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YMCA 3 arches - a review

Israel
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YMCA 3 arches - a review

About 2 weeks ago I hosted 2 (married) relatives of mine in Jerusalem for 2 days. The wife is Israeli and the guy is an American (2nd time in Israel). They are both in their mid twenties. I booked them in the YMCA 3 arches hotel a week in advance by phone, and specifically asked the receptionist/clerck I spoke with, to bill MY credit card and not to ask them theirs. He said that it should be OK and that their policy is to bill only upon checking out, so my credit card will be billed after their stay. When my relatives arrived, the receptionist ask them for a credit card and told them that they have to be billed IN ADVANCE. Although they told the receptionist that the room should've been paid by (or at least they will charge later) another credit card (mine), he would'nt agree and my relatives had to give their card, which was IMMEDIATELY CHARGED!. When I heard about this I called the YMCA hotel and after ther regular Israeli style arguments by phone, they agreed to cancel the charge on my relatives' card and bill my card instead, as should've done in the first place. I later on came by to the hotel to pick up my relatives, and asked the receptionist to somehow make it up to them, as they kind of got offended. I asked for a nice gift, maybe a basket of fruits in the room or something. The receptionist said that since they handled it, he doesn't think they deserve anything. How's that for a service? In general, my feeling is that the service in the YMCA is somewhat slowish and not very efficient.

The rooms are very simple but clean and tidy, although somewhat small. No panoramic view from the window. Of course, the building itself is absolutely one of the nicest in the city, and climbing up the tower is a must - whenever I have visitors from either abroad or from Israel, I take them to the YMCA tower for a great panorama.

The breakfast was okay, but since my relatives stayed at the Dan Panorama Hotel in Haifa a few days earlier, they said that compared to the Dan hotel, the YMCA breakfast is simple. But I have to be honest and say that the Dan Panorama is a luxurious grand hotel. The Lobby is one of the most beautiful I ever saw, with a nice paintings exhibition and beautiful ceilings. BTW, since the YMCA is commited to reconciliation (sp?) between the 3 main religions, it is FULL of symbols, and the building itself is a great tour. It's a pity that their service is not as great as the house.

The payment was 450NIS (about 100$)/night, breakfast included.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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1. Re: YMCA 3 arches - a review

Thanks for the review, guyava. While you know I love the hotel, I appreciate the honest assessment, pros and cons. If I were you, I would contact the hotel's manager and tell your story. They should know about that problem, and that arrangements that you carefully made had been botched. Of course, it's a simple lack of communication -- the people with whom you made the arrangements failed to tell the people at the front desk, who were simply following their normal procedure, uninformed that it had already been handled. I've had exactly the same thing happen in the US -- with similar frustration, I might add. So get to management and let them know. They should have done something to make the mistake right.

I'm looking forward to my visit three in October/November. How far has the construction project in the rear progressed? Have the rooms been renovated at all?

Douglas Duckett

Cincinnati, Ohio
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2. Re: YMCA 3 arches - a review

P.S. You might want to post this under the actual reviews under the hotel section of this site.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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3. Re: YMCA 3 arches - a review

guyava, your reference to a "typical Israeli-style argument" reminds me of what had to be the high-point of my May 2005 trip, at least from the standpoint of navigating Israeli culture in Hebrew.

My friend Joy and I were in Tiberias at the Scots Hotel, having just arrived on a Friday afternoon. The day was scorchingly hot, about 100 degrees F (40 C). I wanted to eat at the non-kosher restaurant called Ha-Bayit (The House) on Lake Kinneret, a less-than-five-minute walk from the hotel. I called to make reservations, speaking Hebrew as I tried to do as much as possible. She told me there were no tables at my desired hour (7:00 p.m.), and nothing at all until 9:00 p.m. -- and that was outside in the heat. I sighed -- I had messed up not booking ahead on Erev Shabbat when this was one of the few restaurants open. But I took it, and asked her to call on my cell phone if someone failed to show or cancelled.

Joy and I were in the pool when my phone rang -- there was a table available at 7:00 p.m. Wanting to be sure that it was OK, I asked, "bifnim, b'eyzor lelo ishun, nachon?" ("Inside, and no-smoking, right?) She confirmed this.

It took some quick clean up, but we arrived on time and were being ushered through the restaurant to our table when we hit a wall of heat. "Ma zah? (What is this?) Yesh lanu shulkhan bifnim? (We have an inside table.

And the typical Israeli argument was on.

The host explained that there were no more tables inside, and he was seating me in the only available table. I said, "No, we have an inside table; we will not sit outside in that heat." "This is the only table." "Well, we will stand here until you figure this out, but we are not going outside. We were told we have an inside table."

Joy is watching all this in Hebrew, head going back and forth like at a tennis match, not understanding a word, but picking up the drift from my tone and body language. The host went off and huddled with some others. In the meantime, we're in the middle of the dining room, with servers stepping around us. Joy suggested we move out of the way, and in full Israeli battle mode now, I said I wanted to be in the way.

The manager then approached me and said "there may have been a mistake, but this is the only table we have." In the best Hebrew I have ever pulled off (the adrenaline was running now), I said, "Yes, there may be a mistake but it was not my mistake. You have a problem, but it's not my problem. I was promised an inside table, and I will wait here until we get an inside table."

After a few minutes, magically, an inside table appeared! From then, the manager and servers were friendly, and all was well. In fact, we enjoyed a good laugh. Zeh hu zeh. Classic end to a classic Israeli customer standoff.

The motto: Stand your ground and throw a litte attitude without being obnoxious. It works. :-)

Douglas Duckett

Israel
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4. Re: YMCA 3 arches - a review

Thanks for your replies, fellows. I know the YMCA for many many years as a beautiful building, but as a Jerusalem resident (actually recently moved to a suburb of J-M, but that's another story) I never stayed there.

Doug, The rooms have not been renovated, and it really is a shame. You know, this hotel could easily become a stylish boutique place: with it's Yichus (Architect was Mr. Harmon, the guy who also designed the Empire State Building in NYC), beautiful shape, very nice tower, excellent location (the best in town in my opinion). If only they renovated the rooms there a little (and all it takes is just a little improvement really) and improved the efficiency of the staff, they could've upgrade the place to a real boutique hotel. Oh, well.

I liked your story about HaBait restaurant, and especially your stand and Hutzpah :-) which was right in place!

Israel
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5. Re: YMCA 3 arches - a review

The construction is in progress but my relatives said it didn't bother them (the working hours are during daytime when most of the rooms are empty).

Cincinnati, Ohio
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6. Re: YMCA 3 arches - a review

Actually, guyava, I do think the room renovations are planned. They lost so much money during the tourist drought of the early 2000s that they barely stayed afloat. The new construction and the lease of the office and retail space should bring in an influx of new cash, and I think the renovations will come from that. You are right, and in the mid- to late-1990s, the Three Arches really was a four-star hotel, one of the nicest ones we stayed at in those years (though I don't spend a ton of money hotels, and never go luxury-class in Israel).

For others reading this, I still think it's the place to stay (and I'm staying there myself in October). But guyava's account is fair. I think the positives outweigh the negatives substantially.

Douglas Duckett

Northern California
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7. Re: YMCA 3 arches - a review

Some of the room have been renovated. I stayed in one last summer. As I recall, it was on the 4th floor. I definitely recall that upon stepping out of the elevator, you turn right. Within a few meters, you are at the hallway. Our room was 2/3rds of the way down the hallway to the left.

I agree with Douglas. I would speak with the management. I am not altogether surprised at the lack of communication with the reservation and at the front desk. The hotel is definitely "low tech"--not at all organized like one in a chain of Hiltons or Intercontinentals--that is one of the hotel's charms and, it seems, one of its downfalls.

8. Re: YMCA 3 arches - a review

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