The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel

Where to stay on the Asbury Park Boardwalk
Originally built in 1928, not as an insane asylum or hospital as many have rumored, but as a grand hotel.

Where to stay on the Asbury Park Boardwalk

Coming up with reasons for tourists, weekenders and families to come to Asbury Park has been getting settled thru the ongoing growth of business. However, offering them a place to stay in town has been another challenge. Oh sure, you can go just a mile or so in either direction and find a nice bed and breakfast or small motel, but what if you want to be right on top of the new action?

On one end of the spectrum (and the boardwalk) there are the ever flashing rainbow lights of the Empress. A loud, rowdy, spot catering to a gay clientele looking to party into the night. On the other end, a quieter, subtle place to relax and get away from it all.

The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel (1401 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park) was originally built in 1928, not as an insane asylum or hospital as many have rumored, but as a grand hotel. As the area declined, the building survived.

If you search online, you may see some bad reviews. Keep in mind, the hotel was given a complete overhaul in 2008. Plus, as you’ll read below, some people just plain suck and can’t enjoy a good thing when they get it.

No, the place wasn’t perfect, but it was close enough. The warnings I had gotten from people were unfounded. Yes, the building is old and with that comes the charm and character of any old building. No, none of what I experienced would be deserving of anything even close to a bad review. This is a wonderful place to stay, where you can live like a king/queen on a pauper’s budget.

Odd geometric patterns on the rugs, modern art and sleek amenities give the hallways a Wonka-factory feel and are in huge contrast to the old-world exterior. On the second floor there’s a series of ballrooms and gathering spaces used on separate days for a church gathering and a wedding during our stay here.

On the first day, it was empty. We had accidentally gotten off on the wrong floor and decided to have a look. With each step taken, I could relive the grandeur of a bygone time. Marble and glass, wood and light flowing together in one majestic space. I could picture a string quartet as lords and ladies waltzed around in their finest attire. Wait, where are we? Asbury Park?

Photo Gallery

They also have a large bar area on the main floor, fully restored and ready to go, but as of yet it is not operational except for special occasions. I think that a full-time working cocktail lounge would be a nice touch. Of course this is not a big deal since you are merely a one-block walk from the nearby Wonder Bar, Beach Bar and Tim McLoone’s (not to mention another soon-to-be-opened Irish Pub outside of Convention Hall).

The few concerns I had with the hotel itself were more to do with — what I hope are — ongoing renovations than anything else. The staff were friendly, full of smiles and hellos whenever you came thru the door. Even after being there for a few days, I never once felt taken for granted.

The rooms were bright, clean and comfortable but could have used more electrical outlets. There were only three. Two were behind furniture and one was in the bathroom making using my laptop, the iron or phone chargers difficult.

The bathroom was huge and I love the large space, but they could have been a touch smaller to accommodate a larger living space. Placing the toilet paper in front and across the room was dodgy as well. Plus there was no place to hang wet clothes or towels.

The ultra-modern fixtures were visually interesting but somewhat impractical. The sink had very little space between the spigot and the drain. The shower had, instead of a curtain or sliding door, an immovable wall of glass covering half of the area. So setting the shower or turning on the water without freezing or burning oneself took a bit of gymnastics.

My most serious complaint has to do with my fellow patrons. Rude, obnoxious, bitchy and low-class for the most part. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Barking out orders like some kind of bratty Hollywood diva.

I blame it on the fact that the hotel looks and feels like a four-star resort, but costs little more than a roadside motel. Being able to afford this level of luxury must give these idiots a seriously misplaced sense of entitlement.

So the elevator is a little slow. So there are no more napkins or an omelet station or whatever at the complimentary breakfast. I wanted to smack this one girl for berating a member of the staff because she couldn’t find the napkins on the buffet table. Grow up!

So you’re near the “gay” beach. Hello! This is Asbury Park, the whole beach is the “gay” beach. We ran into friends of ours and asked where they were sitting on the beach. They said, “Right there, under the rainbow umbrella.” We laughed as we looked out over a sea of rainbow umbrellas.

I read online that the pool was never available but these claims were unfounded. This was another example of how people no longer take responsibility for anything in their lives. Yes it’s true, we woke up one morning and the pool was locked even though it was about fifteen minutes past when it was to be opened. A quick walk to the front desk and it was opened. Simple. No need for complaints.

The bottom line is you’re on vacation and your paying an average of $99 – $150 per night in a place that would cost three or four times that in any other city. So can the attitude and treat your hosts and servers right. Give them the same level of respect you yourself are not yet worthy of. And, by the way, those servers also clean your rooms and maintain the grounds.

In the end, I would highly recommend The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel to anyone wanted to come to the new Asbury Park. I’ll be back soon myself.

See Also:
Photo Gallery
The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel


2 Responses to “The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel”

  1. wernerapnj
    09/22/10 at 9:38 am #

    Built in 1925 – NOT 1928

    Your assessment is a bit ‘off’ – the place puts on a nice facade of having been ‘restored’ but it is poorly operated and is filthy behind the scenes.

    Many key mechanical systems have serious problems. The staff is in fact very rude and condescending.

    A lot of potential but another great Asbury Park failure.

  2. Stephen Bailey
    09/22/10 at 12:31 pm #

    Aside from my incorrect date of construction, I disagree with your comment. First of all your commenting on a post that is over a year old and second … my experience at The Berkeley was exactly as I stated.

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