I decided to do a more in-depth write up about our experience staying in two different Airbnb rental condos. I have very mixed feelings about whether or not I want to use Airbnb in the future because while it’s so wonderful to have your own space (with kitchen & laundry) and to save money, our experience wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be.
I know other people who have used Airbnb since our stay last year and have had wonderful experiences with great hosts. Every single Airbnb stay will be different, of course, since it’s just regular people renting to other people! Our stay in Seattle was vastly different from our stay in Portland, but both have given me pause when considering if Airbnb is an option for our next vacation.
We rented a loft in downtown Seattle for 5 nights. The condo was clean and as pictured in the listing. I don’t believe the host actually lives in Seattle so there were directions provided for how to get into the loft, finding the key and where to park, etc. I wouldn’t say the directions were confusing, but they definitely didn’t feel welcoming. We were directed not to enter through the building’s lobby or talk to staff at the building, only enter through the separate door of the condo plus other directions that made us feel as though we were sneaking around. Rental laws get really blurry with Airbnb so I figured this was just part of the way it has to work, but considering the way we were greeted at our Portland rental I now know that’s just not the case. I realize this isn’t possible for everyone, but if you are regularly renting out your home, either you or someone you know/hire should be there. Not only did we feel completely unwelcome, but we weren’t allowed into the condo until hours after we were supposed to be because the cleaning person hadn’t cleaned it yet. We ended up driving around Seattle for hours after just hopping off a plane. We were exhausted and irritated right from the get-go.
Like I mentioned, the condo was nice, but we soon discovered a mildewed shower curtain and disgusting, peeling couch. Frankly, we weren’t happy about these things, but really didn’t think they were a big deal. We were on our honeymoon, who cares! It only became a big deal once we were home and I wrote my review of our stay. In my mind I was very kind in my review and talked mostly about what a wonderful location it was and how much we enjoyed our stay. I briefly mentioned the uncomfortable directions, dirty shower curtain, and worn out couch because that’s what you’re supposed to do in a review, right? Talk about what you liked and didn’t like? (Apparently not in Airbnb world.) Overall, I rated our stay very high, but I soon discovered that Airbnb works in such a way that makes the renter afraid to write anything negative in their reviews. I was completely shocked when not only did the host bash me about my “negative” review on his own page, but left me a bad review on my page since the host doesn’t review the renter until AFTER the renter has reviewed their stay.
He briefly mentioned in his review that we left the place as we found it and we were clean, but then accused me of writing out my problems on the internet instead of talking to him while we were staying there so he could fix them. Um, exactly how was he planning to replace his couch from another state while we were staying there for our honeymoon? And how was he going to make his directions more welcoming after we were already there? The only thing I learned he could have done was to tell us where a spare shower curtain was so we could replace it ourselves. Ugh, come on. Didn’t we have to wait hours to get in there because your cleaning person was taking their precious time? Don’t you pay them to replace your nasty shower curtain? (Actually we paid them with our cleaning fee.)
This whole “host reviews the renter after the renter reviews the host” thing scared me out of writing what I really wanted to for our Portland stay…
Our hosts for the Portland condo were really lovely. They greeted us in person with a bottle of wine to celebrate our honeymoon, gave us a grand tour of their building and even wrote out tons of restaurant recommendations. They were awesome. The condo was SUPER cool and filled top to bottom with gorgeous antique pieces. I’ve actually copied some of their design aesthetic in our home.
My only problem? The place was nasty dirty. Fur and dirt and dust coated everything including the bar soap left in shower with hairs stuck to it. Ewwwwww. We attempted to do a little cleaning just so I wasn’t sneezing my butt off the whole time and we changed the sheets to the cleanest set we could find in the closet, but seriously ew. This is another thing that bothered me, but wouldn’t have been a huge deal if we hadn’t paid a $75 cleaning fee! Yeesh, they should be paying us a cleaning fee.
So when it was time for me to review our Portland stay I had already experienced the true Airbnb and it opened my eyes as to why ALL of the reviews for every place are SOOOO good. I was afraid to get another negative review back (which impacts whether or not other hosts rent to me in the future) and ended up writing a super nice review of the place only briefly mentioning it was a little dusty.
It’s worth noting that both of these stays were one year ago so it’s possible that Airbnb reviewing rules have changed, but if not, watch out for big ol’ meanies in Seattle. And don’t expect all of a place’s reviews to be truthful. I’m sure other renters are scared to write the full truth just like I now am.
It’s sad that such a little thing like hosts being allowed to see your review before they review their renter can ruin such an awesome thing like Airbnb. I might be sticking to hotels in the future where I can complain about mildewed shower curtains and hairy bar soap without fear.