Friday, September 21, 2012

Mama Shelter - Marseille

I am told Marseille can be a very secretive city.  That in order to find the coolest people, places and events you have to find that one person who will let you in on a secret that will lead you to all the exciting stuff.

If that really is the case, then here is an easy way to get a head start on all that, check into Mama Shelter!

Mama Shelter Marseille

Map to Mama Shelter

Mama Shelter’s unique architectural design on the edge of the Cours Julien neighborhood really adds to the allure of this area in the city.  The hotel is obviously a gathering place for the art crowd… in fact any crowd and is very gay-friendly.

Once inside Mama Shelter you will feel like you are in a whole different world, it’s an eye-catching, ultra-modern, ultra-cool hotel filled with some very interesting people, but not intimidating, there’s a feeling of warmth when you step into Mama Shelter.

The friendly, fun loving staff will welcome you with beaming smiles at the reception, ready to help you with whatever you need throughout your stay and immediately you get the feeling that this is an active, functional hotel, obviously designed by the great Philippe Starck.

At Mama Shelter it seemed you could go a number of ways, two of them could be to all out party or, find a quiet space at the public computers in the lobby area to get some work done or both.  I went for both.

The first evening I met with members of our LGBT group and hosts for dinner and drinks in the Mama Shelter bar and restaurant next to the lobby on the main floor.  With an amazing interior and exterior courtyard terrace design, no wonder this place is such a popular local attraction.

The gorgeous crowd of every persuasion seemed to be in attendance too, there certainly was plenty of eye candy, it was a great added ambiance that made enjoying your meal at the table with your friends that much better.

And the food!  The food was immensely delicious; it had that down home charm of being able to serve yourself from the hot iron pots in which the food was brought to the table, directly out of the oven, just like Mama would make, and the variety of desserts!  The homemade vanilla bean ice cream was my personal favorite.

Around us were people laughing and mingling, the DJ that night at the front of the restaurant was fantastic in her 50’s retro-style outfit playing eclectic yet familiar music from decades past that literally made people get up and dance on the spot.  It all made for a great welcoming evening at Mama Shelter and it totally set the tone for the weekend ahead!

Overall I found the whole hotel to be exceptionally clean and kept in top condition, and back in my hotel room, I loved all the design elements, everything worked with what I needed and use in daily life, just with a ton more extras.  There was a microwave, well stocked mini fridge, safe, air conditioning, the bathroom had plenty of towels and products such as Kiel’s, that shower stall alone I could’ve lived in, it was totally invigorating.

The lighted edge mirrors also seemed strategically placed on either side of the bed in my room, perfect for getting your look together and fun for all sorts on your own or with a friend.

There were also small touches like the Batman and Robin masks in the room, and looking through the portfolio of previous hotel guests on your room’s 27-inch Apple iMac TV's (where you can also watch free movies) you can see the inventive ways guests have taken their own set of pictures.  For some fun to top off the last night, my colleagues and I made sure to take a group photo with the masks on to add to the Mama Shelter hotel’s portfolio.

But what I think I liked best of all about my room was the bed, it was so comfortable to snuggle under that deep, fresh, wonderfully thick and sumptuous duvet with pillows that matched the feeling all around.  Falling asleep was certainly not a problem.

I loved my stay at this boutique-style hotel; from beginning to end it was a complete experience.  Mama Shelter will let you go out and play, but Mama Shelter will also keep you comfortable and cozy.

Do what your Mama says!

Photo Credit: Francis Amiand

Friday, September 14, 2012


It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Marseille and I was excited to go as my visits before were far too brief, this time though I was going to be there for at least a few days and was looking forward to exploring and learning as much as I could about Marseille and the LGBT community, especially since EuroPride 2013 is taking place in Marseille next July 10th to 20th.

And I love the fact that Marseille is only about two hours by TGV train from Cannes passing through Saint Raphaël, TouIon and while in transit you are able to see the landscapes change from red to white stone with stunning greenery and mountainside along the way.

On arrival to the Saint Charles Train Station in Marseille, the self-explanatory signage made it easy to find my way through to the subway station and to which part of the city I needed to go to in order to find my hotel.

Once off the subway, I found myself in a very hipster outdoor market area named ''Cours Julien' or also kknow as the 'District of the Young People'.  I loved the colorful surroundings right away, and was later to learn that this is where many artists live and that behind many of the apartment buildings were sometimes secret, beautiful gardens.  No wonder my ultra-cool hotel decided to set up shop here.

I’ve heard people remark in the past how Marseille seemed to have a reputation of being a big, dirty and even dodgy city.  I think a city of any size will of course have their issues, and as odd as it sounds, I personally get a thrill out of being in a place where I’m maybe not supposed to be, but yet on this visit to Marseille, I never felt unsafe at all when I would be out with friends or on my own anytime during the day or late at night wondering the streets.

Many of the beautiful boulevards in Marseille are reminiscent of those in Paris, with plenty of green spaces and lined with unique architectural designs, and there is nothing better than walking through the weekly flower, clothing and food markets.

The people that I had met on this visit were helpful, generous and of good heart, willing to point out what makes Marseille the best choice for them in which to live.  The LGBT community is very strong and LGP Marseille are extremely eager to put on the best EuroPride ever.

This trip to Marseille really opened my eyes; it is truly a vibrant melting pot of cultural diversity, so much so that the city has been awarded the European Capital of Culture 2013!


In the next few posts I will tell you more about my experiences in Marseille and I must say, I cannot wait to visit again and especially for EuroPride 2013!