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Hip urban crash pad with designer digs by Philippe Starck, cuisine by Michelin-starred chefs and a rooftop bar
Tongue-in-cheek meets urban chic. The lobby and restaurant are crammed with kooky talking points, including a chalkboard ceiling with colorful calligraphy-style graffiti in different languages. Neon pool rings and a pirate ship hover over the bar, and masks of Batman, Bugs Bunny and other cartoon heroes hang in the lobby — a trademark of iconic designer Philippe Starck, who rounds out the hotel's hipster vibe with a patchwork of striped and checkered cushions, retro lamps and dayglow knickknacks. Mama Shelter Istanbul — the first of the French chain's foreign outposts — gets its funky design pedigree from the original Paris hotel, which opened in 2008 as a collaboration between the Triango family (co-founders of Club Med) and eccentric philosopher-cum-hotelier Cyril Aouizerate.
Bed and Bath
The sun bounces off the white brickwork, white parquet flooring and stainless steel furnishings in the rooms. The chrome-tinged, white-on-white vibe is broken up by dark rugs scrawled with graffiti. For a playful touch, nightlight-like masks of Chewbacca, Darth Vader and other pop culture icons are strung on the bedside lamps. Floor space is limited, but private outdoor space comes standard in both the Mama Deluxe Double Terrace and Mama Family Garden Rooms, and all rooms offer unlimited free movies via Apple TV. Bathrooms feature simple cascade showers and are stocked with eco-friendly products specially made for Mama Shelter by the French brand Absolution.
Mama Shelter's rooftop bar is ideal for aperitifs, nightcaps and everything in between. The sprawling terrace has been kitted out by Starck in a dayglow rainbow of neon chairs, oversize pastel flowerpots, kitschy christmas lights and table-side lanterns. Those overwhelmed by the cutesy aesthetic can take refuge at the terrace's foosball or air hockey tables. Don't miss dining in the modestly priced Franco-Turkish restaurant, overseen by Michelin-starred French chefs Alain Senderens and Jerome Banctel. Building on Starck's theme of lost childhood, the menu focuses on unpretentious French and Turkish comfort food served in casserole pans or dutch ovens (the fish and chips come wrapped in the morning paper). The restaurant also offers a full lunch and lavish breakfast service.
In the Area
The lively side streets near Mama Shelter are crammed full of dining and nightlife options. Nearby Yeni Lokanta has emerged as one of Istanbul's choicest eats since opening in early 2013, serving upscale but unpretentious Turkish food in its series of elegant, marble clad dining rooms. For more proletarian tastes, Cukur Meyhanesi is a local favorite and dishes up excellent seafood dishes. Beyond the hotel's rooftop scene, Balkon offers skyline views and reasonably-priced drinks from an alfresco terrace. Mama Shelter is located at the center of the city's transport network, with a nearby subway station linking visitors with the old city and a ferry network that services Istanbul's famous Princes' Islands.
Mama Shelter Istanbul
Istiklal Caddesi No.50-54 Beyoglu
How to Get There
Flights are available to Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gocken Airport (SAW) via connecting flights from major U.S. cities on a variety of carriers. Transfers to/from IST, about 12 miles away, are approximately $91 (including VAT) each way for a maximum of 10 people. Transfers to/from SAW, about 46 miles away, are approximately $144 including VAT) each way for a maximum of 10 people. Taxis to/from IST to the hotel are approximately $28 and taxis to/from SAW are approximately $49.