Airbnb is one of those Silicon Valley heirlooms that walks the threadbare line between bad, but bearable – and inconceivably cursed. From absurd requests – what the fuck do you mean there’s a curfew? – to hosts that are a little too friendly – no thanks, I don’t want to join you for dinner – we’ve all had our share of uncomfortable scenes.
But, you get what you pay for. Airbnb asks us simple questions: What would you do for a cheap room? What are you willing to sacrifice?? How far would you go???
The truth is, these abodes are rarely even “cheap”. Taking into account the extra money spent when travelling from your budget Airbnb “nestled in a leafy block just outside the CBD” – read: butt fuck nowhere – to wherever you need to go, plus emotional compensation for having to share a communal towel with four other guests (this actually happened) and the labour compensation you’re owed for the myriad random chores during your stay, you may as well have stayed in a hotel.
Then there’s the security issue. As VICE uncovered a few years back, protections for guests against scammers don’t go much further than “trust me bro”.
Finally, there’s just the base weirdness of occupying someone else’s home.
But at least you got a good story out of it, right? In the spirit of sharing, we asked a few people to tell us theirs.
I once stayed in this Airbnb in Gippsland with a friend. It was some random old lady’s spare bedroom (she didn’t tell us… she said the room was completely separate). The window in the room was smashed, we weren’t allowed to shower for more than 1 minute. We couldn’t have it on hot either. We weren’t allowed to speak or make any noise after 8:30p.m. and we had to ask to use the kitchen (that was a part of the deal??!). We weren’t allowed to park in the driveway so we had to park a kilometre away. And, her pet horse kept trying to break into the room while we slept.
We were meant to stay for three nights and we stayed for 8 hours because it was so weird.
VICE: Please explain the horse.
The room backed onto the paddock where the horse was? And it just kept trying to stick its head in the window and didn’t leave that side of the house the whole time we were there.
It was crushing on you.
Such a creep!
I was staying in an apartment in Melbourne’s CBD with my boyfriend. A wooden plank fell out from under the bed frame a couple of times during the day so I messaged the host asking if they could fix it. It was 7p.m. when I sent the message. At around 9p.m., my boyfriend and I are in bed, obviously naked, and we just… hear the door unlocking?? Someone sticks his head in and calls out “hello?” down the hallway and all of a sudden there is a MAN IN THE HOUSE. Like, he just let himself in!!!!! And was coming into the bedroom! Where we were naked!
My boyfriend was like, “wtf are you doing here, please leave”. And this man tells us he’s been sent by the host.
He leaves and I check my phone to see a message from the host saying they’ll send someone over. I message him back and tell him it’s so not okay to just?? Give a man a key and let him in while we are still in the apartment??? The guy hadn’t rung the doorbell or knocked or anything.
The host proceeds to ring me and go ballistic over the phone abusing me and calling me stupid. It was insane. I immediately reported him to Airbnb and they removed his other listings and refunded my trip. And then he proceeded to leave a review on my profile, claiming I had… broken all of the furniture in his property??? It was an entire paragraph of lies and I had to chase up Airbnb to have it removed. They ended up reinstating his properties and he’s still on the app.
I once went to an airbnb with my friends to do acid and there was a room far at the back of the house with just a single child’s cot in it. What made it worse was that the light for the room shone exactly over the cot to light it up. Needless to say, entry into that room was banned during our trip.
I don’t know if this is fucked enough but went out to dinner and came back to the Airbnb and there was a black hole in the roof that in daylight had looked fine but at night doubled as a tunnel for what seemed like every huntsman spider in Castlemaine to come though. The ceiling was full of dinner plate sized spiders and I slept in the car.
VICE: NO!!! That is definitely fucked enough. Did you get a refund?
No refund, apparently spiders are friends and nothing to be feared.
Can we note: the bag of clothes I’d been putting off taking to Goodbyes for 300 years kept me warm that night in the car lmao.
I’m not the primary source but a couple years ago a friend visited Melbourne and did Airbnb in the CBD, I briefly went in and it was cramped as fuck and the place clearly hadn’t been vacuumed or cleaned in a while. The listing had apparently said there were two rooms with two beds but when they arrived the rooms were tiny – one couldn’t even fit a regular single bed, it had like a short cot sized thing – probably meant to be a study or whatever. The place was dirty and there was a small cramped balcony you couldn’t even walk into because it was packed with old broken furniture. In the room with a normal sized bed, the bedside table had a bunch of loose coins and a loose unwrapped condom – I don’t know if they got any money back, but when they complained and asked after sheets and towels that were advertised, the owner told them they were overseas and their friend was supposed to be looking after the place.
Back in 2017 I came to Melbourne for the first time, for Inner Varnika. We had a day or two before the festy so we got an Airbnb, above Troika bar in the CBD. It was small, a studio apartment with two beds, and there were three of us, but it looked chill and it was inexpensive so we were just like we’ll book this one and spend the rest of the money on drugs or something. Anyways we get there, and the host messages us, “meet me at Troika bar, I’m just at a friend’s 30th up the road”. We go to Troika, we’re sitting there, and this bitch isn’t showing up, so we’re talking to the bartenders like, “do you know a girl who Airbnbs and meets people here?”. It takes her half an hour to get there and when she shows up she’s black out drunk. Like, so fucked up. She goes, “Hey sorry, I’ve just had dental surgery and I’ve had a couple drinks”, and she’s opening her mouth and showing us this flesh wound in her mouth and we’re like okayyy cool… that’s fucked up but sure lol.
So we ask to get the keys and she offers to take us up, we decline but she insists and says she really wants to show us around. Like… it’s a one bedroom apartment we don’t need a fuckin’ tour but thank you? And so we’re getting in the lift and going up and she’s swaying around because she’s clearly high on codeine from the dentist then had a bunch of fucking drinks, she’s hammered. And we’re completely sober, just standing there like hmmm okay…
We get in the apartment and she reveals to us that the building used to be a brothel. And the room has mirrors on every wall and the ceiling. In this really intense way – this tiny apartment with a tiny window, mirrors on every surface. It was fucked. Didn’t see that on the listing but okayyy. She asks us if we’re vegan, and my friend was, so she starts telling us how it’s such a good apartment to be vegan in, there’s so many options, so much good vegan food around. My friend asked her to recommend somewhere and this bitch is like, “oh… um yeah there really aren’t any good places, I don’t know, maybe Lord of the Fries?”. We’re all just standing there speechless. In the same sentence… there’s so many now there’s none? We were like “Hey we kinda need to go soon, can you… leave?” She goes “oh, yeah, we should link up later”. The second she left we just cracked up. In the end it was a really nice Airbnb. Just so bizarre.
Not in Australia, but I stayed in a cult house accidentally. In December 2018 I stayed in an Airbnb in Portland, was about ten minutes by bus out of downtown and had great reviews. A rainbow flag out the front, the cottage looked like it was straight out of the Blue Mountains (picture a bunch of beautiful, overgrown plants in the garden, decorative ornaments, a haze of weed smell) so I felt comfortable, like it was home.
They didn’t reply to my message saying when my bus would get in from Seattle, a few hours later I got a message with my room code but didn’t know what room I was in nor the code to get in the house. I got it out of them eventually, but the room was cold, with only a sheet on the bed. I sat in front of the little electric heater for hours before bed and shared a bathroom with the other guests (who I barely saw – despite knowing they were there). I got a snarky message saying they couldn’t see my shoes at the front door and mentioned that my lack of attendance at “mass” that morning was noticed. I politely declined the offer to attend evening prayer, then upon my return that evening, there wasn’t any toilet paper in the one bathroom. There was a note next to paper towels saying something like “wipe then put in the bin provided”. I had my period. So this was bulk fun. The communal kitchen had containers on the table with “guest 1”, “guest 2” written on tape on them – I got my own greasy burger and chips thank you (not that they offered me food). Anyway. Was just fucking weird.
I was in Byron for Schoolies (regrets) and the Airbnb we stayed at was actually really nice but something about it was so off. It was me and 5-6 other girls. There was one night when I was sleeping alone and I was lying there trying to fall asleep and I could feel this pressure on top of me and breathing noises which was so ungodly scary. I put my headphones in to try to distract myself but that didn’t work, and the feeling just wouldn’t go away so I moved into a different room and slept with one of the other girls.
The other bizarre thing that happened is that we were all sitting in a lounge room just outside the kitchen, all of us were in the same room, and we could hear FOOTSTEPS walking around the kitchen and the back door sliding open and closed.
Not necessarily fucked, but if Byron schoolies wasn’t traumatic enough having a haunted Airbnb absolutely did it for me.
The post People Share More of Their Most Twisted Airbnb Tales appeared first on VICE.