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App Deleted: Why I Will Never Use AirBnB Again 

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AirBnB is not for me. 

The current state of the app is such a far cry from it’s original concept that I feel they’ve lost the plot. 

What started as a friendly platform for local people to rent out their home short term, has turned into one of the largest burn and churn, sparsely Ikea-furnished, rental company machines in existence. 

I know this article may anger some people. Likely those who have an invested bias, AKA, AirBnB hosts, or travelers with fond memories of a particular trip.

Kashlee Garcia - Hotel stay

I’m sorry to say, in my opinion, that a few bad apples have ruined the bunch, for me at least. I am sure there are some fantastic hosts out there, and there will always be travelers who still prefer the platform over hotels.

They’ll find you and pluck you out amongst the bad listings and your calendars will remain full. The cream always rises to the top. 

I do, however, as a travel editor, need to express what a nightmare the platform has been for me over and over and why I never use it again. 

My job for the last 8 years has been full-time travel, averaging over 200+ nights in hotels year after year. Many of those nights, I’ve found myself in AirBnB properties for one reason or another, and when I compare almost a decade's worth of data, 9 times out of 10 it has been a spectacularly subpar experience. 

I’ve decided to no longer grit my teeth and bear it. Time after time, it’s led to lost money, frustrations, safety issues, and uncomfortable nights, and I’m just not in my ‘sacrifice' era.

I’ve deleted the app and made the decision to stay loyal to hotels, and here’s why:

Kashlee Garcia at the Windsor Court hotel
I'm in my ‘hotels only' era

Too Many Nightmares

Last summer, against my formal protests, the group of friends I was traveling with insisted we get an AirBnB for the week in Ibiza and proceeded to choose one that only had 1 rating. My usual criteria if I had to stay in a rental was nothing under 10+ ratings, nothing under 4.90 total score. 

This was a 4.70 with 1 rating. Gulp

We checked in, took some videos, had a swim, unpacked, and everything was okay. I say okay because this place was 4 figures a night and it was not knocking my socks off in any way. It was just, meh.

I could tell it was a ‘new development’ because some of the panels for the light switches and plugs were missing, some exposed wiring, unfinished edges, paint bubbles, etc. but I decided to ignore it and enjoy a week with my friends. 

On our first day, we went grocery shopping, stocked up on everything we needed for the week, and waited for our other friends to arrive. 

Day 2, all hell broke loose. 

It started to rain. Hard. I kid you not, the ceiling in the villa started to POUR WATER OUT OF THE LIGHT SOCKETS. Thankfully, the power had gone out seconds before, so we were not all electrocuted. 

Airbnb horror stories - when my villa in Ibiza starting pouring water out of electrical sockets
Water pouring out from the light sockets in my nightmare Airbnb

  • Water was everywhere. 
  • The A/C was not working.
  • The lights were not working.
  • The fridge stopped working and all the food went bad.
  • No one could take a shower, or charge their phones, or see anything in the house after 9pm.
  • The host was of ZERO help, leaving us stranded inside a flooded house with no power. 
Screenshot of whatsapp messages
unanswered messages from the host

We were there in extreme high season and we could not find another property that would fit our group. We actually stayed in that villa for 2 more days, like squatters, while we all found flights and different arrangements.

Everything in my suitcase was wet, I was eating crackers and rice cakes for meals, and I thought I must have died and gone to hell.

This was just one example. 

Others include: 

  • Being locked out by an auto-locking door to the laundry room on the patio, with no phone, and no way to get help (or water or a bathroom) for 14 hours. 
  • Booking a 2-bedroom apartment in Istanbul with one of the bedrooms only having a bed that was 3 feet long? I literally hung off the edge the entire time. 
  • A villa in Bali that was building a 2nd level on the roof, unannounced to me, with the most intense jackhammering around the clock.

The worst part is, when these problems happen, it can be a huge deal to try and fix them, especially if you’ve just arrived in the middle of the night from a long flight. At a hotel, if there is a major issue with a room, management can fix it instantly. At a rental, you may be stranded on your own. 

Besides my own personal horror stories of experience, here are the other reasons I just can’t go down the AirBnB road anymore. 

I Don’t Work Here

Have you ever stayed at a rental property that has so many rules it makes your head spin? 

  • “You must wash and dry all the dishes you use”
  • “Strip the sheets off the bed and put them in the washing machine”
  • “Empty all garbage and take the trash out to the back alley”

Listen, I don’t work here. I just paid money to stay here, the rest is up to you and the cost of doing business. I work really hard and when my travel is work-related, it has to be seamless.

When my travel is for leisure, I’m so exhausted I don’t want to be working for someone else during my limited time off.

The Novelty Has Vanished

In the early days, you were staying in someone’s lived-in-home while they were out of town that weekend. There were books on the shelves, a throw blanket on the couch, and sugar in the cupboard.

Now, in most circumstances, you are booking a poorly designed ‘set’ of someone’s home. It’s cold and empty and patched together with some basic uncomfortable furniture and likely no one has ever lived there.

The cupboards are empty except for 4 white plates and 4 white bowls, and if you are lucky, maybe 1 coffee pod. 

Couch and coffee table

Once huge rental companies took over the majority of the platform's listings, it’s just business honey.

Sure, hotels have their fair share of sterile rooms, but it’s expected. What's shocking is arriving at your ‘home’ for the week and realizing it’s so minimally stocked that it feels almost as if it’s a vacant property. 

The Bar Is So Low

Speaking of looking like a vacant property, let’s talk about what is inside an average AirBnB, which I would consider ’semi-furnished’.

Unless you go for an extremely high-end luxury property, I would make a bet that everything has been done with the bare minimum effort. Almost every rental bedroom I have ever been in looks like it’s been furnished for a dorm room.

Basic bed frames and mattresses range from torturous to bearable, and if you have a side table or a lamp, lucky you

Why did I just travel all this way and pay all this money to be uncomfortable? I’m so over the bare minimum. 

Basic room
airbnb be like… here's your room

Are There Even Savings Anymore?

When I first used the app, I was younger and had an almost invisible budget, and in reality, the prices were much better. It was an attractive option for me then, even with accepting a few hiccups, as I was probably a more clumsy traveler back then as well. 

But now, with the prices having soared to match an equivalent hotel in many circumstances, much due to the costs of having these properties managed by a 3rd party company, it’s usually no longer a cheaper option. 

There may still be savings when you rent a room in someone’s house, but I don’t have any experience with that type of booking, so I don’t want to make assumptions. 

The App Has Gotten Some Pushback From Locals 

The platform has gotten some very negative press in recent years, with locals claiming gentrification of their once off-the-path neighborhoods, pushing them out to make room for overnight tourists. There have been massive protests in some popular destinations, while some cities have enacted strict bylaws to limit the amount of Airbnb rentals in certain areas. 

Many people still choose Airbnb thinking their money is directly injected back into the pockets of a local family, when the numbers show it’s likely going to a large corporation instead. In 2023, a study by AirDNA showed that almost 1/3 of ‘hosts’ are actually companies that have a portfolio of at least 21 properties, up to the hundreds.

Hotels have not received this kind of pushback, as they are largely located outside of rural zones, and in some cases, have been in business for decades if not centuries. 

Hotel room

Now, enough of the ranting and lightening this article with some positive aspects of hotels.

I have some pretty strong feelings about why hotels will be the ones getting my accommodation dollars, and I think they are important for every traveler to consider. 

Hotels Have The Best Zip Codes

Hotels always have the best addresses, no matter what type of traveler you are or what country you are in. 

Hotel in Europe

They’re located inside airports, beside major shopping centers, and my favorite example, in the absolute heart of an ancient European city, operating for 400+ years in the center of it all.

If you want quiet, there are tranquil retreats in the countryside. If you want action-packed, there are hotels for every budget in the middle of every city. 

Some of the best and most sought-after addresses are the ones belonging to historic hotels. This is the vibe I am looking for. 

View of street in Europe

Amenities and Convenience. Period. 

Lock yourself out of your room? Go to the front desk for a new key.

Forgot your toothbrush? Call down and have one brought to your room.

Starving after a late flight? Order room service.

breakfast

In addition to all the obvious amenities, like pools, gyms, daily housekeeping etc, I really use hotel conveniences to the MAX.

I order packages to hotels and they are waiting for me in my room when I arrive, I have the concierge desk make dinner reservations for me, and I will use the unpacking service for example offered by St.Regis hotels. 

There is nothing I love more than having the ability to get help right to my room. Often times in rentals, it could be hours before a host replies. 

I’m looking for travel to be a holistic, therapeutic, and luxurious experience, and no one does that quite like a renowned hotel. ‘

Wine and chocolates

I Feel Much Safer in Hotels 

Sure, creepy and unsafe situations can happen anywhere, including 5-star hotels, but in my experience, the chances are higher in places like un-staffed rental properties. 

We’ve all read the hidden camera stories and it’s downright bone-chilling. I’ve also been in a situation where I had to help a female friend make a police report in a foreign country after she discovered a peephole in the room she was renting from a host. 

Hotels have more security, emergency protocols in place for things like natural disasters, and on-call staff, sometimes including medical assistance, to help with issues. 

I’ll agree some low-budget hotels in a sketchy area can look like someone is going to take your kidney while you sleep, but I’m talking moderate to high-end examples, apples to apples, in all my examples. 

Hotels are Trained in Hospitality 

Hoteliers along with their management staff, right down to entry-level jobs, usually have an extensive amount of hospitality training.

While I am all for an entrepreneurial venture—no shade on those individuals—I just don’t want to bet my vacation that they will put in the effort to give exceptional service.

There is a time and a place for taking chances, and I’m not into it when I’m already away from home, out of my comfort zone in a new city. 

Los cabos restaurant with waiter and guests

Just because someone has decided they all of a sudden want to be a hotel, doesn’t mean they will be good at it.

Sure there are super hosts out there, but I know certain brands of hotels or properties will exceed my expectations 100%.

I choose my hotels with micromanaged precision because I know I will have a relaxing, luxurious, and comfortable stay, in part because the staff is available to assist and trained in the art of serving guests. 

Hotels Are Listening 

Hotels are offering more perks than ever because of traveler demand, and I’m here for it. 

They are starting to add things like aromatherapy and workout equipment to the rooms, the wifi has gotten sensationally better, room service has much healthier options, and some properties are offering longer-stay deals as slow travel becomes increasingly popular. 

I’m even noticing the rise of ‘suites’, which used to be just a luxury hotel offering. Now, even airport and highway hotels are offering suites with workspace and in some cases kitchens. 

Gone are the days of the ‘deluxe room’ only. 

Hotels know there are other options and have adapted to make better offerings. Those who have failed to adapt to the changing market have likely closed their doors already. 

Tel Aviv hotel room Ritz Carlton with a view
I want my robe, my slippers, and my chips from the mini-bar

To sum it all up: if I can’t find a hotel to suit my needs or fit my budget in a destination, I’m not going. As an experienced traveler, I am done with sacrifice and I’m done playing roulette with my hard earned money. While everyone has the free will to travel how they see fit, I’m a hotel baby from here on out. 

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Jo

Wednesday 17th of July 2024

What about the hidden fees? I wish the platform would insist that the price you see is the price you pay - taxes, cleaning, everything included. I detest finding a low fee when I search only to discover that the other additions make the price stratospheric. In New York on one occasion, for example, the cleaning fee was higher than the room rate. You mention that you have to clean up before you leave (which is fair) but it seems the "hosts" want you to do more than simply do the obvious cleaning such as in a hotel room. I, too, have had it with AirBnB.

Eddie

Thursday 27th of June 2024

Kashlee thank you for this informative article. I did the bare bones traveling in India and Mexico using Airbnb and some were ok and some bad. I just ain't gonna do it anymore. I'm gonna do mid level hotels or higher next time because of what I experienced and you experienced as well.

Kashlee Kucheran

Thursday 27th of June 2024

Thanks for reading Eddie :) Yes. it's just not worth it for me to play roulette with my time off and my hard earned money - good luck on your next trip!

David

Wednesday 26th of June 2024

I'm guessing that some of those companies belong to families who have chosen to keep their properties under a corporate veil for tax reasons and limited liability.

Donna

Wednesday 26th of June 2024

As a vacation home owner that rents their home on VRBO and AirBB, we are super frustrated as well. It’s not like it used to be! They have such high fees now that people don’t want to rent a vacation home. Corporations have come in and undercut the mom and pop home owners so our houses don’t rent. I wish we didn’t have to rent our house, but it does help with the mortgage and insurance.

Kashlee Kucheran

Wednesday 26th of June 2024

Donna, about what % is going to fees by the platforms these days after all is said and done

Alois

Wednesday 26th of June 2024

I completely agree. AirBnB is bad for hosts and for guests. I not stay anymore at AirBnB and I not rent out at AirBnB anymore. Very bad costumer service, high prices.

Kashlee Kucheran

Wednesday 26th of June 2024

Yes, my experience has been such bad customer service. After I was left in that villa for 3 days without power and a host that didn't care at all, it was the final straw!