Review and photos by Slawomira Kozieniec
Coming to Istanbul means coming to a city of almost 15 million people; those who live here permanently and those who visit this historical metropolis as tourists.
Who would imagine, you could find a place almost like your mother’s house in such a metropolis? Cozy, relaxed, informal, warm hearted and with good food. And a s an additional plus: close to everything one likes to explore: modern shops, restaurants, art galleries, book shops, clubs with modern and traditional live music – some hidden in narrow side streets – nostalgic cafes and terraces with magnificent views on the Bosporus. A prime location!
The Mama Shelter hotel is such a place. The dark river of moving heads on the main shopping avenue, Istiklal Caddesi, gives you a clue. You are in a hectic spot, where all Istanbul seems to come. Especially on weekends you are taken by that moving river and you don’t know where it can lead you. Leave the crowd and step aside, just around the corner of the popular Demirören shopping mall and the Hüseyin Ağa mosque in the narrow in the Atıf Yılmaz Caddesi.
After you hear the doorman’s voice ‘take the elevator to the 4 floor’, you are welcomed at the informal registration desk that is part of a huge restaurant. You feel the relaxed atmosphere immediately: none of the staff is in uniform and all of them have a selection of funny buttons. Cool!
Nothing traditional around you: painted carpets on the floor, endless drawings on the ‘blackboard’ ceiling, adaptable glass walls to divide this big space into small rooms where you can enjoy privately with a group of friends; or soft sofas with pillows, books and lamps as if you sit in your friends’ living room; opposite chairs or stools, easy to sit or leave for the dance floor. You can even play table football on an X-large table for 10 people! Enjoy the original design with an interesting modern vibe.
Did your mom ever cook bone marrow for you? You can enjoy it here with garlic bread and smoked sea salt (23 TL). There are more delicious dishes with an original twits: beef rib with frik pilavand “zahter” olive salad (69 TL), Turkish dumplings (manti) in tomato sauce with a small jar of yoghurt (24 TL), ox-tongue and cheese tartine with grilled corn on the cob (29 TL). And of course you should try their ‘mezzes’ (starters): different tastes of all kind of small dishes: veggies, olives, mushrooms. It can also be a real test of your character and limited space in your stomach, because there are small and delicious portions of desserts waiting for you: home made sorbet, mix macarons, crispy pudding, panna cotta with basil and strawberry. They are all hard to avoid!
When you have enough of the good food and dancing on the music of the DJ the staff, working hard in the open kitchen just under tens of blinking copper pans, will wave you goodbye. An elevator will take you up to your design room, where everything is white: bed, curtains, walls, bathroom. Colorful animal masks on the lamps shades soften the light. I love the humor of it! Different kinds of fruits are waiting for you on the small table. Before we ended our enjoyable stay with a healthy breakfast, we took a look at the city from rooftop terrace of the hotel. Who wouldn’t like to come to such a spot where two continents meet?
It the weekends it will be noisy till late at night. But hey, this is the night life center of Istanbul and you will be one of the party goers as well, isn’t it?