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My Disappointing Experience With Airbnb (Be-Housing) In Antwerp

Airbnb – “Belong Anywhere”

Airbnb

I have heard of Airbnb many times, but I never managed to book anything online with them. Great reviews and opinions from my friends, colleagues and fellow travel bloggers made me want to book an apartment for my New Year’s trip to Antwerp, Belgium.

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For those who are not familiar with Airbnb, it is a website for people to rent out lodging. Founded in August 2008, it has over 800,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries. How does it work? It is very simple. Users of the site must register and create a personal online profile before using the site. Every property is associated with a host whose profile includes recommendations by other users, reviews by previous guests, as well as a response rating and private messaging system. You can easily log in using your Facebook account as I did.

My Airbnb Experience

Although it was my first time with Airbnb, I was not lucky at all. 2 of my requests have been cancelled/rejected for various reasons within 24 hours after I made a reservation. One host rented out his apartment to someone else, one was not in Antwerp during my stay. I received the payments back to my account immediately so I cannot complain about that. Finally, me and my boyfriend found a lovely place with Be-Housing – a company  specializing in offering tailor-made temporary housing facilities to their customers. We booked it immediately and then the problems started…

Hidden costs and unfriendly staff

Our stay with Be-Housing was not as pleasant as expected. First of all, after booking our accommodation, we received an e-mail where Be-Housing has decided to change the price from 108+12 (citytax) euro to nearly 200 Euro.

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After declining this unexpected alter, we were allowed to stay in Antwerp for the price primarily agreed on (130 Euro). A day after, we received another e-mail where we were asked to pay additional tax fee of 12 Euro, which was already paid in full. Upon asking clarification about this additional 12 Euro we already paid, we received more or less the same email as the first one telling us to pay. Because we didn’t feel like making a big deal about 12 Euro we decided to pay it anyway.

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One think that struck us as odd was the long list of extras you had to pay for. Things like parking aren’t that weird but having to pay extra to check in earlier than 4pm(!) o’clock and having to pay to use more than 400 mb/day of their incredibly slow wifi.

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The receptionist treated us with a slight constant passive aggressiveness, as if he wasn’t happy to be there. For instance when asking him whether the store would be open on 1st of January he replied with: “No it’s a holiday so ever things closed… just like in Holland.”(Not true by the way).

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All in all the apartment was nice so was its location, but the facilities and customer service left much to be desired. We loved our time in Antwerpen and will surely come back, but when we do we’ll avoid Be-Housing and so should you.

What was your experience with Airbnb/Be-Housing?

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{ 78 comments… add one }
  • Jessica C. (A Wanderlust For Life) January 14, 2015, 12:02 pm

    I am SO sorry this happened to you! I think as Airbnb grows, it’s growing out of what it’s supposed to be. We also had a weird and not-so-great experience in December, but everything up until that point was amazing. I think we’ve used them almost 20 times, so that’s really saying something. I hope you do try them again and that it goes better for you!

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 15, 2015, 10:16 am

      I know that, guys. I’ve heard your story. I absolutely agree that Airbnb has grown out of what it is supposed to be :( and that’s so disappointing, but I believe next time is gonna be much better!!

      Reply
  • Leanne January 14, 2015, 12:48 pm

    I don’t have a house or apartment to “trade” with someone for a while, but it is good to know that some websites aren’t what they say they are. I’ll definitely keep this in mind if someone asks me about this. If you ever try it again, maybe next time it’ll be better????? It’s too bad you had this experience.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 15, 2015, 10:12 am

      Yeah, let’s hope it’s gonna be much better next time!

      Reply
  • Jono January 14, 2015, 1:33 pm

    Airbnb used to be amazing, but I agree – I’ve been having similar “not so great” experiences lately. Things like renting an apartment and finding that the kitchen only has one pot. What’s the point in having a kitchen?!

    Unfortunately I think that companies have started to catch on to the popularity of it and it’s becoming just another hotel booking site. It used to be filled with real people with spare rooms or people who were going away for a while and wanted to rent out the space.

    Pity, it really was a different option until recently. You can still get a good deal if you read the reviews well, but no better than other booking websites.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 15, 2015, 10:11 am

      Some companies forget about the idea of Airbnb and that’s so sad and worrying!!

      Reply
  • Constance - Foreign Sanctuary January 14, 2015, 1:40 pm

    I am so sorry to hear that happened to you. I have never used Airbnb but I have heard some great things about it. However, at least you had a good time in Antwerpen which I guess kind of made up the attitude of the host and the extra charges.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 15, 2015, 10:11 am

      I hate hidden costs!!

      Reply
  • Fred YummyPlanet January 14, 2015, 3:08 pm

    We almost always use Airbnb to book our accommodations for our trips and we have only been disappointed once so far. So I guess this is bad luck. :-/

    I generally avoid the places rented by companies though and prefer to stay in a private house. This is also what I like with Airbnb: meeting local people. And I always read the comments as well.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 15, 2015, 10:10 am

      I will avoid these companies from now on!!

      Reply
  • Ryan Biddulph January 14, 2015, 3:15 pm

    My experience with AirBnB Agness has been excellent. 45 months straight and we’ve picked all winners, and that means some 100 places we’ve stayed over the years. As for the passive aggressive staff I have been there too lol. Some folks are not happy and do their best to project their unhappiness on you. Sorry you had that experience and hey, here’s to a positive AirBnB experience. I know you’ll have it ;)

    Ryan

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 15, 2015, 10:10 am

      Amazing, great to hear that Ryan!!

      Reply
  • Pamela January 14, 2015, 4:10 pm

    Sorry to hear about your bad experience. I have tried AirBNB a couple of times before and they were so far so good. There bound to be good ones and bad ones being listed out there. At least this alert others to be careful with their selections and hopefully BeHouse will improve its way of handling customers service. Hope you have a better experience the next time. :)

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 15, 2015, 10:09 am

      Thanks Pamela :*.

      Reply
  • Becky Padmore January 14, 2015, 4:36 pm

    Oh that’s a shame we had a good experience in LA, really depends on the owner and the property though :/

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 15, 2015, 10:08 am

      Unfortunately…

      Reply
  • Samantha January 14, 2015, 6:48 pm

    Oh no! I’m sorry to hear about that. When I first started using Airbnb, I had a similar experience where they would email me back with a price higher than what was displayed on the website. I immediately discarded those ones and kept looking. We’ve had great experiences using Airbnb in Asia and will keep using it in Costa Rica. If you keep using it, I hope your next experiences will be great. Sounds like Be Housing is just shady :/

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 15, 2015, 10:08 am

      I know :(…

      Reply
  • Anna @AnnaEverywhere January 14, 2015, 7:12 pm

    Wow, that’s really unlucky… But after i heard about the squading AirBnB story in the US I avoid them :/

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 15, 2015, 10:07 am

      You gotta tell me these stories… :)

      Reply
  • Michela of Rocky Travel Blog January 14, 2015, 7:38 pm

    Sorry to hear about your negative experience! Finding the right host with Airbnb may take a bit of your time, you really need to check carefully the host profile, exchange mails with them, ask questions, make sure you are happy with the room features and especially the terms of stay. I’ve always had great experiences when booking my private stay with Airbnb!

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 15, 2015, 10:07 am

      I agree, thanks Michela.

      Reply
  • Karyn Jane January 14, 2015, 8:52 pm

    My only experience with Airbnb has been negative and it’s still going on. It has nothing to do with the host and everything to do with the company itself. We had paid in full for travel that was meant to happen in November but unfortunately had to cancel it in October. The cancellation terms meant we were supposed to get half of our money back. We are yet to see any of that money! My fiancé has sent many messages back and forth and has even threatened legal action and each time they reply they promise they will absolutely follow it up but still nothing. It’s no small amount either (it’s 4 figures) and as the past few months have been really hard financially (the whole reason we cancelled our trip in the first place!) that money is really needed!

    I’ve considered jumping in and letting them know I’m a travel blogger but I was trying not to burn any bridges or be unprofessional. On the other hand, by not doing that I have gotten a really clear idea of what kind of experience the average person might have with them. I just cannot recommend this company to any of my readers and my fiancé is furious and has declared that we are never using them again (which is a shame due to all the travelling we have planned for the future). Fortunately there are other websites that offer a similar service or we might just stick to house sitting instead.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 15, 2015, 9:59 am

      Hi sweetie. I’m sorry to hear that. You should definitely be honest with your Airbnb experience!!

      Reply
  • Shikha (whywasteannualleave) January 14, 2015, 9:12 pm

    Oh no, what a pain Agness – seems really unprofessional to keep changing prices like that! I keep reading really mixed reviews about Air BnB, some great and some terrible so that’s what has put me off using it thus far..

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 15, 2015, 9:58 am

      I know, I didn’t like it either!!

      Reply
  • Charlie Marchant January 14, 2015, 10:09 pm

    I’ve still not actually used Air BnB but because so many travel bloggers have been singing its praises I always search wherever we are to see if there is a good place. There are usually some nice places but the prices are always sky high compared to other accommodation options in Central America.

    Interesting to hear a not so great story about it – and being mucked around with additional costs is 100% not cool! At least you made the most of it and can say that you tried it out!

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 15, 2015, 9:57 am

      Yeah, that’s true!!

      Reply
  • Stef January 14, 2015, 10:33 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear that. I haven’t used Airbnb itself before. I found my current accommodation on Craigslist and when I was in Amsterdam two years ago, I used CityMundo which was an amazing apartment by the way, so if someone visits you there and you look for an apartment let me know ;)
    I cross my fingers that your next airbnb experience will be better!

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 15, 2015, 9:57 am

      Thanks for sharing, Stef!! Maybe next time I will have more luck! :)

      Reply
  • suzie January 15, 2015, 7:22 am

    I am sorry you had a bad experience, please give it another chance! I use airbnb when traveling and also rent out part of my apartment in Valencia. So if you want to give Airbnb a seccond chance visiting Valencia (good cheap flights from holland) I will asure you I will receive you with a BIG smile ;)
    Saludos from a Dutchie in Spain

    Reply
  • Don January 15, 2015, 3:22 pm

    Hi Agness,

    One technique I used with Airbnb is look for apts. run by young single women. We had excellent results in the old Jewish quarters of Budapest and Kraków. The apts. were well appointed with attention to detail. The owners were also good communicators. I felt these women cared about getting it right for their tenants.

    Enjoy your travels!

    Don

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 16, 2015, 11:56 am

      Thanks for sharing, Don. I’m glad to hear that!! :)

      Reply
  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) January 15, 2015, 7:25 pm

    We used AirBnB a few times while we were in Europe because we often found it was much cheaper to rent a room rather than a hotel or a even beds in a hostel in certain popular European cities, but I can’t say we had excellent results using them either. I’ve often found that rooms/apartments are misrepresented on the site, either being much smaller or much dirtier than promoted, and some places didn’t have the basic amenities that they promised or that you would expect in an apartment. I can’t complain about the price since we always saved money compared to what we could have spent, but the experience wasn’t often super positive either.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 16, 2015, 11:55 am

      I’m glad you had an excellent experience. Keep it up!

      Reply
  • santafetraveler January 15, 2015, 11:29 pm

    The moral of this story if Be-Housing is seeing this is: be fair and kind to all guests as you never know who writes a well-read travel blog. Also- everyone vents on the Internet these days. I hope you let airbnb know as well.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 16, 2015, 11:54 am

      Agreed!

      Reply
  • Anna @ shenANNAgans January 16, 2015, 12:50 am

    Booooo, what a hassle Agness, and pretty unprofessional too. I don’t know I would have paid the 12 Euro, especially after all the stuffing about you had gone through. Fingers crossed you get to experience some positive things with them.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 16, 2015, 11:53 am

      Totally!

      Reply
  • Rebekah January 16, 2015, 4:18 am

    I’m sorry, that’s pretty lame. I used to hear really good things about BnB but it seems like its changed a lot lately. I hate hidden fees

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 16, 2015, 11:52 am

      Yeah, but I hope to have a better experience next time!

      Reply
  • The Guy January 16, 2015, 6:56 am

    Really sorry to hear of these bad experiences Agness. Changing prices and cancelling bookings comes across as really unprofessional and would certainly put people off.

    I’ve never tried Air B’n’B but it is something I’ve been considering. I hope that you can give it another try with a much more positive experience. From what I’ve read in the past I have the impression that this kind of experience is not too common.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 16, 2015, 11:51 am

      Yes, I know :(…

      Reply
  • Tim | UrbanDuniya January 16, 2015, 7:06 am

    Ohhh I’m looking at using AirBNB soon – for a trip to Dubai. I hope it doesn’t turn out like this :/

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 16, 2015, 11:51 am

      I hope so. Fingers crosses, Tim!

      Reply
  • Rahman @ Destination Iran January 16, 2015, 7:09 am

    This is such an unlucky experience. I’m so sorry for your unpleasant moments during the holidays.

    I know Airbnb should have set strict rule for the accommodation not to play up, but I’ve got so many similar issues with hotels in our country. Particularly, at this time of the year, when we book hotels for the international travelers to visit Iran in April, May, etc. Many of them haven’t yet announced their new rates yet. I said “new rates” as they increase their rates every year, by ??? percent. We don’t even know how much!! Imagine we are booking for October, November of 2015 since 3 months ago. Then, one would say WIFI isn’t free anymore. Another wouldn’t say anything, but increases laundry fee. Eventually, when you want to check out, they come up with some false claims like, “Sorry sir, but you’ve forgotten to pay for the minibar! You’ve taken a bar of chocolate, …”

    This is one of the terrible ways many low-class hotels and even high end ones will do. If a website like Airbnb faces several of the hotels behaving that way, it must discontinue its contract with them. Would they do that? I would have done that, but maybe they prefer to have as many accommodations as possible in their lists.

    I definitely hope for better experience for you next time.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 16, 2015, 11:50 am

      Thanks for sharing, Rahman!

      Reply
  • Sara @ Simply Sara Travel January 16, 2015, 9:15 am

    Wow, so sorry to hear about your bad experience. I’ve used Airbnb many times and I’ve never gotten an email like that trying to change the terms or tack on hidden fees. I have to say my experience has varied – some hosts have been absolutely super and have picked us up from the airport or train station and have been super welcoming. Others have just handed off keys at the train station and left, and once in Krakow I never met the owner – the keys were left with the front desk building security who didn’t speak English (but it worked out!). I do like having the space of an apt over a hotel room and it definitely has saved me money. But I only stay at places with a few reviews, the more the better. There definitely is a wide range of experiences to be had on airbnb.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 16, 2015, 11:49 am

      Thanks Sara for sharing and understanding :*

      Reply
  • Geeky Explorer January 16, 2015, 9:28 am

    The problem I see with Airbnb is the bigger it is, the more away from its initial concept is becoming. I fear that it will be just another accomodation website, which was not what they intended!!
    I feel sorry for your experience, hope Antwerp made up for this situation!

    Happy travels!

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 16, 2015, 11:49 am

      I agree. Maybe next time it’s gonna be better.

      Reply
  • Vlad January 16, 2015, 12:59 pm

    So sorry to hear you had to go through all that! Now I am worried, I will book soon two apartments for an upcoming trip and I hope things will go smoothly.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 19, 2015, 10:25 am

      Thanks, Vlad. I hope the same! :)

      Reply
  • Vanessa @ The Travelling Colognian January 17, 2015, 12:04 am

    I am so sorry that the accommodation part of your New Year’s trip was a disappointment, Agness, but I am glad that you enjoyed your time in Antwerp nevertheless. I have never used Airbnb yet and after reading your review it doesn’t seem to be recommendable. I hate hidden costs. Referring to this my boyfriend and I recently made a similar experience with our flight from Bangkok to Hanoi. First we had to pay relatively high fees for every payment method the Flight shops offered. And when checking in at Bangkok airport we were informed that there were zero kilograms of check-in luggage included in our ticket price and that we had to extra for this as well. In the end a relatively cheap flight was a lot more expensive than the flight shop which initially was most expensive. But nonetheless we highly enjoyed our journey to Bangkok and through Vietnam.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 19, 2015, 10:26 am

      Thank you, sweetheart!! :*

      Reply
  • Paulo [email protected] Bugs January 17, 2015, 5:18 am

    Do not use them before but thanks for sharing your experience :-)

    Reply
  • Ramakant January 19, 2015, 2:21 pm

    I haven’t used the website but I will be more cautious now, if I need to. I absolutely detest it when someone pops up with hidden costs at a later point. It’s too much like blackmail.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 21, 2015, 10:49 am

      Agree!

      Reply
  • Victoria@ The British Berliner January 19, 2015, 3:01 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about the awful experience that you had in Antwerp. I haven’t used it myself but I’ve heard good things about Airbnb. Give them another try and if it still doesn’t work out, at least you tried.
    P.S. We actually missed each other as I was in Amsterdam when you were in Antwerp. ‘Hope to see you sometime in the blogsphere!

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 21, 2015, 10:48 am

      Awwwwww I’m so unfortunate not to see you. Perhaps next time, Victoria!!! :*

      Reply
  • CHANDRA January 21, 2015, 7:26 am

    It is unforunate.I understand your feelings.But my experience in Hongkong with them is excellent.May be it all depends on the host.Infact I extended my stay cutting short my Macau trip by 4 days.The connectivity was excellent as you know that public transport is dam cheaper in Hongkong.There are plenty of places in Hongkong worth spending full day.See my blog tobeontheroad.blogspot.com.Affordability and lovable host are the main creiteria for Backpackers like me who spend longtime in a place.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 21, 2015, 10:42 am

      I’m so glad to hear that! :)

      Reply
  • Ailene January 21, 2015, 11:21 am

    Sorry to hear about your crap experience with those organisations – especially being your first time too! Hopefully the next one will be more pleasant =)

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 22, 2015, 12:44 pm

      Maybe the next time will be much better!!

      Reply
  • [email protected] January 21, 2015, 7:13 pm

    Sorry about your experience. Nothing annoys me than hidden costs that have no basis. I do hope that Be Housing read your post and amend their policies.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 22, 2015, 12:40 pm

      Yeah, it’s very annoying especially when you are a budget traveler.

      Reply
  • vira January 22, 2015, 2:35 pm

    hi Agness,
    sorry to hear about your bad experience with airbnb, and it was your first,too. My experiences being an Airbnb guest as well as a host have all been good, and I actually like the system, so I hope these disappointing practices won’t grow. I noticed your story from the tweet from Firsta, and I hope you don’t mind that I mentioned it to Airbnb so they would notice these annoying services of the hosts and would do something about it.
    But I hope you don’t give up on Airbnb because there are actually a lot of great hosts and places to stay through the service :)

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 24, 2015, 11:30 pm

      I’m so glad Vira you had such a good experience with Airbnb! Keep it up!

      Reply
  • Stacey January 23, 2015, 5:00 am

    I’ve used AirBNB in the past and had fairly good experiences. I can relate to what you say about silly charges though. One place charged for linen and towels but the linen weren’t on the beds and we had to go looking for them before we could put them on the beds. The same place charged if you wanted more than the half roll of toilet paper they stocked, didn’t have tea and coffee but had the containers and a bunch of other odd things.

    I guess it’s cheaper for a reason and sometimes hospitality professionals are a better option.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 24, 2015, 11:29 pm

      I’m glad you had a good experience unlike me! :)

      Reply
  • Pratishtha Khan February 1, 2015, 12:32 pm

    Agnes, so sorry to hear about your experience. AirBnB was a mixed bag for us, but to be fair, most of it was good. That said, it’s no longer what this community used to be. Hidden costs, and so many other glitches… It’s terrible when your travelling experience gets sour because of something like this. What a pity!

    Reply
  • Thea March 6, 2015, 6:53 pm

    That’s too bad that you had a bad experience with AirBnB. I’ve only had good experiences with them.

    I’ve used them 4 times and had a wonderful experience every time. I met two wonderful, inspiring people living near the Mount Baker ski area in Washington who even sent me a Christmas card! Had a cheap, perfectly located apartment in Montreal for way less than a hotel. Spent a week in a home in Austin, Texas that again was cheaper than a hotel and a nice retreat after long days at the festival. Even recently, I injured myself badly and wasn’t able to travel to Aspen for a ski trip. Since the person renting their studio had a “strict” policy, he only refunded me half. I contacted AirBnB and explained my situation and was refunded the rest. I for one, will continue to use AirBNB and recommend it to other travellers.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder March 7, 2015, 7:34 pm

      I’m glad you had a great experience with Airbnb. I recently went to Paris and I also had a lot of fun there!

      Reply

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