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A PSA to AirBNB Hosts
Some of y'all need to do better
AirBNB owners, you can do better. Way better.
You are, essentially, running a hotel. And you’re making money on an asset that you wouldn’t have made money on before but, in some cases, would still have owned. In other words, lots of profit. Often, AirBNBs are as or more expensive than a hotel.
I can understand (sort of), at the beginning, if you dispose of all your worn-out household items and furniture in your AirBNB, but after you’ve made some money, you need to upgrade that shit. If you have furniture you no longer want to sit and/or lay on, why are you asking strangers to pay to sit and/or lay on it?
Any lodging needs to be three things: safe, clean, and comfortable. All three are equally important.
I’m on the third AirBNB of my trip to Albany, and I will tell you about each of them.
I’m convinced every AirBNB owner thinks their listing is all that, and many of them are extremely sensitive about it and think a bad review will prevent their child from going to college. (I literally had someone chew me out for my FIVE STAR REVIEW that pointed out some important aspects of the listing that others might like to know… such as middle of the night train whistles.)
You know me, I’m considerate to a fault. But I have to be considerate not only to the host but also to the person who will stay there. I’m not going to lie or omit things that might cause the next person discomfort on their travels. I want others to be honest so I can pick the right lodging. I get pissed when I look back and am like, “How could NO ONE have noticed this? Why didn’t anyone mention it?”
I will review your space as if it’s a hotel room, especially if you’re charging me hotel room rates. I will also, of course, take into consideration the service you provided. But, if there are important things I need to mention for the next person, I’m going to. I stayed in your listing for CLEAN, SAFE, and COMFORTABLE. If any of those are lacking, I’m going to talk about it.
This place was in a very central location on a row of brownstones. It was a basement apartment, but it had windows onto the street and didn’t seem overly “basement-y”.
One peeve I had immediately was that this was listed as an “entire unit.” That means that your space is private and not connected to anyone else’s. I was very confused when I walked in the door (and not just because the entire entryway smelled like freshly smoked pot) because there was a stairway in front of me with only a curtain over it, and then my door to the left. And my door didn’t lock from the outside. They should not be listing this as an “entire unit” as that is deceptive. Even though it said “guest suite” on the listing, they had obviously checked a box that said it was an entire unit so it would come up in those searches.
The space itself is lovely. Freshly painted, deep window sills that my cat loved, faux fireplace, several closets. But it wasn’t appointed well for anything other than a one or two night’s stay.
I knew it didn’t have a full kitchen, but it did have a fridge and microwave. Unfortunately, shortly after I put a half gallon of oat milk in the fridge, it froze solid. Even after turning up the temperature, it stayed frozen the whole two weeks I was there. No cereal for me. When I mentioned it to the host, she knew it did that. So, why did she keep it in there? Why not buy a different one with no freezer? Those tiny freezers don’t do anything anyway. Or why not put a message on it so people don’t waste food? I learned that I was able to keep things in it only if they were to the far left and not under the freezer portion.
There were a few dishes and utensils that were in a glass-doored cabinet, but they were not clean when I arrived. I had to clean all the dishes, glasses, and silver because most had food on them. Such an easy thing to prevent.
The couch was old and had zero support. It was the kind where you sink way down into it, and I could feel the metal springs in the cushions. If I owned this couch, I would not allow anyone to sit or sleep on it. This couch was apparently part of the “dedicated work space” the listing touted. That and a large coffee table. As you can imagine, hunched over a coffee table is the worst way to sit and work for hours.
Lastly, the bed had a 5” spring mattress on it that was very firm, and the bed frame was metal and squeaked every time you moved. That’s the second AirBNB metal squeaky bedframe I’ve experienced. Just why, people?
Since I’m very resourceful and was staying for two weeks, I immediately got on Amazon and ordered a 4” foam mattress to put on the bed. I also ordered a small folding desk that worked perfectly in the space. It really is adorable, and I’ll probably bring it home with me since it folds so small. I also needed a laptop riser to save space. The lighting was very dim, so I went to Walmart and bought a clip-on lamp and a full spectrum lightbulb.
This made the place very habitable for those two weeks.
If I owned this space, I would obviously replace the bed with a solid wood frame and quality mattress of medium firmness. I would also replace the couch. I’d find a smaller coffee table and include a small kitchen table that doubled as a workspace. I’d put in cabinets and a kitchen counter in the “kitchen” corner, put in a quality under-counter fridge, and include a good toaster/convection oven. If possible, I’d include a kitchen sink so dishes didn’t have to be done awkardly in the bathroom sink.
Overall, this was a nice space, but a little more thought could be given to longterm comfort.
Changing AirBNBs with a cat is a little stressful. For one thing, if the cat doesn’t want to change AirBNBs, you’ve got to trick the cat into letting you scoop her up and put her in the carrier she doesn’t want to be in. It’s a game wherein I pack most of the car the day before so she will be lulled into a false sense of security the next morning.
So, imagine, after all that, how I felt when I opened the door to the building of what would’ve been our second and last AirBNB at which we were supposed to stay a full month. I honestly almost closed the door without going in.
The neighborhood looked fine, but the entryway to this building was dirty, unkempt, and cramped. I had Libby’s carrier in my hand because she’s always the first thing I take up. I took a deep breath and headed up, hoping the apartment did not match the entryway.
As soon as I walked in, I smelled cigarette smoke. My stomach sunk. It was likely seeping in from the other two apartments because I smelled it later out in the hallway. The guy had an air cleaner and multiple scent sticks around the apartment to cover it up, but it wasn’t working. And the scent sticks were bothering me, too.
In fact, my throat started to feel scratchy shortly after entering this place. There was a portable air conditioner running pretty hard and not cooling it down much. A dirty rag was stuffed in the window output. (Because it’s so hard to find a piece of cardboard or foam.) While I’m starting to stress out over this place, I pulled out both air conditioner filters, and they were disgustingly filthy. I cleaned them even though I knew I wasn’t staying.
Then, I happened to look behind the couch and saw a dirty shirt on the floor. But I also saw something else under the couch. It was a plastic mouse trap.
I pulled it out from underneath the sofa and put it on the kitchen counter because I didn’t want Libby playing with it. I was supposed to stay there a month, and he wasn’t going to tell me that a mouse might die under the couch? Or that his “pet friendly” listing had mouse traps?
I started looking for a new place on AirBNB, but the pickings were slim because it was last minute. Plus, the ones available were more expensive.
Once I found a place (which wasn’t available until the next day), I told myself I just needed to breathe through the rest of this experience.
I wasn’t afraid of the people in the building or the neighborhood, but my anxiety was up because of how unhealthy this place felt. (I actually felt bad for everyone else in the building. And I think this guy owned the building, which meant he was a slumlord.)
As I’m facing reality, I happen to look over into the bedroom and see a live mouse. Because, of course. Libby was very interested, but I yelled at her to leave it alone. While the poor thing cowered in a corner, I found the mouse trap. At the time, I thought it was a live trap.
The mouse was terrified, and I felt so bad for it. But somehow I got it to go into the trap. The trap didn’t click, so I just carried it down like that and shook him out onto the lawn. (After which, of course, he headed straight back toward the house despite my attempts to redirect him.)
It was only after this that I saw the trap was a poison bait trap. With poison in it. Fortunately, I don’t think the mouse ate any of it. But you’re really going to have poison bait traps out at a listing that accepts pets? And have it right under the couch, which was higher than usual off the floor.
Not knowing what other insects or rodents were going to appear, I “slept” (I didn’t sleep) in my clothes. I was on the couch for a while but then joined Libby on the bed. That’s when I noticed he had a very loud plastic mattress cover on the mattress. I swear, these people. I did not get under the covers and prayed I didn’t get bedbugs or something else from this place. (I did not.)
I left the next day around noon, which was easy because I left everything in my car.
As I was leaving, someone was using the touted laundry facilities in the “lobby”. The entire entryway was as humid as a sauna, and the railing was damp. Someone had left the front door open, as they probably always do.
I paid way above my comfort level for this listing because I had no choice. It was the cheapest one available on one day’s notice. Fortunately, it was in a great location, had a porch, was in a brownstone, and seemed like a beautiful place.
Because we arrived earlier than the normal check-in, we had to wait in my car until they had cleaned it from the last person. We were in the shade, it was cool, and I had a sandwich, so it was fine. We were able to go up after about an hour and a half.
The guy who owns it is Irish, and he helped bring a few things up from my car.
There are three bedrooms in this place! It’s so much bigger than I need. But it has a desk that overlooks a little park, is close to a bus stop, and has a nice kitchen. (Although the cookware is a bit lacking, as I found out. I'll need to buy a frying pan and a baking sheet.)
I decided to sleep in the master bedroom because it has an attached bath and the porch. I closed one bedroom and left the other open because there was a nice wide windowsill for Libby.
I was EXHAUSTED that first night. I got into bed and noticed the mattress was firm… very firm. I'm tossing and turning all night. I'm laying there thinking, “I feel like I'm sleeping on the bottom side of a mattress.” I had felt the sides of the thin mattress, trying to figure out what kind it was. It felt like foam and that maybe it was one of those mattresses in a box. But why was it so hard?
So, around 5:30 am, I turned a light on, stripped the bed, stood the queen mattress up on its side, and saw that the other side was memory foam (and had all the requisite stains a mattress top would have). I flipped the damn thing over and re-made the bed. Finally, it felt comfortable!
The only other quirk with this place is that, in remodeling this brownstone, they did not leave a very big space between the floors and ceilings (and certainly didn't insulate it much if at all). I hear every footstep as a clonking sound. I'm hopeful the upstairs neighbors will be quiet after 10 each night and before dawn!
Overall, this is a great space. Incredibly high ceilings, big windows, exposed brick. Libby and I will be happy here for the month of September.
I’ve never written a completely honest AirBNB review until today. I always temper it a little bit for the benefit of the host. I try to think equally of guests and hosts when writing reviews. But I don’t think it’s my duty to protect hosts at any cost, no matter how much sympathy they think they deserve.
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