As I alluded to in my reflections on Jerusalem yesterday, our trip started at an apartment booked via Airbnb. Sadly, we wound up vacating after the first night.
Our Airbnb Jerusalem Expectations
I say sadly, because look at the pictures below (that I took). The price was superb. The location excellent. The size perfect…Augustine had his own room, and we had a kitchen, living room, and dining area.
Looks great, doesn’t it? But these pictures don’t tell the whole story.
Our Airbnb Jerusalem Experience
We experienced a number of problems in our apartment, but one was a dealbreaker.
First, it was cold in Jerusalem and the apartment was absolutely freezing. There were wall-mounted heaters in each bedroom that could be adjusted upward to 30ºC (86ºF), but it felt like the bedrooms heated up to about 65ºF while the common areas remained much cooler. My wife was honestly shivering all afternoon, evening, and when she woke up the next morning (and she’s a tough German…).
But that wasn’t the dealbreaker. We could have asked the host to bring in more space heaters, I suppose.
Second, the apartment was dirty. I find the “cleaning fees” ridiculous on Airbnb and especially so here. The beds were not clean. Nor were the pillows. Nor were the towels. In fact, there was dust all over the apartment.
But that wasn’t the dealbreaker. We could have asked for fresh bedding and new towels, I suppose.
Third, there was mold all over the bathroom and one of the bedroom ceilings. My wife is not a germaphobe, but she did study microbiology and this became the dealbreaker. We did not even discover the full extent of the mold until we saw the bathroom in the morning sunlight.
Mold is simply unacceptable. Even if not dangerous in all cases, it can be dangerous. And with a young child who touches everything (we caught him dipping his toothbrush into the toilet a couple days ago…), an apartment thriving with mold precluded any sort of relaxation.
So after breakfast, we cleaned up after ourselves, I wrote the host explaining the issue, and we vacated (for the Lutheran Guest House in the Old City). I was not happy at all about having to pay more for a smaller accommodation.
The host wrote me back saying that he could have brought more heaters. He totally ignored the mold issue.
I later requested a partial refund (I was even willing to pay the first night, even though I think that is a bit much), and he denied it. The issue has now been escalated to Airbnb. I’ll report on the outcome in a follow-up post.
I must say, I’ve had some really bad luck with Airbnb over the years. I don’t think I am asking too much to ask for a clean apartment without mold, am I? And I also wasn’t interested in a protracted response during a short family vacation. What was the host going to do? Cut the drywall out, redo it, and repaint it in a matter of hours?
The host now tells Airbnb I did not give him a chance to resolve the issue. I’m of the opinion that the issue was not resolvable in an acceptable timeframe. We were going to stay in an Airbnb guest house in the Galilee, but I immediately decided to look elsewhere for accommodation. For now, I’m done with Airbnb.
Do you think I should have given the host more time to fix the problem?