I was a bit apprehensive when I first booked a few nights accommodation at Mama Shelter back in 2016.
On a trip to California, I had left booking my accomodation to the last minute (something I do all too often) and prices for the Hollywood part of Los Angeles were creeping up by the hour.
The name 'Mama Shelter' had me picturing some sort of halfway house full of people all at different stages in their life in need of a bit of direction.
But the pictures looked great, so I booked, hoping they were a true reflection of what the hotel was like.
Fast-forward to 2020: I've now stayed at Mama Shelter five times.
It's safe to say I love this place. It's welcoming, vibrant and you know you are in Hollywood when you're in there.
The last time I booked a room, I received an email from a staff member who said the team was "looking forward to welcoming me back to my spiritual home."
Here are a few small things about the rooms at Mama Shelter that will help paint a picture of how unique this place is:
- Next to the bed, there's always a selection of masks - from stormtroopers to the Queen
- On the desk sits a bit of light reading... like the scripts for Pulp Fiction and The Big Lebowski
- Written in what looks like lipstick on the mirror: "Mama loves you, Dan"
- The TV gives you three options when you switch it on: Live TV, free movies or free porn
- In the bathroom, the amenity bottles are labelled with messages like, "Mama wants to cream you up"
- Your 'Do not Disturb' signs usually resemble a piece of lingerie or underwear
On my latest stay, I had the perfect view of the Hollywood sign from my room, framed on each side by the towers of the Hollywood Pacific Theatre.
There are surprises wherever you look in this hotel. From the chalk drawings and quotes written on the blackboard ceiling, to uniquely named meals or suggestions on the menus.
It sounds cliched, but the staff here really do end up feeling like they're your friends, which is a massive tick in the pro's column for people travelling alone.
There are two words that can make or break a hotel in Los Angeles: Rooftop bar.
Mama Shelter has one of those too.
As I headed up there in the dark lift with lines of script scattered around it in courier font, the person next to me asked where I had travelled from. Expecting the usual puzzled look when giving my answer, I said "New Zealand".
"I'm from Wellington," the man replied.
Despite bumping into the odd Kiwi, the crowd who hang out on at the rooftop bar are very, very Los Angeles. If you've seen the movie Shortbus, it's a bit like that.
Spending the night there, you inevitably end up joining several conversations with all kinds of people from all over the world.
So in a way, Mama Shelter is a different kind of halfway house, one full of people crossing paths at different stages in their life.
For a boutique LA hotel experience that will have you sipping cocktails overlooking the historic Hollywood, Mama Shelter is worth a visit.
At this rate, you'll probably see me there, too.
Have you stayed at Mama Shelter? Or have you visited any unique hotels around the world? Let us know on the Newshub Travel Tips and Tricks Facebook group.