Toulouse  is on top. With the November launch of new attraction La Halle de La Machine, marked by a 46-tonne Minotaur roaming the city’s streets, restorations currently improving the Musée des Augustins , and a packed cultural calendar, La Ville Rose looks set to be more popular than ever this year. An added bonus for budget-minded travellers: a cool Mama Shelter hotel has just opened, and it’s proving to be a happening spot for locals, too.
As the fourth biggest city in France it seemed only a matter of time until Mama Shelter decided to grace Toulouse with its presence, and now here it is. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. Not to mention the city’s vibrant vibe; Toulouse is home to around 100,000 students. Mama might not be appealing directly to their cash-strapped wallets, but it will certainly be tapping into the youthful energy of the city.
Just a 10-minute walk from the center and located in a former movie theatre, the sprawling space has given Mama Shelter the chance to celebrate Toulouse, as well as introduce some never-seen-before extras. This of course meant keeping the 46-seat cinema room downstairs, which not only nods to the building’s history but is sure to appeal to both guests and local Toulousains looking for an exclusive night at the movies.
The shop is the first standalone to feature in a Mama Shelter hotel, selling oh-so-cool products chosen by the hotel as well as their own branded souvenirs. Outside is a heated terrace that can be enjoyed all year long, while the hotel is set to receive an even warmer welcome from locals this summer when the roof terrace opens, as it is only the second in the city.
In the bedrooms, it’s out with the dark urban colour palette of the original Mama Shelter Paris and in with a cheerful bright orange, reminiscent of the beautiful glow of the city as the sun sets over its famous “pink” architecture. If it is a little too daring for some there are plenty of lighting options to create a more subdued effect, while large windows create a brighter, more open space than seen in the original Mama Shelter.
The affordable price has stayed but still allows for little luxuries, with Mama Shelter aiming to provide a sanctuary for travelers. The king beds are huge and topped with fluffy feather bedding and cotton sateen sheets; rooms are all kitted out with cutting edge tech; and heated towel rails and large walk-in rain showers come as standard in the bathrooms. Organic bath products have also been created exclusively for the hotel by French skincare brand Absolution, rebranded with cheeky slogans for that final Mama touch.
Downstairs, the bar and restaurant also invokes Mama Shelter’s sense of fun, and with designer Thierry Gaugain taking inspiration from Toulouse to show off the city’s unique identity. Here guests can sip on Mama’s signature cocktails in the bar, whilst trying to spot the Toulouse references in Mama’s black chalkboard ceiling design, and tuck into classic home-made Mama dishes as well as local produce from Toulouse, including of course, the famous sausage. With well thought out menus and hearty, delicious food, not to mention the exceptional service from smiling staff, the restaurant is a destination point on its own. Mama has also introduced another new concept, a sharing table, where groups can gather together to eat tapas-style.
The lounge areas, and hotel if you’re staying, are also surprisingly family-friendly, with a good selection of kids’ comfort food, crayons to to keep them entertained (which as well as cuddly toys can also be picked up in the shop), a football table, Pétanque ground, and bright colours to create a fun hangout area for kids. Live concerts, cabaret Shows, DJs and will also provide the entertainment every Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the grown-ups, as well as local Toulousains at the city’s newest hot spot.
Mama Shelter Toulouse , 54-56 Boulevard Lazare Carnot, 31000 Toulouse, Tel: +33 (0)5 31 50 50 05. Rooms start around 79 euros.