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There is nothing like being made to feel uncomfortable in your own home. A few Airbnb guests I've hosted have perfected this art.
I listed my apartments for two years on the site. Most guests — about 90 percent — were fine. They'd come in, have a quiet stay, make their bed when they left, and we'd both give each other good reviews. Then there were terrors, like The Rude, and The Unpleasables.
These were the users that didn't belong on the site. They failed to understand the concept that a home is not a hotel, and that along with being hosts, we were real people.
When I got bad guests, it was partly my fault. I was broke, and I'd accept pretty much anybody who wanted to stay in my apartment. As long as they were willing to pay for it and they sounded sane in their messages, I'd let them in. I'm very trusting, and I think most humans are good. I like the website, and I appreciate that it helped me survive New York City while I was living there. And I know that sometimes, you just can't screen out the nuts.
I'm not here to praise Airbnb for what they've done or talk about my great experiences. That's no fun! Instead, here are the top four most horrific stories during my time as a host.
The Upper-Class Brazilians
When we hosted, my boyfriend and I lived in an apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn. We charged $40 a night. Guests were 10 minutes from Manhattan on the L train, right near a bunch of hipster cafes and bars, and steps from thrift shops, parks, and cute little Italian bakeries.
Our first guests were a rich Brazilian couple who lived on the Upper West Side close to Central Park and listed their two apartments for $250 a night each. Then, they would stay in cheaper places when their units were rented out.
The man and woman in their 30s, arrived in a taxicab with bags of groceries from Whole Foods. When my now-husband greeted them in Spanish to try and be nice, the man shot him a look and said, "We are Brazilian. We speak Portuguese."
We knew right then that this would be a blast.
We had taken food off of our fridge's shelves to make room for their stuff, but they had to cram it in anyway. They brought steaks that cost $30 more a night than their stay, as well as swordfish, lobsters, and oysters.
We immediately learned that the woman was a top executive who got up at five a.m. every day while her boyfriend stayed at home in his pajamas watching soccer. They went to bed at nine o'clock, which meant lights-out early for us, too. I accidentally fell backwards on my chair one night, and I heard a loud "Shhh!" while a text came in at the same time that said, "Please be quiet!"
The man walked around shirtless, and he once tapped my husband on the gut and told him how he was fat. We also heard them fighting a few times, which was not awkward at all.
After three days of their stay, both my husband and I and the couple were unhappy. We called Airbnb, and they left, $70 steaks and all.
The German Complainer
A few guests after the Brazilians came a German man who traveled alone. He had just come from a hotel that Airbnb put him up in because his first accommodation turned out to be gross. He showed up one afternoon, and he seemed nice.
The next day, he was gone without notice, and we got a troubling email from Airbnb.
He had taken photos of our apartment. He photographed our sink to show that it wasn't in our bathroom, even though it was in our description that it wasn't. He also took pictures of our dish rack, which had clean dishes in it that were drying. He said our place was dirty, and he wanted his money back.
I asked Airbnb where he was, and they said he was put up in another hotel. "Uh huh," I said. "Didn't he just do that? It sounds like he's scamming you."
After we chatted for a bit, I agreed to refund half of his money so that he couldn't leave us a review.
The Entitled French Family
Everything was going well for about a year when our next horrible guests checked in. They were a family of four from France who didn't understand the Airbnb rules.
The family was a husband and wife, along with their son and his girlfriend. When they checked in, they asked if they could cook their ham, to which I replied that no, I was sorry, but they couldn't. We had begun keeping a kosher kitchen and said on the site that a kitchen was not available for use. They had booked it without reading the full description. We let them keep their fruits and veggies in the fridge, wrapped up and separate from ours. Still, we were given a lot of attitude from them after that.
Most guests, like normal people, would stay in their rooms and use only the bathroom. The French family treated our home like it was theirs. The boyfriend and girlfriend showered at the same time and, I believe, were hooking up in our bathroom. One afternoon, they took our four cherry-wood dining-room chairs to the backyard, leaving them out there after their picnic. They also left remains of strawberries and their trash, which rotted and attracted flies.
After a few days of sleeping on one of our air mattresses, the girl complained that it had been uncomfortable the whole time and she wanted her money back. I explained that she should have told me right away, and proceeded to fix it for the last days of her stay. I didn't refund her anything.
The Great American Bleeder
A girl from San Francisco stayed at our apartment one weekend. Though she was pleasant, she was the grossest guest we'd ever had.
After she checked out, I went in to change her sheets. She had bled all over them and it seeped through to our mattress protector. What was worse was that she failed to tell me this and admit her mistake.
I get it. A period stain happens to all of us. But if you do it as an adult and you're at someone's house and you don't fess up to it, that's just wrong.
I had to confront her about it, and she was apologetic. She sent me money to replace the sheets and mattress cover, and I thought we were done. Then she had the gall to leave me a negative review. Ha.
After all my experiences with the site and interacting with dozens of guests, I can say that it was good at the time. It's best to use if you need cash or have an extra room and are willing to keep it spotless and be a fantastic host. But remember: it's a lot of work, and sometimes you just can't please your guests. (And they definitely won't always please you.)