So, you’ve followed all the steps from my previous post and you’re about to book your dream Airbnb adventure. Here’s some tips for before, during, and after you book your place.
read the reviews
There have been Airbnb's that I’ve booked that have had 5 star ratings but didn't turn out exactly how expected. Like one 5 star place that we stayed at, I didn’t read the reviews over fully before booking, and when we arrived we found that the Airbnb was pretty much infested with ants. When I went back and looked, 3 people had left reviews telling about the ants and some other things that they found to be an issue. For some reason they still gave their host 5 stars. Had I read the reviews I would’ve known to expect ants.
During your stay
only communicate on the Airbnb App
If your host asks for your phone number just politely tell them no. This is for your protection. If something goes wrong at your rental, and your host is talking to you in person, reply to them on the App. It sounds crazy, but it could save you 18 hours of your vacation time. I’ll explain, with these two mishap situations that went down for me with Airbnb. Both of these times were my worst experiences with the service.
So, first story:
I rented out an Airbnb in downtown TO a few years ago. It was a BEAUTIFUL Airbnb and Thom and I were really excited about it. The host (I’ll just call him Dave) asked us over Airbnb messenger if we could text him when we arrived. So we did. His listing was just for a room rental, but he wasn't home the whole time so we had the place to ourselves. It was Dave's first time hosting, and he seemed to be doing a great job. Everything was in order.
We stayed for three days and it was wonderful.( flash forward to us leaving ) We’re driving home from a fantastic weekend away and I get a text from Dave. He thanked us for staying and said everything looked great, then asked if he could add us to Instagram, I thought this was a bit odd but I agreed because he had mentioned that he wanted to stay in touch because he visits Detroit often, so I proceeded thinking that Instagram would be a great way to stay connected. Two days later I posted a picture of our Airbnb (by the way some Airbnbs explicitly ask for no pictures to be taken, I respect this rule, others love when you take pictures because it promotes their listing). The picture was of our Airbnb room and my shoes were beside the bed. The bedroom was in the attic and I had carried my shoes up from the doorway just as our host requested in the house rules (no shoes). About two hours after I posted the picture, David started texting me really aggressively about dents on his stairs leading up to the attic bedroom where we stayed. He said that we ruined the stairs and it would be thousands of dollars worth of repairs. Dave also said that he had already contacted Airbnb and was told by them that he had to settle this dispute with us on his own. I was stressed and at work, so I agreed to pay a down payment for the damages. I felt so anxious and sick to my stomach because he was not only accusing me of ruining his property, but he was also being verbally abusive and personally attacked my character and judgement. Before paying him again, I decided to call Airbnb and talk to them about this whole situation. They were so kind, patient, and helpful. The Airbnb Rep that helped me said firstly, our host never contacted Airbnb. Secondly he said that I should only communicate to Dave on the Airbnb app and no money should ever be exchanged off of the app. The rep didn't say it directly, but he definitely implied that Dave was trying to scam me. He instructed me to message Dave on the app explaining that he'll have to contact Airbnb with photos if he wants to be compensated for any damage. Dave never messaged back and never took any action, nor did he supply any proof of damage. So definitely don't give out your phone number, and don't give out your social media accounts to your host.
My worst Airbnb experience:
Last summer we took a road-trip with our best friends through Cali. We stayed at a few different Airbnb's on this trip, and one that we booked had a 4.5 star rating. We did read through the reviews and they seemed kind of mixed (sometimes it's difficult with 4.5’s to tell if its just picky people staying at a place, or if its actually a bad place). The most recent reviews seemed positive, and it was really cheap, so we decided to book. We booked two bedrooms with one bed in each room. One bedroom for me and Thom, and one for Jen and Matt. This booking was a shared space, which essentially means that the host would be staying there as well. To make a really long story shorter, I’ll just list a few things that seemed sketchy from the first 15 minutes of being there:
The property wasn’t kept up like shown in the listing photos (overgrown grass, weeds, etc.)
There was a truck full of garbage in the front driveway
The kitchen was infested with ants (this is one of two places that I've stayed at with an ant infestation)
The beds didn't have proper linens (one bed didn't have pillow cases and the other didn't have sheets)
We found a fake eyelash, bullet shell, hair, and random garbage on our bedroom floors
Yes...we noticed all this within 15 minutes… We decided to stay, because it was really cheap, and we kinda laughed it off and thought "hey, it'll be an adventure staying here". Our host (I’ll call her Amy) wasn’t there when we arrived, we tried contacting her, and after waiting a while she informed us the front door was open. Amy then asked us to call her just so she could give us some house instructions. Right away there was a bit of confusion because she told me over the phone that we had rented one room with one bed. I went straight to the App to double check the listing that we paid for, and it said as plain as anything that we rented two rooms with two beds. She told us that we could have two rooms for the first few nights but we would have to share one room (and one bed) for our last few nights because she had other guests coming.
There were more things we noticed after a few nights of staying there, like her parents banking information and cheque book left out on the night stand. We kind of gathered that she was renting out her parents place, we're not sure if they knew about it or not.
So it comes to the 3rd night of us staying at this listing (again, the Airbnb was super sketch but it was in a beautiful area) and Amy informs us that we have to move all of our stuff into one room and that we'll have to share one bed for the rest of our stay. From the first day that she told us we had to share a room we contacted Airbnb right away. We ended up going back and forth with Airbnb every day of our trip. This is what would happen every day: we would see her in the morning and she would say the listing error was Airbnb’s fault, we would drive into town (because there was 0 cellphone reception at her place) and call Airbnb and they seemed really confused, and would say that Amy said we have both rooms for the whole time.
Over the span of 4 days we spent a total of 18 hours on the phone with Airbnb, and then they finally agreed to compensate us for another place (that we had to find and book on our own). Everything seemed to be finally working out, then just as we were finalizing everything our Airbnb rep said they talked to Amy and that she had enough room for us. We didn't want to stay there at this point, for many reasons. One of them being that our host lied to us repeatedly, another being that we spent 18 hours trying to fix this, and when we left the house that day Amy said we could sleep in her room and she’ll sleep on the couch. She said, and I quote, “there’s some stuff on the floor (in her room), and its kind of messy, but its not dirty”. So, we didn’t really want to chance going back there and having to stay in her room. We explained this to our Airbnb Rep (like the 20th rep that we had talked to within 4 days), and they said “well, to be honest, it’s your word against hers. She says there's no issue, and you guys say there is but nothing has been communicated over the App so we can’t tell”. At this point I was at the end of my grace period (which again, lasted about 4 days and 16 hours. The last two hours I was beyond frustrated), so I said, “you wanted us to communicate with her over the app even though she was telling us in person that she only had one room for the four of us to stay in for the last two nights of our stay”, Airbnb Rep: “Yes”. So there it is folks, only communicate on the App.
We ended up following the Airbnb reps instructions and messaged Amy over the app after they said they couldn't help us because it was our word against hers. This is what was said:
Me: "Hey Amy,
Do you still have another guest coming tonight ? We're concerned about staying in one room. We don't want anyone to have to sleep on the floor. We want the original two rooms that we stayed in and rented."
Amy: "I understand but you paid for one room, I only allowed you to occupy both rooms because I didn't have other guests reserved like I do today. That's why I explained to you as soon as you arrived so you could make your decision then and we could handle it with Airbnb. The other guests have confirmed that they will be arriving today. "
Me: "There must be an issue with the original way that you have your place listed. We paid for 2 bedrooms, 2 beds for 4 people. When we first spoke with Airbnb they understood that we paid for two rooms as well."
Amy: "No you can check with Airbnb I already did and they informed me that the way I have my listing set up is that you're able to book up to 4 people in one room which is what you guys did. Airbnb charges by person in the room. Like I said I explained this to you as soon as your arrived, you agreed that you had only rented one room but I allowed you to occupy both rooms because the other one wasn't reserved at the time like it is now. "
Thats all it took for Airbnb to help us out. They saw that she was saying one thing to us, and another to them. I'm still not pleased with how Airbnb dealt with this situation. We spent too much vacation time trying to figure out an issue that was in no way our fault. They also didn't find us another place to stay. They gave us some Airbnb credit, but we had to switch around our trip and find another place to stay that night. We ended up having to travel 4 hours to another city to stay at a last minute Airbnb. This is the only time that I would say Airbnb really disappointed me, that day in a moment of rage I vowed I would never stay at an Airbnb again because of this experience. I've stayed at 6 since. So, yeah I still love them.
on a lighter night:
You’ve arrived at your Airbnb, your host isn't cray, everything is going peachy. There are no ants in the kitchen and you want to go get some groceries to make dinner.
Check the kitchen/house for any supplies you might want/need during your stay. Most Airbnb’s have salt, pepper, and basic cooking supplies, sometimes they don’t though. Some hosts might even forget to leave you toilet paper, leaving you on the toilet while your friend scrambles to search the house only to find that there is absolutely no toilet paper. Been there. Making a grocery list can save you time and money.
You enjoyed a wonderful stay in a beautiful city. I'm so glad you had the best time, isn’t Airbnb great? These are my closing tricks for staying at an Airbnb.
Clean up after yourself & write an honest review
Remember that your host can leave a review for you too. Leave the place cleaner than you’d leave your home. Make sure you read over the house guidelines, sometimes there’s specific instructions for where they want laundry or garbage. Respecting and helping them out goes a long way.
And lastly, please leave an honest review for the rest of the Airbnb community. No one likes giving a bad review (at least I don't) but there’s a polite way to honestly tell others how your experience was. If a space isn’t kept clean, if you find there’s ants, if the host wasn’t kind, etc. you can save someone else from having a bad time. Even if you don’t mind ants (Thom), the next person might not like them (me), so it’s just considerate.
Thanks for reading, friends. And have fun booking the most dreamy Airbnb.
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