I stayed at an Airbnb last year in a small town close to Thessaloniki, in Greece. There weren’t many choices, so I chose one that had the most good ratings and was nearest to the beach. I’m a single woman in her 40s —not someone who’s having parties or blasting music all night. The host was a surgeon and was generally in Athens. He wouldn’t be there to meet me, but he left detailed instructions on where to get the key to the front door of the building, and then, once inside, to the apartment. So far so good.
The building was in good shape and the apartment was decent. The television and satellite weren’t hooked up, so there was no cable/streaming or wifi. The host promised to send someone to fix that the day I arrived. That didn’t happen, but as I was only there for three days and wanted to be out and about I wasn’t too bothered. I did notice what felt like hostility from the very few other residents I encountered that I just tried to ignore it.
The second day I was walking back from dinner in town and saw a couple outside the building next door and said hello. They spoke a bit of English and were curious about who I was and where I was staying. When I told them, they seemed really surprised and said “But he cannot do that. The building does not allow this and he had a lot of trouble last summer.”
I told them I was leaving the next day but that everything seemed okay. I had booked a car to the airport the final day at noon, so I went down to the beach around 10:00, with a plan to come back up at 11:30, have a quick shower, throw on my clothes and leave. 11:30 came and I walked back up to the property, wearing a bikini and sarong and found, to my absolute horror, a brand new lock on the door to the building… and my key no longer worked.
I rang all the doorbells; no one would answer. Several residents came onto their balconies and shouted down at me but no one would unlock the door. I rang the host and left several messages with his PA. I tried ringing Airbnb, who were worse than useless, telling me that the host was entitled to change his mind about letting me stay. They seemed to totally miss that it was the end of the stay and I just needed to leave.
The car showed up. I had to pay him EUR 100 cash to sit and wait (small town, no cabs, I’d booked him in advance and if he left, I’d miss my flight). Finally, around 1:15, the neighbours I’d spoken to came home and saw what was happening. I pleaded with them for help and they finally convinced a man in the building to let me in to get my things. That man stood there and literally watched every move I made. I couldn’t even change my clothes because he wouldn’t let me close a door. He gave me five minutes to get out.
I never got any joy with Airbnb. Their view was that I’d stayed as planned. The host finally rang me as I was en route to the airport and absolutely reamed me for ‘being mean to his PA and calling repeatedly.’ Never mind that he was prohibited from renting on Airbnb or that I’d been locked out in a bikini for almost two hours. Or that his neighbours were so angry they changed the locks on the building. When I left a review reflecting this, he left a response saying that I had parties every night, the neighbours called the police because we were using drugs… all made up of course. Never again.