Ever since I learned that FinCon16 would be in San Diego, clear back during FinCon15 in case you were wondering, I had an itch to make a “vacation” out my trip.
FinCon by itself is pretty fun, but since I’d never been to California before, I wanted to stay a couple of extra days to experience the city even more. Thus, I twisted the arms of Erin and Chonce and the three of us decided to stay a couple of extra days in San Diego before flying home.
Normally, I would have looked for a cheap hotel but after hearing about AirBnb from many of my blogger friends, I decided it was time to try it. Plus, it was a good time to try it out as I’d be with a group, not by myself, and Erin has actually done AirBnb a few times.
Don’t let that pretty photo on the left fool you, my first AirBnb experience was not exactly amazing. But that’s part of why I wanted to tell you about it.
My First AirBnb Experience
I’ve mostly heard good things about AirBnb from the people I’ve talked to and the blog posts I’ve read. Of course, I knew having a bad experience wasn’t completely out of the realm of possibilities, but my first AirBnb experience definitely wasn’t what I was expecting.
What I was expecting during my first AirBnb experience was a place that was clean and comfortable, and a host that was kind and easy-going. What I actually ended up with was anything but comforting.
It’s not like I was expecting to be insta-BFFs with my host, but this guy was just downright weird.
Booking and Prior Communications
Erin, Chonce, and I looked at several AirBnb locations before we decided on one to book. We wanted something located close to the zoo and the airport so we didn’t end up spending a fortune on Uber to get to the places we might want to visit.
We tried to book one, but we were rejected probably due to the fact that there were three of us and the listing was somewhat confusing as it said up to 3 guests, but later said only 2 guests were allowed.
After that, we went with our second choice which had Instant Book. We booked the room and went about our business as the conference was still a couple of months away.
Fast forward to the week before FinCon and I had already tried to reach out to the host once to find out about check in time (since it said flexible) and procedures. I didn’t get a response right away, which made us a little concerned. We decided it was probably because he didn’t want to give out his information for accessing the apartment too early in case we were crazy people, which is understandable especially now that Erin has purple hair. (I kid, Erin! You know I love your hair!!)
Once he finally got back to us, he made it sound like we could arrive anytime after about 1 p.m. Since we had to check out of the hotel earlier than that, we stowed our bags with the concierge at the hotel and got to work on our laptops in the hotel lobby. Around 2.p.m. I told him we were headed that way and we left to go to the AirBnb.
After arriving he told us the guests from the night before hadn’t left yet and once they did the room would still have to be cleaned. Our host did say we could leave our bags at his place and there was a super cute coffee shop nearby that we hung out at for a while.
Three hours later, I finally heard back from our host that the room was ready.
Our host did the usual host thing and gave us a quick tour of his apartment and the apartment building. He seemed pretty nice and accommodating, but the weirdness just hadn’t come out yet at that point.
It was somewhat strange that the WiFi was called “Gateway To The Porn Zone”, but we just laughed it off until the next morning.
Like good little workaholics, the three of us hunkered down and did some work for a couple of hours and then decided to venture out to get some sushi in true FinCon tradition.
After we got back to the apartment we were exhausted and decided to get ready for bed. We were taking turns doing so when our host’s girlfriend decided to waltz in and take over the bathroom. She did have the decency to announce, “Is someone’s stuff in here? I’m going to take a shower and I don’t want to ruin anything!”
This is when we realized that there was only one full bathroom in the apartment. The other bathroom downstairs was just a half bath.
After we got over her rudeness, we decided to go to bed. It wasn’t long before we couldn’t sleep due to the loud partying going on downstairs on a Sunday night. (We decided they must not have jobs.)
The next morning, Erin was the first one up (shocking since she’s usually a night owl). After Erin came back in from getting ready in the bathroom, she told us she could hear our host and his girlfriend. They were having very loud sexual relations in his room, right on the other side of the bathroom wall.
We turned on some music in our room to drown out the sound. Welcome to the porn zone.
Around 9 a.m. or so we were just leaving the apartment while they were still going at it. See what I mean about them not having jobs?
We made sure to stay out most of the day as it was very uncomfortable at our AirBnb. But alas, we couldn’t stay away forever.
After we got back to the AirBnb, we saw more people in the apartment that weren’t our host or his girlfriend. (Did I mention that each time we came to leave or come back there were more different people there?)
We just minded our own business and went upstairs. A little while later, we heard them leave.
Soon after that, we heard very loud knocking on the front door. I went down to answer the door and Chonce was my backup coming partway down the stairs.
A man was at the door and asked if “Sally” was there. Unfortunately, we didn’t know who Sally was. That’s not the name our host’s girlfriend gave us before she rudely took over the bathroom the night before.
Then the stranger asked if “Hans” was there. We told him we didn’t know who that was either. He said Has was “the AirBnb guy”. This was confusing. That’s not the name on his AirBnb profile or the name we’d been calling him, to which he had also been responding.
Luckily, we only had a few short hours before leaving this uncomfortable situation.
Unluckily, our host Joachim/Hans and his girlfriend, Nicki/Sally, had a party that night too.
We decided to leave much earlier than necessary for the airport the next morning. It’s safe to say we were all ready to leave that crazy AirBnb behind.
Will I Do AirBnb Again?
After my first AirBnb experience, it would be safe to assume that I won’t be trying it again, but that would incorrect. I still plan to use AirBnb again in the future, but in a smarter way.
I’ll listen to my gut more when I notice something weird. I’ll pay better attention to the reviews, even after I book my stay. Plus, I’ll probably stay with a married couple or a woman. Sexist as it may seem, I think their homes would be cleaner than Joachim/Hans’ was. (Don’t even get me started about the smell we noticed after we blew out the candles he had burning when we first arrived to check in.)
Our AirBnb had good reviews when we booked our stay, but afterward a few bad ones started trickling in. We also noticed that the listing had been pulled from the site before we arrived.
My biggest lesson going forward will be to prioritize who I’m staying with first. Followed by the location of theAirBnb, instead of WiFi and a “sick” rooftop deck (that didn’t even have WiFi).
Perhaps it was because I was an AirBnb newbie, or maybe because I’m not that familiar with the “sharing culture” that has become pretty popular in big cities, but this was probably one of the most interesting and uncomfortable experiences of my life. Despite my uncomfortable first AirBnb experience, I do want to try it again sometime.
Have you ever stayed at an AirBnb? What was your first AirBnb experience like?