An Airbnb host whose house is located in Notting Hill, London canceled our booking (four nights) on the day we arrived, and it was after the check-in time. There was no message or phone call from him, so I called and tried to figured out why he did this to us. On the phone I was told his place was “mess” at that time, “not safe” to stay, and most importantly, “the policemen were at his place”.
He didn’t say sorry or apologize to us; we think he didn’t feel sorry at all, as I could sense that he was in a good mood by the way he talked on the phone. We didn’t want to rebook any Airbnb, as we didn’t see any good Airbnb on that day, the “good” ones were all pre-booked a couple weeks ago; we didn’t want to get cancelled again on the same day.
We decided to stay in a hotel. A US Airbnb staff member said she would reimburse us the price differences between this Airbnb in Notting Hill, London and the hotel. She needed us to send her the receipts. After I sent the receipts, this staff member disappeared until five days later I called Airbnb China and they had her reply to me promptly. Then she disappeared again. This reimbursement process seems to take forever.
Let me talk about the sneaky host. Since he mentioned there were policemen at his place and it was damaged, he should have had a Crime Reference Number from the policemen. If he had no Crime Reference Number, then he was lying about the policemen. We demanded to know the Crime Reference Number several times, but the Airbnb staff member just ignored our request.
Our Airbnb host should have had a planning permit. He has used his place on Airbnb between 60 and 90 days, which can be seen from his calendar and reviews. We didn’t know how seriously this would be until several days later we called the police about a stolen wallet and were asked for our address. We were staying in another Airbnb we booked months ago but luckily I think that Airbnb got a planning permit. The police were really checking that Airbnb. I couldn’t imagine that one was illegal. We asked the US Airbnb staff member for the host’s Airbnb planning permit; she ignored this too.
You know if a host cancels a booking before the check-in time, there will be a negative review about the cancellation, which can’t be removed. He canceled the booking after that, so there was no irremovable review about his behavior. On his page, he is still a Superhost with 5-star reviews, while he can cancel bookings hundreds of thousands of times as long as he does them with just the right timing.
Just for your reference, hotel prices, like Holiday Inn Express in the centre of Zone 1 in London, are around 600 USD per night, five times that of this Airbnb; even if you are willing to pay, most of the nice hotels are sold out. Thanks to this host, we had to stay one night at a hostel in a disgusting basement as rooms in Holiday Inn Express and IBIS were all sold out. That hostel ranked 7.5 on Booking.com, around 150 USD per night. It was still better that this Airbnb, as the host didn’t even care if we slept on the street.