Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Greenpoint, YMCA Review Part 1
~ This is the first of a two part extended review of the Greenpoint, YMCA in Brooklyn, New York. You can read Part 2 here...
The original, shorter version of this review first appeared on the Trip Adviser website in April, 2008. At the time I was staying at another New York City 'Y', the North Brooklyn/Twelve Towns YMCA. Since I mentioned the Greenpoint 'Y' in a previous post, Cheap Accommodation in New York City, I thought I would include an expanded review here.
In a forthcoming entry, I will also add a review of the North Brooklyn/Twelve Towns YMCA.
One of the great things about sites like Trip Adviser is the ability for travellers to add their own reviews and photographs of any aspect of the travel experience they care to comment on. Used properly, this type of service can be invaluable for other travellers following in the reviewers footsteps, since it can give new visitors a chance to see how other people felt about a particular service, attraction, or location.
Having said that, travellers take from their experiences only the things they want to take. What may be regarded as a run down building, filled with dusty rooms, and uninterested staff to one traveller, may be viewed completely differently by another.
If you read all the Trip Adviser reviews for the Greenpoint, YMCA you will find a very divergent range of opinions about that particular YMCA branch. My advice is to read as many of the reviews as possible, and make up your own mind. Despite the obvious mixed reviews you will find at Trip Advisor and other online review sites, there are a whole lot of excellent reasons for choosing to stay at the Greenpoint, YMCA, and this review covers the most important ones.
Having spent five weeks at the Greenpoint branch of the YMCA during March and April, 2008, I feel reasonably qualified to offer a review of the facilities, the staff, the location, and the surrounding area.
I moved into the Greenpoint 'Y' on Monday, March 17, 2008, and stayed for a full 28 days before moving out for two nights to the North Brooklyn/12 Towns YMCA in the neighbourhood of Cypress Hills. I then returned for a week, before moving back to North Brooklyn.
If you are looking for five star accommodation during your stay in New York, you won’t choose to stay with the YMCA. Accommodations are basic, at best, but pretty much all that you need for a short or long stay. Although the website for the Greenpoint YMCA states that rooms have televisions and air conditioning, this does not apply to all rooms. Apparently deluxe rooms have them but economy rooms don't. Bare this in mind if you are visiting New York in the middle of summer, where I understand it gets very hot and humid. You may want to pay for a deluxe room so that you have the use of an air conditioner.
I did not use the fitness centre, pool, or any of the other facilities available to the public so I have no comment to make on these, except to say they are very popular with the local community.
Other reviewers have complained about the smells and vermin. I never saw rats or mice, or even signs of them. However, small brown cockroaches were in plentiful supply. Hey, this is a big city after all, and I suspect there are more than a few cockroaches scurrying around New York. My advice – ignore them or kill them, but don’t let them spoil your stay at Greenpoint or in New York City. And coming from me – a guy who has an aversion to cockroaches bordering on the pathological – that is saying something!
Bathrooms and shower facilities were generally clean and tidy. If they are not, blame the people who make the mess, not the staff who clean these facilities in the morning and again late at night. The water in the showers was always hot and plentiful, there was plenty of free liquid soap in the dispensers in each shower cubicle, and there was always toilet paper available, at least in the fourth floor bathroom facilities I used.
A great advantage of staying at the Greenpoint YMCA, is that breakfast is included in the cost of accommodation. You can choose anything from the breakfast menu at the Manhattan 3 Decker Restaurant (Location ‘D’ on the map), with items ranging in price from around $2.50-$5.50. This arrangement is a great money saver in my opinion, and it would be fantastic if other branches of the 'Y', could make similar arrangements with a local diner in their area. NOTE: You must ask reception staff for a breakfast voucher each morning before going to the restaurant.
I assume the owner of the 3 Decker Restaurant is reimbursed a set fee for every voucher he returns to the YMCA. However, this amazing deal (cheap accommodation and full American breakfast), has to be one of the best on offer in New York City – and all for around $30 a night.
If someone knows of a better deal – I’d like to hear about it.
Addendum: Monday, April 26, 2010
According to my journal entry for Monday, March 17, 2008, I paid US$916.00 for 28 nights accommodation at the Greenpoint YMCA. That's just US$32.70 a night! Unfortunately, it seems that all YMCA branches in New York have now subcontracted the booking process for rooms through Hostel World.
Now a single room will cost you US$77.00 per night (well over double what I paid just two years ago), while a twin share room is US$46.00 per person per night.
In Part 2, I look at Staffing, Staying Connected, The Neighbourhood, and more...
~ Thanks to Google Maps for the street map used in the main image.