Well That’s Interesting: 3B Brooklyn

After college John Woods navigated a hectic maze of streets in downtown Brooklyn and dropped me in front of a fried food restaurant. He said, “Where is it,” and I pointed to a little sign in the corner of a window that said, simply, “3B.” I called a number someone named Matt had emailed me earlier in the day and was relieved to hear (your htmlgiant friend and mine) Catherine Lacey pick up. Into the phone she said, “3B Bed and Breakfast, this is Catherine.” I liked hearing a young person say something professional. It’s about time I got some respect around here. Catherine came down and let me in. John drove away, like my mom.

Catherine showed me up three flights of stairs into a brightly lit hallway with a magenta floor and tall white walls. She opened another door saying, “This is your room. I think you’re the only person in here tonight.” I had booked a room with four bunks, so I might have ended up with three roommates. For the gamble I paid $40. I could have reserved a single for $120, but I also could have stayed at John’s house, or my ballin’ friend Joe’s. I guess I was just going for the middle path. Anyway, exhausted from a long day telling college students about how poetry doesn’t mean anything if you don’t want it to, I was relieved to have the bunkroom to myself.

My bunkbed

I asked Catherine how’s it all going. Business is good. They’ve been selling rooms pretty well. A well-known writer has stayed here (someone famouser than me). One time they had to kick a guy out for being crazy. People who stay here are usually on vacation so they get drunk. February was a little slow, she said, but I believe that’s the natural wane of travel. All-in-all, I got the feeling that the B&B — a ballsy endeavor — was having a good go.

3B is run by a group of eight young friends, each person with a job like accounting, hospitality, or decorating. Catherine is the food orderer. She said she’s getting that pretty standardized now. I imagine it would be challenging because what if no one wants breakfast? Breakfast is included in the stay. Catherine showed me the kitchen, which is nice. There’s a toaster and a coffee maker and a dishwasher and a fridge and a stove and a swinging door. It’s in the community room. In the community room there’s a big iMac that she said I could use, but I’m not an idiot. I travel with my laptop and count on free wifi. 3B provides that. So far everything in 3B seemed like a hostel, except for the breakfast being included part. So I asked Catherine if I could see the other rooms.

The other rooms are — okay I don’t care I’ll say it — gorgeous. There was someone in the double so we bypassed it, but I kind of wished I’d laid out for one of the two single rooms, because they are spacious and airy and have big windows. The beds in their white downy comforters look expansive. The traditional hardwood floors give the place a sense of crisp cleanliness. The furnishings are handsome. Catherine said the person in charge of decorating will spend an entire day finding just the right piece. While she spoke she stretched an accordion lamp out from the wall to show how it can reach optimal reading spots. And while the bedding (and mattresses perhaps) aren’t any fancier than Ikea, the mirrors and pictures and desks and antler coathooks all come together to create a deliberate and wholesome atmosphere. And that’s not to mention the general cleanliness of the place. It would pass the white glove test, no sweat. In fact, 3B might be a bit too sterile, like an Operating Room, but I think that’s kind of the name of the game in this heavily-Euro-influenced-hospitality design phase. And for my money, the considered sterility goes a long way when I have to entrust my laptop to a friendly enterprise while I run out for dinner. Cleanliness is next to crime-freeness.

And 3B makes running out for dinner easy. There was a photocopied pamphlet in my room that details the area’s restaurants, shops and attractions. The annotated list of options makes me feel like I’m in-the-know. It’s a nice touch, classier than the pizza delivery flyers you’ll find at a motel, and more personable and loving than the Hilton’s room service menus. I chose to eat at Wild Ginger, a vegan restaurant about a five minute walk through downtown Brooklyn’s unattractive streets, and was not disappointed. It’s a quiet, well-designed place with a hip menu. I ate the “Mango Soy Protein” and felt invigorated.

My bunkbed provided a comfortable night of sleep. I didn’t hear any other guests in the hallway, though at one point someone peeked into my room thinking, perhaps, that it was the bathroom. I woke at 7:30 and by that time there was already someone in the place’s one shower. These accommodations are the one place where 3B falls short; there’s one bathroom with a shower and another 1/2 bathroom. That’s not great, but with a maximum occupancy of 12 or so guests, it’s also not terribly dire. And, it should be noted, the shower is very large, so it wouldn’t be hard to, uh, conserve water with a loved one.

Breakfast in the morning was a fresh goat cheese frittata with asparagus and strong, good coffee. There were five other people eating, and I think they were French. An elderly lady said “monsieur” a lot. Dave was the cook and a friendly guy. He built out the kitchen, he told me as he loaded the dishwasher. He does a lot of the cooking, which he likes because it gets him out of bed. After I ate, Dave showed me the best way to get to the Chapbook Festival. Then he went to a meeting and I went and wrote this and that was My Night of Ecstasy at 3B, the Downtown Brooklyn Bed and Breakfast. Recommended.

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  1. DiTrapano

      “John drove away, like my mom.”

      nailed it

  2. Frank Tas

      It’s always good to be careful with backpacks in places like this. I stayed in a Chicago hostel once and my laptop was stolen while I was out at a bar getting drunk. Then again, bags were kept in one giant storage room, so anyone could go in at any time and go through any old bag, pretending it was theirs.

      It’s been a few years since I’ve been, but the Green Tortoise hostel sounds like it’s on the same level of great as this place. Free breakfast every morning, free dinner on Sundays (but you have to get there quick because a lot of the homeless get into that pronto), and a bunch of single stall bathrooms where you can lock yourself in, take a shower, brush your teeth, shave, jack off. They also had a sick hanging out area with a big old tv and movies like Groundhog’s Day available to watch, and five or six computers for internet.

      Plus, most of the employees there are completely over-the-top high at night, so if you don’t have a place to stay, just sit at one of the computers until breakfast rolls around. They’ll think you’re staying there.

  3. stephen


  4. Frank Tas

      The Green Tortoise is in Seattle.*

  5. Catherine Lacey
  6. letters journal

      Wild Ginger is good.

  7. Sam Cooney

      I stayed at 3B for ten days over Christmas, and apart from the blizzard that buried taxis and made me panic about how I was going to get to JFK airport when all my meanses of transportation were having a snow holiday, 3B was perfect. Gourmet organic breakfast and coffee, with new and comfy rooms, and the people running it don’t spit in your face, not once.

      Also, I no longer blame 3B for the blizzard. We worked out our differences over big glasses of cider. Guffaws were had. Shucks.

  8. Anonymous

  9. John Dermot Woods

      As long as Adam has a good breakfast, I’m happy.

  10. Beautyrepublik

      My  stay was horrible. What this guy is talking about wasn’t true in November of 2010. “Dave” was actually spray painting at 11 o’clock in the evening without ventilation and caused me to get dizzy and sick. Just last Month, May 2011, a guy posted on Yelp that breakfast was coffeecake, so, organic breakfast? It felt cult like. A bunch of people who don’t want to get jobs or pay rent, so they rig up a couple rooms and called it a bed and breakfast, it’s not a bed and breakfast. There was no community room when I stayed, there was no place to sit, stand or eat, except for your own bed. The bunk room is too small for 4 people, no more than 2 people can stand up at one time. Your luggage is not secure and there is no where to put it. All things people should know before they book and are considered basic. When I stayed it was cold, windy and rainy, they expect you to be out all day and are involved in your day to day doings. It was insane. Did they think I wouldn’t notice? Creepy and unclean over all. A woman had to beg them to clean the bathroom in the middle of the night.