Well, the apartment title and description are really charming: “Cozy and cute apartment in the very centre of Belgrade !” After a long search, last October, I believed this was the right accommodation for few days in Belgrade around the 2018 New Year’s Eve (NYE) according to the pictures, description and guest reviews. I’ve realized since the beginning the apartment was in an highly traffic congested part of Belgrade, maybe one of the worst spots in the whole city. But I read carefully tens of reviews looking for the key words such as disturb, noise, loud, nasty, safe, shabby, sloppy, dirty, protection and so on. I found ONLY a couple of reviews talking about disturb and noise: one from Claus, dated 01/2014 and one, recent, very harsh from Raf, dated on 11/2017. In both cases Marija & Marko stood opposite answering to their former guests they remained surprised for the quite or totally negative reviews inviting them to go to a 5 stars hotel. I found these replies quite impolite and misrepresenting. Unfortunately the worst review, from Raf, came a couple months after reservation and I read it just the week after Christmas. Too late to give up and change location, if it was realistic. I am pretty sure that any host, Airbnb or any other circuit, have to depict exactly what they are offering to potential guest: hosts have not to warp the real nature of the place with sugar-coated descriptions and photoshopped pictures. Evidently is not like that !
Anyway, now I describe my staying experience. In order to be detailed and precise, I try summarize the whole experience in Pros and Cons of this accommodation. I hope all any other potential guest will take my review as a reference because I want to be the more realistically descriptive I can. Before I need to tell something about the accommodation area. In fact the “cosy and cute apartment” is located in a 20th century decaying building, at the crossroads between two huge boulevard which are definitively Belgrade centre arterial roads highly traffic congested. Boulevard Džordža Vašingtona, about 34m wide, except of the boardwalks, in front of the accommodation front door, houses two railways lanes for both direction trams (with 4-5mins frequency on each side) utilized also by two ways direction diesel buses and additional 2 lanes for car and buses traffic in both direction. Furthermore on the NE side of the road, over the boardwalk there are public car parking on a meter. The intersecting boulevard is named Takovska, 18m wide, that houses 2 lane road for each direction. This boulevard is covered back and forth by diesel buses and wire buses (4-5min frequency) on both ways together with car traffic.
– The accommodation is really central, so main Belgrade attraction are at a reasonable walking distance. Differently from the host prevision, the walking distances we experienced are the following: Serbian Parliament (Narodna skupština Republike Srbije), 9min; Republic Square (Trg Republike) and Terazije, 15min, Knez Mihailova), Bohemian Quarter (Skadarlija) 17min, Kalemegdan Fortress, 33min .
– Essential shops (bakery butcher, vegetable market), supermarkets, money exchange (menjačnica), kiosks are very close to the accommodation.
– Public transports just in front of the entrance door.
– The apartment is composed by a large bedroom, a tiny kitchen, living room, just for 2 people, as we were, and an vintage fashioned separated bathroom into 2 cubicles, a toilet and a bathroom.
– House has not keys both for the main entrance and the apartment: just a digitizing code.
– Marko’s father is a very polite, nice and kind person who came for any problem and superintended the issue fixing. He doesn’t speak English fluently but, being clever and smart, we understood each other immediately.
– Additional towels requested and obtained.
– Wool covers were on the side but we didn’t used them because of the apartment comfortably warm.
– Tableware, silverware and cookware are present in abundance for 2 people. Sink is small but sufficient for the scope. – Silent electric heaters which produces a quite comfortable, sometimes excessive heat.
– Cheap camping-style cloth cabinet present.
– Cable TV present, vintage bulky cathodic TV in the sleeping room (MOVED).
– Hanger stand instead of a closed wardrobe in the sleeping room.
– Marko, who didn’t reply by voice, only sent text. We contact him several times in order to fix critical issues.
– Since the beginning Marija gave up the assistance and left all the responsibilities on his brother Marko. She disappeared. We contacted him only by Viber texting. We tried to call him in a couple of urgent occasion but he didn’t answer.
– Nobody assisted as at the check and checkout. Just a pdf with code and some basic instruction. What to say: good and bad.
– If you are visiting Belgrade by car, you must remind that the immediate surroundings of the accommodation totally lacks of free parking spots. Just public parks on a meter, you need a local phone to pay. Otherwise you will be fined 1840RDS by tens of parking attendant, waiting on the corner like vultures.
– One more thing, police has the “nice” habit to make a redundant checkpoint for blood alcohol level random quick test on the Generala Lešjanina intersection. Therefore be careful if you are driving Boulevard Džordža Vašingtona during night, after 11PM, direction N=>S.
– The apartment exterior are really decaying. The main entrance door, totally loose, when we arrived, didn’t close easily. It won’t close at all ! Only slamming several times, it closes. I would remind that we were staying in a high frequented road, populated by all kind of people. We didn’t feel us and our belongings safe with the external door opened. So we forced the front door until it closed up. After the NYE, at the umpteenth trial, a mad neighbor and her husband arrived from their apartment above; she started screaming we were scaring them and he told us to call the “home master” in order to be provided the front door key. Therefore we called Marko in order to solve the issue. Marko father came and fix it during our absence. I believe the host should have checked and fixed this particular problem largely before our arrival.
– The entrance corridor had no light, the bulb has broken since I can’t imagine. Unfortunately also house door lamp didn’t work and it was pretty challenging to find door code with the help of cellphone light. The day after the arrival (31/12/17) we changed the bulb, even if Marko stated he was working. It wasn’t at all and my wife noticed since our arrival. After putting the new bulb, we went out. Coming back, in the evening, the door lamp was down again. Fortunately we saw where spare bulbs were and I personally fix it in the morning. Probably bad electric wires.
– Tremendously high level of chemical pollution you can directly see as building walls covered by a grey-black fine dust (what you can see, imagine PM10 and PM2.5) covering everything in and outside the accommodation, burned fuel smelling air and metal fine particles diffused everywhere. As soon as you got back home, all your clothes will smell of smog. If it rains, the air pollution and smell decreases but you can see little streams and puddles of disquieting dark black solution.
– Unhealthy surrounding, better not to leave windows and door open, both during day-time and night time. Absent clean air circulation in the house.
– Tremendously high level of physical pollution including loud sounds of trams brakes, buses brakes and exhaust pipes. The old building has probably huge underground void foundations. Therefore each time the trams travel in front of the apartment entrance, on both directions, the house staggers and a loud deep roaring invades both the” isolated and quiet inner courtyard” and the all accommodation rooms. The sleeping room is the most affected being maximum 10m from the trams/buses stop, characterized by the presence of rail track gaps and steps. The bed literally vibrates according to a low frequency noise of 80Hz: it can be considered properly a paraseismic vibration. Just as an example, my legs literally vibrated up and down together with the bed at every 2 ways tram passage. It wasn’t a a positive sensation. How could not other reviewers, except of Claus and Raf, experience that ? This makes me suspicious.
– The apartment interiors are really shabby, very far from the shining pictures published on the website. Also spaces are wrongly rendered by the use of wide angle lenses and, for sure, an additional (professional) lighting equipment. All the rooms are surrounded by drywalls with a huge void resounding crawlspace behind. The apartment restoration occurred with very cheap materials and solution. Noise from the upper neighbour heavy walk and from the side street office
– Accommodation shows a general lack of proper maintenance which is revealed by wall and ceiling peels, especially in the toilet and in the bathroom, windows in the bedroom not locking, and in the toilet not locking, house door lock play etc. – The bedroom is equipped with a normal double bed (140cm wide). We found only a mattress cover on the bed and 2 separated blankets. No bed sheets provided. We asked for but the host insisted not understanding our request, judging it anomalous. Finally, the day after the arrival, we were provided by 2 honeycomb covers totally useless and an additional mattress cover we put above the exiting one.
– On the arrival, the apartment was not properly clean differently from what the host writes “in perfectly clean condition at your arrival“. In fact we found several filthy spots with large dust bunnies under the bedroom furniture, behind the wardrobe and among messy coiled wires. We found hairs from previous host in all the rooms, especially on the bathroom and the toilet floor. Broom and mop were sully of somebody else organic parts.
– Aprons not provided originally, but we use a bath towels obtained after requesting.
– The toilet is a tiny cubicle with a washbowl on the left side. The tap provides only cold water, which, in winter time is not comfortable at all. The small opening on the upper right side has small windows with malfunctioning frames. Therefore the cold draught made the whole toilet and above all the WC seat frozen. A punishment to deal with at any session. No heater in the toilet; it reminds me the military style.
– The bathroom is a little bit overwhelming. The first part houses a big electric boiler, a resistor dryer (scaring and according to me dangerous in such small and wet space) and minuscule sink with cold/warm water. When we arrived, we found the tap had not the perlator aerator, therefore water spread out of the basin because of the high pressure. We asked Marko to fix but he seems he didn’t understand what we were talking about. Finally Marko’s father put a plastic kitchen faucet aerator but really uncomfortable because it reduced too much the distance between tap and washbowl. We found perlator aerator at any plumber shop for the amount of 200RSD (less than 2EUR).
– Shower faucet has not an holder to allow you to have a relaxed hands-free shower. Just unintelligible. – The WC is not inviting at all. In fact the WC bottom, after flushing, shows a dark black rusty bottoms which testimony on one side it served many years, on the other a very low budget apartment restoration.
– Accommodation privacy is not granted. Anybody who walk in the inner courtyard, leading to neighbouring apartments can see you, your room, your kitchen and all your stuff. The host installed a protection paper film 60cm high out of the bedroom window which is insufficient. Any protection is present out of the kitchen, just a transparent curtain which doesn’t hide anything. I could read my PC from the outside. – Cooking appliances consists of a poor 2 unsafe hot plate equipment. Refrigerator it’s small and not very clean.
– “Free high speed WiFi” internet connection reaches an unacceptable maximum download sped of 4.22Mbit/s while upload speed is only 0.9Mbit/s. This sloppy performances could be acceptable in the countryside, but not in a capital city like Belgrade is, where 4G mobile network grants to anybody from a minimum from 8Mbit/sec to a more suitable to 10, 20, 30 and 40Mbit/s. Apartment internet connection consists in definitively outdated system based on TV cable signal. This aspect decreased abruptly my laptop performances. Streaming and upload cloud data are not compatible with the accommodation WiFi. We must use our 4G phone with a prepaid mobile data SIM. According to this last a, I have to point out that we asked suggestion largely in advance to Marko about the better short term tourist mobile provider. He kindly never answered to our request but finally he remained surprised when I told him we experienced a sloppy, rough and crocked service with the MTS (Telekom Serbjia). Therefore, on the negative experience basis, we suggest warmly to choose VIP or Telenor. MTS is just for Serbian ! This company just squeeze money from tourist, cheating on them.
Now we expect the usual response from the host: “Your review is really interesting. Thanks for your comment. Please next time go to a 5 stars Luxus hotel. You didn’t understand the Airbnb experience and its way of travelling” !!!!!???? Yes, next time we could go to the Mockba Grand Hotel, even if its eastern side is facing on Terazjie boulevard, aging high traffic congested road. Instead, being my wife an B&B host too, what is important is to describe and show exactly to any potential guest what you are really offering. In this way guest can make your choice.
Furthermore, if guest ask more detailed information, like I did, the hosts should provide all these information in the more realistic way. Differently, when the guests arrive, they will found different situations, they surely will compare to what promised. I hope that now other potential guests can decide properly, differently from the condition I was. I will expect all guests, not only yours but on the entire Airbnb, will be more realistic in describing their experience. I believe that the apartment fee, according to its present condition and Belgrade general price standard, should be the half of what asked, both in high and low season.
Finally I hope this review website allow me to post some real pics. Now I realized Airbnb doesn’t allow in the name of host safety. In my opinion this Airbnb policy works against guest clear and realistic perception of the true accommodation conditions. I hope you can make a great effort in changing this policy !