As mentioned in the prior post, Peter and I had our first (and second) Airbnb experiences in Ireland. Airbnb is a website where people can list their space for rent. It’s the glorified (and safer?) version of placing a “roommate wanted” or “room for rent” ad on Craigslist.
We chose to rent apartments instead of staying in hotels because we were not impressed by the hotel offering in Galway and Dublin. So, we decided to try our hand at sleeping in a stranger’s bed and using their shower.
Before I get into the details comparing our Galway and Dublin Airbnb properties, it is important to note that both had cumulative five-star ratings based on guest reviews. There was not a single negative review for either property.
Galway Airbnb stay – ★★★★★
Our Galway Airbnb stay was, well, perfect.
We arrived at our hosts’ home at 4:30pm. Many homes in Ireland do not have house numbers, so we were told to look for “the house with the red door”.
We knocked on the door and “Paul” answered. The first thing we noticed was that Paul in person was 30 years old than Paul in the profile photo on Airbnb. I thought we had been scammed.
Then I realized that the profile photo and the man standing before me actually look very similar. I thought that maybe the man who answered the door was Paul’s dad, also named Paul. Yep, that was it. I had convinced myself that I have solved the case of Two Pauls.
We were led into the living room and met Paul’s wife, Amanda. She offerred us the usual: tea, coffee, or water. We requested water and sat down. We chatted for 30 minutes. It was welcoming and strange at the same time.
If we break down the scenario, then we’d just driven to a stranger’s home, knocked on their red door, and been invited into their living room to have a chat.
We learned that Paul and Amanda are English expats and have lived in Ireland for 11 years. Paul is an architect who left England because it was/is too difficult to get planning permission to modernize buildings and bring new designs and architecture into communities.
Basically, he got fed-up with the bureaucracy and left for a better opportunity.
The studio apartment (above their garage) was the apartment that we had rented on Airbnb. It used to be a workspace for Paul but Paul and Amanda were coerced by their son (whose actual photo is on the Airbnb listing) to list their space on Airbnb for some extra cash and social interaction for the semi-retired couple.
Lesson learned 1
It is equally important to review the host’s profile as it is the photos and description of the property. Older and more mature hosts may host their property because they want to, not because they need to. And this can mean big things when it comes to the condition and care of the property.
After our living room chat, Paul gave us a quick tour of the apartment and reminded us that breakfast would be delivered per our request at 9am. We’d know when breakfast had arrived when the flag on the American mailbox had been raised.
Lesson learned 2
Hosts who care about their property will supply it with everything a guest could ever need whilst staying there. Some examples include: shoe shine, first aid kit, lint roller, kettle, wine glasses, cork screw, juices, jams, cutlery, dishes, slippers, etc.
Lesson learned 3
Hosts who are gracious and provide a clean property will likely get a clean property in return.
I was literally on my hands and kneeds cleaning up the hair that had fallen from my head after I finished blow drying it.
Peter washed the dishes even though it was not required or expected.
We even made the bed before we checked out!
Dublin Airbnb stay – ✩✩✩✩✩
Our problems with the Dublin Airbnb began 10 days before we were due to check-in. We received an email from our host, Katie, who stated “Unfortunately, we have to cancel your reservation with us. Someone else has come along and asked to book the property for a solid two months and we just can’t turn down the money with our situation right now.”
Katie went on to state that she would assist us in finding another property and that finding another property should not be an issue because it was off-season.
Whilst it was technically off-season, it was also the weekend of the Dublin marathon – the very reason why we were in Dublin. Finding another property was going to be impossible.
About five minutes later, we received a second email from Katie stating, “Ha. Messaged the wrong person – was supposed to send this to someone staying in November! I’m sorry about that – we’re still on for October 28 to the 30th!”
There was nothing “hah” about what had just occurred.
The next big problem that arose was when we tried to locate the key to the apartment which was hidden in one of the planter outside of the door to the apartment building.
We were literally digging into planters with our bare hands looking for a key. What a load of rubbish that was.
Eventually we found the key and entered the apartment. This is when the real problems began.
We were met with a flurry of Post-It notes stuck to various walls, floors, and appliances.
The first note was on the floor just beyond the entryway. It said, “Please remove your shoes.”
We were blasted with notes with every step we took.
“The TV is not hooked up to cable. Please do not turn it on.”
“Remember to turn off the lights when you leave.”
“Please turn down the radiators when you check out.”
“Do not eat anything in this cupboard.”
“Wash your dishes.”
I felt like a child. An annoyed and angry child.
I opened the refrigerator to see if it was stocked with anything other than Post-It notes and what I found disgusted me.
Inside the refrigerator were too bottles of curdled milk, two broken eggs, and three packs of opened butter with mold growing on them. Until that point, I did not know that mold could grow on butter!
I noted that the freezer door was ajar and because it was fully encrusted with ice, it could not be closed.
I left the kitchen, put on my shoes, and turned my attention to the bathroom.
The bathroom was disgusting. There was mold on the shower tile, hair in the bathtub, the ratty towels were mismatched and had bleach stains on them, and there were curly black hairs on the floor (yes, that kind of hair).
I quickly scanned our itinerary and if I could get away with not showering during our stay.
Next was an inspection of the bedroom. There was a hair on the pillow and the sheets were pitted and in very poor condition.
Below is a photo of the sheets. The black things are balls of cotton.
Having scoped out the apartment in detail, I walked into the living room where Peter was trying to conquer the latest problem: no wifi.
Katie had changed the wireless network name in-between the time we booked (and received the house rules) and the time we checked in.
I sat down at the kitchen table and held back tears. This apartment was awful.
As I was gathering my thoughts, all of the problems I’ve just described became dwarfed when the diesel train rumbled down the tracks located directly outside the apartment windows.
Trains rumbled by every 20 minutes. Sometimes two trains going in opposite directions at the same time. The apartment literally shook when they rumbled by but that wasn’t the biggest problem. The big problem was how loud the trains were.
Lesson learned 4
When a property description states, “Easy and quick access to the train station across the street,” think twice before booking the property.
The only apartment in the building that was closer to the train tracks was the one directly below ours. Trains ran from 6:30am to midnight on a 20-30 minute schedule.
I read the apartment reviews again and not a single review mentioned the trains. Additionally, not a single review mentioned uncleanliness.
I realized that the typical guest of this property is someone who stays in hostels and travels on a very low budget.
The Dublin marathon was on a Monday and we were scheduled to depart on Tuesday morning. We looked into changing our departure from Tuesday to Monday but had no luck.
I do not believe the apartment was cleaned before our arrival. I want to note that we did contact Katie and she offerred to clean it on Monday but it wasn’t worth it for us to pack up our belongings and leave the apartment for three hours on Katie’s schedule so that she could clean it.
We never met Katie face-to-face and we dropped the keys in the planter on our way out. As part of my review of the property, we flagged it as a property that should be removed from Airbnb’s site but nothing ever came of that; the property remained on the site and no one from Airbnb followed up with us for additional feedback and details.
The jury is out on Airbnb at this point.