Edinburgh Fringe Festival: Airbnb Hell

We booked a stay with a couple in Edinburgh for the 2015 Fringe Festival. It was our first experience using Airbnb. Although the room looked nice in the photos and was fine in real life, it turned out the young couple renting the room were renting themselves – evidently from a very cruddy landlord – and had decamped to the lounge for the Fringe in their one-bedroom flat (up six flights of stone steps). We therefore had access to a cramped and windowless kitchen and a cramped and windowless bathroom only. The water pressure was ridiculously weak throughout the flat and the WC didn’t flush without pouring a bucket of water (which took ages to fill from the low pressure taps) into the cistern. The shower also leaked, as did the wash hand basin.

The couple were obviously getting drunk every night on their rent money from us and the woman barged into our room one night and nearly got into bed with us, evidently having forgotten they had rented their room out! They also needed to go through our room to get to their washing machine, which was in a tiny room behind the bedroom. The kitchen was very poorly equipped and we were given nothing with which to wash up and no space to put our breakfast things. The man was pleasant enough but his partner was sullen and avoided us. Luckily we were out most of the time at shows or our stay would have been unbearable. They had the cheek to press for a review when we left, but we felt the kindest thing to do was say nothing as we had nothing good to say about our stay. Never again!

Airbnb not Checking what Hosts are Offering

We have used Airbnb extensively in the past, traveling overseas. We are finding it increasingly true that what we read on Airbnb about the offerings at a certain place is not the reality when you arrive. You are caught short without the opportunity to find alternative accommodation. Our experience is: don’t trust what you read on Airbnb, do your own homework, and ask detailed questions before you commit.

For example: “On site parking” should mean on the property, not two kilometers away if you are lucky to find a spot! A supply of essentials means just that, not only a toilet roll! Airbnb is not taking any responsibility for what is advertised on their site; it is very much “let the buyer beware.”

Beware of Strict Cancellation Policies and Hosts that do not help you Cancel

I was a novice Airbnb user and did not understand that the onus was on me to cancel a reservation that I wanted to change. My traveling companion had to cancel her trip with me to Hawaii due to an unplanned chemo-treatment and my Airbnb host in Honolulu was not willing to change my reservation. I incorrectly presumed that she would cancel the reservation when she refused to alter it. Her communication skills were not great and I feel she mislead me about Airbnb’s policies on cancellation. Bottom-line – I paid for three nights in Honolulu that I did not get and Airbnb will not let me review the host in terms of her communication skills. She also promised a partial refund which was never sent. Needless to say, she is not very honest and future Airbnb users who fall for her very high rating may regret that they chose her. Airbnb deserves credit for refunding to me their commission; but the trust system does not work well if they do not allow me to leave a review on my experience with her. Filtering out low ratings makes everyone look “way above average.” Suggest Airbnb allow all cancelled guests who end up paying for the accommodation to review the host on the host’s communication skills.