Luxembourg may be a small country, but it is extremely dynamic and multicultural. In a city where you can meet people from 170 nations, it’s no wonder that so many of the languages of the world are heard everywhere. Despite its diminutive size, I find that there is always some new surprise awaiting me.
And true to form, I recently discovered a hospitality gem, called Mama Shelter. It’s warm quirkiness was unusually attractive.
Stylish & Trendy
Appropriately located in the heart of the Kirchberg district of Luxembourg, Mama Shelter is in close proximity to the Exhibition Center, Mudam (Musée d’Art Moderne)and the Philharmonie. The largest and fastest-growing lifestyle hospitality company is making headlines. A boutique hotel boasting 145 rooms that are all uniquely stylish and trendy – a refuse of comfort and modernity, offering an unforgettable experience to locals and visitors alike.
Luxembourg was not shy to welcome Mama Shelter. The hotel has been rewarded with long lines of exuberant customers since they opened in 2020. I can certainly verify this from the few times that I have been invited at Mama Shelter.
Culture, conception, design philosophy and psychology of designing a restaurant, inherently building a brand, calls for professionals who qualify in sustainable building, have a great respect for nature, appreciate responsibility in safety, and are proficient in communications.
Designed to Elicit Gasps
Founded by the Trigano family, the brand woke up the hospitality world with their first “urban refuge concept” in Paris, in 2008. The epitome of elegance, style, design and hospitality, this brand now boasts locations in nine countries and fourteen cities, with more coming down the pine.
Avant-garde, affordability, luxury bedding, organic solid amenities, homemade food, free movies are some of the key elements at your service in each of the 145 rooms.
Serge Trigano and his two sons Jérémie and Benjamin have worked with renowned designers, Dion & Arles, Thierry Gaugain, and Mama’s Design Studio led by Benjamin El Doghaïli to cause the gasps of delight from guests as they visit the hotel.
Renowned Chef Jean-Edern Hurstel, curated a menu that offers a ‘light Mediterranean touch and a hint of his Alsatian heritage.’
Stepping out of the elevator and into the main lobby, I was greeted with an amazing vibrancy of art, salmon drapes, blush armchairs, variation of fabric covered lampshades with tassels, a kaleidoscope of colors on the ceiling, tapestry on the floors, decked with eclectic furnishing such as armoires, chiffoniers, hutches with glass doors exhibiting all their memorabilia.
Fabricating a restaurant, factors in some considerations such as location, cuisine, target audience, and finally a composition that is satiating, one that will generate loyalty from customers.
I found myself walking towards a long line of eager patrons waiting to be seated in the restaurant.
Stimulating the Appetite
The colossal restaurant with open views of surrounding buildings, sunlight coming through illuminating the already well-lit massive restaurant. I was probably most impressed by the whole open concept, the visual of an open kitchen. A vast, gorgeous pink marble bar the focal point in the room, that offers thirst quenching signature cocktails. Wood burning oven firing up delectable pizzas, private rooms in the back for special events and an open, pleasing, patio seating for warmer days.
An interior design whether the aesthetic is art deco, art moderne, or simply minimalist, transitional, or classic, in order to set the scene for an en pointe presentation, there has to be creative freedom and design philosophy.
The lexicon of food arrived, and I was surprised to see the simplicity of the menu in comparison to the uninterrupted space. I thought I would try out the wood-fired pizza on my first visit and I was quite pleased with the results. The Maillard reaction brings forward the flavor compounds that give a pizza its distinct flavor. We are all drawn to foods that are rich, sweet, and complex, I believe this pizza qualified in each of those areas. I asked if they could make a couple of minor changes and the friendly staff obliged most graciously.
Mama’s Attention to Detail
Each dish is beautifully paired with wine offerings: Steamed Whole Artichoke Tartufata Vinaigrette paired with Chardonnay la Cave d’Azé, with fruity notes of apples and pears and a soft buttery roundedness to finish. Crayfish Bisque paired with L’instant Rare Viognier-Fabre Family citrus fruit, backed by notes of peach blossom, the finish is soft and rounded.
On my second visit, I particularly enjoyed the freshly made Aranchini with a Yogurt Sauce. The Risotto was moist and delicate with just the right creaminess and the sauce added a delightful tanginess to the mix.
The Art of Hospitality is scrupulous and dictates attention to detail. Though the food is the main component, it warrants to be presented in an ambiance that is meritorious of the cuisine and the curator.
The main restaurant also draws crowds with an inviting and roaring fire in the winter. We enjoyed the Sunday buffet on our third visit, which highlighted a full-service station for “Cacio e Pepe” or Parmesan Wheel Pasta.
The selection of foods, both hot and cold, was tremendous. The varietals of salads, cold meats, gravlax and such were innovative and inviting. The breakfast foods for the ‘Brunch’ menu were displayed in the hot station.
The Pizzaiolo, single-handedly maneuvered his peel without spilling any of the ingredients off the top of the pizzas or having a sticky-dough paddle. He deftly assembled, fired, sliced and plated up three or four of their signature pizzas. Hot and ready to devour, all the whilst answering the diners questions.
Decadent desserts were attractively displayed and there were unquestionably a couple of them that I was not familiar with. A feast catering to the gourmand!
A Rich Experience
Mama Shelter’s “RoofTop” reveals amazing views of the Luxembourg skyline. The spacious retreat consistently draws after-work crowds looking for good food and drink, a chill vibe, with the additional bonus of a live DJ. It is an ideal venue to host special events, when weather permits.
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” This old saying applies to all food establishments. You want your customers to return as such is vital for business.
La Boulangerie de Mama tempts the morning risers with the aroma of freshly baked croissants, coffee, and other various bakery goods. Proud to offer the slogan: “All our products are made with a lot of love and butter!”
The Manager, Kevin Jeanson, offered me a tour of the boulangerie, and to my delight, I was able to take in the amazing technology inclusive of a proofer in the kitchen. This made me smile, knowing the value-added thoughtfulness of baking your own goods daily for your privileged customers. The cappuccino had a good recognizable espresso taste, low in acidity with a rich structure and airy foam. Of course, I could not go home with some small purchases for further experience. The carrot cake loaf together with the frosting was light and fluffy, just the right amount of sweetness.
It was a rich experience overall and I took notes of how all the incentives are in place: marketing, menu, pricing, quality, service and ambience.
A Passion for Work
Executive Chef Sannino Enzo, walked me through their philosophy of local and regional cuisine, the importance of this for the purpose of sustainability. I liked his affable demeanor instantly. Sannino’s genuine smile and greeting was well received. Most importantly, he recognized me the second time and greeted me just as kindly.
The brigade de cuisine behind the open kitchen gave me a hearty welcome and demonstrated their passion for their work. They are certainly not perturbed by the openness of their kitchen but rather love the theatricals for their customers.
One rule is clear at Mama Shelter, while aesthetics are important, nothing outweighs the service provided to the customer. In the words of founder, Serge Trigano:
“The key success of Mama Shelter is the quality of the team and how nice they are with our customers.”
I cannot wait to return again. Mama Shelter is definitely a place to bring my friends and visitors to watch them take in every inch that is offered!