Stay #1

On February 20 I booked a one night stay in a room in Parramatta. The room was Instantly Confirmed, a platform feature which doesn’t require Hosts to manually accept each Request.

On March 4 the Host informed me that he couldn’t Host me and that this room was no longer available. I replied that I already booked and it was confirmed, and might have done so before he removed the listing. He canceled on his end and I received a refund from Airbnb for the entire amount.

I confirmed another booking and showed up for my stay on March 10. The door was left open, and after repeated knocking, door bell ringing and calling the Hosts number, finally someone came downstairs but he was a Guest, rather than a Host, and had booked out a room for the entire month. We were both confused, and I checked out the adjacent units to make sure this was the correct place. I went upstairs and matched the Airbnb listing photo to one of the rooms – same bed, same lamp. After that the resemblances ended. The bed was unmade, there were books and magazines all over the floor, water bottles, old files and clothing. I went out to dinner and returned later, when the Host was supposed to have returned. Finally he came back and was as confused as we were. He said he never placed this room on Airbnb and it had been rented out for 6 months by another flatmate. He apologized but said there were no free rooms and that I’d have to find an alternate. It was now 8:30pm.

I canceled that stay and after some frantic searches through Airbnb, found another listing in Eastside, which the Host promptly confirmed. The Parramatta Host offered, somewhat reluctantly, to drive me over there. We arrived at Eastside around 9, a quiet suburb far to the nortwest of Sydney central. The Host messaged me and said he couldn’t be there, but his parents would show me around. An elderly Chinese gentleman in his pyjamas, who spoke no English, pointed out where the room, bathroom and shower facilities were.

The room was a long narrow space with its own exterior door next to the front door – perhaps added as an addition precisely for this kind of homestay / boarder situation? The room contained a single bed with an iron frame, a card table holding a bottle of water and a towel, and a wall-lamp for reading. The room was adjacent to the bathroom and had high glass between, meaning that anytime a family member used it, a glaring yellow light illuminated the whole room. I left at 6 the next morning after sending a brief thank you message on the Airbnb platform to the Host for confirming my last minute request so promptly. I never saw the Host.