Gina Baksa discovers the perfect stopover on her way to the French Alps, Lyon’s boutique hotel Mama Shelter in the city’s 7th arrondissement
You don’t have to be hip to stay at Mama Shelter Lyon, but it helps. The funky boutique chain is the brainchild of Club Med founders, the Trigano family who have brought their self-styled ‘urban retreats’ to Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Istanbul and Paris. Funky décor by enfant terrible Philippe Starck (think exposed concrete walls, graffiti-blackboard ceilings, carpets with cryptic messages) provide the backdrop to a superb hotel experience, aided by welcoming and efficient reception and restaurant staff who speak perfect English.
Mama Shelter Lyon is situated in the city’s 7th arrondissement to the east of the River Rhône and only a few minutes’ walk from the Metro Jean-Macé, and three stops from the station at Part-Dieu. Although slightly off the tourist trail, visitors are well placed to visit the old city (Vieux Lyon), the covered food market at Les Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse, Place Bellecour and the hillside Fourvière district with its stunning Basilica of Notre-Dame. The incredible science and anthropological Musée des Confluences, built where the Rhône and the Saône rivers meet, is also within easy reach and well worth a visit. Taxis are plentiful and the public transport system (metro, trams) is easy to navigate.
My room, a generously proportioned double, had a capacious bathroom, plenty of light and mirrors and a king-size bed so comfortable (soft, high-quality linens) it was a wrench to leave it each morning. I slept soundly and deeply… fully energised to savour the excellent buffet breakfast the following morning. Fruits, a selection of cereals, breads, meats, cheeses, coffees (quality), all waiting to be savoured from the long bar with helpful staff in attendance.
Lyon has plentiful nightlife and a mouth-watering choice of restaurants, from traditional bouchons to Michelin-starred establishments. Blessed with a tradition of innovative cuisine – led by national icon Paul Bocuse – Lyon is a gourmand’s paradise. Book a table at the sublime Michelin 1-starred Les Terrasses de Lyon at the hotel Villa Florentine. Helmed by Chef David Delsart, the superb cuisine and panoramic views over Lyon from the terrace will delight any discerning palate.
If you prefer to stay chez-vous, the in-room media centre, with its 27-inch iMac, connects you to a great selection of free movies, TV, free Wi-Fi, radio, and Skype as well as a comprehensive guide to Lyon.
Dine downstairs in the open-plan restaurant and you’ll find an eclectic menu, designed by three-Michelin-starred chef Alain Senderens. Burgers are succulent treats and if you are especially ravenous you can tackle half a chicken. Non-carnivores are also well catered for (try the pumpkin soup) and the wine list is extensive, featuring Rhône classics, plus a nod to California with its Russian River Zinfandel and Mendoza Malbec. Or choose one of Mama’s divine mocktails: My ‘Naughty Mom’ provided a thirst-quenching mélange of hazelnut, pineapple, lemon and apple.
Live bands play Thursdays to Saturdays, and most nights the giant island bar attracts a vibrant mix of tourists and Lyon’s smart young crowd, served by French-cool bartenders of both sexes. The inviting outdoors terrace is ideal for al-fresco dining and DJ-and-cocktail sets in the summer months.
Mama Shelter’s shop – in snazzy display cabinets in the foyer – offers quirky mementos and even a dedicated Mama skincare range, while business visitors will appreciate the free parking and a choice of six meeting rooms equipped with the latest presentation media.
Investment capital from hotel group Accor (it bought a 35% stake in Mama Shelter in 2014) has ensured future Mamas will appear in London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Lille, New York, Mexico City, Seoul and Zurich, with a second establishment scheduled for Paris.
The Mama love continues!
Gina Baksa travelled to and stayed in Lyon with Eurostar, courtesy of Only Lyon and SNCF. Eurostar winter season trains travel from London St Pancras International to Gare de Lyon Part-Dieu every Saturday at 7:19, arriving Lyon at 13:00 local time. Enjoy a stopover in France’s second largest city on your way to the French Alps.
Mama Shelter Lyon – Where and how
Address: 13 Rue Domer, 69007, Lyon, France
Reservations: +33 (0)825 00 62 62
Lyon Tourism: www.en.lyon-france.com/
About Gina Baksa