We went for a family holiday and business trip to North Wales. I was taking part in a Welsh Culture Festival selling fashion. We decided to stay in a caravan about 30 minutes from the festival. It was a little old and gave us the basic requirements we needed but the reviews looked good so it was a done deal. My mother is also disabled so we needed somewhere she didn’t have to walk upstairs.
When we got there, the first impressions were okay, but the more you sat in the dingy caravan the more you discovered. Firstly, I got an Airbnb message from the host on my phone. I tried to text her back but it would only let me communicate through the website. I did, then the host texted me directly. This is where I know we went wrong.
All of the correspondence between us and the host was via text. The first thing she told me was her cesspit would be emptied the day after our arrival. We would have to sit in her garden with years’ worth of poo being emptied before us. The cesspit was also uncomfortably close to the caravan. We booked the caravan months in advance so she could have booked this at any other time but didn’t.
I soon discovered that there was no wifi, even though it said on the listing that there was. She then said she would contact her son who was “profoundly deaf and might be working”, one of her many excuses, like “I think I just need to put my hotspot on.” Let me get this straight: you’re advertising wifi to your guests using a hotspot on your phone in the house next door to the caravan?
At this point we didn’t even know if she was in the house or in another country so we could have been using a hotspot in England for all we knew. May I add she was also painfully slow at responding to our messages, leaving at least 30 minutes between each one.
Already disappointed, we tried our best to keep our spirits up, even after walking in on the pungent smell in the small bedroom, and cobwebs all over the place. As it got dark I turned the lights on and you could see that the carpet hadn’t been cleaned at all. I found plaster on the floor, and bugs stuck in the ceiling light.
Then something moved in the corner of my eye. All three of us looked at each other… what was that? “A moth,” I thought.
“A spider,” my dad thought.
My mum knew: a mouse. It ran under a small cabinet. I crept down on the floor to have a look and saw. Sat next to a leaf in the shadows was the mouse, frozen in sight staring right at me. My mum and I went to sit back on the sofa with our legs up, then we saw him scutter out from under the cabinet and into the kitchen area. We think he went into the kitchen cabinets then, either to hide in some kind of nest or through a hole out of the caravan as we couldn’t see him after that. He was cute but I’m sorry, unwelcome.
We complained about the situation to the host and asked if it could be sorted that night. We would have been willing to stay, maybe, if she would have been willing to do something about the situation. We waited an hour with no response. When we finally got a response she claimed she had lived there for 30 years and had never seen a mouse; she was gobsmacked.
She then tried to blame it on the farmer next door, asking if it was a field mouse as he had been doing the fields and then some girl that did the changeover might have let it in? Then she said, “Could you not just pick it up and throw it out?” Excuse me?
In the time she spent ignoring our messages, we managed to pull back the sofa and saw mouse droppings scattered everywhere. On closer inspection I found more in the dining area, and a few in the bathroom. This wasn’t a lone mouse that wandered in, it was a recurring problem. After seeing it scurry into the kitchen cupboards we knew it could potentially contaminate our food.
It got really late. We were running out of time to find back up accommodation, so we left and told her we wanted a full refund. She was “apologetic” but not really, still sticking to the same script.
We decided to go straight to Airbnb that night with all the photos we took and screenshots of the messages taken. Then at 1:00 AM she sent a paragraph of a text demanding to know why we said such horrible lies about her caravan. She had no problem responding then. She claimed she went to the caravan but we had already left, so she magically made an appearance late at night, stating that the caravan was spotless. She stays in five-star hotels and it was immaculately clean apparently.
As we drove past her house it was clear that it was dirty; in the conservatory there were piles of boxes and bin bags stacked on top of each other. The entrance of the house was full of beat up old cars and more trash.
Airbnb did nothing. We had pictures of the mouse droppings, dust and uncleanliness, and insects in the caravan and provided all of the screenshots. We were told “we can’t use text messages as evidence as they can be doctored.”
We couldn’t receive our money back as she claimed we didn’t tell her about any of the issues so they’ve taken her word for it and I have now lost £580 for a 10-night stay + about £1000 for last-minute accommodation for the week. All they did was offer a coupon for our next stay, and after bickering with them for a bit they retracted this coupon anyway.
I haven’t added the listing, and haven’t written a review yet as we are taking legal action and trying to get our money back via PayPal. She has some bad reviews on her profile concerning the cleanliness but they’re mainly good. I went to check recently and saw that she suddenly had loads of new reviews for July. Strange… either she had so many guests before us and couldn’t clean or they’re doctored in some way. Airbnb is more than happy to leave a rodent-infested listing on their website, so their policies have no legs.