If dreams involve dirty kitchens, no toilet paper and negotiating even to get a towel, then, yes, I am living the dream. Sadly, these are just some of the realities of Airbnb.
And I should know – I spend two nights a week in Airbnb properties in London.
Although I now live in Lille and work from home for part of the week, I also still have to go into the office in London. These are my least favourite days of the week.
Airbnb has its part to play in that.
When I had used Airbnb in the past, it had been to hire a whole house or apartment for a holiday. I had never rented a room in a host’s home, but I have got used to it quite quickly.
I rent rooms for roughly the same budget each week. However, what I get for my money varies hugely.
The best was one I found in Hither Green, in south-east London. The room was small but my host was delightful and we hit it off straight away. She told me from the word go that she would be moving a couple of months later, so I shouldn’t get too comfortable there. And so it proved.
Plus, my office has now moved to Stratford, in east London, so something closer to work would be better – ideally, within walking distance.
I found two more that I liked, both just a few minutes’ walk from the new office. However, again, for one reason or another, the hosts weren’t looking to rent out rooms in the long term.
As for the remainder… well, the rest of the Airbnb hosts I have come across can be split into two categories.
The first have lost their heart of their homes in a bid to turn all but their kitchens and bathrooms into money-making bedrooms. I remember one couple telling me I should feel free to use the dining table… but it was on their hall landing – and they were sat at the only chairs.
The second are the absent landlords. These are the worst.
They don’t live in, so they don’t really care about the home – and nor do their guests. Standards soon slip badly.
“You soon find you are sharing with 7 other people – 2 of whom arrive, noisily, on a midnight flight and then call home, equally loudly, to say they’ve arrived safely”
The clue is when they tell you that there’s a key safe by the front door. Alarm bells now sound in my head, as I know it’s all downhill from there.
You soon find you are sharing with 7 other people – 2 of whom arrive, noisily, on a midnight flight and then call home, equally loudly, to say they’ve arrived safely.
Not only that, but towels aren’t provided, the toilet paper’s run out and there’s nobody there to help…
So my search for a regular place to stay continues. Fortunately, every now and again, I get a week where I don’t have to go to London at all. Those are the weeks I savour – and this week is one of them.