Airbnb – “Belong Anywhere”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.