Funky Mama Shelter Adds a Colorful Dimension to a Visit to Prague

Mama Shelter Hotel lobby

Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is one of Europe’s most beautiful and interesting cities, although its grace can sometimes be a little staid. If you are one of the hordes of tourists that descend on the city each year, you can liven up your visit — without sacrificing convenience, comfort and service — by staying at Mama Shelter, currently celebrating its fifth anniversary in Praha. 

Mama Shelter is one the dozens of hotel brands under the umbrella of the Accor Group, in particular the global hospitality giant’s Ennismore collective. The brainchild of an entrepreneurial French family that gave the world Club Med, the Mama Shelter collection is characterized by flamboyant, offbeat interior design and a vibrant — even playful — atmosphere.

With 238 rooms in four categories, Mama Shelter Prague is the largest property in the distinctive collection by far. Its imposing exterior looks like many other hotels — but the resemblance stops the moment you open the door. The first thing you see when you enter is a red felt pool table opposite the reception desks, and off to the side, a screening area showing old Mickey Mouse cartoons. Mini-arcades of video games — and even a photo booth — are scattered along the length of the lobby, with a giant foosball table beckoning in the back. Welcome to the wonderful, wacky world of Mama Shelter. 

Mama Shelter Hotel door signs

The whimsy continues when you settle into your guest room, after being checked in by the young, friendly and helpful front desk staff. The lamp shades on the bedside lights are festooned with Darth Vader masks, while the unusual number to dial reception from the house phone is found not on the instrument itself, but rather scrawled in chalk on one of the many mirrors. And check out the provocative Do Not Disturb and Clean My Room doorknob signs. 

Room sizes designed with length of stay in mind

Rooms are categorized not with customary — and frequently overblown — descriptions such as Deluxe and Superior, but rather straightforwardly as Medium (the most numerous room type) and Large, for a bit more space. The hotel recommends Medium for shorter stays, such as just over a weekend, and Large when you are staying longer (and might have more luggage to unpack).  

Regardless of room size, you will be sleeping on a super-comfortable king-sized bed (unless you opt for the twin bed option available in Large rooms). Wherever else Mama Shelter may stint — such as when it comes to the lighting in the rooms, which is inordinately dim — the hotels’ commitment to plush bedding is a luxury everyone can enjoy.

All rooms are also equipped with user-friendly climate control, large (43″) flat screen television with multi-channel and multi-lingual programming, laptop-sized electronic safe for valuables and mini-refrigerator. Small electric kettles for making your own  coffee or tea are available upon request (and after leaving a deposit).

Mama Shelter Hotel suite

All rooms also come with long desks, paired with a curved-back bench on which two people can sit at once — just another friendly quirk I have experienced nowhere before.  Large rooms can even accommodate an easy chair; and for those wanting a whole lot of extra space, Mama Shelter Prague has an XXL room, plus a Penthouse Suite. 

In-room entertainment is a major perk at Mama Shelter properties: free movies of all genres may be viewed 24/7 — including X-rated fare. Naturally, free high-speed WiFi extends to all guest rooms, as well as public spaces. 

Bathrooms are clean and spacious, with 5-star quality showers and dual showerheads, as well as hair dryers and make-up mirrors. Unique to Mama Shelter are the chain’s proprietary Mama Green organic toiletries — in solid form, wherever possible, including the shampoo, which is incorporated into the bar of body soap. (That was a first for even a veteran hotel maven like myself, and I confess it takes a bit of getting used to.) 

Eat, Drink, Play and Be Merry

The dining and drinking areas at Mama Shelter Prague are as large and welcoming as the other areas in the hotel designed to facilitate social interaction. Extended communal tables coexists with smaller ones for eating, while the bar leading to the restaurant boasts one of the longest oval counters I can recall in recent memory.  

Breakfast is served daily at the leisurely and convenient hours of 07.00-10.30, at the very reasonable extra charge of 13 EUR per person (when ordered in advance, 15 EUR at the restaurant). What makes it such a good value is the lavish all-you-can-eat buffet, comprising not only the usual breads, pastries, eggs, meat, cheeses, cereals, yogurts, etc., but even syrup-drenched crepes. All washed down with unlimited refills of excellent fresh-brewed coffee.

Mama Shelter Hotel restaurant

Breakfast gives way to lunch at noon, and subsequently an evening meal — the latter with a rather limited menu: only pizza, although appetizingly piping hot from the oven. Alas, there is no room service (hence, no breakfast in bed).

On the other hand, all of your food and beverages may be consumed al fresco on the inviting terrace, while basking in the sun or under the shade of beach-style umbrellas. The well-stocked bar will mix you signature cocktails, pour your wine from an extensive list of local and European vintages, or fill your mug with unparalleled Czech beers from the tap. (Plus, in between rounds, you may engage in a spirited game of ping pong.)

For those craving a but more variety at dinner than pizza, the pleasant, primarily residential neighborhood surrounding Mama Shelter is home to a diverse selection of taverns and eateries, serving everything from East European specialties to worldwide ethnic cuisines representing Asia and the Middle East. Also within easy walking distance are convenience stores, bakeries and delis with tempting treats for a picnic in the comfort of your own room. 

Actually, the location of the hotel is part of its charm: while away from the hustle and bustle of the crowded tourist centers, the very doorstep of Mama Shelter Prague is conveniently served by a whole slew of tram lines, which will whisk you in a matter of minutes to just abut every worthwhile attraction in town. In fact, getting there is half the fun, as the trams offer terrific views as they cruise along the riverbank and traverse the venerable bridges spanning the legendary Vltava River. 

Mama Shelter Hotel exterior

Room rates at Mama Shelter Prague start at around USD $90 per night for a Medium Mama Double room (two persons). Check the hotel website for special offers which can throw in extras like cocktails and breakfast. You can also go to a hotel booking site like Hotels.com or Booking.com to check for better rates.

Text and photos by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of the hotel for purposes of review. As always, the opinions expressed are his own. 

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