Dirty Airbnb Stay in San Diego with Bed Bugs


Early this month two friends and I decided to take a much needed break and head down from northern California to San Diego for a relaxing getaway.

We arrived at the apartment late in the evening, and immediately noticed a few issues with cleanliness. The sponge provided to wash dishes was old and smelled musty, there was a sticky gunk in the side of the stove and on some places on the walls, the bathroom sink had some little hairs on it, and there were some stains on the sheets.

Because it was late and we were tired, we took some photos and planned to deal with it in the morning when we could speak to the host on the phone. However, about an hour later one of the guests noticed a bug crawling across her pillow case and jumped up to see it disappear down the side of the bed. She turned on the light and found another of the same kind of bug inside the pillow case. She took a photo; we looked it up and it appeared to be a bed bug.

Based on the state of the rest of the place, it was the final straw. We immediately packed up, hopped in the car, and started calling hotels to find a place to sleep that night and for the rest of our stay. Once we found a hotel around almost 2:00 AM, I contacted the host, explained the problem, and sent him the photos we took. He originally offered to reimburse us for the last two nights of the reservation, but not the total (cleaning fees and first night), which I declined as we were seeking a full refund for that horrible experience, plus we had to scramble to book another place to stay last minute which meant we shouldered an additional cost for that.

Two days later, the host contacted me saying he “had a company come look at the place, and there were no bed bugs,” so he’s refusing to refund us for any of the nights. However, he agreed that the place was dirty, so sent me back $42 for the cleaning fee. As I pushed that this was unacceptable, he started saying that actually, the photos we provided were “not even his sheets”, and it was “clearly not his apartment”, saying that he “can’t find a linen matching the one in the photo with the bug” and that he “took his own photos as evidence of this.”

Because he won’t share his “evidence” photos, I have no way of knowing if he changed the sheets after we left and took new pictures to make it look like we’re lying about the whole incident. However, the photos we have not only show a time and location stamp matching the first night of our reservation, but we also have video that clearly shows we are in his apartment when we found the bugs.

To make matters worse, the host left a (somewhat incoherent) review of me stating that I was “running a scam” and in all caps “DO NOT HOST”. What kind of scam could I be running? I have clear proof of the bed bugs and other cleanliness issues, I did not stay a single night in the apartment, and he still has my money. If anything, I’ve been scammed.

I have contacted Airbnb about the issue multiple times, and have received no response on my case. The most I’ve heard from them is when I took to social media to rant about their horrible service, to which they gave me the canned response of “we’ve escalated your ticket to the appropriate team,” and I’ve heard nothing since.

After doing some digging, I’ve noticed several other reviews on the host’s other listings mentioning the conditions being unsanitary (cockroaches, sand in the bed on the day of arrival, stains on sheets and towels, etc). Especially during the pandemic, hosts should be held to a higher standard for cleanliness.

Unfortunately though, Airbnb does not seem to care about guests’ safety at all, and this host is still collecting money and accepting listings as a representative of their platform.

False and Totally Misleading Mexican Listings


Where to begin? Since I had 2, similar, experiences in Mexico recently, back to back, I’m combining them into one posting.

The first occurred in San Cristobal and the second in Mazunte. Here is the listing for the Mazunte Airbnb:

La Pajarera
Entire cabin, Sleeps 4

We had booked a two bedroom casita with kitchen and bathroom. Upon arrival there was only one bedroom apparently in use. The second one was up some dangerous steps and obviously not in use- no bedding on the bed, no closet, dresser or bedside table and a pile of broken tiles in the corner. My first clue should have been the fact that even tho 2 were listed, there were no pictures of the second. In addition, there was no shower stall, just a shower head in the ceiling of a very tiny bathroom. And the kitchen was dark and dreary. The pictures of this place had obviously been enhanced, making it look so much better than it was. And the amenities list had been embellished- to put it nicely!

The housekeeper greeted us and promptly called the host when we complained about the lack of a second bedroom and lack of amenities listed- especially a washer. I am on a 2 month trip and specifically look for a washer whenever possible.

When the host arrived she seemed shocked and embarrassed when I showed her the list of amenities. When it came to the second bedroom, she reasoned that since I had indicted there were 2 of us, we only needed one bedroom. WRONG! She offered to ‘make up’ the second bedroom or give us a full refund. We opted for the refund, since there was a perfectly acceptable, immaculately clean hotel right next door, where for about the same price, not only did we have our own bed, we had our own room with private bathroom. This turned out to be a god send when we later both came down with food poisoning, at the same time! The host even went with us and negotiated an even better rate then we could have accomplish on our own with our pigeon Spanish. She was willing to do whatever it took to make us happy.

At first AirBB refused to refund the service fee, but I pushed, didn’t ask, demanded and used terms like enhanced, false and misleading and they finally refunded the fee, also. So this one ended positively.

On to episode #2. The pictures tell the tale of this deplorable shack. I had booked for 14 days, once again based on enhanced photos and an even bigger list of lies, claiming to be the amenities. I actually didn’t believe there were the amenities listed, but hoped for a few. TV, washer, ac? give me a break- there wasn’t even a mirror on the wall! There was what looked like mold covering the shower drain, the sink was badly chipped and cracked, the beams were crumbling, the screens torn, and the kitchen dark, dreary and dirty and the cabinets indescribably gross. Once again my first clue should have been that there were no pictures of the kitchen.

I immediately changed my booking for 4 nights, instead of the 14 I had planned to stay at the beach. I should have left immediately and insisted on a refund. Yet, in my defense, I had just spent 10 hours getting there via taxi and overnight bus, I was still ill, and needed time to figure out something else for the 10 remaining days. We’re talking about the beach in January!

The host did replace the sink, the maid kind of cleaned the kitchen, and promised a mirror, but never delivered. I had booked this because it had a kitchen, but couldn’t even bring myself to go down there, let alone cook! New sink, but no water the following day! The maid did come and figure out how to get it working again. And, to his credit, the host was quick to respond and arranged for transportation from the bus to the shack, and to Puerto Escondido when I left.

I didn’t decide to insist on a full refund until I was leaving, feeling angry, traumatized and victimized. It is totally unacceptable for AirBB to be booking such decrepit shacks, passing them off with enhanced photos and lies! They need to be held responsible, and so does the host.

The host has refused my request, since I did stay there, so I have turned it over for mediation. Word so far is that it has been determined I am owed a partial refund. This was before I sent the photos! I’m insisting on a full refund, including the service fees. We will see……..

And as an aside- this is not my first rodeo. I have made 45 trips to Mexico during the past 30 years, so have a pretty good idea what I can expect for my pesos, when it comes to lodging. The shack was $40 a night and was worth about $10.

On a positive note- of the 5 properties I have stayed in on this trip, 2 were totally unacceptable, 1 ok and 2 were fantastic. I’ll just book with them directly in the future.

Terrible Airbnb Apartment in San Diego Hillcrest


I’m mainly writing this because I hate to see a lousy host continue to rent out his lousy apartment without making any changes to it. If the host was open to feedback and improvements, then cool. Not the case with this guy it seems. I booked this apartment for myself and two friends for San Diego Comic-Con. I could tell that the owner had raised the price for that week, something I expected anyway. Most of the reviews were fairly positive, but after staying there, I have no idea why they are. I can understand an old place just being old, but this place just felt dirty and lacked basic amenities that it claimed to have in its description. There was no extra toilet paper, not enough towels for the number of guests for which I informed him of, no hand soap, trash beneath the sink, gum in the bathroom sink drain, rug stains, and peeling floor paint.

The worst part of the stay was the handful of large, flying cockroaches that appeared on two of the nights. One of which actually flew into my friend, and another scurried over her foot. The host had left me a short but positive review; however, he countered my negative review for his unit, fabricating or embellishing most of the story. I don’t know if he doesn’t understand that there’s a thing called a paper trail. I’ve uploaded an image of my correspondence with the host regarding the issues that would negate his rebuttal to my negative review of his unit, as well as photographic evidence. To elaborate further on other certain issues he claimed in his counter-review:

  • He claimed that we had a late check in. Our check-in was actually early as my one friend showed up an hour before check-in, and I had cleared this with the host. He did not provide clear directions on how to get the keys (I guess I should’ve repeated my question in my emails), and my friend had tried texting and writing to him with no response. She then had to decipher how to get the keys from previous guest reviews. My own check-in was two days later at night, but that did not require the host’s attention, obviously, since my friends were already there.
  • He mentioned that we did not make any requests for toilet paper or towels. Regarding the toilet paper, this is because my friends had quickly gone out and bought their own (we did not know that the staff in the deli below was affiliated with the apartment in that way). Regarding towels, because the place already felt pretty filthy, we did not trust even using the towels.
  • He mentions that we did not allow them onto the premises to inspect for the cockroaches. In my correspondence with him, I explained that we did not want anyone to enter the premises while we were not present, and at the time we were about to head out for the day. What the host failed to mention is that one of his associates did actually show up to take a look just before we headed out. We let him in of course, and he asked us where the cockroaches were coming from, but how could we know specifically where they came from? They just started flying and scurrying around the place at night. The guy claimed they’d never seen them upstairs before as though it couldn’t be true that they had cockroaches. However, this makes me question the sanitation level of the deli below.

After the inspection, no solution was offered and the guy left. With two nights left of our stay, we were considering finding accommodation elsewhere. However, being Comic-Con week, everything was booked up or overly expensive. I communicated this with the host and suggested a 2-day refund as the unit was not as advertised and we would’ve vacated the unit if we could’ve. He seemed to be open to this discussion. However, his responses were more and more delayed going forward. After our stay ended, he eventually just stopped responding to me. I was also in communication with Airbnb regarding this unit. They offered me a refund on the cleaning fees (I have no idea what the host is spending this money on at all), and after further requests, a credit towards a future stay to offset our costs. Unfortunately I cannot counter the host’s stories on his profile at all. I hope that by posting this story I can deter future guests from staying at this unit, and that Airbnb will better monitor the quality and honesty of host listings. I’ve been using Airbnb for a number of years now with no major issues, and with this listing being the first problematic stay, it already shows me the lack of responsibility that both hosts and Airbnb can potentially have for their clients.

Airbnb: Business Based on Trust, but Where is it?

I recently brought a party of seven to a ‘luxury beach villa’ in Boracay in the Philippines. The listing looked fabulous and perfect for our two-night stay. I booked it on the day and arrived with my party three hours later. Then the fun started. We were greeted by armed guards. Talk about putting us on edge. The house was uncomfortably hot. There was no way to freshen the house and the two air-con units in two of the bedrooms were useless. It must have been 40 degrees C inside. There were smelly animals everywhere. When I wrote to Airbnb about this they told me the animals were mentioned in the listing. I argued that the smell was not.

Once they have your money they don’t care. There was a pond inside – part of the listing. It smelled really bad. Again, not something you can discern from a photograph. But Airbnb didn’t care. When we tried to leave the host sent her unstable husband to the villa. The husband shouted at us and acted in a most aggressive manner. He threatened us with the armed security guards. When I brought all this up with Airbnb they were useless. It was extremely difficult to get through to them. When I did and asked for a full refund as per their guest refund policy they refused. No matter what argument I gave them they took a blanket line. I will never use Airbnb again. You simply cannot trust their site and how they vet their hosts. You also cannot trust they will act in the guest’s interests in any way. In a business where trusting with whom you will stay with is key, Airbnb is extremely exposed. I suspect one death or a serious problem will see the end of this company.

Ants and Home Invasions: Emails from a Nasty Host


Email from Host:

Good morning Li Ming,

I was going to message you again – but think it’s best we speak via the Airbnb website so there’s a record of all communications. I appreciate your message – I hope the fresh figs and pears were interesting and delicious; it is nice to have something so natural. As for the ants (not related to the fridge), I saw your three photos but could not really see anything – maybe a dot or two – I do of course believe you, but please understand these are native creatures – tiny tiny black ants – actually attracted to water or sugar – or moving because of the coming rain. As you requested I have visited and poured a special low toxicity product, “Ant Rid”, at two locations – one by the bathroom door and also by the front door. I noticed, however, even more ants outside (that’s good) but moving around on the veranda ceiling so I also put some liquid outside the door. The ants will take this back to their nest and reduce the population.

However, these are regular Australian Black Ants – harmless and just part of the landscape. The fridge – I went to remove the offending items – contained I believe a packet of frozen vegetables, mayonnaise, jam and a jar of crushed garlic… actually three jars of mayonnaise. I took these offending items (oh, and two fresh eggs) left by the previous guests to share and not waste. I wiped all the shelves and took the one little piece of red onion skin from the vegetable crisper space. I have photographed the items – and will post this for all to see. I think personally your request is a bit reactionary – maybe it is a cultural gap. Many guests thank me for providing items like oil (open oil – not brand new that I had purchased), leaving a few eggs – messages come like “Hi Jon, can we use the eggs in Fridge?” – me “Yes of course” – and a jar of crushed garlic good until August 2016.

It looks like two spoons were used and the rest were enough for guests to cook something. I also provide hand soap – but not bars of soap. I provide a few toilet rolls but I am not “required to.” I offer the essentials so you can manage until you go shopping. This is not a hotel – it is twice as big with a yard and free parking at a lesser price. Maybe it is cultural – I didn’t really enjoy visiting Singapore very much – I thought it was bland and sort of boring – but at the same time I appreciated the work culture and making something of nothing – the political stability is good too.

So it is different than here. I enjoyed the difference and you should to. On another note – I noticed you left the heating on at 25 degrees while you were out, may I suggest this is environmentally a bad practice and also wasteful and neglectful. 22 degrees is enough and in fact the weather is so mild as to not require any heating or cooling – then again when it is 38 degrees here I still do not use our own air conditioning – I feel it is for weak people that hide from – yet damage – the environment. Anyway, I hope your few ants leave the hall way and the fridge is now empty of those annoying items. I am now going to cook an omelette using the two eggs. Oh, I know you like fresh items – the unit next door is also mine, and in front of the veranda is fresh parsley, basil, and chives. There is more than we ever can use so feel free to cut or pick some and enjoy your visit. Be careful of Tiger Snakes on the river trail.

– Jon


Reply from Me:

Dear Jon,

Thank you for your feedback. Here is ours. Your sign on the door says “Please feel free to contact owner if there are any concerns…” – We contacted you and got slammed for the trouble. Hmm. Not good. Your messages and email replies – Full of personal attacks – perhaps it’s a cultural thing like you mentioned. Not good. We tend to be professionals when it comes to business and expected the same from the other party. Our bad. You (the owner) entering the rented premises without first contacting us – unprofessional and a breach of security. Ants – a few, no problem but increasing in numbers, a slight worry, just thought you as the owner might want to know. Your liquid ant bait – not working as shown in the pics. We had to purchase Baygon. Wham, no more ants instantly. And interestingly enough, there was no rain except for a slight drizzle on the last of our 4-night stay. Hmmm… so I wonder why the ants decided to invade the house… And you are right, it is indeed not our culture to cohabit with a bunch of ants (or other insects) in our home when possible.

A few frozen vegetables? I’m sorry, but the freezer is the top compartment of the fridge, not the bottom which was hastily cleaned out on the second day of our stay. Expired cream and packet of cheese for our use? – Unacceptable. Why are we charged cleaning fees? It is so that the place is thoroughly cleaned out for the next occupants. Dirty fridge with nasty comments from owner – Unacceptable. Filthy dish washing sponge?  It muust also be a cultural thing like you mentioned. We did have a comfortable stay at your place despite your nasty attitude and small setbacks. We apologize for our high expectations of hospitality and cleanliness. Our past experiences with Airbnb must have spoilt us plenty. Please pardon us for our cultural differences and perhaps you will have better dealings with others in the future. And if you’ve messaged someone to say you’re coming down that night, please have the same courtesy to say you have changed your mind and not make the other person wait. Thank you.

Dirty Airbnb in Chicago

On a long vacation with my wife and 2 kids, I did enjoy an spectacular apartment in South Boston using Airbnb.  Next we flew to Chicago, using Airbnb again, I found a “CAVE”, dirty and a totally mess! I immediately left that disaster and notified Airbnb about that situation. They encouraged me to talk with the owner, I told her about the mess and dirt, she never disputed this issues.  I sent pictures to Airbnb, some was really shocking and I felt confident about my refund. Airbnb answer my request, giving me back 27% of my fee, telling me that I cannot prove my complaint and this is it. Because I canceled my reservation, of course, I can not write a review about my horrible experience and warn other users about this scary situation.

Dirty sheets and a stoned airbnb host

I have used Airbnb a number of times without incidence. The best was in Barcelona for an incredibly low rate at a modest, but clean and convenient location. Early this summer I booked a night in Montreal for my daughter and me. We had a full day attending the Women’s World Cup and really just needed a place close to the stadium to sleep. Our host greeted us casually, directed us to a room near the entrance of her apartment. She showed us where the bath was and went off towards her own room. The bathroom had dirty wet towels and other people’s wash cloths in the shower- it was clear that the bathroom had not been cleaned in advance- The room was like a dorm room, with random belongings of other guests? The sheets had clearly not been changed and had hair on them. My daughter and I were sharing a full sized bed- She had fallen asleep and soon after I laid down I felt something crawling on me- I lifted the sheets and there were a half dozen gnats in them. I went to the door of our host and knocked- she opened the door- I asked if the sheets had been changed and she was not clear- not just because she hadn’t been involved in the process but she was quite stoned. She seemed confused, baffled that there was an issue and said her roommate had changed the sheets. I asked if there was another set and she said that there was not. I was tired and freaked out by the bugs and said we would not stay. My daughter and I drove through the night to get home. When I called Airbnb the next morning to request a refund I was told (after nearly an hour on the phone just trying to get a person) that it was up to my host to decide whether or not she was willing to give me a refund. I repeatedly asked if Airbnb provides any protection for people who need a place to stay and was told that they are just acting as the advertisement/agent for the host. If this is the case and there is no protection for the renter/traveler/guest I am unlikely to use Airbnb again. I do not trust that I will not be scammed or taken advantage of and after the apathetic response of the Airbnb staff I am not interested in having to negotiate a refund for a stay in a dirty apartment. I travel a lot and want peace of mind about my destination. I want the key that I am given to fit in the door that was advertised and I do not have faith any longer that this will be a given with Airbnb. I think they grew too big too fast to manage the challenges that they now face.

Smelly, dirty airbnb room

We were put up in airbnb accomodation for 2 nights. The place looked a delight on the internet…However, the title should of been “Old, Cold, & Moldy” The worst part was suspecting that the sheets weren’t clean! My 8 year old told me she didn’t like the place cause it smelled bad and the bed was smelly. There were 2 single beds for the kids…neither had mattress protectors on them. An absolute minimum standard of cleanliness were clean sheets and towels! Not this place. BE WARNED what you think is basic cleanliness, may not be someone else’s!!