My recent Airbnb was undoubtedly the worst stay of my life. I live in Los Angeles and decided to rent an apartment in Downtown LA to celebrate my birthday with my girlfriends, somewhere more luxurious than my own home. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
The night before my trip I messaged the host to ask about parking. He didn’t respond, so the morning of my stay I called him to ask where we might put our cars. He said, without apology, that my apartment was under construction and he would be ‘upgrading’ me to another building. Taken aback, I asked if it had the same facilities, as the main reason I was paying $347.71 for one night was that I wanted a hot tub and rooftop pool to enjoy. He claimed it did and I had no choice but to switch.
He didn’t send me the listing but did tell me I had two parking spaces. At least our cars would have a reasonable stay. I wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t called, and when he was planning on telling me my reservation had changed. Perhaps when I arrived and noticed that 80% of the building wasn’t there. We arrived that afternoon and while waiting for our host to show up, admired our temporary home. Instead of an early 20th century expression of luxury this place resembled a late 2000’s college dorm welded together with gorilla glue.
The next issue was parking. He didn’t have two spaces for us. My sister’s car had to be parked blocks away at some random building with no access to it until we checked out. Obviously this would have been problematic if we’d wanted to sightsee. Luckily we prefer drinking over culture.
Finally we got into the apartment and it was, frankly, a barren concrete mess. The interior was seemingly decorated by an alien whose only resource was a Pinterest board and a $20 gift card to the dollar store. There were numerous framed inspirational quotes, placed on the ground and the TV table, as I’m sure if you nailed anything to the paper-thin walls you’d risk breaking through to next door’s kitchen. There were also cheap plastic bushes placed strategically over floor stains and a couch that screamed ‘I filter by price not the best match’.
At this point, we still believed we’d have time for a quick dip in the pool (what fools we were). We quickly found there were only three towels. As a skilled mathematician, I immediately found this alarming as there were six of us. But, an even more pressing issue was the lack of any toilet paper. I called the host and he advised me to go and buy some. So, instead of popping a bottle of birthday champagne, we traipsed down to the nearest store to stock up on his supplies.
On the way back from our TP mission we checked out the pool facilities. Instead of the rooftop pool I’d booked, it was a dingy floor-level puddle. Even more pressing, there was no hot tub… honestly, the one thing I’d wanted from this stay. We double-checked with some residents who’d clearly learned to expect disappointment from this ‘luxury home’. Confirmation? No hot tub.
Disappointed, we headed back up in the world’s slowest elevator, arrived in the apartment and closed the door… at which point the handle fell off. With handle in hand, I decided it was time to call the host. On the phone, the host tried to convince me that there in fact was a hot tub. He asked ‘had I checked next to the pool’. Surprisingly, I had. I then listed all the other problems with the apartment including the door handle I was currently holding.
He grumpily offered me a laughably small refund that kept him in profit and me losing my birthday and to an extent my mind. He also said that I was lucky he hadn’t just cancelled my booking earlier that day when he’d realized his error. How lucky I was that he still wanted to take my money and put me in this cardboard cutout of an apartment. Irked by this woman who dared to have an opinion, he then threatened to cancel my booking right then.
With the desire of wanting to sleep somewhere that night I asked him not to. He said that Airbnb wouldn’t care about my complaints because he has 37 (I’m sure, equally impressive) locations on the website. Basically, this guy was a big deal. At 5:30, with the hopes of salvaging what was left of my birthday afternoon (it was too dark for the pool now) we went to fix some drinks. Let’s not forget where we were: the apartment from hell.
We opened the freezer to get some ice and instead of cubes we found an old slab of ice covered in cigarette burns. Warm drinks it would be. We gathered with our tepid beverages in the living area making sure to sweep away some rogue broken glass and carefully avoid the couch’s dried food stains. The sun slowly set and then, darkness. Not just outside: the only light source in the communal area wasn’t working… because the outlet was broken.
Six women, enveloped in blackness clutching increasingly warm solo cups finally realized there was nothing left to do but laugh (because I’d already cried). We moved the light, (still partially wrapped in its IKEA packaging) to the kitchen and decided that dim lighting could be atmospheric. I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that once we left the building, our evening really improved. We had a fun night on the town and temporarily forgot about the day’s struggles.
The next morning, we woke to the bustling streets of Downtown Los Angeles and the busy work of a family of ants. That’s right, the ants had arrived. I assumed they’d been attracted by the one solo cup we hadn’t thrown in the trash can which, I’m sure by now you can guess, was broken. One of the girls then explained that she’d noticed them the day before. She’d held back the information because she’d feared it would have tipped me over the edge and out of the poorly constructed window.
In the bright light of day, we could see the place for all that it was: a dirt-covered storage unit for humans masquerading as a modern living space. All the towels were stained and dirty, the bathroom floor and doors were covered in who knows what and after inspecting the sheets we’d slept in, we discovered blood stains and more. I feel like I’m flogging a dead ant at this point, but one last time let me iterate this stay was less than ideal and truly ruined my birthday and my poor willing friends’ weekend.
I’m very unimpressed that Airbnb allows this management style and low quality of rental. This guy and his minions run 37 properties which is very apparent considering he didn’t even know what facilities they have. They’re unwelcoming, unprofessional, and clearly see this as a high-turnover operation with zero concern for the enjoyment of their customers. I hope my cautionary tale can be used to help others. Others that were thinking of maybe staying anywhere this money-sucking moron deems worth $300+ per night.