Why I’m Over Airbnb
Am I just getting too old for this shit? Maybe.
Backstory: I don’t like hotels, either
I’ve hated hotels for as long as I can remember, hating them before I even recognized the emotion as “hate” and only hating them more once I realized, spiraling down a dark hole of hatred when I started working as a consultant, hating them not only when I traveled “for business, sir!” four days a week, but hating them just as much when I tried to enjoy my money by traveling even more on my days off like we all do (which is some kind of outright lunatic shit right there.)
And, okay, it’s not that I hate all hotels — I’ve had some great stays in some. There was one in Mexico City that was cool AF. The quaint little thing my mom picked in Paris. Every hotel I’ve rolled into seamlessly when I’m exhausted, which is more contextual but whatever. And literally all Kimptons.
But for the most part, whether it was for business or pleasure, nice or no-name, I don’t really like hotels.
Why? Many reasons.
REASON #1: They’re sterile AF and it’s all lies
They’re meant to sit as empty cardboard boxes, this aggressive representation of “nothingness” where we’re actually supposed to rest our weary head, willfully going along with the whole play-pretend charade like a million people haven’t already slept here, and the whole thing just freaks me out.
REASON #2: “Fancy” is lies too, and makes me uncomfortable
It’s like fine dining.
I want to break the China and — quick! — duck out the back door. I want to clang all the spoons and forks agains the glassware, just to show everyone how stupid their dumb setup is, how fucking close this all is to coming unhinged with no effort at all, how precocious and fragile it is. I want to wipe that $40 sauce that is mostly butter (but, like “good butter” so it’s okay?) off my face with that white table cloth that is the same material as the napkins and then bolt from the table to go wolf kebabs in some back alley with the cooks.
Stop starching my shirt while I’m wearing it, weirdos. Stop refilling my water as I’m literally trying to drink it. Stop leaving me the cork like some kind of party favor and pretending it’s not just packaging wrapped up in pretentious pizzazz!
Stop talking like we ain’t both human beings.
And that’s about how I feel about nice hotels. Every time they come at me like, “hello, Mizz Gage, a very very fine day we’re both having, and thank you for the honor of acknowledging it out loud to you in words!! Welcome to The Fanciest Fake Shit You Could Fathom, we hope to make your stay sufficiently dick-suckery for your ego.”
It all just leaves me standing there, staring and desperate for them to fucking stop, like “omg…! I’m sorry, but.. Melanie, is it? Well, Melanie, cut the crap.” But Melanie won’t cut the crap. Melanie will never cut the crap; can’t cut the crap even if you were to tip her explicitly to cut the crap, because Melanie operates on all terror mode, all the time, and that shit is pre-programed for shit like this.
It’s weird and unnerving and I do not like it.
REASON #3: rewards programs
Hotels everywhere are the physical embodiment of people who are desperate to be validated in their mind-numbing, obliterating sameness. (You get a rewards program, and you get a rewards program — everyone gets a rewards program! Extra points to you, good sir! Have a cookie. Take a status.)
Anyway. This was why I got into airbnbs. But now, I dunno.
Because you know what I hate even more than hotels? Even more than sterile boxes of lies, quietly cleansed of any sign of human life? More than fake, fancy mating dances of hospitality? More than fake rewards programs?
I hate being fucked with.
And there ain’t no kind of fuckery quite like the airbnb fuckery.
I was the POSTER CHILD OF PERFECTION for an airbnb customer!
(If I may say so myself.)
I loved airbnb. I loved airbnb before there even was airbnb, rolling the dice with early entrants VRBO and HomeAway (both still around) before they were cool, when staying in someone else’s home meant combing through grainy, discolored, jittery photos like your grandma would proudly snap of her gazebo through her damn window. I would painstakingly reach out to these people, most of them retired and some of whom only answered email once every two weeks (and in some cases, had been using it about as long.)
I was, that is to say, a true “early adopter” of this concept, and I say this as someone who never early adopts anything. (Like, if I could have the same phone for the rest of my life — or even no phone at all — I would be perfectly happy.)
And once airbnb hit, I loved airbnb. I tried to finagle my way into running airbnb through instead of hotels for business travel —and this was way before airbnb rolled out a formal program and companies were reluctantly forced to realize that it was no longer 1997.
And everything was great, early on. But then everything fell apart.
“Character” and “local charm” shouldn’t mean “inconvenient” and “crazy”
People like to romanticize airbnb. (I mean, fuck, I still do.) We helicopter around them like that one terrible lover some of us can’t stop going back to because, like, there’s just so much passion THO!!!
But this isn’t a dude who “surprises you with flowers for no reason,” or whisks you away for a carefree, everything-planned romance.
Airbnb at its worst is the “accommodations” equivalent of the dude who asks you to go to dinner but then tells you “tee-hee I’ll text you the address ahead of time! Looking forward to it!” only to send you directions in broken, stream of conscious blips, leaving you to find your way there in the dark. When you finally roll up, he strolls in looking half as awesome as he did in photos and smelling kinda weird, and on top of it actually tries to pass off a single Oreo as “dessert.”
You think “omg but he was so charming that one time” keeps making up for that shit after a while?
No it does not, weird dude.
My issue isn’t with character; character is GREAT!
I’ve stayed in plenty of Fucking Awesome airbnbs — and many of my best trips have been in them!
Like a white washed converted barn outside of Portland (we did the fall; it was perfection), a tower in Door County Wisconsin, a totally charming number in Massachusetts (where I took my mom and nailed it so hard I legit thought she was gonna try to move in, strong-arming at the door frame like a dog who doesn’t wanna leave the lake.) An endearing writers house in far-off Maine. An architect’s wet dream in Costa Rica…
Am I boring you yet? Does it seem braggy? I’m not even sure. Sorry. I’m just tryna illustrate: it’s #notallairbnb
I’m starting to hate airbnb even more than I hate hotels
Back story: here are some of my biggest pet peeves in general. See if you can spot the similarities:
- Poor phone call quality
- Pens that don’t work
- Being interrupted
(Just for comparison, here’s a whole slew of shit that doesn’t bother me: traffic, rude people, bugs, humidity, dirt under my fingernails, accents, unusual food, bad coffee, or weird wallpaper. I don’t hate “character” or “grime” or “imperfection” or “being slightly uncomfortable”…)
I just hate “being fucked with.”
Here’s a short list of my recent experiences at airbnbs:
- A “private, entire home” where the bathroom (and, actually, all plumbing) was in another building. (Like, yes, you had to go outside.)
- Airbnb listings with two buildings on the same property. You don’t know it’s two bc they post photos of both in the listing, but you actually only rent one and the cooler one turns out to be private (?!)
- “Private rooms” in communal homes that, for legal reasons, don’t have doors because they don’t have windows.
- Places run by agencies, whose contact info differs depending on whether it’s before and after booking, and the profile matches no real person you’d ever reach
- Places where the front door is not the address on the listing and they don’t tell you this until you’re emailing them from your phone, which is at 2% battery, huffily dropping your bags in what is probably dog vomit or people poop in the Art District of LA
- The stupid cancellation policy
- The 19th-Century farm directions I get (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve chosen places that are “teehee not in GPS!!! We’re waaaay out here lolololol!” and then I have to weed my way through bullshit that always starts with “so what you do is” followed by like 1,000 poorly-formatted words)
- Directions peppered with personal anecdotes (“so, turn right at the cafe — oh by the way, if you’re here on Sunday, you should go to the cafe; there’s great jam and we just love the owner, Marge; she and I went to Sunday School together and — “ HOLY SHIT STFU. It’s not that I don’t care about Marge and her honeyjam — because I definitely do, and I will 100% throw down on that shit — but there’s a time and place, SANDRA, and right now what I want from you is motherfucking directions. Do you realize I will be reading these over and over and over on my way? Do you think I need to re-hear about Marge’s sweet little dog Dollie every time? I DO NOT.)
- Directions that aren’t chronological (Like, “oh, I forgot to mention that when you pull off — ” OMG YOU TYPED THIS AND SENT IT TO ME, SANDRA! CUT AND PASTE SHIT WHERE IT SHOULD GO BEFORE YOU SEND IT; IT’S CALLED EDITING, HOLY SHIT)
- Directions that start with “if you’re come from __” NOT followed by something like a.) a major city or b.) a major landmark. (No, not the grocery store, Sandra — gaddamn. Something like “the motherfucking airport” or something. Like, where people who are not you might be coming from.)
- Directions that “pick up from” some random place, like “okay, once you turn at the blue barn” — oh great. Now I get to make this 2-hour drive in constant, scanning fear of missing this BLUE FUCKING BARN.
- A whole slew of other unintelligible directions the likes of which I definitely don’t want to be reading one-handed in the car* on pitch black backroads at 9 pm. (*Oh, I mean, of course not. I totally pull off to re-read them every 1/2 mile. Just like you do.)
- Directions that come piecemeal by text, requiring me to text the verbal equivalent of “uh huh” to illicit the next step. OMFG.
- People who ghost for hours exactly 30 seconds after emailing, “just text me when you’re here!”
- Homes without marked addresses. (And no, I don’t mean I ran into “partially obscured but definitely still existent address numbers;” I mean, “oh, isn’t our huge, 8' tall solid sliding metal gate so cool tho?! Look at that patina!!! Obviously numbers would just throw off the aesthetic, come on.”) Or, “just use the alley entrance” where “the alley entrance” is unmarked — because it’s an alley — and comes with no further identifying detail.
- What’s the standing policy with cleaning the place? Like, I’m cool with gathering up the towels I used— that’s just polite — but stripping the bed, starting the wash, taking out the trash and doing the dishes? Not to be a dick, but I kinda assumed part of that might be covered by that $80 “cleaning” charge I paid you? Pls advise.
Here are my expectations:
It’s not hard.
- Intelligent, in-order directions, devoid of stupid nonsense like jam
- Clean towels and linens (actually, I’ve never NOT had these, so shoutout to all the airbnb hosts out there doing the bare minimum basics of their job and stuff)
- Coffee. It doesn’t need to be good coffee, It doesn’t even need to be fresh coffee. But goddamn, stingy bitches, provide fucking coffee. How much coffee? Fucking MORE. Like, enough coffee to caffeinate a small office bc DO NOT JUDGE ME, SANDRA! When in doubt, double it. If it’s cutting into your margins, charge me. There are almost no limits on my irritation for you not having sufficient amounts of coffee, esp when we’re out in the middle of fucking nowhere and going back Out There means having to re-read your stupid directions all over again
- I want a clearly marked (like, regular fucking address numbers would be awesome) and an unlocked or otherwise fully-accessible door.
- Places that match descriptions
- Seriously, clear directions. I don’t want a fucking scavenger hunt. That’s not my idea of “fun.”
Shit I’m okay with
Because, look, despite what people have told you in the school hallways after class, I’m really not hard to please. (Like, come on — I’m okay with humidity and bugs and traffic for fucks sake.)
Here’s a bunch of shit I don’t care about:
- Slightly smaller spaces
- Slightly louder spaces
- Slightly too hot (and, to a lesser extent, slightly too cold) spaces
- Slightly too hard or too soft mattresses
- Slightly too few (or too many? that’s not a thing) pillows
- A slight smell
- The host’s annoying dog that is not cute at all
- The host (usually)
Shit that’s NOT okay:
- Having to go outside to pee, even if I “only have to go outside really quick and the bathroom IS still inside, just in another building, lolol” unless I explicitly signed up for some kind of “yurt” experience (and I DID NOT)
- Photos of any spaces that I will not be actually STAYING IN, bc fuck you for real I’m not paying you for your pretty pretty pinterest board
And then there’s, of course, all the ordinary shit: unresponsive hosts and shit like “a single K-Cup pod” (like, oh ok — yeah, they’re pretty pricey, huh? I guess we’ll share! Thanks, Becky!)
Borderline not okay but I will begrudgingly deal with it: French presses. Bc I hate them and this is really trying my patience at this point.
Welcomed but not expected:
And not to be dick but offering this up doesn’t somehow earn “magic host points” that make up for any of the above.
- Local recommendations. Fine. (“Yay” I guess? I mean, I can Google and Yelp, and Yelp is like 100 “you’s,” but sure. Thanks, Sandra.)
Not expected but very much appreciated
- Being left the fuck alone. “Yay” times literally a million, bc I know it’s your place and all, but I am here for accommodations, not to make friends, and THEMS THE DEAL, HAMHOCK. You want someone to hang out with, join Tinder or something. I’ll do the same.
In addition to the above, the easiest way to my airbnb heart:
- Late check-ins
- Late check-outs
- Leave me the fuck alone I’m not here to be your friend for real
“Well. You sound like a jerk and I do not care for your profanity!”
Fine by me. You’re the one who read this far.
“You sound uptight like my mom*”
I know. And that’s fine!
I AM FINE WITH THIS.
You think you can come at me, threatening to compare me to someone who agrees with me on these issues. PISH fucking POSH, my good sir! I’m not sure you realize, but THAT IS NO THREAT TO ME, GOOD MAN. Like, gimme her number — is she traveling soon?? I’m not gonna split a room with her —bc lol we ain’t like that — but, uh, shyeah, I want her fuckin recommendations and shit. She sounds like a real down gal!
*Except the f-bomb. Unless she cusses too. In which case: my kinda girl!
“Well! Maybe you just shouldn’t stay in airbnbs, little miss PRISS!”
Uh. Yeah. No. Maybe I shouldn’t. Doy. That’s exactly what this post is about. So I guess I’m fuckin glad you agree! Thanks for chiming in, bud! Thanks for following along! You sound like someone who could leave some real great airbnb reviews.
Give me boring. Give me consistent
If that makes me a little old lady, or boring myself, then BRING IT, BITCH. I literally don’t care. Lay that “boring”shit on this “boring” broad and let’s get down on some well-lit entries and Google Maps directions!
Fetch me my whole entire second cup of coffee, Jeeves, and help me fluff that whole entire extra pillow.
Mama is livin it up.