It’s hard to believe that just a year and a half ago, Mama Shelter was a lone boutique hotel in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, serving up Philippe Starck design, in-room iMacs and high thread count sheets for travelers on a hostel budget. But the Trigano family, who previously set up a little company you may have heard of called Club Med, doesn’t play small.
Now Mama has touched down in Marseille (April, 2012), Istanbul (mid-March, 2013), Lyon (late March, 2013), Bordeaux (October 2013) and eventually Hollywood. Serge Trigano, Mama Shelter’s co-founder with the poet and urban theorist Cyril Aouizerate, made a bet that city tourism would be to the 21stcentury what beach tourism was to the previous one, and with occupancy rates ranging from 85% in Paris to 70% in Marseille, his bet is paying off.
“Cities today are making great efforts to welcome travelers,” Trigano said at the opening of Mama Shelter Lyon (pictured) at the end of this last March. Tourism in Lyon, France’s most famous gastronomic destination, has exploded recently, and though much of it is about business travel, “we want to make this a fun place,” he continues.
To that end, Mama Lyon puts an even bigger emphasis on its outdoor patio and restaurant than it has in other cities, capped off, of course, by its trademark XL foosball table and small bandstand. “We all work from home now, on the internet, and we need places in cities where we can meet and give each other a kiss hello,” Trigano continues. “We want to be a little island of pleasure in the middle of the European crisis.” With rooms that start at €49, that pleasure is actually pretty easy to share.
Alexandra Marshall is T+L's Paris-based correspondent.