The beating heart of Los Angeles has always been Hollywood, at least for visitors. The glamour, the movie stars, the boutiques, the legends. Designers, dreamers and DJs. The Hollywood sign is the iconic signal that you are where it’s at.
Mama Shelter Los Angeles is the latest four-star property in the French Mama group. Sitting pretty on Selma Ave, it’s just minutes from the Walk of Fame, Capitol Records and the Wax Museum and a stone’s throw from Hollywood Blvd. This is cool central – in a casual, French, understated way, of course. Mama Shelter has become a locals’ gathering place.
A little bit European, a little bit SoCal, with a lot of urban style that isn’t too cool for the room. The ground floor is part old-style Hollywood art deco diner, part inviting restaurant and bar with a riot of color from floor to low ceiling which effectively conveys warmth, fun and artistic style.
I navigate past a soccer pinball machine in the eclectic lobby to a warm front desk greeting where I am introduced by name to both the staff on duty, Charmain, and Jose.
Even the lifts at Mama Shelter Los Angeles are entertaining. The walls are adorned with a partial script that has you drawn into the story before you reach your floor. Regular stand-up comedy nights, DJs on the rooftop and other daily updates are chalked on mirrors at each floor.
There is nothing European about the size of the rooms. The larger-than-expected Medium Mama Hollywood Sign View room is calm and minimal with a French-style black and white colour scheme, with windows framing the outlook to the famous Hollywood sign.
The fun and style are there in the details; a personal welcome note scribbled on the mirror, trompe l’oeil carpet design, Star Wars masks used to great effect on the bedside reading lamps. Film scripts for The Big Lebowski by Ethan and Joel Coen and Swingers by Jon Favreau sit on the bench that doubles as table, desk, and shelving.
And the oh-so-Hollywood paperback Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis is by the bed for my hedonistic reading pleasure. Connectivity, a laptop compatible safe and flat-screen TV are practical conveniences.
No wardrobe; no problem. Wooden hangers on a chrome rail do the job perfectly. Baskets are provided for laundry, along with a hairdryer and Mama Shelter Los Angeles postcards for bragging rights. Two colorful wicker lamps provide stylish lighting and the white expanse of king-sized bed with crisp white pillows is as comfortable as it is inviting.
The bathroom is pure industrial style; white on white with a large rain shower and 3-in-one shower-gel/bodywash/shampoo combo. Towels are plentiful and fluffy.
Just don’t try to make a cup of tea; the promised kettle was delivered but even a call to reception couldn’t solve the mystery of how to plug it in. Opt instead for the complimentary coffee and pastries (7-10am) or a cooked to order breakfast in the lobby restaurant.
Or head two blocks west on Selma to Caffe Etc. for all the favourite American breakfast options you could want. Think ‘coffee that will wake the dead’ served up with a selection of authentic vintage celebrity baseball caps for sale.
The Rooftop Terrace and Bar
Who doesn’t love a rooftop bar with near 360-degree views? This green oasis, in the heart of the City of Dreams is the go-to power lunch venue, the start of a big night on the town, or the ideal place to kick back and watch the sunset over sprawling Downtown L.A.
Try exotic cocktails (the hibiscus-infused tequila with lychee Endgame or Boogie Nights with Hendriks gin, lime, and mint) or a comforting classic, craft IPA or the excellent French and Californian wines on offer.
Settle into the lounge cushions for a true taste of creatively casual California dining and flavours at their best. Share plates of Woodfire Pork Belly with daikon kimchi or Spicy Seafood with Handcut Noodles or go solo and tackle Mama’s Impossible Royale (vegetarian) gourmet burger.
Mama Shelter Los Angeles’ rooftop mixes up the entertainment. Enjoy everything from standup comedy to tunes from live DJs and people-watching on steroids, and the locals line-up to get in. They don’t take reservations but as a guest, you get VIP seating priority.
Mama Shelter Los Angeles over-delivers and throws in attentive, friendly service and some surprising extras (as you would expect in Hollywood!). An arcade / game room, fireplace in the lobby and Mama-themed gift-shop and newsstand. The atmosphere is high-energy, fun, friendly. Think French style meets rhinestone cowgirl and Hollywood fanboy.
Just don’t take your binoculars with you to the rooftop. The unintentional entertainment provided by guests of the nearby hotel may be a little spicy.
Remember, here in Hollywood, everyone’s a star.
Images © Mama Shelter
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