In the ever-changing travel landscape, Airbnb has emerged as a viable option for both short and long-term accommodation. Although, I’d been hesitant to give it a try, I finally decided to pull the plug during a recent trip to Belgium.
So…would my inaugural Airbnb stay be a success OR (cue the dramatic music)—an Airbnb nightmare?
I must say, Ghent was easily one of my favorite cities in all of Belgium. Having read how walkable the old town is, I opted for a place directly in the center of the action. With that said, the apartment I stayed at in Ghent could not have been in a better location.
The apartment was just steps from the Friday market and right smack dab in the heart of the Old Town. The directions were spot on, the interior matched the website images perfectly, and the check-in/check-out process was smooth and painless. So far, so good! (insert bells & whistles and pleasant music).
After exploring both Ghent and Bruges, by day and night, it was time to move on to the capital, Brussels. The 2016 grand finale had finally arrived! The apartment I reserved in Brussels was a bit more expensive, given the date, New Year’s Eve, along with the fact that it was allegedly on the main strip of the New Year’s Eve celebration.
The main strip of any major city can be quite long. Although the description of the apartment location was decent, it was certainly not quite as central as it was made out to be.
The hosts sent out the standard welcome email that I’m sure they forward to all guests of the apartment. It included the following information: their contact number, how to enter the main door of the building, and how to access the keys to the apartment. Here’s the kicker—Wi-Fi login information was NOT included.
The email they sent, referred to above, also stated to arrive anytime between 1:00—2:00 p.m. This time was designated to drop off luggage while the apartment was being cleaned. Although the official check-in wasn’t until 4:00 p.m., it was nice to have the option to drop off bags; thus, awarding the opportunity to check-out Brussels while a bit of daylight remained. Sounds good, right? WRONG!
I arrived early, hoping my schedule would go as planned, only to find an apartment that was inaccessible. There was no keyhole in the door, and no way to get into the apartment. I went out on a Wi-Fi search to email the hosts about the situation…but there was no response. I asked strangers in the street if I could borrow their phones to make an important call…to which I received varied responses along the lines of:
Dejected and on the verge of giving up, nearly 90 minutes later, I found a woman willing to help. She was working alone in a small clothing store. It took some time, but after finally stumbling my way through getting her to understand what I wanted—she eventually said:
“No phone credit.”
This time; however, unlike the others, she asked me to watch the store while she went out to purchase credit.
“Finally,” I thought to myself, “things are turning around.”
She came back and I called the hosts several times but…still no answer. I called a local friend, gave him the hosts’ phone number, and implored him to also call repeatedly, which he did, but the results were the same…no answer. At that point, seeing that I had a bit of time to kill, I grabbed a few beers from the nearby convenience store and went back to wait in front of the inaccessible apartment.
Fast-forward about 3 hours later, after several runs back and forth to make phone calls and check email, and there was still no response.
New Year’s Eve…
No place to stay…
How exactly would this Airbnb nightmare end?? Stay tuned next week to find out!
In the comments below, tell me about your worst lodging experience while traveling.