Fleas in the Bed, Airbnb Host in the Wind

We needed a place to stay for three nights before moving on to St. Ives and found a cottage listed on Airbnb. On arrival we were fairly happy with the cottage, which was decorated and kept nicely, if a little dirty, but nothing too bad. Our baby daughter was using her walker, and we noticed that her feet were dirty after a few minutes on the floor; again, we decided that we could live with this for a few days. The host had informed us that the previous guests had broken the curtain rail in the second bedroom, but that he didn’t think it would bother us. It did, as my teenage son was in that room, and he had to pile pillows into the window frame to block out the light in the morning. Again, we were only there for a few days so we could put up with it before our holiday moved to St. Ives.

Trying to run a bath for our daughter, I noticed that one of the bath taps wouldn’t work, so I filled it using the shower. Again not ideal, but we could work around it. The hosts kindly left some coffee, but the only coffee pot we could find was full of mould. We stuck to tea; it was no problem as I like tea. Now for the tipping point. We got into bed and allowed our daughter to lay with us for a little while, when my wife saw a flea jump onto her then off again. I sat up and we pulled the covers back and saw a flea (possibly the same one) jump onto and off of the white sheets. By this time it was too late to do anything so we had no choice but to sleep in the bed. In the morning we saw two more fleas and my wife had been bitten.

I contacted the host and very politely told him that he had fleas and that we couldn’t stay. He said he would refund me asap, and thanked me for being so understanding. I told him that if course we wouldn’t leave any negative feedback, as these things happen. We spent the day trying to find alternative accommodation, eventually finding an apartment in Plymouth, Devon. This was a very stressful day, not knowing whether we would be able to find a place to stay and having a six-month old to look after. A few weeks later I still hadn’t heard from the host, so I looked on the website and saw that you could request money. I did this, requesting £250 of the roughly £300 we paid.

A couple of nights later I received an email telling me that the host had refused to refund us, and in addition he felt that we hadn’t left the house in a respectable state. We had only stayed one night, and as far as I can remember the only things we left were items of food packaging by or in the bin, and the pillows piled up in the window. My son initially tidied this but I told him to put it back so that the host knew that it was an issue. I have asked the host to explain what he meant but haven’t heard back. I have asked Airbnb to get involved but haven’t heard back. Most annoyingly, the host left it long enough so that I couldn’t leave feedback.

Bitten by Fleas Repeatedly at London Airbnb

I have stayed at an Airbnb three times and I would not stay again based on the last experience. All three times I rented the entire home. The first two times the places were amazing; the hosts were great and everything went super smoothly. The last time, I booked a two-bedroom house near London and it was quite expensive ($400/night) but it was summer, the location was amazing (right in the centre, near a train station) and it was better than any of the hotels nearby. We had to be at this location for me to attend some work meetings.

The property was very clean and welcoming on arrival and everything went great… until I woke up the next morning with about 12-15 bites all over my legs and arms. I went to the pharmacy and they said probably mosquitos. I have been bitten by mosquitoes and these bites were so much worse. I bought several creams but nothing seemed to help. I noticed some of them were in a line so started to think it was bed bugs. I called the host but she was several hours’ drive away and we both freaked out thinking it was bed bugs. I looked in the sheets and mattress and never saw a single bug (alive or dead). I did not sleep with the windows open, but the bites were awful. The host did not want to pay for a hotel (I had one more night at her place) so I bought some bug spray, doused myself, and slept on the couch downstairs.

The next morning I woke up with even more bites. I had about 40-50 bites all over my feet, legs, back, chest, hands, and arms. They were on fire; I have never felt such intense itching and no cream worked. In the end I begged the pharmacist for an antihistamine and cortisone cream, which sort of helped. It took about a week for the bites to die down and I could wear normal shoes again; even the shoes rubbing on the bites unleashed incredible itchiness. The host had a pest inspector in after I left and reported there were no bed bugs or anything else, so I have to assume it was fleas. The south of England had a bad outbreak so that makes sense, and apparently even only one or two fleas can do this.

I get that things happen, but the host (while she was upset and I felt terrible about it as I’m sure the pest inspector was expensive) did not offer to move me anywhere else and probably thinks it’s my fault somehow. I never got a refund or any compensation even though I could not sleep in the bed the last night and being bitten so many times ruined my trip. It was so awful to have these bites. I no longer want to use Airbnb because at least at a hotel I can change rooms or there is some fallback if things go wrong.