An Inspector Calls…  A review of Mama Shelter, London

An Inspector Calls… at Mama Shelter in London which is ‘sizzling with positive, post-Brexit energy’ with its colourful and kitsch interior

  • Mama Shelter is a Parisian import owned by the family who founded Club Med
  • It’s located in east London and has 194 rooms small, medium and large rooms 
  • The Inspector said the bedding was ‘top quality’ and his burrata was ‘superb’ 

The French can be unbearably patronising — but not here at Mama Shelter, a Parisian import that’s funky, fun and sizzling with positive, post-Brexit energy. ‘Most of the guests who stay are French,’ a barman tells me.

He’s from France, too, as it happens, and so is the friendly person who checks me in at reception.

There are five Mamas in France. Plus branches in Los Angeles, Rio, Belgrade and Prague, all owned by the Trigano family, who founded (and sold on) Club Med in the late 1990s.

Mama Shelter is owned by the Trigano family, who founded (and sold on) Club Med in the late 1990s

‘We don’t sell rooms; we don’t sell food; we sell happiness,’ Serge Trigano has said. Nonsense, of course, but you see his point on walking into the huge downstairs space, which is a riot of colour, cosiness and kitsch.

There are retro arcade machines, an illustrated ceiling (from which we learn ‘it is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour’), black-and-white cartoons playing on TVs, mirrors with upbeat messages written in red lipstick, backgammon tables, table football, low hanging wicker lampshades, communal tables, a couple of karaoke studios in the basement, two cocktail bars (my ‘When Robby Met Tommy’ made with tequila, campari, grapefruit, lime and agave is a triumph) and a general sense that right now in East London, this gritty stretch of Hackney is where it’s all happening. That’s nonsense, too, but it’s a good feeling.

The 194 rooms come as small, medium or large. Mine’s a large and it’s drab compared to downstairs, despite the best efforts of the labelling on the lotions and potions (‘Mama wants to cream you up’ and so on) and a personalised message on the big mirror welcoming me ‘home’.

The lighting is quirky, with cartoon masks hanging from lamps. Crucially, the bedding is top quality. Marco Pierre White used to bang on about ‘affordable glamour’; here it’s brimming with the stuff.

The 194 rooms come as small, medium or large. Pictured is an example of a 'large' room

The 194 rooms come as small, medium or large. Pictured is an example of a ‘large’ room 

My burrata starter with ‘beetroot tartare’ and roasted hazelnut is superb, followed by excellent spicy tuna with edamame, pickled ginger and sushi rice served in a bowl. 

Three French women are at the next table. They’re having a fine time and seem genuinely pleased to be in Britain. Amazing!

What strikes me about Mama Shelter is that you could be 65 or 25 and fit in comfortably. That must be the happiness to which Monsieur Trigano refers.


Mama Shelter, 437 Hackney Rd, London E2 8PP. For more information visit or call 020 7613 6500. Doubles from £99 (room only).  



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