Hell Host, Hell Apartment, Terrifying Experience

I am shaking as I write this, as what I’m about to tell you about just happened. I have stayed in well over a dozen Airbnbs in countries around the world, both long term and short term. I have become friends with some of my hosts. I have had universally positive experiences until now.

I booked what was advertised as a “cozy apartment for a couple” in the center of an Eastern European capital. The flat in the photos had a small but cute white bed, a small two-burner stove, and nice lighting. It looked like a very small, modest, but stylish studio. The ad promised wifi. I booked the flat for one month, until after the New Year, because it becomes almost impossible to find a flat around that holiday in this city. I planned to use the month to look for better, cheaper long-term housing in the city, as I work in the region.

I arrived jetlagged and haggard, with several suitcases. The host did not meet me, but left the key under the mat. I opened the door, and was absolutely shocked. It was literally not an apartment. It was a modified space for storage, or holding reserves of food. A closet, really. Equally as shocking was that there was no bed. In its place was a brown, ratty, diseased looking mini sofa. The two-burner stove in the pictures was also missing; in its place was a single-burner glass stove from the seventies, which looked to be a fire hazard.

Shards of glass, large and dangerous enough to use as a very serious weapon, made up the plate of the stove. There were smaller shards of glass on the floor and in the sink. There was a small bathroom with a water boiler, but there was no shower. I looked around feverishly for a shower head. I had been traveling for 17 hours and desperately wanted – and needed – a shower. There was no shower.

I tried to login to the promised wifi network, but no such network could be found. I went down the street to a restaurant and proceeded to drink several shots of the local liquor. I wrote an angry, firm, message to the Airbnb host via the Airbnb messaging system. “Where is the bed? Where is the wifi? Where is the show? Where is the space? This is not an apartment but a closet. I didn’t know I’d be sleeping on a sofa for a month. I need a full refund.”

Thus began a 48-hour long adventure in communicating with the gaslighting host from hell, and (to their credit) much more helpful Airbnb support. The gaslighting (and I don’t toss that term around; that’s exactly what it was) began straight away: “The internet is working – your devices are the problem. The sofa is more comfortable than the bed, that’s why we switched it out – we did this for your comfort. Stop with your lies. Maybe the flat is small for you but we had two people living there as guests for five years and they were fine.”

She kept repeating that they’d had satisfied guests before – which is literally impossible – and I kept asking why there were no reviews if this was true… it’s not. I spent the first night with my legs cramped and back aching on a 1970s, fibrous sofa, feeling like the wall was closing in on me. The space was smaller than what I imagine a prison cell to be. Solitary confinement.

The shower, according to my host, is shared. It just so happens to be down the hall. The neighbors are all youngish men who look strung the hell out on all variety of drugs, and I’m a youngish woman alone. They stare at me in the hall. The shower has no shower curtain and looks like it has gangrene. There is no functioning light in the shower room; it’s pitch black. If you walked around barefoot you’d end up with fungi taking up residence in your toe nails.

I was so shocked at all of this, that all I could do was send messages every ten minutes to the host, mostly in all caps. Our dynamic was incredibly toxic. The more she denied that anything I was saying was true, flying in the face of all the very obvious and observable facts, the more my anger would escalate.

Meanwhile, I contacted Airbnb, irate. They asked for photo documentation. As soon as they saw images of the couch where the bed had been and the space and the shards of broken glass where the stovetop was supposed to be they said the host had many clear violations and gave me a small reimbursement.

That was not enough. I told them that I wanted a full refund and a new place. I could not be stranded with all of my luggage in this city at the most difficult time of year to find accommodation. Meanwhile, my host kept lying: “The internet is working. We know you are lying. You have a bed. It’s a sofa bed. We will replace the stove but the one you have is newer and better and that’s why we replaced it. The shower is cleaned daily. You have a huge bed.”

Just total, completely crazy lies. At the same time, she was telling me that I’ve “made a problem” for her with money, and ruined her financially because Airbnb has sided with me. She keeps asking me to “make a deal.” My messages to Airbnb grew more frantic and panicked. They told me that they would give me a full refund for all of the nights I didn’t stay there and a partial refund on the two nights I did, if they can rebook me at another property.

The problem is that everything is much more expensive and the listings are scarce this close to the holidays. I’m freaking out. The host starts saying that she’s been sending me text messages because she needs my personal documents to take to the police station to register me with the authorities because I’m staying at her property, even though she knows full well that I’m leaving. I tell her to only communicate with me through Airbnb, because that way the company can see our communication.

Airbnb saw how bad the situation was and said on top of the full refund they would give me a coupon for $200 off a rebooking. They finally found me another accommodation, and told me that the host will likely be suspended from the site forever. I was feeling somewhat relieved, and went to a cafe to use the internet before going back to pack up all my luggage and move to the new apartment.

I went back to the original property to pack and encountered a very disturbing surprise: the door to the flat had been locked from the inside with a chain. I was due at my new flat in an hour and a half but I couldn’t get in or access any of my things. A light was on and someone was inside the apartment, which had all of my belongings: computer, money, passport, jewelry, personal items.

I started panicking and banging on the door, yelling and asking what was going on. I had not agreed to let anyone in while I was away, let alone have them lock me out. The host opened the door. It was the first time I saw her. All of my suitcases were open and my passport was on the floor. I panicked. I started screaming that she was a thief and to get out.

I had no idea what was going on. I had hardly slept the previous two nights, I was jet lagged and stressed out, and had not expected to see this woman in the closet-sized flat with all of my personal items strewn all over the place. I told her that I was leaving in a little over an hour but needed to pack, and told her to leave me alone and get out. She stood in the doorway and refused to leave, saying that it wasn’t my apartment, and that she had every right to stay. I pushed a clothing rack towards her and told her to get the hell out, and that I needed to see if she’d stolen anything while going through my suitcases.

She said I had falsely accused her of stealing and that she was calling the police. I closed the door and started packing. I was shaking and had no idea what was going on, if the police were showing up. I was in a foreign country and realized I would likely have to speak to the police in a language I barely knew.

I heard them arrive, and listened to them speaking to the host. I asked if I could leave because I needed to go meet my new host at my new Airbnb and they said I needed to wait. I spoke with the police. They asked me if I had all of my things, and I said I thought I did. I said we had a disagreement and that I was moving to a new flat. The police decided I’d done nothing wrong, and helped me carry all of my luggage downstairs and called me a cab. I arrived at my new Airbnb, which is very lovely and relaxing, with a very kind host, where I am right now.

Screwed Over and Stranded After Host Cancelled

I booked a place in New Orleans a month ahead of a music festival we were going to attend. The night before our reservation, the host cancelled our reservation without any explanation. We needed to search for a new place, and during the search, I saw our original rental available for the very same dates, but for 2.5 times the rate we had originally booked a month prior. The host must have not have known that the festival was occurring, but upon realizing it, decided to callously screw over three people by stranding us with less than 24 hours before our flight to New Orleans.

Throughout the ensuing discussion with Airbnb customer service and our frantic search for lodging, Airbnb handled this situation incredibly poorly. I was repeatedly promised call backs within timeframes that were not met, and I waited well into the wee hours of the night trying to resolve our lodging situation for the flight the next morning. Airbnb admitted as much as this sort of practice by hosts is not tolerated, and yet they allowed the host to get away with this scot-free.

The major reasons we booked the original space was due to its cheap price (as the entire trip was already stretching our budgets) and its close proximity to the festival venue. When trying to book places with similar proximity, Airbnb refused, stating that the prices were not comparable. Well of course they weren’t; we were now forced to make a last-minute booking during a very busy weekend. Airbnb refused to take responsibility in this case and provide us with an equivalent replacement without tripling our original booking rate. At one point, they even suggested we rebook our original place at the surged rate. They encouraged this extortion that they attempted to claim was not tolerable.

In the end, after hours of countless messages and calls well into the night and the next morning right up until we had to leave for the airport, we were left with a house miles farther than our original place (which ruined many of the plans we had made, including being able to walk to the venue, causing transportation costs to further inflate the trip’s budget) at hundreds of dollars more. I understand that cancellations will happen, but if the risk exists that these cancellations can occur so last minute and solely due to the greed of the host, and that Airbnb will refuse to take responsibility and even encourage hosts from extorting guests, than I must refuse to use this service ever again. An example of the utterly callous communication with Airbnb customer service is attached. They could not care less about unsatisfied and frustrated customers. If you are visiting New Orleans in the future, do not book here.

Terrible host didn’t bring the keys and closed her phone

This Airbnb host didn’t tell me anything and had no information. All I got was the address and that the host also had some positive feedback (probably from her friends and colleagues). Immediately after I made the booking, she started to be rude. I tried to ask her how to arrive but got no instructions from her; I had to search by myself.

The apartment was also expensive, a similar price to 3-4 star hotels – I would have expected more customer service skills. Then when I was looking for the apartment, I had to call and ask which street it was. The host didn’t know any shops or banks near the apartment even though she said she was “living there”. Then suddenly the host told me she was in another country or place for a work and the keys were in the bike shed.

That’s when I knew things were not as they should be. She told me I had to look for the keys in a bike shed in some box that I didn’t see there. I had to ask for the door codes multiple times. If she had any advice for me, she wouldn’t share it. She expected everyone to have an iPhone or similar smartphone to use Whatsapp. I believe I’m not the only one who doesn’t have Whatsapp for messages. It was possible to send information through Airbnb but she played phone games and didn’t want to.

In the evening, I found the apartment (but no keys in the bike shed). She sent one message with a smile emoticon: that she was not available in the evening for 2-3 hours. Then she turned off her phone.

What a rude and impolite person; she just wanted money. The host knew I was coming and at what time but she decided to hide and turn off her phone. There were a lot of people coming and going in her building and I could not wait in the corridor for 2-3 hours until she would open her phone, assuming she would.

I would never have booked a place on Airbnb if I had known the host would ignore her phone and that she wouldn’t bring the keys. I also think a bike shed is not a safe place to keep any important things such as keys. It would be easy and simple to ask a friend to bring the keys; it would take about 5-20 minutes, which apparently she didn’t have.

This happened in Sweden. I don’t know if I’ll get any refund or not but the host has already tried to get more money: 180 euro because I cancelled the reservation. I had to go to a hostel because I didn’t have the keys.

Only Case Managers Can Help with Problems

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We booked this apartment in Harlem for $780 total. Flash forward to more than a week later (booking was instantly confirmed and the host and I chatted) when I receive a request of alteration, i.e. “your host wants to modify the reservation – pay an additional $710.”

Naturally, I rejected the request and asked the host what was going on. The host answered that “due to high demand for the weekend” (we were staying four nights) she made the business decision to double the price. I told her that although it’s fair game to adjust price to demand, we already booked and already agreed on a price, and that it is not normal business to ask for double the amount. Can you imagine a world like this? “I’m buying this phone… wait, too many people want it. Give me back your credit card – it’s now double or I might take the phone back.

I reached out to Airbnb who talked to her. Her answer was that she needed more money for this booking, and that, if we weren’t willing to negotiate, then “she might need to cancel the booking”. Might. I asked the host to either uphold or cancel the reservation; there was no answer. I had to get in touch with an Airbnb case manager (who, by the way, did a wonderful job – they cancelled for us with no fee and gave us a coupon to make up for the difference in price to rebook somewhere else due to being close to the departure date). However, the classy host is still operating on Airbnb and continues to force her way through her bookings.

Another person lived a similar situation before me and yet the apartment has not received a single soul yet. Airbnb has let her schedule open for our dates so she’s basically getting out of this without any penalty. I’m sure one way or another this will bite back, but just wanted to keep everyone informed and aware.

Beware of these disgusting practices; it doesn’t stand by Airbnb but you have to get a manager on the phone. Standard employees don’t have any power besides trying to mediate the conflict. I reached out through email, phone, and Twitter. The answer was fairly fast and I could get in touch with someone immediately every time. but had to wait the whole day to get the case manager.

Dishonest Host Refuses to Admit Shoes have been Stolen

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One Airbnb host, Steeve, runs a series of Airbnb apartments with his friend in Cannes. We ran into major problems with this guy when staying in one his apartments: we had over £1,000 worth of property stolen and he has repeatedly tried to cover up what happened and is not willing to help resolve the issue.

He has already duped a previous Airbnb host in the past, as shown by this review she eventually left. I tried to leave a review with Airbnb but the host obviously is able to manipulate them into siding with him.

On August 12th, we left the apartment around 12:00 PM and returned at around 9:00 PM. However, after starting to pack up the apartment, we realised two very expensive and rare pairs of our designer shoes went missing, worth in excess of 1,000 euros. We definitely had the shoes there before we left that day. After that, all three of us­ rechecked the whole apartment three times each, and definitely couldn’t find them.

We called the host and asked if anyone had been in the apartment. He said nobody had, and he would not accept that anyone could have stolen it or entered the apartment and continually said “it’s impossible” and that they “must be in the apartment”. He then came in person, and checked with us, and of course, failed to find them there.

The host just would not accept that someone could have stolen it, claiming that his workers are trustworthy and that nobody else has access to the keys. However, he contradicted himself here as on August 8th he asked if his cleaner could come into the house to clean while we were away. They actually did not turn up and he remarked to me later that day that he then “had to get the keys off her”.

The host was adamant that nobody could have accessed the flat but then could not explain how shoes could have gone missing. He also implied that perhaps we hid the shoes, or were lying. I feel this Airbnb host was unprofessional, missing the point and defensive, as he also made remarks like “extraterrestials must have taken them” and “who would steal just shoes?”

The fact still remains that: we were reporting our property being stolen under his watch; a crime had been committed; and it must have occurred within an eight-hour time period by somebody coming into the apartment. It is extremely curious as there were absolutely no signs of any forced entry, door damage, window damage or damages to the locks of the door, meaning the thief must have entered using a key. This should be great cause of alarm for the safety of future guests.

The host also seemed very nervous and hesitant of getting law enforcement involved in any way. Instead of saying “No, Airbnb should sort it,” a friend of the host’s came to visit the flat on August 12th just before 11:00 AM to pick up a baby pram/bed. He was checking each room as if he was struggling to find it. We were with him the whole time, but found it curious how he was scanning the entire flat.

The host phoned the cleaner and his friend, ­­­on loudspeaker in front of us. All that was asked was “do you have a key for the apartment?” to which his friend said “no”. However, the cleaner seemed very hesitant and confused about whether she had one or not. The host was defensive of her, and did not accept that it was possible that she would have done anything.

We were the victims in all of this, having £1,000+ worth of goods missing. Our host was not very considerate, blamed us for this, and acted as if he was the victim.

We are currently filing a report with the French police to investigate this. However, it is difficult as I’m trying to do this from the UK. Please share this with as many people as you can on social media, so that nobody else can get scammed by this dishonest person. I’d also argue that if someone was able to be so dishonest and callous with their tenants, you would also not want to engage with them in any business.

 

*******Update Sept 22, 2018********

I got an email from someone pretending to be Airbnb, basically threatening me! (Photo below)

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Host Posted my Personal Information on Airbnb Review

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I have used Airbnb for work-related travel and never had a single issue until Wednesday, August 29th, the day my horrible nightmare began or as I call it “the cockroach chronicles”. I work as a outside sales rep and I travel daily thru SA and the surrounding rural areas. Since I was required to be at a job site at 7:00 AM on Thursday, August 30th, I booked this room since it was fairly close and I wouldn’t have to make the one-hour commute from my residence. The price seemed very fair and would save me money on gas. I did not receive the actual address until I paid for and booked the reservation.

When I pulled into the neighborhood, I was immediately nervous about the safety for myself and my new vehicle. I was informed in advance the host was not home and I was to use an access code for entry. I tried to use the access code numerous times and it would not work. This was roughly at 8:00 PM. I messaged the host indicating the code was not working and he didn’t respond immediately. Since the neighborhood did not appear to be safe and I was getting scared I knocked on the door.

A young women clearly annoyed told me that code has been provided and I wasn’t following instructions. I told her I attempted to use the code and it didn’t work. She walked off on a huff and mumbled under her breath. I was caught off guard by her reaction but was tired from long day at work so I proceeded to go to my designated room. When I turned on the light switch I immediately saw 2-3 large cockroaches scurry across The linoleum floor.

I screamed and the young lady appeared again. She asked what was wrong and I told her there were roaches. She said the exterior of home had recently been treated and offered that as an explanation for the appearance. I asked her where the bathroom was and she pointed down the hall. Again I turned on the light switch and other cockroaches even bigger decided to welcome me in. This time I went directly to the room and said I was outta there.

I got my belongings, ran to my car, and notified the host his house had a bad odor, had a roach infestation, and the bathroom was disgustingly filthy. He offered to leave work and come home and clean the bathroom. I indicated I appreciated the kind gesture but no amount of cleaning was going to provide me with a peaceful night of sleep. Besides it was late and I just wanted a shower in a clean bathroom and to lay my head down without fear roaches would have a feast on my face while I slept.

I requested a full refund of my invoice since the post failed to mention my roommates would be cockroaches. Not only did the host refuse my request for a refund he also sent me a request for a $70 cleaning fee. No mention of a cleaning fee was made prior to making the reservation, only mentioned once I cancelled. I posted a negative review of the home and I received a Facebook friend request from someone today. Since we did not share any mutual friends I declined the request then a short time later I received what I interpreted to be a threat.

After I basically told the person sending the message I knew it was regarding the Airbnb incident due to the timing, the individual basically admitted he was the host and demanded I remove the negative review. Now I don’t want to sound prejudiced against individuals who are clearly intellectually challenged but I was taken back that this person had the audacity to make a threat and send me a map of my work address as a bullying tactic. It got better; he even called my employer and claimed I stole belongings from his home.

I swear I didn’t steal his beloved roaches. I was in this person’s home for less than five minutes. Even he admits that, and out of the given minutes I was in his home, his roommate was scowling at me for four. Now if this doesn’t tell you what his brains are made of maybe this will. He posted a negative review of me on Airbnb along with my personal information: the actual name of my workplace, my full name and what my job description was. Guess what? Airbnb refuses to take down the post.

Terrible host was ready for us to check in at 11:08 PM

Our Airbnb host informed that he would be abroad during our booking dates but we did not need to be worried because he would have a friend who would come to give us a key and was in contact with the cleaner. When we got there, no one was around. We could not find his place following his directions. We had to text him so he gave us all the details and all the codes that he had not given to us. When we got in his place, it was dusty and dirty. There were even leftovers in the refrigerator. The check-out time on his profile was about noon and the check-in time was about 2:00 PM, giving him about two hours for cleaning.

He informed us that after the previous guest checked out, a cleaner had not come in to do the cleaning yet. He asked us to open the door for the cleaner at 3:00 PM. The cleaner spoke Russian; we did not. I texted him to send someone to stay with the cleaner so we could go out to do our travelling and come back when everything had done. He informed us that he had no one. Since there was nobody there, we had no choice but to become the cleaner’s supervisors.

When the bed sheets, pillow cases and blanket covers were done in the washing machine, I asked him for the dryer. He informed us that he had none so the cleaner hung them in the middle of the room to let them dry. They were soaking, with water dipping on the floor.

Time passed until 7:00 PM came around. Then the cleaner finished her work. The host informed us he wanted us to help him by paying the cleaner, and he would return the money to us later. We did not want to get involved, so we had to refuse. The cleaner looked at us with her sad eyes. It is one of the most terrible memories that we have to carry with us in our life.

It was about 7:30 PM. We informed him that we did not have clean and dry bed sheets, pillow cases and blanket covers to use for the night. I informed him that we cancelled the booking for his place and let him know that we would leave the room key at the same place that we got it. He asked for two more hours to solve the problem of the wet sheets.

When the two hours passed, we left the room. We did not get even one single contact from him between about 7:30 PM to about 9:30 PM. We looked for a hotel and checked in at about midnight. I found out later that at 11:08 PM, he texted us that there was clean and dry bedding in his place. He could provide us a proper place to sleep in at 11:08 PM, about nine hours after the about 2:00 PM informed check in time. He informed us that according to his cancellation period rules in his profile, we cancelled the booking on the check-in date, so we would get no refund.

The good, fair and prudent rules and regulations should not protect the one who did wrong. He made mistakes in his job as a host. He needs to take responsibility. While he was on his vacation abroad, we were suffering and being burdened during our vacation in Moscow because of him. We are contacting Airbnb and asking them to investigate the case for getting us a full refund.

Kicked Out of Property, Airbnb Made it Right

A day before our departure after a good four-day stay our hostess kicked us out of her house. She went in the house when we were gone to “check her plants” which I had been watering for her. She didn’t like that my wife put her carry-on bag on the leather ottoman and a duvet in another room because it was damp and musty in that room. We were on the ocean with no air conditioning. The whole house was damp and musty.

The hostess sent me a nastygram and then confronted me at the front door. She used very foul language and gestures and kicked us out with one hour to leave. She said she was going to get the police. Ridiculous…

We left in one hour and left the house in the same condition we found it. I got us a hotel room for the night and we survived. I contacted Airbnb immediately with an email message and a phone call. They handled it very well. They were very empathetic and even reimbursed us for the hotel room. They also banned this woman from using Airbnb.

They told me she was very uncooperative with their investigation. No surprise there. I was concerned that she would continue to use Airbnb and attempt to ruin someone else’s hard earned money and vacation time. I am completely satisfied with how Airbnb handled the situation and I will use them again.

Three Negative Airbnb Experiences in Japan

We went to Japan with the goal of climbing Mt. Fuji, and decided to book three Airbnb locations during our stay. All three had some major problems, and I would absolutely not book an Airbnb again after that experience.

Location one was a disaster before we even booked. The host was extremely rude and condescending to us. We had asked for a different rate for our second of the two nights because our third party would only be present on the first night (extra charge for a third person). It was only a question, however the host took great exception to it, and accused us of freeloading, not understanding the close knit Airbnb community.

He told us the rate was as low as it could be and he would not split the rates, and it was rude of us to ask for anything lower. He also told us that it wasn’t worth climbing Mt. Fuji, we should just look at it from afar. Well, that’s the whole reason we were booking his home… to climb Fuji. Despite this we booked the room, but just for one night as we couldn’t get the correct rate for the other nights. I had a bad feeling about it, but we went ahead with it because the location was good for what we were trying to do.

We changed our plans to stay in a different town after the first night, which was inconvenient but we decided that was going to be the best plan. We arrived in town, walked to the location, and found that we could not access the key box; the pass code wasn’t working. We tried over and over again, with no success. We tried contacting the host, without luck. We were getting concerned at this point; it was getting dark, and we were alone on a small street without access to our room, tired, hungry, and needing rest to prepare for the climb.

We finally got in touch by text only with the host, but he did not answer his phone. He accused us of something or other in a nasty text (lying about how long we were waiting for his response for instance) and threatened us with the “bad reviews” game. Finally, he gave us another code, which did not work. After the third code he gave us, we were able to get inside to great relief, but also concerned over this host’s behavior and what else we might be accused of. I quite frankly believe the host purposely gave us the wrong codes because he was angry with us regarding our original inquiry. It seems strange to get it wrong two times.

I must say however, his home was the nicest of the three we would stay at. The major issue was actually that there were steps up to various parts of the house which in the dark and in an unfamiliar place was very hazardous, but other than that it was actually a nice place, and as advertised. One other small concern was that there were very see-through curtains on the huge windows that looked out into the street. Only after it got dark did I notice how exposed we were to the street, and we closed the curtains. The host was terrible, however the room was good overall.

We moved on after a good night’s rest to location two. We actually met our host in person and he walked us to his home. He was a wonderful host. His home was a traditional Japanese home. While it was nice, it was very rustic. It was as advertised, so I cannot claim it not to be. There was no air conditioning but we knew that going in. The rain on the first day there made that issue not as bad at first. It was very buggy however, and close to a canal that I think made the bugs much worse.

We saw spiders and mosquitoes. There were plants growing through the tatami mats, and we even had a major ant issue just before checking out. We actually had to dump one of our luggage bags and get all the ants outside. That was awful, and we missed something we wanted to do. Also, once the sun came out the heat really started being more of an issue. The host here was absolutely great though, and showed us around town when we asked him to. Fewer bugs, and I would have given this place much higher marks. There was even a washer available in the home. The bathroom was so small that we could not shut the door and use the toilet at the same time, but the shower was really great.

Location three – the host was operating the Airbnb illegally. We know this because our instructions upon arrival were to tell neighbors who asked that we were “friends” with the host. We did not meet the host for this location; instructions were all sent to us, some of which were confusing. The washer/dryer we were promised were actually coin operated and in the hallway, not as advertised. The place was not clean, the toilet was gross, and I cleaned it myself with supplies I found in the closet. The bathroom smelled awful.

We complained to the host by message about the cleanliness and were completely dismissed. Forget using the toilet after a shower – the water made the floor in the bathroom a total slip hazard. The place was so small it was crazy, and of course the photo choices somewhat covered how small the room was. It was to be for three people (our third person was to join us the last night in Tokyo again.) I would not call the room big enough to sleep three. The beds were super small, and one was bunk style so the third person had to climb to the top bunk.

Honestly by this point in the trip I wanted out of these places so badly. So much for living like the locals. Somehow I thought that would increase the experience unlike my first trip in hotels, but after three places with issues, I was dying for a hotel. I guess now with the experience over I can appreciate it, but we gave up a lot of comfort on this trip for some dubious places. It wasn’t worth the savings, adventurous as it may have been. I would not chance booking with Airbnb again. I especially did not appreciate the attitude of our first host, or the threats he made to us about not giving him bad ratings. It was very irritating to deal with him. Also, these places claim professional cleaning, which we paid extra for, but I do not believe that was the case at all.

No Water in Bathroom Not Grounds for a Refund?

We arrived in Paris for a three-night stay at a “cozy, cute apartment with panoramic views” to find a cozy, cute apartment with a balcony. 15 degrees of the view did show Montmartre but the other 165 degrees was a perfect panorama of the adjacent apartment building, maybe 20 years away. Fine – we weren’t going to be spending much time in the apartment.

Exhausted and somewhat stinky from the overnight flight from the US east coast and battling the Parisian strikes affecting transportation in from De Gaulle airport, I was ready for a shower, to brush my teeth and take a quick nap. Mon Dieux! There was no water in the bathroom at all. The kitchen sink had water, but la toillette, shower, and sink, as well as the washing machine, lacked any water.

We turned a few knobs, my husband checked my work to make sure I had somehow failed to remember how to turn on water at the age of 63, and I contacted the delegated Airbnb host, since the official host was not available. I contacted him through the Airbnb website and then he reminded me that he preferred to use WhatsApp.

Problem #1: the Airbnb customer service person later informed me that because I used WhatsApp it was impossible to be absolutely sure I was communicating with the right person, despite the back and forth conversation over several hours, the ability to look up the phone number, the screenshots, and the Airbnb website communications.

The host asked for a photograph of the plumbing in the bedroom which we took on our iPhone and sent to him. He responded, “Voila – just turn the nozzle to the washing machine and all will be wonderful… not.”

I reminded him that that nozzle went to the washing machine, not the shower, toilet or sink and that we had tried several times. He assured me it would get fixed. Stinky and exhausted, we napped for a couple of hours, blissfully uninterrupted by any further attempts by the host to settle our problem. After our nap, I called, messenged, and sent him and the owner notes asking for a resolution.

About six hours after arriving, unable to go out because we were (stupidly) expecting someone to come to fix the problems, we decided to cancel and go elsewhere. I let the host know, secured alternative housing, and returned the key five blocks or so to the secure key drop (he was very good about sending me the key code so he wouldn’t have to come to pick it up elsewhere). The host even had the nerve to say that no other guests had ever had this problem, insinuating that perhaps this was our fault.

Since returning home, I’ve contacted the Airbnb customer service folks and as I saw written in the intro on the Airbnb Hell website, found them wanting. Several apparent problems: I should have communicated only on the website; I should have contacted Airbnb central; I need to prove that I didn’t have water.

Proving the absence of water is quite difficult, actually. I couldn’t get a response as to how I was supposed to do so. Apparently having no water in the bathroom is not a reason for looking for a different situation, nor is a complete lack of results by the host in improving the immediate situation and my assumption that the host would know the rules and use the website only (not WhatsApp) is incorrect and absolutely no protection even though it works well for the host.

The customer service agent has refunded me about half of the cost. I have asked him or her to provide me the contact information to make an appeal and he/she simply ignores that request in our communication. This has been incredibly frustrating and I am asking for a full refund. Until this time, I have had only good experiences with Airbnb and my thought is that this host may just have a bunch of hotels he rents out without any real attachment. He’s not a host; he’s a short term lender. Just a hunch.