I’m pretty late to most bandwagons, and AirBnB was no exception. However, in my defense, I have tried to use the home sharing website in the past. I have either had bad luck with no affordable places available where I am going, or have had dodgy hosts contact me outside the platform to ask for more money. So in short – I never had a booking make it to completion.
But I like the idea. So I decided to give it another go, especially now that we are traveling as a family of four. Travel with a baby is relatively easy, but having access to a kitchen makes a huge difference especially if you are formula feeding and need to boil bottles.
We are currently in South America, where we will be for he next 5.5 months. I decided to cross reference price and location of the offerings on AirBnB with the offerings on Booking.com and book the best option. We have only pre-booked the first 6 weeks of our travels, but it has worked out that approximately half of those have been through AirBnB and half through Booking.com.
Our first AirBnB was in our first port of call – Buenos Aires. Our little apartment has cozy looking photos and lots of good reviews. When we arrived by taxi we rung the bell. And rung it again. And rung it again. Our concerned taxi driver even tried to call him. Eventually he came downstairs just when we were brainstorming what our next move should be. Our sweet old lady taxi driver waited there with us the entire time. But OK, I didn’t really blame him for that, the apartment is old and I doubt the bell was working anyway.
We were on the third floor and the lift was broken. But that was OK because our host had informed us that the lift was broken before we arrived. I’m very tolerant you see. I don’t mind a bit of exercise. He helped us carry our luggage upstairs.
The apartment was very basic. I guess you sort of expect that hotel photos will always portray there as much more space than there is, but this place was pretty tiny. It was also not very clean. The rubbish had not been emptied, the mattresses were very old, the beds were not made, and there were heaps of empty beer bottles under the sink. But I’m very tolerant you see.
My Spanish is pretty bad. Our hosts English was non existent. But he did manage to communicate to us that there is no running water. Very sorry…. but no running water. There was a tap downstairs at the entrance and a bucket. He promised it would be fixed the next day… today was Sunday and nothing could be done you see. OK. I am very tolerant. I have survived with no running water before and I can do it again. It would be nice to properly shower after a 24 hour journey, but OK, pass me the bucket. The water was indeed fixed the very next day, so I was OK. I’m very tolerant you see.
I’ve never used AirBnB before but I expected it to be more like an actual BnB stay. Like you know… the place would be spotless and the beds would be made upon arrival.. that sort of stuff. Not here. We had to make our own beds – after locating the threadbare sheets of course. But that’s OK… I can make a bed. We didn’t find the towels until the end of our stay though. 5 days of using t-shirts as towels was a bit annoying, but that’s OK, I’ve done that before when I was a backpacker. Tolerant.
But there is one straw which will always break this camels back. And that is bedbugs.
F’ing bedbugs. God Damn. You’ve got to be kidding me. Zero tolerance for that shit.
The first day I had a few bites on my fingers. The second day I had a whole bunch more. The third day both myself and husband were covered in itchy, itchy, swollen, lined up bed bug bites. Luckily, either they had no taste for the children or they simply don’t react to their bites as they seemed unaffected.
We isolated the worst of the mattresses and stopped using it, and contacted AirBnB. Now they were actually very helpful and offered to refund us the remaining nights and then some, but booking anything that last minute in Buenos Aires was going to prove prohibitively expensive. Instead of spending $500 a night at something just as dodgy looking, we decided to suffer out the remaining two nights.
Now I’m not going to name the host as once we did talk to him about the issue he did seem genuinely horrified and immediately refunded us for half of our stay. He promised to replace the bedding and mattresses and look into pest control. Whether he does or not – well he seemed legit. And look… bedbugs can happen to the best of us. I have encountered them everywhere from dirty backpacker joints, to posh hotels. So hopefully he does keep his word – for the sake of his next guests.
So taken all together – broken lift, no running water, dirty apartment, hidden towels, and bedbugs – it wasn’t the best of first impressions. But I guess that is all part of the adventure.
We are now in our third AirBnB of the trip, and I can tell you, the experience has improved.