Barcelona High Rise Not Accessible to Handicapped

I booked a room in Barcelona through Airbnb in February, but by the time I traveled in late May, I had developed back and leg problems (sciatica). A couple days before arriving, it occurred to me that I didn’t know whether I would need to climb steps or if there was an elevator.

I contacted the host, who was willing to be helpful, but he was on the third floor without an elevator. I was able to see the building from the outside and could determine I would not be able to climb the stairs, or if I got up there, I would not get back down. The host declined to refund me because I cancelled too late (which I get), and he was generous in offering the same reservation for a future time (I will not get to go back to Barcelona to claim the offer).

At the time of booking, my fee went from the posted $47.00 per night to $125.00 because there was a big music festival in town that weekend. I hoped he would be able to book guests in, but he chose not to open up to a new Airbnb booking. My total fee was $420.00. So far I have received a refund of $18.96.

I contacted Airbnb to request a full refund. I had a case worker who asked for a doctor’s letter by June 14th. On June 10th (I had not yet received the doctor’s letter) I got this email message:

“Thank you for providing me the details. Please feel free to contact us when you have the letter from the doctor and we’ll be happy to analyse it in order to help you. You don’t have a time frame to provide this documentation. However, I’m forced to close this consult for the time being. It will re-open once you provide the doctor’s letter. Keep in mind that the letter is the only way we can help you. Please contact us when you need to. We’ll be glad to help you.”

The next day I sent the doctor’s letter. My case worker had disappeared. All I got were automatic responses saying they received my request. I have complied. Since I have a medical reason for the cancellation, I expect Airbnb to honor my refund request or least to acknowledge and act on it now that the documentation is in place. I have used Airbnb other places and had good experiences. Of course, it just takes one bad meal to keep me out of a restaurant.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , , .


  1. I guess you are one of the many Americans who doesn’t realize that most countries have no laws requiring disability access in public accommodations. The situation would have been the same had you planned to stay at an older hotel, hostel, ski lodge, or B&B, so why post it here?

  2. I have found Air Bnb to be really helpful with extenuating circumstances although it’s hard to know what is covered and what isn’t – i had to cancel a few weeks ago for a trip I was taking due to contracting Pneumonia. I sent a message to see if I qualified and received no reply so I called, and got someone who asked for a document from my doctor showing the diagnosis. I sent a screen shot of my dr visit report that gets sent to my phone, and 45 mins later a case manager contacted me, checking how I was feeling and confirming I was getting a full refund. Checked my credit card a week later and there it was.

  3. A couple days before arriving, it occurred to me…….
    So you want the host to take the knock for your late realisation of your malady? I don’t believe that sciatica can be regarded as extenuating circumstances. Neither should Airbnb.

    • I disagree. This guest would not be able to get into the property, nor get out if they would make it in. I appreciate the short timeline but considering the festival etc, the host should have been reasonable and offered to open up the property to new bookings. They would have likely made more money out of it too. So much for the ‘sharing economy’…

  4. This belongs to the realm of travel insurance. Your logic is similar to this: I buy some bread, discover I’m allergic to gluten and claim my money back from the bakery…….
    Thanks for the laugh:)

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