Mama Shelter, London - a taste of Paris in the hipster East End - Scotland on Sunday Travel

A hotel brand imported from the other side of the Channel, French-founded Mama Shelter, has set up camp in London.
Mama Shelter, LondonMama Shelter, London
Mama Shelter, London

I have in fact stayed at the original branch in Paris some years ago, and was impressed by its high-end comfort but laid-back cool, which makes me feel pretty optimistic about a stay in the 194-room Big Smoke branch, part of a rapid global expansion by hotel chain Accor.

The building has a matt black exterior that makes it easy to spot as I approach, having arrived by good old red London bus, which takes me nearly to the front door, although the hotel’s also not far from Cambridge Heath or Bethnal Green Tube stations.

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As soon as I step into the reception area I’m reminded of my Parisian visit, with the same kind of brightly coloured, artfully eclectically-decorated space, including large restaurant and bar areas to the left.

You’re also welcomed by the space being infused with the hotel brand’s own distinctive perfume that you can take home if you buy, say, a scented candle that is among the many items of merchandise displayed in several glass cabinets.

The polite and efficient receptionist that checks me in is French, judging by her accent, as are other staff members that serve me during my stay, which proves that Mama’s brand of French cool makes for a natural fit for its hipster-centric London location.

Room service

My room makes good use of the space, with two tables, the larger marble-topped with corner seating and green cushions, and where two people could easily eat a meal, or one comfortably tap away on a laptop. There is also the signature Mama Shelter feature of plastic masks of Looney Tunes characters hanging up by the bed - all very well-suited to the TikTok/Instagram generation - while the TV can be operated by mobile app.

Mama Shelter, LondonMama Shelter, London
Mama Shelter, London

There’s a good choice of mainstream films to watch on demand for free - I resent paying above and beyond the room rate to watch, say, Miss Congeniality, or being stuck with a surprisingly limited selection of basic channels, which is sometimes the case in even high-end hotels.

When I get back from dinner I attempt to watch a romcom but, having spent hours walking around London that day, fall asleep before my head touches the pillow and sleep like a log.

Also, while my room faces onto Hackney Road, which as the sun sets welcomes an increasing influx of revellers and horn-honking traffic, I’m not disturbed by any noise filtering into my room.

Wining and dining

Mama Shelter, LondonMama Shelter, London
Mama Shelter, London

The French influence in hotel restaurant’s menu is clear in dishes like steak tartare and French onion soup. I start with grilled tiger prawns, with citrus butter and toasted almonds and a quietly earthy spiciness, followed by a salad Niçoise, which comes with very lightly seared rectangles of deep pink tuna. To finish off I have the millefeuille, an elegant and light take on the dish. I start the next day with sunny-coloured cornbread pancakes with crisp-edged treacle-smoked bacon.

Worth getting out of bed for

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London Fields Lido is within walking distance, as is Columbia Road Flower Market, and Victoria Park, while Shoreditch itself is now full of boutiques and cafes and well worth several hours’ perusing. You’re also pretty near Spitalfields, and all its foodie destinations and more boutiques, and the City of London, and if you’re stuck for inspiration, the hotel itself has recommendations on its website.

Budget or boutique

Mama Shelter, LondonMama Shelter, London
Mama Shelter, London

A successful “mélange” of the two - extremely reasonable pricing for a pretty central location, with very distinctive boutique touches.

Little extras

Various themed stay packages, including one aimed at couples and the details of which I’m too embarrassed to explain here. The hotel also has its own karaoke rooms, and hosts events such as the amazing-sounding “80s beach barre and power-ballad yoga”. I’m not sure what that is, but I definitely want to try it.

Guestbook comments

Am I within Mama Shelter’s core market of young, partying hipsters? A definite “non”! But I have a thoroughly enjoyable, high-calibre, comfortable stay in a hotel that has style and substance. C’est super!

Nightly rates at Mama Shelter London - Shoreditch in a small double Mama room start from £109 including VAT. Mama Shelter London - Shoreditch, 437 Hackney Road, E2 8PP, London. Tel: 020 7613 6500 .

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