We arrive in Belgrade late at night, a bit weary from 11 hours on a train. The Bar to Belgrade train takes you through lovely landscapes: first the deep canyons of Montenegro, then the gentle green hills of Serbia. Still… 11 hours! But more about the famous train journey later. Today, it’s all about Mama Shelter Belgrade.

A taxi is hard to come by outside Belgrade’s unfinished central railway station. A snazzy new station is in the works, but for now, it feels a bit hidden. We have to walk over to the nearest busy road before we finally manage to flag one down.

I haven’t done my due diligence, so it takes me by surprise when the taxi stops in front of a shopping centre. Don’t think I’ve seen hotels in shopping centres outside of the Emirates. But there it is: Mama Shelter written on the window in big black letters.

Even at this late hour on a Thursday night, the shopping centre is busy. And the lifts as well. Waity, waity. Long day. Heavy bags. But things will soon improve.

As we exit the lift, we’re met with an abundance of colours and all-round fresh, delightful design – and service-minded staff. A special shout-out to Miloš at reception, who handles everything in a professional and very friendly manner: from rambling phone messages from me, to fixing same-day laundry return even though it is weekend, and not least, organising birthday cake. All with an easy smile.

Mama Shelter has its own lift, we soon learn – queue free! Enter through these intriguing curtains.

Our rooms are up half a stairway, then along a corridor, around a corner, and into a lift. Would have been a bit hard to find, but that is nicely compensated by having a receptionist walking us to the final lift.

Later, I discover there are signs on the walls everywhere. It is practically impossible to get lost.

You may remember my 17 hotel room pet peeves, folks. Well, I’m glad to say Mama Shelter Belgrade has only one of them: no coffee- and tea-making facilities in the room. Coffees and teas of all preferences easily available in the huge open space that is the reception/bar/restaurant/play space, though, so all good.

Mama Shelter Belgrade location

This boutique hotel is located on top of Rajićeva Shopping Centre on Ulica Kneza Mihaila, Belgrade’s pedestrian street. It is a one-minute walk from Kalemagdan Fortress and just steps from many of the city’s gazillion restaurants and bars.

Reception/common areas at Mama Shelter Belgrade

Again, all those colours! And also, look up! The graffitied ceiling is inspired by the River Danube that runs through the city.

The large restaurant/bar has seating indoors, as well as outdoors on the rooftop: drinks with fab views.

There’s a stage, books, games, and even a couple of arcade games (hello 80s) –

– and seating areas galore, for working, playing, chatting, drinking, or whatever takes your fancy.

A small and functional gym is available on the 3rd floor, with two tread mills and a step machine as well as various weights and pilates balls.

The rooms at Mama Shelter Belgrade

Rooms come in medium, large, extra large, and a 2-bedroom apartment with a terrace, sleeping up to 6 people. All are sound-proofed and have black-out curtains.

When I open the door, I notice there is already a card in the main electric in the room. I don’t have to fumble about in the dark while looking for a place to stick the key card in. Thumbs up for this.

The room is spacious and cool, with a king size bed, a long desk and ‘Mama loves you’ handwritten on the full-length mirror.

The bathroom

The bathroom has a shower that does not require a PhD to operate (though thankfully, those seem to be rarer these days), and a proper door so it doesn’t leak water all over the floor. The shower is size XL: bathtub size, actually. You could have a small party in it. Or just lie down on the floor and let it rain all over you, without having to prop your legs up against the wall. (Yes, yes, I’m weird.) Bath towels are XL, too.

Bonus points for the environmentally-friendly shampoo/shower soap bar that you are encouraged to take with you, so save the little box it comes in. It smells nice, is proper foamy and I can testify it works well on long, curly hair.

Breakfast at Mama Shelter Belgrade

Breakfast is served in the large open space, and with all the usual suspects – heavy on fruits and veg. (No worries, plenty of eggs, bacon, sausages, cheese, too.) You can squeeze your own juice – carrots, apples, lemons and oranges available. I tried all, and in combinations. Pick up your favourite coffee or tea at the bar.

Fruit salad, chia pudding and my default

What I especially like about Mama Shelter Belgrade

  • Super central location
  • Kids and pets are welcome
  • Serbia is not in the EU and roaming can get expensive, but no need to wander about looking for a phone shop. Mama Shelter Belgrade offers mobile wifi to guests for a small daily fee.
  • The comfortable king size bed
  • The extra large, easy-to-operate, no-mess shower
  • The organic shampoo bar
  • Plenty of sockets for all my devices
  • Lights already on when you enter the room
  • Good signage everywhere, easy to find your way around
  • All the healthy breakfast options – and that juice maker
  • Large open spaces
  • Friendly staff
  • All the colours and creative elements
  • Energetic, funky vibe, making Mama Shelter a fun new acquaintance

What to know about Mama Shelter Belgrade

  • Well, a hotel in a shopping centre isn’t for everyone (but why not give it a try…)
  • Some rooms are a bit of a walk from reception

Full specs here.

Disclosure: Our stay at Mama Shelter Belgrade was hosted by VisitSerbia. As always and ever, I retain the right to write anything I want – or nothing at all; my bit of cyberspace, my rules. Otherwise, this would all be meaningless.