Dirty Hip-Retro Cabin in Big Bear — Not Airbnb Worthy

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The first weekend in November, my family and I (girls only trip), I stayed at an Airbnb property in Big Bear. The visit to this beautiful city, generally speaking, was nice. We arrived with no snow anywhere and were able to experience a snowstorm and see the landscape change to all white overnight.

Now I don’t know what to do. It is as if I have no voice or that my words do not matter. This is why I have sent this information to Big Bear Lake Mayor, Council and the City Manager. It is as if the host of the property I rented is a powerful man; he is getting undue favorable treatment by Airbnb. He has misrepresented his cabin, which is not in a condition to be Airbnb worthy. This host has supposedly reported me to Airbnb. I just can’t understand why and how this continues.

I originally made my reservation for the “hip-retro cabin” in August for a stay in September. On the day of check-in, we were told to cancel by a San Bernadino Forest representative because the El Dorado Fire was flaring up in the direction of Big Bear in addition to the air quality being dangerous to be outside. We had called because Google Maps advised one of two roads up the mountain was closed. All visitors were advised not to come up the mountain. Residents were okay, but visitors were advised not to come.

I contacted the host to tell him I was not comfortable going against the advice of the Rangers and that I did not want to cancel but would prefer to reschedule. The host asked me to select a date but to please avoid holidays. I chose Nov. 6-8, giving the fire time to be extinguished, avoiding Halloween and Thanksgiving. We both agreed to the new dates.

Two days before we traveled, I reached out to the host asking if it would be possible to extend an extra day because the winter weather was coming and traveling down the mountain on the 8th was not looking safe for us to drive. We are not experienced drivers in snow and certainly not during an active storm. The host was very helpful to extend another night and we paid an extra $357. Our new departure day was Monday, Nov. 9.

We arrived at the cabin around 5:00 PM on the 6th. It was getting dark, cold and windy: 38 degrees, and the storm was close. We were thankful to have arrived and get settled before the road conditions got bad. We had two cars. When we got into the cabin, as we brought all food and kitchen items inside, we noticed the countertops had old food debris and needed to be wiped. We brought Lysol wipes and used the paper towels to complete the job. It was very disgusting how much dirt there was. We decided to sit and eat our lunch that we missed hours ago and determine who would sleep where.

After eating, we put away the food and began to look around. I texted the host at 7:14 PM to ask if they were available for a call. I first had tried to reach them through Airbnb but the app was not easy to navigate. I wanted a live person to speak with and for the number I called I had to select several options. I decided that it would be easier to contact the host. In my conversation I shared that we are uncomfortable with conditions in the cabin and moving to somewhere else would not be easy with my daughter driving while it is snowing (18 years old). I wanted her to stay parked for the weekend.

Here is everything I verbally shared. There were dirty counters and floors, no dish soap, no dishwasher soap, the coffee pot was dirty/moldy with old grounds still in it, all the towels in the cabin are wet (not damp, wet), the heater on the second floor was not efficient, the third floor bathroom sink was stopped up/draining slowly and leaking under the sink, and the first floor bathroom sink had no hot water. The host’s response genuinely seemed concerned and that he wanted to help us. He sent his “house manager” within an hour.

She did not knock — just left bags on the doorstep with towels (which were also damp and smelled like cigarette smoke), dish soap, dishwasher soap, and firewood. He advised he would refund the cleaning fee, $180, and offered a cleaning crew to come the next day. We declined due to COVID-19 parameters; we were not going to allow non-family members in our space, indoors. The cabin should have been cleaned before we arrived. In addition, the storm was in full force we were not going to leave the cabin.

We had decided, as a family, we were going to stay positive and make this all work. But I do feel the $1900 I paid for the three-night stay, minus the offer to refund the $180 cleaning fee, is not what I agreed to. I agreed to pay this amount for an Airbnb Plus property that is clean and in good repair. What I got was a cabin that was decorated as advertised, “70’s hip-retro,” but I did not agree to dirt, grime, thick dust and poor heating (to withstand outside temperatures, as low as 9 degrees).

Here is my text that I sent to the host, at 6:30 PM, the last night of my stay:

We have our last night in Big Bear. My family and I have had the FULL winter experience! Wow- cold, wind, snow. Our lodging has been a little frustrating but we have made the best of it. As an Airbnb Plus property host, residing out of town, I am alerting you that the cute Retro Cabin, through poor upkeep, needs general cleaning-as pics show, in addition to my previously stated communication.

The condition makes me worry there has been no additional sanitizing due to COVID-19? Here is some cabin info: 3rd fl: bath sink plugged and leak under (we couldn’t use); and 2nd fl: heater is caked with dirt(see pic), many dishes in cupboard are dirty, dead bugs in kitchen light casing (which is not completely affixed to the ceiling-see pic), screen slider to the deck was off track/nearly blew away in wind-we had to secure it, snow coming in at slider as well as significant draft; and 1st fl: bath no hot water at sink, heater controls not safely mounted/wouldn’t turn on (didn’t use) 35-40°on 1st fl, mold on blinds. We found a vacuum &ran 15 minutes on main(2nd) floor and nothing was picked up in the bagless canister which is why we couldn’t clean the heater. (The extra towels delivered, *thank you* arrived wet – sprayed w/Febreeze – to cover up cigarette smell (unsuccessfully.)

Asking if you would consider refunding some fees? I am hoping for a fair amount. $180 cleaning fee, $357 extra day fee, Plus any additional you would deem appropriate for the inconvenience and discomfort we experienced. I will not provide a review at this time while we settle the situation, as you have been responsive to me reaching out to you. I saw on numerous reviews that you have communication with many of your guests. I would be glad to speak with you if you would like me to further elaborate on details. Thank you.

Almost immediately, he called me. He tried to tell me that my expectations were too high for a mountain cabin and that I should have stayed in a hotel since I was looking for a luxury experience. He said that he did not agree with me that anything I described was a problem and that he would be glad to reimburse the cleaning fee and, under his breath, he said he could offer me a free night at another time, but I wouldn’t want that, he knew.

He also stated after 30 minutes of trying to shift my attention from the poor lodging conditions to the fun family time and great memories we made from the weekend together. And the fabulous, stunning view this beautiful cabin offered us all weekend. And then finally, he said it. He said he would give you back the additional $357 we paid for the extra night if we gave him “a 4- or 5-star glowing review.”

I was astounded, offended, and disgusted that this man was trying to buy a good review from me to show on Airbnb. This explains all of the numerous reviews that state he’s “a great host, very responsive every time we needed something.” I now know that is an absolute red flag, in hindsight. A host should not be needed so much. Why would a host be needed? If the property is all that is represented, why would a host need to be contacted so often?

As I have taken our time, me typing this message, and you reading, I would like to conclude with a plea. A plea for a review of my entire experience. I really wanted to make things right with this host and help him with his property. I wanted to leave a satisfactory, he-did-the-right-thing kind of review. But not only did he reject my request for reimbursement, on the up and up, he has left lies and inaccurate statements in his response to my review. I was not mean or emotional when writing the review. I gave facts.

I called Airbnb the night we returned home and was able to reach a person. She advised that once she could validate the information I shared that I could be eligible for 50% of each day’s fees refunded to me. Since then, I have had messages back and forth with a case manager and most recently received one this evening from another stating that the decision to decline any additional refunds will be upheld.

What happened? Why did my request get disregarded? Please, can someone please review my file and all of the notes and the pictures I have attached here and even more in the Airbnb app? I would be most grateful for a phone call and an honest review. When will this host be held responsible for his actions, words, and dirty cabin? I have received suggestions and many angry sentiments from friends and colleagues. My hope is that Airbnb will see me as a valued customer, person, and family woman trying to do the right thing and give a proper evaluation of this property and refund what is deemed appropriate.

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