— September 17, 2012 —
In this column, Ananda Pellerin and Neil Wissink uncover the secret pleasures of the gastronome
Scallops with artichokes Photography by Neil WissinkThe St Blaise neighbourhood in Paris is best known as the home of the beautiful Père Lachaise cemetery, where the likes of Marcel Proust and Oscar Wilde are buried. A stone’s throw from this landmark, in an unassuming high rise, is where you’ll find the Mama Shelter hotel. The interior space, conceptualised by French philosopher Cyril Aouizerate and designed by Philippe Starck, is characterised by glossy black and chalky grey concrete walls, which are offset by bright details, French kitsch, and lush carpeting throughout. With its multicultural scene and mix of old and new architecture, St. Blaise is the type of area where small boutiques, bars, and chocolatiers seem to spring up overnight. And situated as it is in the 20th arrondissement, Mama Shelter takes pride in the local neighbourhood, encouraging guests to experience Paris away from the centre of town.
The hotel’s restaurant has become a popular breakfast destination – and rightfully so, the sausages and scrambled eggs were excellent – while later in the day guests and locals come for the modern bistro lunch and dinner menus, all served in a spacious, relaxed dining room. We loved the scallops with artichokes and the aubergine pasta. But what’s really exciting is the late-night clay oven pizzeria in the lobby, with made-to-order specials and classics that you can enjoy there – it’s always bustling with late-night diners – or take to your room. Our favourite was the thin-crust pizza heaped with papery slices of mortadella, and looking at the current menu, we would happily return to try the Truffe pizza, with mushroom, truffle cream, Philadelphia cheese and mâche (lamb’s lettuce).
"What’s really exciting is the late-night clay oven pizzeria in the lobby, with made-to-order specials and classics that you can enjoy there, or take to your room."
172-room Mama Shelter was established in 2008 by three members of the Trigano family (who co-founded Club Med), and has taken an utterly contemporary approach to the idea of affordable luxury. Starting at €79 a night, each room features a wall-mounted 24-inch screen iMac (serving as a TV, DVD player and computer), free films and wifi, Kiehl’s products in the shower, and with no overhead lighting, the rooms are well-lit, modular retreats. Mama Shelter was recently named one of the eight best new hotels in France by Frommer’s, and continues to receive heaps of praise from guests and journalists alike. With a recently opened branch in Marseilles, we won’t be surprised if the concept continues to spread, perhaps even across the channel.
Text by Ananda Pellerin