We are a mother and daughter from St. Petersburg, Russia. We travel a lot and used Airbnb for several years. We often stay in apartments in different countries; we have been to Italy many times and also stayed in many apartments in different cities. On previous visits everything was perfect: we hadn’t experienced any bad treatment or a shocking situation before. However, our most recent trip to Italy was terrible; Francesca was the worst host.
Our stay in Milan (which was short) was completely ruined by Francesca (on Airbnb her apartment is called “Mi casa es tu casa – Milano”). We booked her apartment from November 8-11, 2015. Our plane arrived on November 7th at 23:20 at Bergamo Airport. We took a bus at 00:00 and arrived at Milan Central station on November 8th at 01:10. We calculated our route in advance and wrote Francesca several times about our route in detail: when we would depart, when we would arrive, when exactly we would be in Milan. We were worried about a non-standard check-in time; that’s why we repeated our message with all information about our arrival several times, and immediately before our departure we texted one more time.
The most important fact is that Francesca accepted all our conditions and even added 25 Euro for an early check-in. We negotiated this itinerary: when we arrived from Bergamo Airport at Milan Central Station, we would take a taxi and send her an SMS that we were on the way. She was supposed to meet us at her flat, in the street. And then the worst began… we are still in shock. We took our bus, and decided to text her before we got in the taxi. It was a good decision. We informed her that we had arrived at the Central Station by bus and we were ready to take a taxi and go to her place. It was 01:30, November 8th, as we discussed (and she confirmed in her messages that it was ok).
Francesca didn’t reply for 10-15 minutes; all this time we were standing with our luggage at the railway station and waiting for her answer. Finally we got a message that shocked us: she said that there are other guests in the flat and she cannot help us, because she thought we would arrive the next day. She advised us to go to a hotel. Can you imagine such a terrible situation? We weren’t waiting in the safest place at night – the central railway station – and we were advised to run around and look for a hotel in the middle of the night? We have no words to say how terrible it was. In addition, we had an exhausting trip. We left from St. Petersburg to Tallinn on November 7th at 10:30 by bus. It took eight hours, then we took a flight from Tallinn to Bergamo – two hours more – and an hour more from Bergamo to Milan.
It took us 11 hours on several different means of transportation, and when we finally arrived we were looking forward to get to the apartment to get some rest. Instead, we received such a “nice” piece of advice: search for a hotel. Of course, we didn’t have any options. Almost all hotels near the central station were fully booked. After a while, we found one hotel. It was terrible, but we didn’t have a choice; we were so exhausted and Francesca’s message killed us. One night in the hotel (nine hours) cost 113 euros and didn’t include wifi. It was very expensive for us; we hadn’t planned on spending this amount of money at all, especially to search for a hotel in the middle of the night. In the hotel everything had additional charges and it was dirty and dusty.
When we checked in to the hotel, we wrote to Airbnb support asking for help, explaining the situation. Unfortunately, we only had wifi for three hours but a reply came in the morning. We spend a terrible night waiting for an answer and not sleeping. At 11:00 AM we checked out and were in the street again with heavy luggage. All this time we were sending messages to Francesca, explaining that because of her we were in a terrible place. She pretended she had no idea what dates we were talking about (as her English is so bad) and she insisted that it was not her fault but Airbnb’s booking system. We didn’t receive any understanding and support from this person. Finally, she “kindly” offered to let us check into her flat on November 8th at 11:30 am, when her guests left.
But the problem wasn’t solved. She didn’t want to compensate us 113+25 euros, which she took for an early check-in. We had to call Airbnb several times and try to solve this problem, walking with luggage around the city; it was a nightmare, and it was all because of Francesca. The support team called her and she said that the flat would be free ONLY at 16:00, though she told us that it would be free at 11:30. She lied to us. It was a crazy day. Instead of enjoying Milan, we were carrying our luggage around until 16:00. We regretted many times that we chose her. In the end, we took a taxi for 25 euros and came to her place around 17:00.
Tired and exhausted, we found one more unpleasant surprise: her flat was VERY far from the center, almost a suburb of Milan. There were not many people around and there are NOT any cafes and shops; you have to take a bus to reach them. It takes 20-30 minutes to reach the closest metro station by bus, then also the same time by metro. The district is very strange and a bit marginal; we always saw some suspicious people. We were warned in shops to be careful with valuables and money. It wasn’t pleasant to come back in a full bus in the evening, it is different in the centre. There is a criminal atmosphere in the district.
In the flat it was not so bad but we were confused that the host smoked inside, because we don’t smoke; it wasn’t nice. There was no blanket on the double bed, so we had to sleep under a cover. There was no electrical kettle; we had to find an old one, and clean it to boil water. Such things spoil first impressions especially when they were spoiled from the very beginning. On our first day at check-in we showed our bus tickets from Milan-Bergamo to Francesca, on November 11th at 16:40. She told us that it would take us 1 hour 40 minutes to get there. On our departure day we were in a hurry to clean the place and pack before 15:00.
We were a bit confused Francesca recommended we leave at 15:00, because we had gotten to know the city pretty well. That’s why we were ready at 15:20 and came downstairs to throw out our trash (we had several bags). Near the entrance we met Francesca, who opened the door. She didn’t expect to see us (she thought we would leave at 15:00) and told she wanted to say goodbye. It was the first time this had happened with Airbnb; we always say goodbye with an SMS, and leave the keys on the table or in a post box. Nobody came to say goodbye to us because it is not a convenient moment when you are packing and the host is staying above you. When Francesca saw the trash bags in our hands. she decided to show us how to “correctly” separate it. She started looking into our trash bags and separating them. Before this trip, we had stayed in Rome and the host told us how to separate the trash. Francesca didn’t say a word about it before; that’s why it was very unpleasant and unusual she would now.
Later we came back to the flat, and Francesca came with us. We hoped she would stay outside until we left, but no… We started packing our luggage, and quickly changing. Francesca was in the kitchen and was checking if everything was ok (in front of her guests): she replaced cups, turned on the gas, opened the fridge, and smoked. We could have been eating before our departure. We had to leave our products in the fridge, because the kitchen was occupied by our smoking host. Before our departure she reminded us to go to Garibaldi Station and change to get to Central Station. But everything was much easier, because there is a direct way from M Romolo to Central Station. It took us 30 minutes to get there. Francesca told us on purpose to leave the flat earlier because it takes 1 hour 40 minutes.
To sum up, we think it was unacceptable behavior with the guests. Our trip was completely ruined because of her, and it was full of disappointment. Such people mustn’t host guests, because she doesn’t respect them and thinks she is right. We don’t recommend Francesca’s flat of course, if you don’t want your holiday to become a living hell. After our trip, we wanted to write a not very positive but truthful review, and we did. However, our review was removed in just a couple of hours. We wrote customer support. And what do you think happened? The support agent wrote to us that our feedback had been rude, vulgar and not objective. She also wrote that the responses can not be removed, but in some cases there are exceptions. So our review will be deleted. We realized that the guests are not protected by anything. Airbnb is always on the side of the owners rather than the guests. This is very unfair.