June may be the month of Father’s Day, but at the moment, the Secret London team are all about Mama – Mama Shelter that is. The playful, Parisian-born hotel brand has had success from Lisbon to Los Angeles with its sassy yet luxury vibe, and we took a team trip to check out Mama’s only London outpost. Mama Shelter Shoreditch boasts karaoke rooms, a French restaurant, a cute courtyard garden bar, and a whole lot of fun.
Mama Shelter Shoreditch straddles the line between Shoreditch and Bethnal Green. While the exterior is minimalist and unassuming among the Bethnal Green shops and residences, you enter a colourful world the moment you step inside.
Signature quirks of the international brand grace the venue, like superhero masks as lampshades and graffiti-style ceiling murals, but there are decidedly quintessential London-style furnishings too. It is bold, characterful and unapologetic, and I loved it. Mama Shelter London Shoreditch collaborated with French interior designers Maxime Dion and Florence Arles to create the space.
Karaoke kings and queens
There are many distinctive elements of the hotel, but arguably the star of the show is the karaoke set up. Mama Shelter Shoreditch has two dedicated karaoke rooms, each catering for up to 15 singers – or 10 suddenly shy Secret London staff members. The multi-coloured lighting illuminates the room, giving the black and white walls a jovial rainbow effect, while the red-lipped carpet print is just utterly fabulous. Our stage was set.
To warm up the group’s confidence the vocal cords, we ordered a ton of cocktail jugs. The general consensus was a love of Mama’s signature Poison Dart (a mix of gin, green chartreuse, Suze gentian liquor, and peach and jasmine soda); not too sweet, and rather more-ish. The Cosmopolitans went down a treat too, with their extra citrussy edge.
Slowly but surely, the team found their voices, and we worked our way through an impressive setlist of songs. Mama Shelter Shoreditch’s karaoke rooms have music from such a wide breadth of artists: I’m talking TLC to Taylor Swift, My Chemical Romance to Miley Cyrus, and we made a good go of covering them all. A DJ would not have been impressed with our transitions from genre to genre, but I am not even ashamed to say we went from Oasis’ Wonderwall straight into Getcha Head In The Game from High School Musical without skipping a beat.
As the evening wore on, we moved from seated singalongs to all-out standing performances with the mic stands – yes, the karaoke rooms offer full-on mic stands, worthy of singing superstars – and as the rooms are so spacious, we could really give it our all. The high-tech space meant we could switch up the mood with the lights and manipulate the musical output to get the most out of our performances. When our executive editor suddenly whipped out four (?!?!) spare sunglasses from her handbag, we really started to channel our inner stars.
A true testament to how much we enjoyed the evening is the fact we asked to extend our session three times after our initial three-hour slot had finished. If you need to take a moment to cool off (or shy away from your turn to sing), there are two retro arcade-style games just outside the karaoke rooms.
After a fabulously fun evening, I headed upstairs for the night. Those who were unlucky enough to hear the Secret London team’s singing will be pleased to know that guest rooms are a minimum of two floors up from the karaoke rooms, and totally soundproofed.
In line with the hotel’s character, the rooms are quirky and functional, with bold artwork and patterns. Although the rooms are compact, they don’t feel stuffy; Mama Shelter really makes the most of the space, offering all the mod cons you need for a comfortable stay, and even managing to fit in booths, ideal for working.
Elsewhere at the hotel
As previously mentioned, Mama Shelter Shoreditch is home to a French restaurant and courtyard bar. In the karaoke room, we got a little preview of the restaurant’s menu by way of canapes. Of all the bites, the halloumi was most loved by the team; it was well seasoned, and had a perfectly crispy casing. The salsa cup also provided a great hit of flavour, and personally, I loved the ribeye steak: it was succulent and had a subtle rosemary taste.
I had the joy of dining in the restaurant for breakfast. Now, I’m usually more of an a la carte girl myself, but Mama Shelter Shoreditch’s breakfast buffet was fantastic. From small details, like personalised Mama plates, to the food itself, everything was in keeping with the whole hotel. Somehow, the breakfast was vibrant – the avocado very green, the yolks of the poached eggs very orange, and the strawberries on the pancakes very red. I recommend ensuring breakfast is included in your room rate though, as on its own, it is nearly £20…
You can’t leave the hotel without grabbing a drink in the central courtyard. Natural light beams through the retracted roof, and it’s just a really nice, laidback vibe during the day.
Overall, Mama Shelter Shoreditch caters for a breadth of hotel stays: working in the city, fun overnight excursions, or as a base for exploration of London. I must give a special shout out to the staff, who demonstrate the same vibes as the hotel itself: funny, friendly and exuberant. Mama strives to be a home away from home, and I really feel like this Mama scooped us in her arms and took care of us.