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The Worst Airbnb Horror Stories From Reddit

Some are fed up with the vacation rental company.


re people fed up with the novelty of staying at an Airbnb? The headlines and reviews say so, with guests tearing the company apart. If it’s not the cleaning fees, it’s the steep pricing or safety concerns. Then, there are also the questions about the housing crisis that may be causal to Airbnb bookings and pricing. But the numbers from the company show soaring profits and loyal customers are still checking-in, chores or no chores.  

Related: Quiet Hours, Curfews, and *Chores*? Why the Tide May Be Turning Against Airbnb

The vacation rental lists many unique, one-of-a-kind rentals that are hard to scroll past. From celebrity homes to remote locations to artsy rooms, it can give you a wondrous experience that evades hotels. On the flip side, there are dodgy rooms, unpleasant hosts, and frustrating exchanges that can taint the holiday. You will read more of the latter here.

Reddit users have shared some of the worst Airbnb experiences, and you are likely to find a more colorful variety of shocks, debates, and drama in the subreddit r/AirBnB.

Used Bedsheets and a Naked Host

On arrival at a cheap room that Reddit user SnakesParadox had booked for a night, they were given a tour of the world’s most disgusting kitchen, a bathroom covered in black mold, and a bedroom with broken furniture and used bedsheets. Not only were they woken up by an argument between the host and his girlfriend in the middle of the night, but also got a visual of the naked host sleeping with the door wide open. Needless to say, they skipped the promised breakfast (the girlfriend was throwing up in the sink) and fled.

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A $200 Cleaning Fee and a Tip?

Would you tip the housekeeping staff if you have paid the cleaning fee to the Airbnb host? Reddit user Able-Cobbler5307 posted a photograph of an envelope, saying, “My Airbnb host wanted me to tip housekeeping…on top of the $200 cleaning fee.” The thread is filled with users describing similar experiences and how they have shifted to hotels for the same price. 

The user continued, “It’s [the host’s] decision if they outsource the cleaning or not but regardless, I’m paying the host. In this case, (I didn’t realize until after we’d booked) the Airbnb is run by a larger management company with 100s of properties, not a local host, which makes this even less surprising.”

Threats of a Lawsuit

Conflict between hosts and guests isn’t anything new, but for Bongo AR, it escalated quickly. The Airbnb guest had booked a property with a hot tub, which didn’t work when they arrived. The host, who lived next door, offered her own, but the guests didn’t want to share a deck. They wanted to cancel the reservation, but the host turned hostile. After they left a review detailing the incident, the host threatened to sue them if they didn’t delete it. Bongo AR was looking for legal advice, “Can they actually sue over this? Part of me wants to just take the review down and not deal with the drama, but I don’t trust these people at all.”

Are the Hosts Spying?

This experience is that of mystery, suspense, and thriller. Reddit user Island_Living_ posted a picture, saying, “There’s a mirror screwed into the ceiling above the toilet in my Airbnb.” The post now has 1.4K comments—from hair-raising stories of spying and peeping to helpful tips on how to check if there’s a camera. In replies to different people, Island_Living_ explained that there were three women staying at the property, and there were multiple cameras outside.

The first update came the same day: no luck so far. The mirror couldn’t be unscrewed, and they tried everything suggested without any success. The saga continued, “Update 2: we stuck a fork behind it and there’s definitely an opening behind the mirror.”

A myriad of conspiracy theories, dramatic stories, and dark humor filled the gap until the final update: “We unscrewed it and there isn’t a camera, thank god! Some of you were right–it looks like it was an old vent that the owner quickly covered up, but they didn’t make the best choice.”

Related: Is Your Hotel or AirBnB Spying on You?

A Giant Fee

It has been a bone of contention with guests that Airbnb lists properties at lower prices and adds cleaning fees and taxes, along with other miscellaneous charges. For user WSNC-JBR, the price listing was $262.50 for a night and $525 for two. However, the payout became a whooping $1,211.73, including host fees, damage waiver, resort fee, booking, cleaning fee, service fee, and taxes. 

It’s misleading and way more than a hotel, as many pointed out, including the original poster. Others reminisced about how Airbnb was initially a much better, sweeter option in the past, when hosts left beer in the fridge or brought food to share.

The criticism for years has finally made CEO Brain Chesky take a hard look at the platform. Airbnb will soon display the total cost of the stay, including all charges, before taxes.

Related: You Shouldn’t Book an Airbnb in Argentina

The Potato Fire

As one Reddit user pointed out, this will be funny later. Much later. So what happened was Informal-Mark-3785 was baking in an oven of the Airbnb when a grease fire started, and they used the fire extinguisher when closing the oven didn’t work. They notified the host, who was glad nothing major happened. But later, they were asked to pay $75 for a fire extinguisher and $50 for oven cleaning. The host claimed that they deployed the extinguisher unnecessarily for a “very small” oven fire, left water-soaked towels, and rearranged the bookshelf. The guest refused to pay.

Many people asked what the oven was being used for, so an edit in the original post answers: they were baking a potato.

The Cockroach and Mold House

A couple booked a cozy house with a pool in Rio for a month. However, the house was an unsanitary nightmare. The pool water was green, the house smelled of mold and cat urine, the cookware was filthy, the house was dirty, and there were cockroaches—along with other problems. They contacted the host, who lived on the property in another house, but she turned around to say they were disrespecting her and her house, and that tropical countries are dirtier. The couple complained to Airbnb and got their money refunded.

I don’t recommend looking at the pictures for this one: they are disgusting.