I Broke My Own Rule

I swore blind last year that we would never, ever host English Channel swimmers again, on the grounds that they are usually self absorbed f’wits, who think everyone around them should submit to their rules. I forgot.

Yesterday morning I received an IB for a swimmer from Beijing and his family. He phoned me before I had even read his message, talking excitedly (as these nutters do…) about his swim going out at 1pm etc and other non interesting stuff. Then I get various messages changing who was staying, going out on the support boat with him etc etc. When I looked back this morning, he covertly indicated that there would be five people staying but it was hard to detect until with the benefit of hindsight. I had people checking out around the same time, unannounced Council guys drilling outside and demanding I move a car that’s not mine, bookings coming in and a house to clean/turnover. He wanted his mum and brother to check in at midday; no, sorry, won’t be ready. Then his uncle calls me, asking for early check-in; no, sorry, won’t be ready and have to go shopping; 5 pm earliest. By now my brain was scrambled, but with enough left to recap phone calls on the platform and ask him to explain to his family they were coming to a B&B/family home, not an entire house.

5 pm arrives, then 6 pm, 7 pm, 8 pm. No guests. I sent a message at 8.30 pm in the hope that someone is holding his phone whilst he’s in the water, including asking for a message back, not a phone call. Two minutes later his mum calls. The swimmers didn’t get off until 5 pm she tells me, so they will be returning in the early hours, she’s still at The Best Western Hotel… To cut a long sorry tale short, she got in a taxi and came to check-in with her younger son. She clearly had no idea where they were booked into, apart from the address. She later said her older son told her nothing, other than they would be out on the water until about 4 am and gave her our address. She was expecting an entire apartment.

They arrive; mum is charming but exhausted; her son, about 17 yrs, quite clearly had profound learning disabilities and autism. Initially excited and enthusiastic with his new surroundings, it soon became apparent that he was being overstimulated by them, and frustrated that he could not go into some areas. Mum did a sterling job trying to distract him from kicking off but inevitably he did. I wasn’t much help, as he only spoke Mandarin. By the time our own sitting room had been wrecked, my hair pulled several times and specs grabbed, mum decided to take him back to the hotel where her other son had a room!!! So now I twig that this is some sort of third party booking as well.

I recapped events to the swimmer on the platform after they left last night. This afternoon I get two evasive, slightly apologetic messages from him, then a third, (expected) demanding a refund in slightly menacing tones. I called Air who gave me full
support not to. I thoroughly enjoyed telling him why not! The review request has landed, which I’ll leave until the last minute unless he does first. Whilst I want to tell hosts he is a f’wit nightmare, I’m troubled by how to evidence this without mentioning his brother specifically, which I don’t want to do. Ideas more than welcome!

And yes, I had the hangover from hell this morning. Two bottles of vinho branco between us, after medicinal gin in the pub


Pretend you aren’t you, re-read this and then give advice to yourself. You know better than anyone why this situation is not a good fit for you. It really has very little to do with the other brother. Please leave an honest review.


You could maybe say that your place was not a good fit for a person with disabilities that cause them to become overstimulated and upset by the surroundings and boundaries in the home. Good on you for dealing with the situation so diplomatically, a lot of other people may have become angry.

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I think focus solely on the booker.
Undeclared third party booking
wanted early arrival
unclear about time of arrival
arrived hours after expected
poor communication between booker and guests lead to an aborted stay (guests thought it was an entire place booking)


That has to be the most trying episode for a host I’ve read. Congratulations you kept it together and I get you’re still hosting even! I would have to block off a couple days to recover which I usually can do without canceling anyone. Wow that could be funny it was so outrageous.

You could say that your home, and yourself, were unable to provide the specialized requirements of his disability.

It was a year ago and I had completely forgotten about it! To update from my ageing memory, the brother who’d booked, complained to Air that I would not refund him, stating that no one had stayed. I received a formal request to write a response to his complaint, to which I provided a three page, factual account of events.

Air totally backed me up.

And the advice I received from people here regarding how to word my review was invaluable.

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