There are copious hotels which aim to make a stay feel like a homecoming of sorts. The mission of Mama Shelter Paris West is no different - though, with its price point you'll question whether your booking has come with a serious family discount. Its welcome message would sound something like: "come on in, take your coat off, leave your shoes on… act like you own the place." Mama Shelter is a sociable sort, as its communal tables and sharing-style menu can attest. It's creative too; you'll spot a printing station off the lobby.
Accommodating and affordable, with some of the friendliest staff we've encountered in the city, the hotel's only con (on an otherwise pro-dominant list) is that it's positioned on Paris's Périphérique, meaning it's not exactly prime flânuer terroir. Still, with metro station Porte de Versailles a six-minute walk from your hotel, it's hardly a deal-breaker.
Ranging from Medium Mama to XXL Mama, all 207 rooms come with the same amenities - free movies, a flat-screen TV, desk space and sinkable beds - the only real difference is the square-metre coverage. Affordable in price, rooms start from €109 per night - near unheard of by Parisian standards. Trippy monochromatic carpets and a personalised welcome note scrawled across your bathroom mirror give bedrooms a fun-loving character. The signature style of designers Dion & Arles is abundant; expect doodles on the bathroom tiles and masks of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader slipped over the woven lampshades either side of the bed. Concrete walls are softened with velvet furnishings while welcome treats of chocolate-chip and hazelnut cookies, lollipops and Haribo add further sweetness. The real insulin hit? The woven headboards, which are very Ceraudo-meets-Matilda Goad vibes.
What's for breakfast?
Breakfast is a bountiful buffet. Grab a plate and work your way around the central counter, stopping with purpose at the patisserie station at both the beginning and end of your preliminary food lap. After you've chomped your way through your pain aux raisin, crêpes Suzette and fruit salad, head up for seconds, this time opting for a medley of scrambled eggs, buttered mushrooms and streaky bacon.
How about lunch and dinner?
Open from 12pm, the restaurant is great for lunch during the week, or, if it's Sunday, make brunch plans from 12.30pm. Regardless of time, the setup is the same. An open kitchen reveals yellow-and-white chequered tiles and a cohort of chefs hard at work. A hive of activity that the kitchen is, it has a lot to compete with considering that the long dining space is bedecked with ceiling murals, carnivalesque lighting panels, mismatched seating, kitsch animal statuettes, foosball tables and the many tendrils of (faux) plants. Dinner service is when the main restaurant really hits its stride. Chicken on a spit gets top billing on the pamphlet-style menu because "Mama Loves Chicken", apparently; pair this with homemade French fries and green beans for extra crunch. The roasted half cauliflower and the veal tartare served with wasabi mayonnaise and homemade crisps are also strong contenders where main courses are concerned. Precede with the zingy salmon tataki and finish with the soft-bake chocolate cake and confit oranges - the desert takes 15 minutes, so prepare to wait. Admittedly, the restaurant is so vast that you've probably become used to waiting by now - take charge and signal to waitstaff when you'd like to order and hey presto, problem solved. On the plus side, hovering wait staff won't be an issue. Word to the wise: dine in The Alcove (a cornered-off section of the restaurant) for quieter conversations and intimate meetings.
Is there a bar?
The hotel's main bar is open daily until 1.30am. Positioned at the centre of the main restaurant, it's a great spot for people-watching - that is, when you're eyes aren't fixed on those fabulous fringed lamps or the screens playing old movies without audio (we could watch Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief for hours on end. When the sun shines, head to the rooftop or ground-level terrace for a Kiss Me cocktail - Mama Shelter's riff on a pisco sour.
If you're in need of an original gift (say a t-shirt with your face on it or a tote to immortalise your trip to Paris) stop by Mama's Print Shop and design your own. Seeking another souvenir? The Mama Shop in the lobby is a cabinet of curiosities, peddling neon gym bags and Mama Shelter-crested slippers - you're sure to find something that's "a bit of you".
Things you should know
Free movies, searchable by language are available on your TV. You'll also find the WiFi code for your room at the top of the TV menu.
Within a short walk you'll find…
Mama's neighbour is Porte de Versaille Expo, Europe's largest exhibition centre. A little farther out - just over 30 minutes by foot - you'll stumble upon the Musée Bourdelle. Entry is free. Make sure to peep inside the ground-floor studio of the late, much-fêted sculptor Antoine Bourdelle who once trained under Rodin.