The friendly staff have great recommendations for shopping and eating
The endlessly entertaining décor, especially the inflatable pool toys that hang over the bar
Not having to leave the hotel to have a good time; the restaurant and bar rev up at night, with DJs spinning and an infusion of locals to mingle with
What To Know
Ask for a room at the back to avoid the noise from bar-goers at the weekends
The “Small Mama” rooms are very small indeed
No room service
Parking on site
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Playful and affordable Philippe Starck-designed hotel with foosball, DJs, and a strong sense of whimsy
For a base from which to explore Marseille without spending a fortune, Mama Shelter does the trick, with the added benefit of colorful, Philippe Starck–designed rooms and a vibrant social scene. Each room comes with an iMac pre-loaded with movies (ask for a keyboard at reception if you want to use it as an actual computer), and, while many rooms are small and bathrooms minuscule, the décor is on point: concrete walls set off pastel furniture and colorful linoleum floors, while accents like plastic masks are there to play around with. We love the extra terrace bar for warm weather; it has a menu of over 40 kinds of pastis and a pool filled with giant chess pieces. Don’t leave without browsing the hotel shop, which sells a host of products made in collaboration with hip French brands like the Mama Skin organic range of cosmetics, chocolate bars by Le Chocolat des Français, and stuffed plush toys in bright colors.
In the Area
Snuggled between the Vieux Port (the old port) and the artsy Cours Julien neighborhood, Mama Shelter is a good base for checking out the city. It’s a 20-minute walk to the touristy port, crammed with bars, restaurants, and the Notre Dame church and just five from the indie shops and coffeehouses of the much less glitzy Cours Julien. The MuCEM, a landmark museum of Mediterranean culture designed by Rudy Ricciotti and with a very Instagrammable location overlooking the sea, is a half-hour walk. For explorations deeper into Marseille, there are metro stops five minutes away. And, in the summer, there’s always the beach: ask the staff to book you a sun lounger in the hotel’s private section.