A New Year’s Eve Airbnb Nightmare

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A New Year’s Eve Airbnb Nightmare

An airbnb nightmare

Will the apartment look like this on the inside?

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?


An airbnb nightmare

Would the apartment look like this on the inside?


Apartment 1: 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.

View from Apartment

The view of the square from the apartment window

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).

apartment bedroom Living Room


Apartment 2: Would The Good Fortune Continue?


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.

Red Flag #1

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.

Red Flag #2

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.

Red Flag #3

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!

Airbnb nightmare apartment

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:

  • “No English.”
  • “English No.”
  • “No phone credit. (from multiple individuals)”

And Finally

  • “Excuse me sir, may I please use your phone?” To which I received no verbal response—just an old man running away from me down the street…

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 butstill 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.


  1. My husband and I are also Airbnb hosts. We do our best to make our guests’ stay as pleasant as possible. We answer calls and messages promptly. I’m sorry that you had this terrible experience with your hosts.

    • EG III says:

      Well, as the old saying goes, “you win some, you lose some.” I just chalk it up as a loss and a learning experience (also a pretty decent story…so all wasn’t completely lost!).

  2. Maria says:

    WTH!!! That’s all I could say for those host/s! That was such a bad experience and a horrible nightmare. Though I’ve never tried Airbnb yet but now, I’m scared of encountering events like this. I just hope you got some sort of refund and was still able to have fun for New Year!

    • EG III says:

      I know…I was initially really put off by it but check out Part 2 for the happy ending! Also, airbnb redeemed itself in future trips so don’t let this one bad experience completely put you off.

  3. It could have been anything, I mean your hosts not responding etc..Probably, they were indisposed, lost the phone.etc. This post makes for engaged reading, though. After reading it, I am developing ideas on how to make my apartment more friendly to guests like you.

  4. This is really awful and yes, definitely a nightmare. I can’t wait to read more about what happened and how did Airbnb address this. They don’t deserve to be hosts or even part of Airbnb. They are just destroying the company.

  5. Wow, what a bad piece of experience. I love how you handled it with the beer, though. Heading to your next post!

    Cheers from Bulgaria!

  6. Oh. I’m sorry that it happened to you on a New Year’s Eve! What a horrible Airbnb service 🙁 I can feel the frustration just by reading your post. Sorry but I have to say this, they are terrible hosts. 🙁

  7. Berlin says:

    I sometimes love to torture myself and still not get out of the situation. I see myself still.hanging on hope that everything will.be fine and the host will finally answer my querries. Anyway, I commend the old lady for buying a.phone load and lending you her phone. Such a nice gesture. I camt wait what happens next. Please blog.about it, asap. Hahaha.

  8. Yan says:

    Sorry about what happened! I’m curious though, were you able to get the key? Looks like there’s a keysafe beside the door, the owners would’ve told you the combination to it. But you mentioned there was no keyhole anywhere so… what a bummer. -__-

  9. kopikang says:

    ouch… so far i felt your frustration 🙁 i wonder what’s gonna happen next 🙁 tbh i like using air bnb coz I could usually get more from what I pay. But I’ve never used it outside my country.. im so sorry to hear about your experience 🙁 no person should be in that situation esp on a new years eve 🙁

    • EG III says:

      Yes, I agree…it was very stressful at the time, but now thankfully I can look back on it and laugh. Well, maybe not laugh…but at least not be upset haha 😛

  10. kris says:

    OMG! That’s totally a terrible experience not to mention it was New Year’s Eve. I hope the rest of the trip went smooth sailing though. Will be checking out the next adventure, what could’ve happened this time? Hmm.. I haven’t tried Airbnb and now I have second thoughts of trying it out. lol

    • EG III says:

      Well, if it’s any consolation…I’ll probably give airbnb another shot. I’m just chalking up that whole ordeal as an experience.

  11. I still haven’t experienced staying in an AirBnb since I always stay at hostels. Anyway, that was a nightmare. Well, your time is waste waiting for your luggage to be dropped off. And only a handful can help since they can’t or don’t speak English. I hope your situation got resolved. So, yes, will read the next part of your post soon. Such a cliffhanger! Hahaha!

  12. I will go on to read the next post. 🙂 I noticed there is a next post already, so I am reserving my opinion. But one thing I could say is that there are downsides to using AirBNB and it is nothing different from any other system too. I am sure there are learning experiences that you also picked up so I hope to see a future post on what you could have done to avoid this situation.

  13. Oh my goodness, what a terrible experience. I have not tried AirBnB yet, but have been considering for some upcoming trips. It would be a big problem for us to have a hiccup like this, as traveling with 2 young kids, this would be a total nightmare to be alone, in the cold, at night, and especially on a holiday. Hopefully all turned out okay!

  14. Louiela says:

    oh my,,, let me share my story please… i arrived at my hostel in Cluj, Romania around 1 am and nobody was opening the gate after ringing the doorbell a hundred times… I don’t have a local sim card to phone the hostel, nobody told me about the codes also… and it was tooooooo cold… I’m a little bit luckier than you though… I approached a young lady passing by and she was able to help me ASAP…

    I enjoyed reading your post inspite of the nightmare that you had through… Hope you enjoyed the days followed after this experience,,,

  15. scottbalaam says:

    Oh dear – this is not good! So sorry to hear about your bad experience. I have tried to use AirBNB three or four times but never had any luck so I have given up! I prefer to use booking.com or only apartments as both seem nice and reliable.

    • EG III says:

      Well, I won’t completely rule it out yet but, as you can see, I haven’t had the greatest luck either. I agree about apartments though…like airbnb without the stress.

  16. oh that’s really a pity that you run into such a bad host! Did you check their comments to see if other guests had similar issues? But it doesn’t change anyway that your new years eve was basically ruined I guess 🙁 I used Airbnb very often already and we only had good experiences, and I hope it stays that way!

    • EG III says:

      The other guests actually had good comments, I just ended up being the guy with the bad luck that day…and it just so happened to be New Year’s Eve!

  17. Jean says:

    Oh not cool at all!! Isn’t there an emergency number you can call??

  18. Ariane says:

    oh my! I think you definitely ran out of luck there! I had also a stay in Brussels with airbnb, which thankfully was excellent. But I think Brussels being brussels, you have to see first in which neighborghood you book. Are you gonna try out other airbnb’s or was this the first and last time? 😉

  19. Maya says:

    I’ve been staying in Air Bnb’s for years, but think I’m over it. The last two times have been disgusting. One was so dingy, nothing like the pictures, and the other one…I kid you not, we found a used condom in the bed. So gross.

  20. Hendrik says:

    Oh this is bad. I know exactly what you talk about here, since we had some really bad Airbnb desasters as well. The thing is, most of our Airbnb experiences are really good, but when you have 2, 3 bad ones – this ruins a lot. Since then I try to book more often via booking. It really saves my nerves. Hope, this was a one time experience for you…

  21. Gavin says:

    Sounds like a rough way to end the year bro. Hopefully it got better by the end of the day.

  22. Steph Be says:

    Wow- I am so sorry to hear that your experience with AirBnb wasn’t a good one. You definitely have to be so cautious with sites like this, especially when traveling out of the country. I have been pleasantly surprised with my experiences with AirBnb, but I definitely wont let me guard down.

    • EG III says:

      You’re right! When traveling, you must ALWAYS have your guard up because you never know when something can go wrong.

  23. Oh yikes!! I’ve only done AirBnB twice, but both were good experiences. Be sure to leave feedback (and contact AirBnB… they can penalise the property for breaches like this.

  24. Marcie says:

    That really sucks. It’s always frustrating when you can’t contact the host, especially on a holiday! I’m hoping you found somewhere safe to spend the night!

  25. Miriam Ernst says:

    I’m so sorry your experience was so bad, I always had good experiences when I used Airbnb, every time! My worst experience was actually with Smartbox, they had a bug with their internet website so when we arrived, the hotel told us that our reservation was a month ago!! We were so worry, finally booked a room there after Smartbox told us they would refund us. One month later, no refund and no reactivation of the box!!! So I’ll never use Smartbox ever again! Hope my comment can help someone, I read that there were a lot of problems with them.

    • EG III says:

      I’ve never actually heard of Smartbox…but now that I have, I certainly won’t be using it. Thanks for the heads up!

  26. Ouch that’s not good. I only used Airbnb once on Brussels and it was rgood. You should give a bad reviewand report it.

  27. That is so awful! Sorry to hear you had such a bad experience. My first Airbnb Nightmare was when I moved to Spain and decided to rent an Airbnb for a week while apartment hunting. The location was not as great as described, but furthermore there was a roach infestation. It was HORRIBLE! I was so surprised because it received all great reviews online and people raved about how clean it was. I seriously questioned the judgement of every single poster that said that haha. Needless to say I only stayed 2 nights, and honestly, that was 2 nights too many.

  28. Damn haha that part where the lady says “No credit” but it was really generous of her to go out and purchase phone credit. I am looking forward to the next part to see how the story unfolds.

    • EG III says:

      You’re right.Even though things did work out like I wanted, it was really kind of her to go out of her way and do that for me.

  29. This is terrible.. This thought always overwhelms us whenever we book an apartment in a foreign country. What if our booking gets cancelled the last moment, what if the host does not turn up to accomodate us and what if the location is not as good as it states. So far our experience hasnt been any bad..We just hope things turn up well in future too… Looking forward to your sequel 😉

    • EG III says:

      Well, I’ve had bad hotel experiences, bad hostel experiences, and now I guess it’s only fitting to add a bad airbnb experience to the list haha!

  30. Yikes! This is why I never say in Air Bnbs. I don’t like stress or uncertainty when I travel. But now I need to know what happened next! Did the hosts ever get back?

    • EG III says:

      Ohhh they got back! You won’t believe what it actually took to get a response. The conclusion will be coming soon…

  31. Milijana says:

    I hope this bad beginning of New Year’s Eve had a happy ending after all !
    Can’t wait to read about the ending!

  32. Bhushavali says:

    OMG!!! This is a true nightmare!!! I’m so sorry it turned out like this for you. I’ve tried Airbnb just once in Wales and it was actually very good! When I’m on a budget solo trips, I usually prefer hostels to Airbnb’s esp because of these issues and without company such times can be really trying!!!

    • EG III says:

      That’s the thing…sometime’s airbnb’s can be quite budget friendly during solo trips as well. But I definitely agree that the hostel environment is a lot more social.

  33. Indrani says:

    Hmm… now that suspense is killing me 🙂 Hope things turned out well after this long wait in the cold.

  34. I haven’t tried the Airbnb as I am very concious about these kind of issues. Not unless the owner of the unit is someone I know.

    On the brighter side, you can charge it to experience 🙂

    • EG III says:

      Good point. As I found in the first place, there can be very good value in airbnb…but you never know when you’ll have that nightmare instance.
      You’re right tho…any experience is a good experience in my book 🙂

  35. Corinne says:

    I’ve used Airbnb many times and loved it each time. I do think you need to be picky. I can spend a long time really looking for specific info. I’m curious to what happened; can’t wait to find out.

    • EG III says:

      Well, my first experience was great so I’m not completely turned off from it. This was one of those unfortunate circumstances where the good reviews did not live up to the hype. 🙁

  36. james munley says:

    No more cliffhangers!

  37. The suspense!!!! I’ve stayed in an AirBnb twice – first in Barcelona and there were 6 of us; and second at a barn conversion in the middle of nowhere in Wales with my husband. Both experiences were really good. The place, location, and details were what they exactly were noted on the website. We didn’t have trouble with keys or finding the owner, which was very convenient. It sucks to have awful experiences with AirBnb, I really look forward to how your trip went like!

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