February 2, 2014 at 12:17 pm (life!)

My experience with Airbnb has been really mixed of late. Having used it multiple times, both as a host and guest, I will be very relieved to go back the hostel/hostel route for my upcoming weekend getaway to Newcastle. Airbnb is undoubtedly a good resource, if you are meticulous, communicative and able to plan ahead. An element of how successful the trip turns out to be I would say is also down to experience and luck of getting a good host.

We had a booked host in Copenhagen on short notice over Christmas/New Year – Two good reviews and the house looked very decent and well located.

Unfortunately, when we arrived, the toilet which was not in the pictures was so tiny and combined with a make shift shower. The bed looked really dirty and there were spiders in the bedroom. Our host, though pleasant and friendly enough, greeted us with bloodshot eyes and left cans of half drank beer, and the whole house was full of cigarette smoke and lacked any overhead lights (just table lamps).

All in all, the vibe of a single bachelor in his thirties who listens to rock music and whom cleanliness is not a priority. We told Airbnb, and they went on to tell the host we complained against him without consulting us, who understandably was rather upset at us the rest of the stay, which made it really awkward indeed, as you would imagine! This was on top of having to sort out with the host midway through the stay that he wanted to bring friends over on the last day as it was New Year’s Eve and of course he wanted to have friends over, having not told us any of this before (we had assumed we could check out as we pleased).

Just before that stay, I also had my first disastrous experience hosting. It was for a really pleasant Swiss family of three, and I had spent a huge amount of time preparing for their arrival, as I always do. Unfortunately, she was really slow and unresponsive to emails, and poor at communicating in general.

I had sent her an email a week before confirming the time I needed to leave my apartment to catch the flight to cph, and she had not responded. Nor did she tell me her arrival time before she left as she said she would as well, on the day itself. Nor did she pick up any of our urgent calls that both myself and the Airbnb agent made. I delayed as much as I could, till one hour after I said I had to leave, and so in the end I had to leave without being able to hand her the keys.

Disaster for her and myself, but I simply could not trust keys to a stranger to pass to her on such short notice, especially not knowing if she was still even coming or not. I felt terrible at the whole experience, even though I know it was not my fault, having done all I could in the situation. I did refund her the full amount, but Airbnb were atrocious at dealing with her, leaving her to wait below my apartment for three hours. I could not contact her, as I was on the underground, then on the train, so had contacted them to ensure they would keep trying to communicate what had happened to her ASAP, which they failed to do.

On that note, Airbnb customer service can also be incredibly frustrating and time consuming to deal with. I guess my main takeaway message is to make sure the host has a good number of excellent reviews (minimum five), and also to make sure you communicate well and decide things like arrival time before hand! And even then, my friend who stayed with one such well reviewed host had no hot water during her stay. She moved out halfway, the host turned nasty and didn’t want to refund her, and Airbnb did not help her either.

As I said, it will be a relief to be able to get the consistency of staying in a hotel for once. We do need a proper break! Don’t let me put you off Airbnb though – as I mentioned, all my experiences before this have been very positive, but as I realized before starting out with Airbnb; two, or even one bad experience can already be more than enough to put you off using something for more than a while!


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