Staying in someone else's house can be a bit unsettling in any situation, but Airbnb rentals are often more so because of the fact that you don't know the owner.
Sometimes that feeling of being unsettled can quickly become being creeped all the way out when something particularly off happens. Whether it's discovering that the owner is actually kind of creepy, or never even interacting with them at all because they send someone else to deal with you, things can go downhill fast.
Reddit user eazyp96 asked the folks at r/AskReddit:
My fiance and I were staying at an AirBnB in Helsinki to visit family. When we got there and got settled, we were chatting about things we thought were missing in the apartment, specifically I remember saying I wished there was another towel hook in the bathroom (there was only 1 and obviously 2 towels being used). The next day we went out and were out pretty much all day, and when we got back that night there was another towel hook in the bathroom...
I had a similar experience with a landlord. It was an "apartment" (about 200 square feet) built on to the side of his house. I moved in during the summer. When it started to get cold, I joked to my bf that I should preheat the oven and leave the door open to warm the place up. The next day he came over and said he had a space heater he was bringing over, "so, ya know, don't use the oven to heat the place, haha".
My sister and I were staying in a cute little detached house in a wealthy part of San Diego. It was right by the beach, but the house was super hippy and relaxed, the man who lived there was out of town, so some of his stuff was out, he was literally making his own kombucha. He had a bathroom attached to his little house that had a door that led to outside. He shared this bathroom with a tenant in another house who didn't have one. Around 4am she comes home drunk, goes into the bathroom, and starting banging on the door to our room viciously. She's screaming about how he stole her phone yesterday...this man has been out of town for a week. It was scary to wake up to in the middle of the night, but our stay was still great.
I got to an airbnb in the middle of nowhere in Kansas, at about midnight. The airbnb was 12 dollars for a night. The property was a quaint little house on some farmland, and I had passed the nearest house about a half a mile down the road. The host was already asleep when I got there so I let myself in and made my way to the couch where I was supposed to sleep. It was eerily quiet and pitch black outside, and I was already nervous so I couldn't get to sleep. The living room was decorated with all kinds of random artifacts and treasures, I was looking around and taking everything in.
There were cool rocks and souvenirs, but most curiously there were weird religious objects and books with cultish symbolism. I googled a word I saw on a tapestry, which turned out to be the name of the religion the host followed. The religion revolves around UFO's, the 'bible' they follow is basically just a categorization of hundreds of types of space ships. I was a bit on edge after reading that, but after MUCH research, I concluded that it wasn't a murderous death cult, just super weird.
I also nosily read through a journal that was just sitting on a coffee table, where the host had written things about her travels. One entry was about how she traveled to Peru and saw a space ship, she wrote about how she'd never seen one that close before. It was all very strange, but I eventually got to sleep regardless.
When I woke up in the morning, the host made me coffee and unprompted, began telling me about her religion, among other conspiracies, like the government being able to control tornados. She was very kind and not overbearing, just eager to tell someone her truth. We talked for an hour or so before I got back on the road, and she sent me away with a bunch of stuff to research and an airbnb magazine. Best airbnb i've stayed at. Close second would be the gay nudist hostel in memphis.
Okay, I’m going to need more information about the Memphis one.
Was looking for cheap airbnb’s on the same road trip as the crazy lady’s airbnb. Going thru memphis I found a pretty cheap ‘hostel’ which was really just this guys house. The host said that nudism was encouraged but it’s ok if you’re not comfortable. It was really bizarre to hang out with naked dudes but I eventually got comfortable with it (after a few drinks) and had a great night nudily chatting it up and watching Impractical Jokers. The whole place was squeaky clean and I felt safe the whole time. The host even made me some costco lasagna for dinner. He also really liked nudist puns. News article about the airbnb
A few years ago, some friends and I rented an AirBnB flat in London for a convention. We'd been corresponding with the owner, who had told us that she would meet us in front of the building to give us the keys and show us around. We messaged her when we got to London, and got a message back confirming the building address and flat number, and telling us the keys were in a lock-box on the front of the building. Weird, but fine.
When we got to the building, there was no lock-box, so we messaged her again. Got a message back saying something like "oops, wrong flat, on my way". (Which was weird considering she'd confirmed the address in the same message?) We waited 30 minutes and then messaged her again, asking how much longer she'd be. It was around 10pm and raining, and we were all tired. She messaged back about 10 minutes later that she was sending someone else, and to wait inside the building. Which we couldn't, because the door was only accessible by key/buzzer.
At around 11pm, a car pulled up with a guy in it, who yelled out the window "keys?". One of my friends went over and the guy just handed him a set of keys, with a tag on it that said the flat number we'd been told. He didn't ask our names, or for ID or even identify himself, just handed over the keys and drove off. It was at this point that my other friend suggested we should just bite the bullet and go see if we could get a hotel room, because this was kinda sketchy, but as we were all so tired, we decided to just see if we could get into the flat, and if it was the one in the pictures, we'd stay at least that night. It was (it was super nice, actually!), so we stayed.
We messaged the owner a few times during our stay, but didn't get a response until the night we were due to leave, when we just got told to leave the keys on the kitchen table and pull the door shut behind us. No reply to any of our questions about anything else. Weird experience.
Stayed at one in Rome. The door had 5 deadbolt locks on it. The windows were barred. Found out why. Randomly though the day people would try to open the door and look through the windows.
Multiple times we would turn around and see people peeking though cracks between the curtains.
We weren't even there a lot. Usually a quick meal or drop stuff off then back out to see the sites. Really nice place though.
Stayed in an airbnb recently that was pretty insane. It was a shared space with several other people in it, but I had my own private room and small living room with a mini fridge and counter. I stayed in room and barely came out since covid-19 quarantine measures had just started to be enacted. Pretty soon after getting there I started having shortness of breath and vertigo. I started finding drawings in a sketchbook I had that I had no memory of drawing.
I didnt speak to anyone for days and started getting really paranoid that someone was going to try to come into my room while I slept. After about a week there I thought I had already died and everything I was seeing was a hallucination to get my mind ready for death. I lived with that and other weird thoughts for another week till I read something on reddit about carbon monoxide poisoning. Called the gas company and turns out, sure enough there was a natural gas leak in my room. Lucky to be alive. Took weeks to get the host and airbnb to even compensate me for my stay.
I messaged the host asking for towels. She told me they were under the bed in a drawer. They were in the second drawer that I opened. The first drawer was stuffed full of sex toys and bondage supplies. To each their own, that's her sexual expression. But you gotta put that somewhere else when you have guests staying over. I shouldn't have been surprised since she had about 30 framed photos on the wall in the tiny studio apartment. Photos of herself from various pole dancing competitions and boudoir shoots.
A last minute long weekend to Montreal, my first trip to this incredible international city that is affordable and close for people up north in the US. My card was hacked during booking. I arrive and the address doesn't seem to exist. It was just northeast of mile end, I forget exactly where, but it was right near a freeway that split the road in two. Google maps showed the air bnb to be right where the highway was that divided the street. I almost gave up as scammed and returned home. On one last loop I found the address, tucked behind an iron stairwell.
I parked, walked up, and the front door was unlocked. I was freaking out because I thought someone was home and didn't know they had been the target of an air bnb hack and things might get out of control. I sit there for a few and a big guy walks in through the back door. I'm now shitting bricks. He says "oh, hi, you must be [username]. I'm [whatever]. Did you have trouble finding the place?" Turned out to be a super nice guy who was a decades long, successful professional musician and couldn't have been nicer. When I told him the story and asked about door locks, he replied "you must be from the States. Montreal is the safest city in North America. I never lock the door and nobody will ever bother you here." That was mostly true. On one hand, I saw a guy blink out a contact lens and everyone stopped to help him find it and not crush it. On the other hand, a group of quite rough people who hang out near McGill gave me sh!t for not having a Canadian accent.
I'm not sure if this applies,we ALMOST got the room but bailed out quickly. So, here's my story:
My parents and I were on vacation, and we were searching for a place to stay (yes, I am aware it was dumb of us not to make a reservation beforehand) as soon as we got out of the bus. It's normal for people renting rooms there to approach you and ask you if you'd like to rent a room,and soon enough we were approached by this bald guy. That's the only thing I remember about him, the fact that he was bald. And shady. I didn't have a good feeling about him, even though I was only a kid. So he comes towards us,and starts talking to my already exhausted dad (who probably wasn't thinking straight at the time) and tells him he has a nice apartment nearby. We agree to go. My dad is carrying our stuff, and walking parallel with the guy, and my mom and I are walking behind them. We enter this neighborhood and we pass a café.
The waiter, a young guy of I'd presume 16-17, comes near my mom and I and quietly tells us not to go with the bald guy, because he's up to no good. At this point I was scared sh!tless, and my mom was worried ,but we decided to check the place out anyway. We arrived at the apartment and there were a LOT of stairs. When we finally went into the room, it was all stuffy and clustered and dark,bunker-style. I remember the furniture being colourful but unsettling. He asked us what we thought and my mom and I started protesting about it, saying we'd like to check out another place. He started getting weirdly desperate, telling us we wouldn't find a place cheaper, that he had other rooms, we should think about it etc. His demeanor instantly changed from calm to frustrated and almost angry. My dad finally told him we wouldn't stay there and we booked it out quickly. When we passed the café again, the waiter said that the guy had criminal ties. We got another apartment, thankfully which was pretty nice for a 10 day vacation but God, the claustrophobia and anxiety that overcame me when we stepped into that room is still real, years later. I can't help but wonder if something happened there.
My husband got us an AirBnB for our anniversary a couple of years ago in the mountains near a National Park. It was one of these where we just rented the room in a larger occupied house.
Night 1: We arrive before the host does and had a hard tine finding the property. We actually drove past it several times and dismissed it due to the large gate blocking the driveway and multiple keep out signs. Once we drive down the driveway, we realize we are there before her and use the hidden key to go inside.
There is no real furniture inside. Some old particleboard stuff and couch in the living room, but it is sparsely furnished. There is nothing but a bag of apples in the fridge.
About that time the host shows up. She describes her long commute to a city multiple hours away everyday and describes how her boyfriend worries about her. She is sure to mention a few prople in the area have bothered her before, and she is armed because of it. And also, we must ALWAYS lock the driveway gate behind us. Overall, we get a distinct feeling she is lying or hiding something. We assume it is that she actually doesn't live at the AirBnB full time but doesn't want anyone to know, so she exaggerates to throw folks off. It would explain the weird furniture, too.
Night 2: Husband and I return to the AirBnB after dark. As our headlights light up the driveway, a man in just STANDING in the middle of the gate. We jump out of our skins, but he gives us a friendly wave. We realize this must be the boyfriend (oh, he DOES exist).
We go into the house, and the host tells us they are going to a concert for the night. The boyfriend has a VERY intense stare anf literally says NOTHING. All while our host is gushing about her exciting night, he's just silent. Our host is sure to emphasize that she saw us and our car in town earlier in the day, as well. Okay, so these folks are a bit odd, no doubt.
Husband and I are exhausted, so we go to our room. I immediately notice our stuff has been gone through and put back carefully. There were not coasters in the room before, but now room temperautre water bottles are on coasters. The clothes I had out and folded feel wrong, like they've been moved and put back.
At this point, I am more angry than creeped out. We make a joke about how it was a bit like a bad horror movie, and go to sleep. We are then woken up by the couple, not only when they come home late but a none too lengthy time after they went to their bedroom. Gee, I wonder what was happening...
It is important to now note (and remember for later) that the house has two sides. One that we never saw, and one with two bedrooms (the hosts and ours). We had to pass by her bedroom to leave the house.
Day 3: Before leave for the Park, I arrange our stuff specifically to see what will happen. I also take anything with any value with us.
Night 3: The host texts us during the day that she will be staying with her intensely silent boyfriend for the night. Perfect, no more snooping our stuff; no weird noises to be expected!
We come back and go to bed early after a long night of hiking. Once again, it is clear our stuff has been looked through. A solid feeling of discomfort and just wanting to be done with the AirBnB settles in.
Guys, gals, and every other identity, things are about to get real. We are woken up in the wee hours of the morning by something that sounds like it was sliding on the roof. I notice a weird light reflected in the window sill, like car headlights heading down the driveway. And then all the power in the AirBnB goes OUT.
At this point, my instincts are telling me to GTFO. I cry out, "What was that?!" Husband grumbles that it is fine and goes back to sleep. I sleep none the rest of the night. There are no more noises, not even the sound of our host coming in late.
Moreover, what are we going to do? Look through a house we don't know, in the dark, when we have to pass by her room? I settle in for a night of tense vigilance.
Day 4: I tell husband that I am NOT staying here anymore. Husband says I am overreacting. I pack all of our suitcases and try to persuade him that SOMETHING is wrong. He is adamant a branch slide across the roof and knocked out the power.
So we go outside. There are no trees near the house. There are no trees down. The powerlines are all still intact. I am freaking out at this point, which is unusual for my husband because I am the more scientific and logical one.
Husband convinces me to leave our things at the AirBnB and go hike to mull it over.
As we leave the house, the freaking gate across the driveway is unlocked and open. OPEN. Oh, and all the surrounding neighbors have power.
At this point, I say something about the headlights, and my husband says he didn't notice the lights. At this point, I am theorizing that our host really is harassed by locals and they climbed the roof and disconnected the power (the powerline connected hust above our bedroom).
My husband calls the host to report the power issue. She mentions that her grandfather has actually passed away the night before and her brother will be on the property preparing the family graveyard shared on the property. We say something about leaving, and the host REPEATEDLY insists that we stay another night, and says she will be home in the evening, too.
I tell my husband that I have no idea WHAT is going on, whether corporeal harassment or otherworldly visitors I don't believe in, but it is time to listen to our instincts. Are we REALLY going to sleep having our ONE exit trapped by this woman and her boyfriend?! We've been lied to, our stuff has been moved, and sh!t is happening.
Night 4: We come home that night, my husband packs our car while I offer my condolences, and we FINALLY GTFO. I've never slept better than that night.
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