Paris, France: Philippe Starck's acid trip of a hotel
Stay in enough boutique hotels, and their luxe-arty appeal can become a little snoozy. Yeah, yeah, you have a pillow menu. Where's the fun?
It's at Mama Shelter, a budget stay near the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris' fast hippifying St.-Blaise district, in the far-east fringes of the 20th arrondissement.
Designer Philippe Starck went crazy in here, in the best possible way. From Astérix and Batman light fixtures to Norman Rockwellish ladies on chairs in the Mama Pizzeria restaurant, graphic appeal is everywhere, all color-punchy against dark walls. In the bar, the ceiling is a chalkboard, making for an ever-changing canvas of graffiti. The babyfoot tables are a nice touch.
Your room may be small (some are barely 100 square feet) but it's wired to the max (you get your own 24-inch iMac), and can come very cheap (they start at $80-100, depending on how painful the exchange rate is).
There's too much to do to dawdle in the room anyway, like taking lunch on the terrace, enjoying the mastery of guest DJs in the bar or hearing music at indie venue La Flèche d'Or across the street, run by the same owners as Mama Shelter (at this writing, Juliette Lewis and the Hold Steady are slated to play).