Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places, Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger, Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What's Wrong with Airbnb?


Just to say that the blog you're about to read was written just after we came back from our horrid Airbnb experience but I've had to wait until the review period of 14 days closed before I made this go live to stick to my agreement that I wouldn't leave a review...


There's no doubting that Airbnb has completely changed the face of travel all over the world, it removes the boundaries of accommodation offered and it gives the traveller endless options of unique and interesting places to stay and people to stay with.  It's completely changed the type of person who offers accommodation of course, people keen to meet travellers, swap stories and tales of their own travels as well as offering a clean comfortable bed and often a delicious hearty breakfast.  Sounds perfect right?

Well, that's all good and great except sometimes Airbnb can go terribly wrong, I've heard some tales I can tell you and now it seems I have my own to tell.

I have to start by saying that I was given a refund of some of the money I paid on the condition that I did not leave a review, oh yes, you should always bribe the people who stay with you when things go wrong, oh and don't forget to make a single parent with a puppy and a child feel so uncomfortable that they leave the property quicker than their legs can carry them, paying treble the cost of travel just so they can get home right now.

There are lots of details I can't tell you about for it might come across like I was leaving a review and so I won't mention the owners of the property but I will say don't ever go and stay in an airbnb property in Bo'ness, it's near Lilithgow in Scotland in case you were wondering.

Some points of note -

Paint so yellow it clearly hadn't been touched for years
Toys left stranded in the gardens with cobwebs covering them like the gardens that time forgot
A trampoline so covered in bird poo Looby wouldn't even get on it
A dirt infested bedroom which looked nothing like the photos
A kitchen so grim that it could only be described as a hovel and I refused to cook in it at all
A supposedly dog friendly owner who I asked for suggestions of dog friendly places and was asked if Holly wouldn't just sit outside the places whilst we had a cup of tea etc?
An owner who sat and criticised every single guest who'd been there before me, every single one had something wrong with them, I can only imagine what she's telling people about me

I could go on, really there's even more but I'll stop there because that's quite enough to be going on with but it did bring home to me the risks of booking with airbnb, what you're essentially putting out there along with the lovely owners who don't want you to come to living room recitals and who can provide a proper breakfast that isn't in an outdoor shed with cardboard sugar filled cereal cartons and nothing else, you're also opening it to people who will abuse the system, lunatics, weirdos, the crazies and of course if you are going to ask people to leave and then scare them into not leaving reviews then other people aren't going to find out about the situations they're facing.

My thoughts on this were that at least I have a voice, I don't really need the Airbnb review system because up to 20,000 a month read my blog and they also know that I have a reputation in the world of travel, I travel a lot, I travel alone, I travel with my daughters and I travel with my dog, a dog which is loved and embraced the world over, we are responsible lovely travellers, we like to do good deeds and kind gestures, for the most part we'd never speak ill of anyone but this was the straw which figuratively broke the camels back.  I won't get back that week with my daughter, that holiday which I scraped together enough to pay for it because together time is so precious, I'm only glad that our first week in Edinburgh was so amazing, we were so sad to leave because of the wonderful adventures we'd had and the quite brilliant people we'd met.  The dog friendliness of Edinburgh stands out in Scotland because as a whole Scotland isn't all that dog friendly, it's child friendly but not if you have a dog and it's raining, the licensing laws prohibit children in lots of places that serve alcohol but welcome dogs so you have a strange thing where potentially you could take your dog for a warm sit down but your child would have to be the one tied to a lampost outside, you wouldn't do that would you?  No you wouldn't and that's the same reason I'll never leave Holly tied to a lampost outside a pub/cafe/restaurant.

So, will I travel using Airbnb again?  I've thought about this over and over since I got back on Tuesday night and the answer is that whilst I'll use the service again I'll also make sure that I only ever book somewhere where I get the whole property, I won't ever take a room in someones house again, there's just too much risk of crazy, particularly since I like the quirkier experiences and staying somewhere different.  I will search for commercial based alternatives, after all Airbnb isn't any cheaper than the professional lets out there, it's just that it's handled differently, certainly in this country anyway, it may be different in the rest of the world.

So sorry for the long essay of a post but I felt the world needed to know just what we'd had to deal with, as I said, that's not even half of it...



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