This part of north east Paris is fun for a taste of old working-class Paris, with picturesque villagey remnants, such as bar-filled rue St-Blaise, alongside 1970s tower-block horrors, but note that apart from [node:168679], a ten-minute walk away, you are a métro or taxi ride from sophisticated shopping or the city's main tourist sights, and it's a bit of a trek to the metro.
Bedrooms mix exposed concrete and graphic carpets, with fairground masks that double as lampshades and all are equipped with multimedia i-Mac and microwave. The basic Mama rooms are rather small, so opt if you can for a larger Mama Deluxe or Mama Terrasse with balcony. Concrete, black ceilings and small lights can mean lighting is a little inadequate if you actually want to read or work. And ask for a higher floor as there's less spillover noise from the bar at weekends.
The buzzy open-plan ground floor is the best part of the hotel. There's a long communal video table at the front for snacking, a big (surprisingly pricey) restaurant, with graffitied ceiling, squashy sofas, and novels and art books to browse, open kitchen, a cocktail bar and small stage where bands perform at weekends. Doors open out onto a terrace overlooking the disused Petite Ceinture railway line when it's fine (or you want to smoke). I also like the frosted mirrors on each landing with weather info and ideas for the days events and exhibitions around Paris.
Eating and drinking
The buffet breakfast is excellent. The restaurant, overseen by lauded chef Alain Senderens, does updated French regional cooking, which is decent but pricey for what it is, although a sign of the Mama's success is that it has been adopted by Parisians, for dinner or for the popular brunch and buffet tea on Sundays. They've also recently opened Mama Pizzeria. If you want to snack in your room, various things can be purchased from the cabinets downstairs.
Live music at weekends, a photo booth for pasting your portrait. Bikes, scooters and small cars for hire, a desk with i-Macs.
Mama has made a big emphasis on employing young, enthusiastic staff and an offer of the sort of concierge service you usually find in grander places, but can have its downsides: on two occasions, I've found the restaurant staff young and friendly but remarkably inefficient.
Who stays there
Young, international, trendy crowd for business as well as leisure.
Although a lot has been made of Mama's low prices, it works a bit like a low-cost airline, so the non-refundable, non-exchangeable lowest rate is often hard to find.
- Families with teenagers
- Stag / hen parties
- Live entertainment
- People watching
- Design and architecture
Pros & Cons
- Fun new design
- Great nightlife
- Trek to the metro
- Chaotic restaurant service