I’m new here, and found this fab forum searching to learn more. My OH and I are gearing up to host next year, and at the same time I’ve had a disastrous spell of bookings lately, and you know the adage- if everyone else around you is a problem, maybe you’re really it. I was looking to learn. I hope you don’t mind me sharing my adventures, and perhaps get some laughter from it
Context My OH and I travel 365 days a year. I’ve rented from everything from expedia to flipkey to airbnb to vrbo and homeaway. I like to re-stay with people I have had a great experience with, and there’s been a number of them. Basically I am one of those annoying pedants who still likes the familiar, despite a shifting lifestyle.
So, I make an effort to make my hosts happy, because I’d like to stay again. From last year’s bookings, I ended up with a nice stable relationship with a few people in different states I stay in often. This is great, thinks I! People who are great, comfy places, reasonable rates, what’s not to love, right?
Welp, I’ve had four zingers in a row, and… my brain is ready to explode. I generally message with hosts first to get a feel for compatibility, and I’ve got fairly decent at picking it when it won’t work out.
My housedar has failed me lately. And the latest has me ready to drink (I don’t, generally).
First Time’s The Charm:
Going on a family holiday to southern Europe. DH makes the fatal error of letting the extended fam pick the destination. They choose somewhere unbearably hot in summer, but very few rentals have airconditioning that aren’t full service hotels. Like idiots, no-one but the fam realized how hot it would be. I contacted the owner of a decent looking villa, agreed a multi party rate, and booked. It was more specific than usual, because we had a 1.5 year old with us. Clarified the house was kid proof, etc.
Flight arrives at midnight, so I message the host a week ahead of time, asking her how she wants to handle keys. 3 inquiries later, and I still don’t know. She picks up her phone about 1/6.
As OH and I arrive early, and have no children with us, we just decide to drive to the house and see if we can hunt up the keys. If not, we’ll get a hotel. (Been trying to solve the roaming issue for a while at this point, and everything is closed at midnight).
We arrive at the house, and there is a 35kg labrador, 3 seriously irritating kittens and an angry adult female cat. The Listing said, and I quote “some pets”. Ok, we’re cool. The lab is a sweetheart, and I can live with the cats. Bear in mind I call the owner the next day and ask about feeding arrangements, and she only mentions feeding the dog. The cats will be fine.
Being humane, I feed them the cat dry food left for them. I mean, who doesn’t feed their cats?
We get ourselves inside, and it’s 98 fahrenheit in the living room, and higher upstairs where the baby is supposed to sleep. We try to sleep and quickly realize it’s unlivably hot. We have a baby who can’t sleep in those temps coming.
So we have a quick look at available alternatives- tough, since family friendly is harder. So we call the host first thing and let her know it’s not a livable temp for a baby, and we don’t want to cancel, as the property seems ok. Would it be possible to put in an aircon unit? We’ll pay for it and all the fees associated? We expect her to refuse, as it’s a longshot, but she accepts pretty easily once she figures she won’t have to pay for it.
Ok, great! I don’t have to hunt up another villa for 5. We get it installed (takes three days and multiple moments of insanity, but we get it done! Right before the fam arrives too).
Some other issues arise… the place is just damn uncomfortable. 55inch TV, but cheap, uncomfortable mattresses on wooden crates… same material as the doghouse! We eventually have enough of being uncomfortable, and we decide we want to leave two days early.
We contact her to do so, and she refuses. Refuses to even honour her own cancellation policy which allows a 50% refund of remaining unused nights.
I didn’t know I could complete it through the airbnb portal, which is totally on me. Left a factual review stating issues with the place.
Host claims I put in the aircon without asking, left huge amounts of mess, and fruit peels in the bed… bearing in mind I stripped all the used beds before leaving, and took pics. This was after agreeing to meet us to collect the abandoned three additional puppies that were dumped on our doorstep, and stay past checkout to meet her. She turns up 5 hours late, and then rages that we aren’t there. Why aren’t we there? We’re at the airport. Like we told her we would be.
I leave the poor review, and get a couple of messages of her going into complete meltdown nuclear furious mode…
TLDR Host gets 550eur free aircon, refuses refund according to policy, leaves me a scorching review.
BOWED, BUT UNBROKEN, we continue on the road. One bad experience is nothing we think We were terribly, terribly wrong…
Part TWO: Or, You USED MY HOUSE? I"M GOING TO SCARE YOU TO DEATH!! (NOT JOKING HAHA)
Rented a great place back in comfortable first world country we know well. Owner is on her first airbnb, and we get on pretty well. She’ll be on holiday, tells us where to pick up keys. Cool, we can do that. Place is awesome, we stay our three weeks. At the end, remembering my previous cautionary tale of woe, I hire a professional cleaning service, keep the receipt. Leave a bottle of wine and a carton of cigarettes as a gift, stock their fridge for their return, and a 95USD comforter as a gift (cigarettes in ashtray in kitchen, fair assumption, right?)
Leave her a positive review. All is WELL! YAY.
Not so fast.
Three days later, I get an irate message about how nothing is in it’s place. And there is a liquor spill on the floor (as stated above, we don’t drink… couldn’t figure that one out) and that her kids bike had been put outside, and he was going to frighten me to death. The bike was outside when we got there!
Not a fan of being threatened, so I escalate this one to airbnb, who promise a manager call back. No call back, but three days later, she leaves a frighteningly saccharine review saying we’re like family and she couldn’t wait to stay again.
I mean, who threatens someone? Then calls them family. I’m out.
Bowed, mildly bloody, but not broken, we head on to our next booking.
PART Three, or, if we don’t acknowledge it, Penis never happened. And I didn’t go through your package or wash your underwear. Really!
Get to our next place. Host seemed really nice to me. I had the flu when I booked, and made an uncustomary error- thought the property was stand alone, was actually bottom floor of house. Oh well, we have our own entrance, my mistake.
Host drops by at all hours to chat. Even wanders down when I’m dressing, and gets and eyefull before i manage to dash away. Fine, he’s older and doesn’t text or call, no biggie.
He then comes down 6 times in 3 days just to chat.
Invited to barbecue dinner, I say I’ll bring the meat. DH has a dietary intolerance, but bringing some of your own usually fixes it, and no drama created. Host forgets, and is super furious that DH can’t eat his food, rants on about how he wouldn’t poison anyone, and then his deadbeat kids, then attempts to flirt outrageously by speaking only with me and not DH. I try to deflect, and we make our excuses early. We go to another area to meet a friend for two days.
On return, we find host has cleaned on a different day than he told us, washed my underwear and hung it on the bathroom door, and opened my package of shipped in makeup and knickers. Then retaped it to pretend he hadn’t pawed through it all.
IT’S PENIS, Little GIRL, or, flag 4.
We’re packing up to leave, and I run into Mr McCreepy while taking garbage to the bin. He proceeds to have an entire polite conversation with me about how much fun he’s had, while he allows his pants to open to the point of seeing pubes and an inch of penis.
I NOPED OUT AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.
He proceeds to leave a review praising me for my “sense of fun” and doesn’t mention DH at all.
Now Bloodied, bowed and minimally broken, we proceed to our next booking.
Part 4, or how I learned to stop worrying and leave a mess bomb… apparently…
Had had enough, so got lovely DH to find and book this time. I’m not thrilled with the price, at $190 USD a night, but the host has great reviews, and it looks great, and has everything we need. Plus $100 cleaning fee. So we put up the 2k for a couple of weeks, knowing we need two nights in a hotel over the weekend, and so pay for two sets of cleaning. No big deal, this is gonna be great!
House is great. Knowing he has a large group of 8, I go above and beyond cleaning up, to the point his cleaners thanked me for leaving so little to do. I speak a little spanish, so they and I get on well, it’s all friendly. He leaves us a rave review. They probably have an hours work to do. I don’t mind losing some cleaning money on a good relationship with a host, as we want to stay again in November. Come back for the second week, we need late checkout. He has no guests for another week, so it’s worth asking for a deal, and I wouldn’t have been upset if he refused. He charges me an extra $100, but the rate per night drops for an additional night.
I assume he’s doing me a good deed,
Through a series of unfortunate affairs, we are running a little late. This time, I leave the beds unstripped, the garbage is in bins, but not the outside one, and the dishes are in the dishwasher, aside from a plate and glass.
We left some generalized mess, like the floor would need a mop and vac, and I just thought, well, did you a good turn on cleaning last time, now my whole cleaning fee will get used.
It wasn’t anything that wouldn’t have been able to be cleaned up in two hours tops.
He leaves me reviews, I leave mine a couple days later due to a country hop.
NOT SO FAST. “Unfortunately the place was almost a mess”, No specifics, no contact, nothing. Just enough info to make future hosts doubt me, not enough to appear irrational in any way.
Had he contacted me, I would have happily paid him for a couple extra hours cleaning and chalked it up to the cost of doing business. Never said there were any issues. First review indicates we’re all good.
I can’t change my review of him, and have very little recourse… but unless I’m seriously off on being a guest, unless you’re specific in the house manual, if you charge a cleaning fee that means unless I’ve created serious damage (in which case make a claim with airbnb), you’re responsible for cleaning up general mess.
I sent him a polite note, apologizing for any undue mess, and stated politely that I wish he had spoken to me, as I would have paid more in cleaning, and that I thought that was what the fee was for. No response thus far.
I AM NOW BLOODY BOWED AND BROKEN, ladies and gents. I’m generally cheerful, optomistic, and enjoy our travelling lifestyle. But I’m just done. 4 completely untenable situations in a row.
I’ve met some amazing people on airbnb, but when I started it was cheaper than doing a hotel, and I certainly didn’t have these troubles. Every property above I was paying above to well above average for, plus cleaning fees on all of them. I’m honestly burned out.
I don’t know how to operate within a system that seems to expect me to live in a house without living in it, and keep it super clean while paying fees for it to be cleaned. To treat it like I would my home, but pay significantly higher rates than a hotel, plus cleaning fees… and get negged for not cleaning up properly. I just don’t know where I stand anymore. why wouldn’t you tell me if you have an issue?
I hope you get some amusement out of my terrible tale. Or at the very least some “I’m a great host” vindication. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Ones that make me laugh get bonus points, two most hilarious comments/memes get a starbucks giftcard. Because I need a laugh right now, or new perspective, or SOMETHING.
And God help us. we’re going to start hosting in 2016.
I’m horrified by the very thought.
Because the trouble is… when you have enough experiences when you think someone else is a jerk, sometimes that actually means you are.
TLDR: The Nights were dark and full of terror.