The Dark Side of Airbnb for Female Travelers

We are a group of backpackers who have stayed in many Airbnbs. In all our stays, we had pleasant and safe experiences apart from our most recent stay which was awful beyond words. Our stay at an Airbnb in Kalpakkam opened our eyes to the dark side of Airbnb and safety.

We had to encounter probably one of the most horrible experiences of our lives by staying at this place. We encountered a host who abused, insulted and shouted at us. It’s only now that I am reading the reviews of this property and I can see the abuses hurled at by the host even while answering. It was a grave mistake that we did not really read the reviews properly while booking.

On January 3rd, we had a long, tiresome journey from Pondicherry to reach this place at Kalpakkam, near Mahabalipuram. When we came to this Airbnb we were quite upset to see that the beach beside the property was littered with garbage and local people in the area openly defecating in the beachfront. In addition, the rooms were not really tidy. The air conditioning in one room did not cool properly and the toilet in one bathroom had no flush. To be fair it is mentioned in the property description that the flush was broken and would be fixed after January 2nd (we arrived at the property on the 3rd and we had booked this place two months in advance).

After we arrived, we called the host to inform him out of courtesy that we had arrived and we were facing some issues regarding the AC and also mentioned that the flush was broken (yes, it is mentioned in the property listing but it also says that it would be resolved on the 2nd). There was no confrontation from our part and we casually happened to speak with the host about the issue. Immediately the host got furious and asked us to cancel the reservation.

The property is in the middle of nowhere and we had girls in the group. Obviously we couldn’t cancel and find alternative accommodations when it was already dusk. Within ten minutes or so, the host turned up with his mother at the place and started shouting and abusing the girls. We were unable to comprehend why would a normal person behave this way, unless the person is not really sane.

Apparently the host was quite upset because he has “sentiments attached with his home” and that we dared to complain about. However what remains inexplicable is the reason the host would shout at us, abuse us, and ask us to cancel the reservation when it was quite apparent that the location is remote, there are several girls in the group, and it was almost dark.

The host used insulting statements like “Why [would] Airbnb send such characters?”, “Get out of my house”, and “Who are you?” When we said we were not going to leave without talking to Airbnb, he shouted “Airbnb is nobody. This is my property – Airbnb cannot stop me” again and again.

This entire experience made us feel utterly unsafe and stressed. The most unfortunate thing is the fact that our female friends had to suffer such abuse. In a civilized society, no gentlemen would ever assault women, but this vile creature of poor manners is not man enough for civility.

One of our members had a nervous breakdown because of this episode. We are not used to abuse and altercations and we have unfortunately not taken any lessons on how to handle an adult who would bully and shout at you for no apparent reason.

Furthermore, the host said that he only wants “local people” to stay at his place. Apparently we are neither Tamil nor South Indians; he was implying that he does not want people from other parts of India. This was most insulting, humiliating and the highest form of discriminatory abuse. We were so stressed and traumatized that we could not sleep that night.

Apart from such an awful host, there was a group of boisterous local guys in the next house in the same property (probably belonging to the same owner). They were making catcalls, hooting and flashing lights at the girls of our group. It was an isolated place and naturally we were terrified for safety reasons.

To sum up, our New Year party trip was ruined by an unmannerly and unstable host who abused us and we had to endure these insults since we were trapped because of the location. I was constantly reminded of this quote by Gandhi throughout the frightening encounter: “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” But alas, since I am no Gandhi I cannot forgive or forget this horrible episode.

Though we had booked this miserably grotesque place for two nights we left the next day in the morning as apparently we had an appalling stay and felt extremely unsafe and violated. This property is in the filthiest of places with an evil-mouthed, pathologically-egocentric and abusive host.

Airbnb has been requested multiple times to delist this property for the safety of guests. I am waiting for Airbnb to take appropriate actions. We managed to take a small video of the episode. Since we were not smart enough to take the video initially we missed the most insulting parts. But still, this video will give you an idea on how unsafe Airbnb is, especially for women.

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