Stephanie Holmes stays at Mama Shelter in Hollywood, Los Angeles
I got an Uber from LAX and it was super easy — just 45 minutes in off-peak traffic and a reasonably priced fare of US$30 ($45). Totally worth the cost for the benefit of being able to nap in the back knowing the driver would get me to the door without me having to use my brain.
Check-in experience: I arrived too early for my room to be ready, which was unfortunate as I desperately needed a shower after flying overnight from Auckland, via San Francisco. But the very lovely Paul stored my bags for me and promised to give me a call as soon as my room was ready. I wandered among the chaos of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, then came back to sit in the relative peace of reception.
First impressions: Mama Shelter is a super-cool respite from the craziness of Hollywood — it's a block back from Hollywood Boulevard but feels like a different world. Selma Ave is peaceful and pretty. Inside the front doors, it's like a another world again, with Mexican/South American-inspired design and textiles and a fun atmosphere. Mama Shelter is a chain of Accor-owned hotels; there are others in Belgrade, Prague, Rio, London and multiple cities in France.
What's so good about this place?
You're right in the heart of Hollywood, but still able to get some peace and quiet.
And the bad? Not much to complain about. The lifts were pretty slow, but that really wasn't an issue.
What's in the neighbourhood? Hollywood Boulevard, the Dolby, El Capitan and Chinese Theatres, it's about a 30-minute walk up to the start of Runyon Canyon's hiking trails. Further down Selma Ave you'll find plenty of good eateries and bars.
The best food and celebrity hot spots in West Hollywood
I was in an XXL Mama Suite — Hollywood Sign View and it was huge (40sq m) with — yes, you guessed it, a view up to the Hollywood hills and that infamous sign (providing the smog isn't too low). It was comfortable and well thought-out, with hallway, walk-in wardrobe, lounge (with stylish day bed and armchair), king-sized bed, TV-enabled iMac, open bathroom, desk and mini-fridge. It was easy to quickly feel right at home, and I loved the fun, tongue-in-cheek touches - such as the Darth Vader and Storm Trooper masks over the lampshades, and the juxtaposition of the bedtime reading (a copy of The Bible and Keith Richards' autobiography, Life).
Price: From $299 per night, and the room sleeps up to four people. The price doesn't include tax (14 per cent) or tourist tax (1.5 per cent).
The bed: King-sized, firm without being too rigid, lovely white cotton satin linen and four perfect pillows.
Bathroom: Twin sinks, a deep bathtub perfect for sinking into at the end of a long day exploring, and shower with rain head and regular attachments. The toilet is in a separate room by the front door and there's no sink in there — germophobes may have an issue with having to walk from the toilet through the lounge and bedroom to get to the sink before they can wash their hands. But I'm all for keeping the toilet away from the bedroom, especially if you're on a romantic weekend with your partner.
Toiletries: Mama Shelter's own-brand, with slogans such as "Mama loves you head to toe" for the 3-in-1 hair, face and body wash, and "Mama wants to cream you up" for the body lotion sachets.
Free Wi-Fi? Available everywhere. Slow at times.
Noise: I could hear a bit of scraping around from the room above me, but nothing that disturbed.
Food and drink:
There's a bar and restaurant on the ground floor, which were popular at all times of day. The highlight is Rooftop, the open-air restaurant and bar on the sixth floor, with great food, wine and cocktails and picture-perfect views across Hollywood and beyond.
Exercise facilities: Nothing on site. Go for a run — and celebrity spot — along one of Runyon Canyon's trails.
The bottomline: Mama loves you. And you'll love Mama.