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“Bad hotel, great city!” 1 of 5 stars
Review of YMCA Central Branch

YMCA Central Branch
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YMCA Central Branch
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220 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco, CA 94107   |  
Hotel amenities
13 reviews 13 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
“Bad hotel, great city!”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed February 17, 2008

If really, before staying at the YMCA in San Fran i had never ever heard about this kind of company, and if had heard, i would have never ever stayed there! Firstly, the room was very small and dirty! Secondly, checking out was a nightmare, they confused credit card details and returned the deposit to my friends card, who planned to stay there for 2 more nights, but apparently checked out after one night stay! Thirdly, when I parked my car for 10 or 15 dollars a night in the secure parking and wanted to leave the hotel at late hour, they said that i should pay 5 dollars for the key from the parking lot what I did despite the fact that if went by foot it would take less time, it is because of the location. The location, thus is just half a mile from the Union Square, is extremely unsafe with lots of homeless people and is considered to be the most nutorious district in San Francisco (Tenderloin) I could not even imagine using a sauna there, everything was so unpleasant to me at this establishment. Homeless people were sleeping just a corner from the main entrance, the smell was awful! Actually, we paid 85 dollars a night! It was very reasonable, but belive me, it is worth to pay 200 and to stay in other hotels, even in this neighborhood! despite the dissapointment, san francisco remains to be one of the greatest cities I have ever visited. I visited it 3 times and would like to return back, but definately not to this hotel!

  • Stayed September 2007, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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6 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Location
    2.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3 of 5 stars
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Toronto, Canada
16 reviews 16 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
72 helpful votes 72 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 9, 2007

I recently stayed at the Central YMCA ( June 29-July 5, 2007). I had stayed there before, but it was a while ago, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

First the neighbourhood. The hotel is located in "The Tenderloin", which is a tough part of town. Like another reviewer states, you need to keep your wits about you. However, if you are visiting from another LARGE urban centre like NYC, or LA, for example, it won't be too much of a problem. Still, especially in this area, it pays NOT to look like a tourist. There are many homeless people at United Nations Plaza ( which is just south of the hotel). It's tough because you want to look confident enough in this area not to be harassed, but not so agressive as to start something up with the local vagrants. During the day, you are still pretty safe. And there is a strong police presence in the neighbourhood.

The hotel is located 3 min walk from BART ( Bay Area Rapid Transit) and MUNI ( the local San Fran transit system) stations. It is a 5-8 min ride to downtown, shopping, and the cable cars. On weekends and holidays, there's a decent sized farmers' market at the aforementioned UN Plaza.

As for the hotel. The rooms, while small, are clean. I saw no cockroaches at all, and I stayed 6 nights. There is a maid service, and the rooms were always made up when I returned from my day's journeys. A small continental breakfast is included, which consists of a muffin/toast, juice, and one fruit. There is a "cafe" in the hotel which does provide a decent brekkie, lunch, and dinner ( M-F). The TV is antenna only, but I still found 3 or 4 good channels to watch.

The washrooms are often down the hall. If you have a robe, be sure to bring it. Makes things so much more convenient when transiting back and forth.

The front desk staff are warm and friendly. They were very helpful, and I experienced no problems from them. There is one computer for internet use by hotel guests. 2 dollars for 20 minutes was the rate when I went. Oh yes, if at all possible, make your reservation by phone, or e-mail...and check to confirm. The automated system they had for reservations was down...and they had no idea that I made a reservation. But this is common sense about verifying a reservation before arriving.

In conclusion, for the absurdly low price you are paying, this place is a steal!!! Outside of the neighbourhood, it offers extremely good value for money, and is close to everything. I would recommend this place to anyone who doesn't have a major problem with a lot of homeless people.

  • Liked — The price!!!
  • Disliked — Neighbourhood not the greatest...
  • Stayed June 2007, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
11 reviews 11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
44 helpful votes 44 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 31, 2006

Although I have stayed in the Waldorf Astoria, the Plaza Athenee and dozens of Hiltons and Marriotts I found that I prefer staying in budget accommodation such as youth hostels and bed and breakfasts. People are generally friendlier and service is usually very personalised. You usually get the best information from the locals who live and work in budget accommodation.

I was to attend a conference in Berkeley and the local YMCA was recommended by the conference organisers. However since I was staying on a few days to sightsee I thought it would be best if I stayed in central San Francisco. That’s how I came to stay at the Central YMCA hotel.

It was only afterwards that I found that the Central YMCA is in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. The Tenderloin district is most likely the poorest and most run down area of San Francisco. In fact, although I have lived and worked in some pretty rough areas in Manhattan, nothing could have prepared me for the sheer number of homeless street people and addicts that I found within the blocks surrounding the Central YMCA hotel. It was a sobering experience seeing that sort of poverty and hopelessness here in the US.

That said, the Central YMCA has a no tolerance policy towards drug and alcohol use in their facility. The Central YMCA hotel is populated primarily by students from the nearby law school and curious characters who were usually interesting. I was never bothered by anyone when I was walking throughout the Tenderloin. If you have are used to rough neighborhoods I believe you can manage the Tenderloin - just keep your wits about you. If you are interested in luxury this area and the hotel are not for you.

The advantages of staying in the hotel are that the rooms are extremely cheap. (I paid a weekly rate of $33.00 a night) They were spotlessly clean, the beds comfortable (amongst the best beds I’ve slept on ever) and the food in the hotel cafe is simple, very tasty and cheap! A continental breakfast is included in the room rate.

The continental breakfast includes eitheir a freshly baked muffin or toast with a piece of fruit and a drink. Drinks include freshly brewed coffee, juice or milk. Other breakfast meals include eggs, bacon/sausage/ham, home fries, pancakes etc. . All the breakfasts fall within or far under $5.00 and set you up for a good day exploring and sightseeing. Lunch specials are created daily and include a vegetarian option. I didn’t get a chance to try any, but they sounded wonderful and also fell within the $5.00 price range. The cafe has limited hours and does not serve dinner. However that shouldn’t be a problem with inexpensive eateries nearby and Chinatown and Union Square just minutes away by mass transport or a 20 min walk.

There are computing facilities available for a fee but the entire YMCA has free wireless access. I did have problems connecting with my Mac laptop but did manage to use the wireless network.

Membership in the gym, exercise classes and swimming pool is included. I also took advantage of the massage centre which is very reasonable and the staff very experienced and good.

The disadvantages are that the hotel is a bit run down. It is unlikely that any renovations will be undertaken as this YMCA is shutting down in the future and a new facility is being built two blocks away, in a more hospitable neighborhood. A few blocks makes a huge difference in the San Francisco.

I didn’t like having to march down the hall every time I needed to use the facilities in the dormitory style bathroom. I didn’t bring my robe which was a mistake - make certain that you bring one.

Forget cable television - it’s aerial reception only. There are no phones in the rooms so it can be awkward staying in touch. There are two pay phones next to the cafe, along with a soda and snack vending machines. There were very few healthy choices in the vending machines.

So, if you don’t mind roughing it a bit, want to save money and “get real” this is the place for you.

  • Stayed March 2006, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
1 of 5 stars Reviewed May 21, 2005

not a very clean establishment at all. The student rate is cheap but I would never eat and found it hard to sleep in a hotel with so many cockroaches. I moved to a nearby hotel the next week. The men's steam room and sauna area was not nice and felt more like a pick up bar.

  • Stayed May 2005, traveled on business
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 2, 2003

While the Y is located in the seedy Tenderloin area and probably not suitable for single women it is clean and they provide a great continential breakfast. The rooms, while small, albeit tiny, are very clean! And while not air conditioned are usually pleasant. Good choice and you can't beat the price!

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about YMCA Central Branch

Address: 220 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco, CA 94107
Location: United States > California > San Francisco
Hotel Style:
Ranked #23 of 48 Specialty Lodging in San Francisco
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 21
Also Known As:
Ymca Central Branch Hotel San Francisco

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