You might ask yourself why a French concept hotel, previously confined to the borders of its motherland, should open its first international branch in distant Istanbul. The answer is a happy meld of the obvious (why not, Istanbul may be on the very edge of Europe, but it's definitely one of the continent's most happening cities), and coincidence (one of the owners just happens to be married to a Turk). Filling the need for stylish but well-priced accommodations for hipsters attracted to Istanbul's entertainment hub in Beyoğlu, this slick addition to the city's hotel scene is daringly located on the top three floors of the Demirören shopping mall, whose neoclassical façade blends in successfully with the 19th-century apartments lining pedestrianized Istiklal Caddesi.
Rooms are chic without being clinical—the predominantly white interiors (walls, bed linen, floors) relieved by amusing touches such as the cartoon masks grinning at you from the (admittedly white) shades of the table lamps. Rooms are not massive, but the kinds of guests attracted to Mama Shelter are more likely to be propping up the cool bar on the reception floor (which hosts live DJ sets on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays), perhaps having just tucked into a meal in the adjoining restaurant, which is headed by Michelin-star chef Murat Artukmaç. The bar and restaurant have found their place with cosmopolitan Istanbulites, so you won’t be in a tourist ghetto here; in summer, the eating and drinking moves on up to the roof-top. The touch screen "concierge" in the lobby will help you navigate the city’s sights, and you can even take a "selfie" with the in-house camera and post it to the screens dotted around the bar.