In the past, Airbnb was often seen as a less expensive, more homey alternative to visiting a new place and staying somewhere like a hotel. However, as some people have learned the hard way, sometimes Airbnbs aren't actually as advertised or, worse, cause more problems than a hotel.
1. "My boyfriend and I stayed in an apartment that was owned by the woman living upstairs, who spent the first 10 minutes of our visit bragging about how she was a single mom taking care of three kids and was still able to make money off of the Airbnb. My boyfriend, tired and jet-lagged from the long trip, mostly just nodded along, and as soon as she left, we hopped into bed for the night. I was awoken early in the morning to the feeling of something tugging on our blankets and assumed that an animal had gotten in or something. When I opened my eyes, the OWNER'S SON was making his way onto the blanket to try to crawl into bed with us!"
2. "We were asked to keep the internet usage to a minimum. Um, no, friend. They also set the TV to keep cutting to some kids movie on a regular basis, I guess to deter us from using the internet? It was weird."
3. "A few years ago, I stayed at an Airbnb the night before my best friend’s wedding. The stay was a gift from one of her family friends who owned it. During the night, I had the worst nightmare that all of us (bride and bridesmaids) were stuck in the Airbnb while a strange man terrorized us and burned the house down with all of us inside. When I woke up, I was terrified and couldn’t shake the feeling that there was negative energy in the house. I didn’t sleep the rest of the night. The next morning, one of the other bridesmaids mentioned that she had a nightmare that we were all murdered in the house, and also felt this crazy, scary energy in the house that kept her up the rest of the night. I’m a pretty skeptical person, but I haven’t been able to stay at an Airbnb since."
4. "The listing said 'entire place,' but there was a guy (the owner) who kept visiting the place. Once, we were hanging out drinking on the patio, and he came out with a beer as well and asked how the trip was going. We wanted to be left alone but didn't want to be like, 'Get out,' because I was traveling with a few girlfriends and didn't want a situation on our hands, when we were just visiting for a long weekend."
5. "We stayed in the basement of a woman’s house near Vancouver while she was home. We’re from the UK and had been traveling for 16 hours, so we were exhausted because it felt like 5 a.m. to us. The basement was flooded, and she stayed downstairs talking to us for ages while we were all just desperate to go to sleep. She was then up for hours in the middle of the night playing loud music and walking around in loud shoes (heels, I assume). We left at around 7 a.m. Vancouver time and didn’t want to disturb her, so we packed up and left without making too much noise. She sent my dad numerous angry emails complaining that we didn’t say goodbye before we left."
6. "I had a lady say that I booked a single room, but even Airbnb said that the listing looked as if I'd booked the whole place. She then told my friend and me that she'd double-booked, so we needed to leave. When we protested, she started to threaten us. There was nowhere to stay in LA for under $200 a night, and we were broke backpackers. Airbnb ended up refunding us the whole amount, but nothing could happen to her because it was 'He said, she said.'"
7. "I booked a place in Austin, and the pictures looked great and it had great reviews. It was a shady neighborhood, and the apartment was terrible. The sheets were stained and looked dirty, and the master bath also looked dirty. The other two rooms were good, but the bathroom had a HUGE hole in the shower wall! Like, underneath the showerhead! We were supposed to have cable and internet, but we had neither. I contacted the owner, which turned out to be a company based in California. They were responsive at first, and I contacted them again because there were roaches. They ghosted me. I took some pictures and got a partial refund, but I haven’t used Airbnb since then because they told me I didn’t go about it correctly to get a full refund."
8. "A recliner in the living room had a baggie pushed between the cushions…my sister pulled it out and it had some old sausage in it. There was also a live tick on my pillow that didn’t crawl into sight until I lay down. This was in a city with no wooded areas around."
9. "I rented a room in a house. On the last night that we were there, one of the other guests had a 'new friend' over. They both seemed nice enough. I got up the next morning to take our bags out to the car, and as I was walking down the steps, I noticed something on the carpet. It was a pair of women's underwear and a PILE OF POOP. I was speechless. Once we left, stepping carefully around the poop, we messaged the host to tell him, as we were definitely not going to be blamed for this. He asked if someone had a dog with them. Logical question, but nope, I had to tell him that it was human poop. It was the most awkward text exchange ever."
10. "We stayed at this Airbnb on an island that was gorgeous but very reasonably priced. That clearly should have been my first red flag. However, we were excited to be on vacation and went anyway, even after reading multiple reviews saying how the owner charged them an extra $200 if even a piece of furniture was out of place. Two nights before we go to the house, the host asks to CALL me. I’ve stayed at many Airbnbs, and this has never happened. I reluctantly agree because I’m a generally awkward person, and we chat for a while about what I do for work and why we are going on vacation. After the phone call, he sends me a 27-page PDF of house rules and asks me to confirm after I've read it, as well as my partner (whose full contact information he needed, for whatever reason)."
11. "We opened a drawer in the kitchen, and it was full of sex toys."
—Anonymous, 29, TN
12. "I booked an Airbnb room in a house close to transit. My partner and I were visiting the town for two days and then boarding a cruise ship. I arrived in a sketchy neighborhood, and the front door was unlocked. The owner said he never locks the door because he has a black belt in karate and never sleeps. The house reeked of tobacco and cheap weed. We went upstairs to our room and it had no lock. Windows? Never heard of them. No windows, no curtains. The bed had a quilt and nothing else but two pancake-style pillows. The bathroom actually had a locking knob but was covered in mold and had no toilet paper. I asked the owner for some help, and he said that I should have brought toilet paper. I had a meltdown and called Airbnb. They refunded the cost, and I guess 'black belt no sleep' is still out there. I now videotape every place I stay in and check in advance for locks and toilet paper."
13. "I booked an Airbnb in New York City and was looking for the bathroom. I found it — it was part of the hallway — and noticed there was no shower. I went looking for the shower and it was in the kitchen, with a full spice rack inside. The icing on the cake was one room that we were told not to enter, but we kept seeing some kind of movement from the curtain. Whether it was a fan or a person, we didn’t stay to find out. We ran out within 20 minutes."
14. "Funnily enough, I had the same issues all three times. Now, granted, I have never booked one myself but tagged along with people for weddings and birthdays and paid our portion. All of them had a binder with lists and lists of nothing but rules. One actually stated no cooking in the kitchen after 6 p.m. — you know, normal dinnertime for the average person. One had a hot tub that we couldn't use at all, even though it was advertised on the initial site. Two of them had you clean extensively but pay a cleaning fee. One also changed the code every 12 hours and would be late texting it out. Awesome."
15. "Just north of the San Francisco Bay Area, I rented a room in a large, extremely secluded house. I arrived in the middle of a rainstorm. The house had five bedrooms, except my door was locked. There was no internet and spoiled food in the fridge, and one entire wall was nothing but huge windows and doors. My room had a door that opened to the inside of the house and doors on the opposite wall that opened up to a metal dog run that spanned three sides of the house. I had my small puppy with me that I carried throughout the house. This upset the large German shepherd that was pacing around outside the house in the dog run. The German shepherd saw my dog and lost its mind, and its pacing increased to a full run back and forth. I believed that my dog and I were safe inside my assigned bedroom. All of a sudden, the German shepherd burst through the dog run and glass door straight into my bedroom."
"The shepherd immediately attacked and had my dog by the neck, shaking it back and forth. I had to dig my fingers into the German shepherd to get it away from my dog. I opened the other door in my bedroom that led to the inside of the house. I grabbed my dog and threw it on the bed and forced the shepherd in the opposite direction through the other door that led into the rest of the house. The German shepherd paced, barked, and threw its entire body against the bedroom door trying to get to my dog. I sat on the floor against the bedroom door and examined my dog for bites before I realized that the German shepherd now had full run of the house and I was locked in the bedroom. I had to call 911 to be rescued. They tracked down the property owner in Italy but had a bad English-Italian conversation. The police had to contact animal control to safely corral the German shepherd so that I could get my things and leave. Drove down the road and cried/slept in my car until morning. Airbnb gave me a full refund."
16. "The cute cabin in the woods turned into a freaky, animal-infested home next to a meth lab. We should have known what was to come when we pulled up next to a house and were greeted by a baby swing occupied by a ratty old teddy bear slowly swinging back and forth. We piled out of the car and realized that there was a huge sign at the front door with our first and last names on it, which is wonderful for two women traveling alone IN THE WOODS!"
17. "I once stayed at an Airbnb in Edinburgh with an older couple in their apartment. The bed in our room was super squeaky, so that if we took in a breath, it made a noise. Night one was very PG in the bedroom, as we didn’t want to disturb the couple. Roll on the second evening, we got back quite late, let ourselves in the main door to the apartment, and pulled the chain across. We went to our room and had sex on the floor to be quiet, as we were frisky. We'd just gotten settled to sleep quite late when we heard banging on the main door. We went to answer it, and it turned out we had locked the owners out! It was hilarious and we were embarrassed that sex on the floor wasn’t required. We left very quickly the following day."
18. "We stayed in a fancy condo in Toronto that turned out to be a nightmare. The building looked great, but the unit was totally different from the listing. We contacted the owners and were told to call a property management company with shady representatives. They refused to acknowledge that we were in a totally different unit despite the obvious differences and photos. Ultimately, we stayed because we didn’t want to be without a place to stay for a month when we’d just traveled across the country with a toddler. Turns out that most of the building was Airbnbs, many of them rented for parties. At 7 p.m., it would take 10-plus minutes to get on an elevator because so many (unmasked) people would come for parties (in the fall of 2020). We were on the 48th floor, so we couldn’t take the stairs, and ultimately stopped going out at that time. In our last week, there was a shooting in the building at one of the parties. A bullet strayed into another unit and almost hit a resident."
19. "My girlfriends and I rented a cabin for a friend’s wedding. After a four-hour flight and a two-hour drive to the cabin, it was filthy when we arrived. There was rotting food in the fridge and cupboards, and only one blanket and one pillow for four beds. The bedsheets had not been changed, and there was hair and other bodily fluids on them. The garbage had not been changed and was rotting. We messaged the host, who advised us that his wife had checked on the cabin earlier in the day. When I sent the host pictures, they advised me that they wouldn’t write a bad review about us if we didn’t about them. Ha! It took over a month and many emails back and forth with Airbnb to prove why we deserved our money back."
20. "A couple of years ago, my partner and I got this Airbnb that looked good. When we got there, the bed hadn't been made clean, and there were wet towels on it. Also, one of the bathrooms hadn't been cleaned, and there was a toilet full of liquid diarrhea. That bathroom stayed closed, and I had to make the bed clean. I was so grossed out, I couldn't sleep properly for a few days."
Do you have an Airbnb horror story? Tell me about it in the comments!
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.