The capital of French Flanders has a down-to-earth bohemian spirit that sets it apart from other cities in France: Lille, home to the largest flea market in Europe, is the kind of place where people order beer instead of wine. Mama Shelter Lille, a colorful boutique hotel in the historic center, mirrors that energy. Though all the guest rooms are private — and outfitted with luxurious amenities like satin sheets, sophisticated lighting, and huge flat-screen TVs with movies on demand — the place brings back memories of staying in a youth hostel, thanks to the convivial atmosphere, the busy rooftop terrace, and the graffiti-like urban art that graces many public spaces. Choose from a compact Small Mama room, or splash out on the top-end XXL Mama suite with striking skylights illuminating a living room decorated with animal prints and pop art. A lively restaurant hosts a popular weekend brunch and offers sidewalk seating, while DJs spin sets on the terrace after dark.
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