalist white, along with Starck's updated version of the camouflage pattern printed on the lino floors, give the room a clean contemporary and crisp look. The large windows (all of which open fully) let in plenty of natural light, which gives warmth to the otherwise fairly clinical room; all windows are double glazed to minimise the noise from the local neighbourhood, but if you fancy letting a little bit of Marseille into your room, then leave the window open and the sounds of the locals indulging in a beer at the café downstairs will rise up!

    However, if what you are after is a quiet room make sure you ask for a top-floor street-side room as guests can be noisy when out on the restaurant patio on the ground floor and the noise rises easily, which could keep light sleepers awake.

    The family deluxe room category sleeps four - two children and two adults, or three adults and this, at no extra cost. The room rates do not include breakfast, which costs 12 euro (or 15 euro without a room).

    Staying true to Starck's quirky style, some guests will be surprised to see that the double bed sits facing the wall (with the television affixed) and is in the centre of the room. Although a little off-putting at first, the rooms quickly grow on you. There is a small hanging space, a small coffee bar area with mini-bar, a mid-size flat screen television with iMac system, which is close to an all-inclusive entertainment system with the added bonus of free VOD (video on demand), meaning that guests can watch a range of films without having to shell out the extra fee hotels usually charge for the service. Wi-Fi internet access is also complimentary throughout the hotel.

    Otherwise the beds are some of the most comfortable in the industry and the good quality crisp white sheets add to the rooms' appeal. The bathrooms are tiny with a small vanity area next to the rectangular sinks. All bathrooms, save the suite, have showers. All are stocked with trendy high-end Kiehls products and thick high thread-count towels.

    Overall, the rooms are cosy and functional and with the attractive price tag of (from) 69 euro, they are hard to rival indeed!

    Overview 7.70 /10

    The hotel is without a doubt one of our favourite in the city and this is due to several factors. The main reason is the owners' goal to provide excellent facilities in funky contemporary surroundings at very good prices that are hard to rival. The concept of the hotel is good quality at low prices without a hint of budget hotel characteristics lurking even in the darkest of its corners.

    The hotel is divided up into two main spaces: the hotel and the restaurant. The restaurant area is open to the locals as well as in-house guests and although it hasn't been open long (14 April 2012), there is rarely any space left in the restaurant and bar in the evenings, regardless of the day of the week! Reservations are mandatory.

    The restaurant is split up into three areas including the bar and outdoor patio, where a Pastis (the local aperitif) bar and barbecue station will open in time for the summer. Inside, a mix of large wooden communal tables and custom-upholstered two-seater sofas make guests feel at home right away. And we were relieved to see that, like at its sister hotel in Paris, a giant table football game is the main feature of the room!

    Although some of the staff still have to fine tune their waiting skills, the overall experience is a fun-filled one with subtle touches to surprise the diner as well as the guest, like the photo booth screen by the entrance of the restaurant for taking your photo, which is then sent to you by email for a reminder of the evening.

    On the other side of the restaurant is the hotel lobby with several display cabinets filled with custom-made goodies to buy, such as a canister of the hotel's signature smell and other bits and bobs. The staff in this part wear colourful aprons with Warhol-inspired portraits of the founders' mothers. A long bar table juts out by the entrance and is filled with art, fashion and design magazines in English, French, Spanish and German. There are also two computers here that are free to use for in-house guests (including internet access). Also worth mentioning is the live music on Thursday to Saturday evening. The performing bands are actually handpicked by one of France's best rap artists, Rocé, giving Mama Shelter extra points when it comes to entertainment quality and innovation.

    In terms of other facilities, there is no pool, spa or gym. There is an underground car-park for guests driving in.

    Food and drink 8.70 /10

    Food and drinks comprise over half of the hotel's draw with the restaurant being full on most nights. Divided between the bar, restaurant and an outdoor patio, the Mama Shelter has done it again: providing excellent food in extremely funky surroundings at a reasonable price. We were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food served here. It's simple: everything from the Sea bream ceviche to the house burger and fries is an absolute treat. The staff, all very friendly, can prove to be a little inefficient at times, but it is only a matter of time before their skills are honed - besides, their genuine bright white smiles make up for it.

    The restaurant, like at its sister hotel, has a chalkboard ceiling with random phrases, words and drawings emblematic of Marseille. Above the bar hangs a collection of children's rubber rings of all shapes and colours, which make up part of the lighting fixture - and has become a signature feature for Mama Shelter hotels. Outside on the patio, which has a retractable roof, there are several tables lined up besides the water feature backed by a yellow stripy wall and hanging plants. The hotel is set to open a Pastis bar and barbecue bar during the summer months. Apart from eating and drinking, it is in the restaurant that the live music performances take place in the evenings from Thursday to Sunday.

    Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the same area and apart for the breakfast, everything is ordered from an à la carte menu that changes every day. The breakfast buffet comprises delicious pastries all made by the chef, cereal, eggs, bacons, a range of cheeses and cold cuts as well as fresh fruit, teas of the high-end Palais des Thés brand and fresh coffee.

    To know

    The hotel is one of two Mama Shelters opened by former Club Med director, Serge Trigano and his son, Benjamin Trigano in collaboration with Philippe Starck. The head of reception is the former head-concierge of the renowned Plaza Athénée Hotel in Paris, and 'DJ Bobzilla' is a local celebrity who takes care of guest services and restaurant playlists. The hotel hosts bands on stage in the restaurant from Thursday to Saturday - the bands are all chosen by famous French rapper, Rocé.

    The first Mama Shelter to open was in Paris's 20th district in 2008 - it has been a storming success with celebrities as well as trendy types on a budget. The group will be expanding rapidly with a hotel opening in Istanbul later on this year, and by 2014, another three will open in Lyon, Bordeaux and Los Angeles.


    • Shuttle bus
    • Car park
    • Handicap access
    • Restaurant
    • Internet access
    • Air conditioning
    • Animals allowed
    • Private beach
    • Meeting room


    • The charming unusual residential location.
    • Restaurant serves great food.
    • The cocktails should be on your 'to try' list while in Marseille.
    • The very competitive rates (start at 69 euro for a double room - subject to demand).
    • The fun touches that run throughout the hotel.
    • Free VOD in all rooms.


    • The rooms are on the small side.
    • Can get noisy in the rooms that look out onto the restaurant patio.

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