Hotel review: Mama Shelter Marseille

Mama knows best in bustling Marseille

Forget clichés, forget chocolate-box city centres: Mama Shelter is a block of ice-cool in a gritty, youthful slice of Marseille. Since its Philippe Starck-designed doors opened in April 2012, the second in the Mama Shelter family has been a soothing pool in the chaos of this seaside city.

Mama Shelter Marseille continues the themes of comfort, modern living and a funky vibe with an elegant edge. They don’t care about the norms: instead, they offer bare concrete walls, graffiti on the carpets, free and on-demand movies, toiletries and luxurious duvets and linen. Every room has an iMac with TV, CD/DVD player, internet and free Wi-Fi; if you snap a shot of yourself and your friends in the bar, it will email that picture to your room and home computer.

An octopus sculpture in the entrance hall points to a 12-man table football game in a corner of the excellent restaurant. On a terrace beside the bar is a giant chess set in a paddling pool, so you can dive in to grapple with the king on sultry evenings.

On arrival, multilingual staff in their own hip clothes guide you to one of the 127 rooms, which all have soundproofing and a small catering corner with a kettle.

A Mama city guide (in French, but soon to be offered in English) spurns the usual tourist routes and nudges guests toward insider addresses. The Mama even has a private beach on the nearest bit of coast, 15 minutes away.

I loved it and, according to the writing scrawled on the restaurant wall, Mama loves me. I can’t wait to go to Paris; apparently, Mama is waiting.

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Judy Armstrong

Mama Shelter Marseille

64 Rue de la Loubière

13006 Marseille

Tel: (Fr) 4 84 35 20 00

www.mamashelter.com