I have been visiting the Netherlands since the 1990s and have come to understand the mentality of the people quite well now. It is quite normal for some Dutch people to misrepresent something in the interests of business.
This Airbnb rental is located in Overveen close to Haarlem or Harlem, which is about 17 Km from Amsterdam in The Netherlands, or Holland or Nederland Europe for Dutch speakers. In the near future, Formula 1 racing events will be held at Zandvort or Zandvoort, which is close by. This operator told me about all the money that can be made by local people renting out rooms locally.
I don’t want to seem harsh to the host because he isn’t a bad guy and is quite pleasant and interesting to be around. However, I do have some objections to his listing as it stands on Airbnb right now (October 2019). Unfortunately, this rental is listed in a way that is not representative of the condition it is really in now.
The main complaint I have is of misrepresentation and omission. Haarlem is a nice alternative to Amsterdam, an authentic medieval/Golden Era town which is well worth a visit, with easy and quick railway connections with Amsterdam and the airport. The location of the apartment is 15-20 minutes from the town center or the railway station on foot.
The room that you will be renting is not a separate room, but is on a blind landing at the very top of the apartment, with no door. The room is a good size but has no window and no form of external ventilation. There were two fans but the room was still very stuffy even though the fans were on and the summer was over by then.
Sleeping in this room for me was similar to sleeping in an underground bunker. With all the lights off, it was absolutely pitch dark and too warm. The in-house ventilation fan in the electrical cupboard in the room made a continuous noise. I resorted to sleeping on the floor in the living room. The room made me feel very claustrophobic. It was not really possible to hang-out in your bedroom because it was not a comfortable experience in that respect. The lighting was provided from one energy-saving bulb in the ceiling.
There were other problems. The living room was cluttered and untidy and in need of a cleaning, as was the whole apartment. The sofa covers absolutely stank. When I removed the covers from the duvet and pillows to wash them at the end of my stay, I saw they were not very clean and in need of dry cleaning. The mattress had a few old stains on it. The kitchen area was not all that clean and there was always a huge pile of washed utensils in the drying area by the sink.
There was a tiny part of the fridge for guests. When I offered the host some coffee I was planning to brew he said that he did not drink coffee, which meant that there was nothing to brew it in available. I was not really invited to use the kitchen so I did not use it.
The open hats and coats area by the front door was a cluttered jumble of shoes, very untidy and certain to create a poor impression with many visitors. There were two very steep flights of stairs from the living room to the guest room. Not a problem for me, but should be mentioned in the listing. The bathroom and toilet need a cleaning. The cover to the toilet cistern is missing and the toilet bowl below the water is black and denotes a lack of care over a long period of time.
The décor in the apartment is rather tired and there is a huge pile of water-soaked cigarette butts in a dish out on the terrace and more on the floor. This is the best part of the apartment, but again it was neglected.
I did ask the host if he could print out my return bus ticket, offering him a couple of Euros for his trouble. He said it was okay and he would do it. I left an old USB flash drive on his coffee table where it remained for several days and then I noticed it was gone. Because time became short I got it printed at a local printers.
I asked him if had picked up the stick and he said that he hadn’t seen it. In order to be diplomatic I shrugged off the incident and make no conclusion about it. The stick was worth nothing, only had the bus ticket on it, but it did disappear from one day to the next and I had to accept a denial from the host. I did also check the living room very thoroughly when he was out, but it did not turn up. He did not further enquire as to whether I had got the ticket printed.
This is one of those pointless and quite surreal incidents when using Airbnb when you have to make an instant decision to insist on something or just laugh it off. If he had said that he lost the stick rather than presenting me with an adolescent explanation then everything would have been fine.
I paid just over £200 Sterling for six nights here (approximately US$246). It is not the worst Airbnb rental or the worst host, even if he could be described as bad, I have encountered by a long way and I am used to accepting differences and inconveniences as part of the interest in staying in different places. I think that this rental is probably worth half what I paid.
I have given up complaining or making suggestions to hosts or Airbnb. I do not like leaving bad reviews on Airbnb because I do not wish to get into an on-line dispute and Airbnb sanitises reviews anyway. Airbnb expected me to provide pictures of this let, which strikes me as a strange and anti-social activity in itself.
The presumption that the paying customer is somehow a bit of a fool and that they are there to be milked by the Dutch is still alive and well in the minds of a lot of them. If you are pleasant, personable and respectful then it is possible that you will be seen as something of an idiot.
Airbnb is not going to ask the host to list his property more accurately, because I did not take any pictures during my stay. My comments are corroborated by the feedback given by other guests. I did not read all of the feedback when I booked in the Spring of 2019 and so missed the crucial detail about the lack of a window.