Read our first bad experience to see why we left our Airbnb before even unpacking! After some post-reflection and thought on our experience with this Airbnb, we noted that we could have probably avoided this by doing better research for our Airbnb after noting a few red flags in the listing. I’ll divide this in different sections.
Booking an Airbnb listing
Rating and Reviews:
Look at the overall rating of the place. The more stars the better. Don’t even consider someone with 4 stars or less. Also, if they don’t have 5 stars it doesn’t mean it’s not a good place. Some people are just high maintenance and will leave a bad review if they didn’t like the patterns of the pillow covers or the color of the walls. That’s why besides looking at the overall rating, try reading all the reviews
When reading the reviews, also look at the listing’s history. How long has it been available? One 5-star review isn’t the same as twenty 5-star reviews. If there are hundreds of reviews, try searching for the bad reviews and use your judgement to consider it as a red flag for booking that place (again pillow covers).
If the listing you are looking at is a single room inside a house, also look at the listings for the other rooms even if you’re not interested in booking those. Look at all the reviews for the home of all available rooms available. While you’re at that, check the profile of the host. If they have other listings, check those out too.
Look out for Superhost status. These are the best listings in Airbnb with a history of great reviews. These listing should basically guarantee a great experience, but you should still review it properly.
After our bad experience, I reviewed all the listings from my host and found a few bad reviews with very similar experiences that my wife and I had. Regardless of this, the host still had an overall good rating.
After checking the reviews and ratings of the listing and the host, look at the photos carefully. Obviously if you don’t like what you see pick something else. But if you do like it, pay attention to the details and what is or is not included. When you arrive at the place, everything should be the same. There might be a different colored rug, and that’s okay. But if the pictures showed a room with two windows and your room doesn’t have a window, that’s a red flag right there.
The pictures from our listing had multiple inconsistencies. For example, the pool area was shown twice; one picture it had a fence, and the other picture didn’t have a fence. The picture description said it was to keep the dogs out. You either have a fence or not!
The space description is where the host describes the home or room being rented. Read this carefully to see what it includes and check for anything that might not sound right or that the pictures might contradict. Take a look at the grammar too. If you’re renting in USA, there is no reason to have horrible English grammar with so many online tools available for free spelling checks. Would you stay at a hotel that had its name spelled wrong? Also be sure the description is actually about the space and not talking about another topic.
The description of our place had incomplete sentences, letters that should be capitalized were not, some easy punctuation marks were missing, and more than half of the description was talking about the owners dogs instead of the house. This should have been a red flag that we dismissed.
With respect to location, just make sure that there are alternative places to stay nearby in the event that the reservation is cancelled for whatever reason. You don’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Arriving at the Airbnb
With these tips, you should be ready to book and hopefully have no issues with your stay. But nothing is perfect or guaranteed, so you should look out for these red flags once you arrive at the place:
When you arrive to your destination, the host should be the person to receive you and check you in. You can know it’s them from the profile picture on Airbnb. If you arrive late, there should be clear instructions on how to check-in on your own. A good host will be open to good communication and ask about your estimated time arrival while giving you all the details needed for a smooth process. Be aware of any red flags. If anyone other than the host checks you in, or the host calls the next-door neighbor to let you in, then that’s a good sign to leave.
Our host told us the lockbox didn’t work, although when I tried the code it opened perfectly fine, but it had no key inside. Then, the host asked me to bang the door loud enough to wake up a long-term tenant inside to we could enter the house.
If at any point you notice the host with rude or careless behavior, or in a wrong state of mind, this is an obvious sign to leave. If you are renting a room inside a big house and the other Airbnb guests make you uncomfortable, this is a god sign to leave too. Don’t even bother telling the host or requesting a refund. Your immediate safety is more important. After you are in a safe place, you can contact Airbnb support for help with the reservation refund.
The other guest at our Airbnb was a long-term tenant (which wasn’t disclosed in the listing). This made us uncomfortable since the mindset of someone that has been living in a place for who knows how long is very different from that of someone travelling and staying a night for tourism.
Condition of the place:
Nothing is perfect. Even 5-star hotels can have some spills, stains, or whatever. But you wouldn’t expect to see a mess in the room, or random clutter that wasn’t in the listing pictures. If anything is drastically out of place or filthy, just leave the place. If the place isn’t clean but not filthy and you are okay staying, contact the host and complain about the cleanliness issue. At the least the host should refund the cleaning fee.
The shared bathroom of our listing had (shared with the long-term tenant) had the toilet paper rolling through the floor, literally. There were also bags of clothes piled up and obvious personal items on the vanity. At another place we booked, the apartment was dirty but not filthy that we needed to leave. I complained to the host and he gave me a 50% refund of the total reservation price. I can live with that!
Finally, just trust your gut! If you feel uncomfortable staying the night at any place, or you’re so worried about your peace of mind that you can’t sleep, don’t stay there. Get a hotel, contact the support team for another Airbnb place, but trust your gut and leave.
If you have never used Airbnb, sign-up with this link for up to $50 off your first stay. If you have any other suggestions for improving your Airbnb experience, please share them!