Without prejudice, written entirely from my perspective, and all opinions being my own. Two females (wise individuals) booked a villa in Marseille. It looks amazing online, in reality not so much.
We arrived exactly on time. All the doors were open so we entered. A man was standing in the kitchen with his back to us. We said “hello”, and he did not turn around; he simply grunted. We were left to presume he was a guest.
We wandered about on the ground floor. The first thing I saw was the laundry strewn over the balcony with stones on top. When we entered the living room, there was a huge pile of sheets on the sofa. The dining room… once inside you are greeted by several huge paint-splattered speakers, which, of course, were not in the photos.
When we went back towards the kitchen the man scuttled hurriedly upstairs. We stepped into the quite cluttered kitchen where the man had left the remnants of his bread and humus. A somewhat messy smaller room to the side housing floor to ceiling booze, some of which was leaking onto the floor and washing machine with odd pieces of laundry dotting the floor.
Not a great reception at all. What could we do?
I suggested we venture upstairs to find our room and/or the man we just saw. We were one flight up when the man reappeared and blocked our path. He said nothing. I asked: “Are you the host?”
To which he replied, “Are you so and so?”
“Yes,” I said.
He stated, “And you just come upstairs by yourself?” very aggressively.
“You just walked right past us,” I stated.
“I thought you were friends of my other guests who are English. Why didn’t you call me? I gave you my number.”
He never gave us his number (Why would we call him? He was right there). He was not forthcoming with any information prior to our arrival. I had asked how we would enter the villa and who would be there at what times. His reply? “Don’t worry, all the taxis know it.” I put that down to the language barrier.
We did not know how to get in until we got there at 6:00 PM. I should explain that this was a villa quite high up, not at ground level and not so obvious. We found the gate and his name and pressed the buzzer twice, so I really don’t understand how he did not know who we were. We presumed he had buzzed us in but we learnt later the gate was always open.
He showed us to our room, presentable enough at first glance. He left to fetch towels and keys. He offered to show us the kitchen. I replied I had already seen it. The atmosphere inside the villa was eerie and there was no sign of any other guests despite his earlier excuse for ignoring us. My friend went downstairs with him to be shown the washing machine. I checked out the bathroom.
The closet/wardrobe had been freshly painted so that couldn’t be used due to the smell. Behind the toilet were exposed wires where someone had done a very poor DIY light above the bathroom mirror job. The taps on the sink and in the shower were not clean. The shower had a pebble bottom and several of these were missing, showing age and wear.
This led me to look under the bed and sure enough, it was full of dust and tissues. The bed seemed okay. I pulled back the duvet to reveal a crumpled bottom sheet. I did the smell test; they smelt neither clean nor dirty. My friend returned and informed me the host had left, leaving the glass of wine he was drinking balancing on the garden wall.
On further inspection of the towels he had handed us we realized they were in fact wet. We now also noticed the painting above the bed (not shown in the photos) of a female wearing a white basque which was revealing her pubic hair. Also above the bed at head level was a metal lever sticking out of the wall, for gas, water? Definitely a hazard.
We hadn’t eaten all day so left to get a pizza nearby unsure of what we were going to do. This is when we noticed the opaque glass panel in the bedroom door which had two more see through circle sections and a further two scratched out spots which viewed the bed – our bed. Immediately to our left we saw a cupboard with a pair of scissors for a handle.
As if all that wasn’t enough there was no lock on the inside of the room. My friend told me that on her previous visit downstairs she had noticed a room with an open door which couldn’t be a guest room; she described an absolute sty with clothes and objects all over the floor. This door was closed now.
In the entrance way we noticed a vase which had been smashed to bits and glued back together. All the plants from the photos were now covering the kitchen table, dead. The host had left a cupboard open and plates balancing on the sink. The fridge was completely full – no room for us.
On arrival we had noticed an animal hutch in front of the main door – again, not photographed not mentioned. On our way out we noticed the two fluffy baby bunny rabbits. This did not reassure us. We also saw a plastic container containing dirty drinking glasses, many glasses just a step up from the front door; it had been there a while by the looks of it.
We got our pizza and returned. We ate outside as we did not feel comfortable inside. Turned out we were not comfortable outside either; we were completely on edge. We went to put the unfinished pizza in the bin which is when we saw the man’s jumper and empty cleaning fluid bottle in the bin and I mean that was all that was in the bin.
We immediately entered what is known as fight or flight mode. We didn’t know where he was. He could have returned when we were at the pizza place. I volunteered to go back upstairs and gather our belongings. My friend stood guard at the front door. We locked the kitchen door he had left open, returned the keys to the room, shut the self locking front door behind us, and made our way down the creepy stone steps to our escape.
With no phone (my friend had issues with providers abroad), and no access to internet we were forced to return to the city (a 30-minute bus ride) and find a hotel. Luckily my friend had funds on her card to do this. With help from several members of the public and their phones we finally found our way to an Ibis, our salvation.
We were quite shaken up by the time we got to the hotel after 9:00 PM. The staff were amazing; they gave us a discount because of our ordeal, talked to us, and listened to us. The restaurant served us apple pie with ice cream, just what we needed after our ordeal.
We contacted Airbnb as soon as it was possible and for me that was before I had even returned home. We actually wrote a four-page report, and sent photos that I even in my nervous state had the foresight to take. We sent the hotel receipt. Two weeks of the email game reliving that night over and over again to be told “No, the host won t refund and you didn’t follow procedure.”
I mean, it’s not real, right? You’re emailing some minimum wage person whose first language is not English who is trained to say no. There are no supervisors or managers. My friend emailed the CEO’s top dogs; I don’t believe they exist. For all we know it could literally be a 15-year-old in his bedroom. This is not a real company at all; it’s a sham. Appalling not just for us but this so called host is allowed to carry on. What about when two females not of our age and maturity book a property? It is not safe.
You can’t get anywhere with Airbnb directly; it’s just not designed that way. They have to be publicly outed and shamed and I would call for them to be shut down or boycotted so they just dissolve.
This was my first and only experience with this cowboy outfit. Thank goodness we had only used it for two nights of our six-night break. We stayed with Ibis Hotels for the other nights and they were fantastic in every way. My friend has already contacted TV stations in the UK. Airbnb has to be brought to justice.