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Mama Shelter is all about fun. Everyone knows that. It’s the whole point of Mama Shelter. So what happens when you intro-seduce a fun hotel into the notoriously fun city of Lisbon, as they have recently done? An explosion? Well, not quite but not far off.

Just walking into Mama Shelter, you know this is doing hotels with the brakes off. None of the stuffy, all of the quirk. Even the buyables in the vitrines as you check in are silly and funny and, it must be said, a bit sexy (they do tend to encourage the naughtiness of a carnal nature at Mama Shelter with free porn – including gay – on the in-room TVs and condoms and lube easily available).


Peek around the corner into the huge, way-over-decorated restaurant with fishy chalk drawings on the blacked-out ceiling and mis-matched furniture with sofas and cushions and plants and pizza oven and you should be receiving the message that this is not a hotel for fuddy duddies. The menu is homemade with a focus on fish (well, it’s Lisbon) and they do a great dry martini with a twist. Mind you, everything is with a twist at Mama Shelter.

Of course, you can also eat on the roof, with 360-degree views over the Targus River, shaded by parasols and huge tropical plants, whether you’re sitting up at a table or lounging on a sunbed or lucky enough to have a bagged a cabana. There are views, views and even more views than that, and anyone who is anyone (and some people who may be no-one at all, we’re not that up to speed with Portuguese famouses) has put this on their to-drink/to-pose/to-repose list, so no faffing about as it gets pretty/very busy-buzzy on a weekend afternoon and they don’t take reservations.

And the nuttiness of Mama extends to the rooms, which come – handily! – in small, medium and large, though they describe them all as ‘cosy’ so don’t be expecting huge expanses of empty space. Mama doesn’t know how to do empty space anyway with rooms packed with things to grab your attention from superhero masks through jazzy furniture fabrics to carpet made to look like traditional Portuguese tiles. Only bathrooms come in white with no frills.

The bottom line is that Mama Shelter – like Lisbon – is an absolute assault on the senses, which is what makes it the most perfect choice if you’re after a noisy, busy, jumpy stay in Europe’s current favourite capital city. And everyone needs a Mama who can pull all that together, right?