The Highs and Lows of Airbnb
Updated: Aug 27, 2019
After 2 years, 288 stays, 1 broken shower and a multitude of "Did you have a good holiday?", Airbnb and I are breaking up. On Saturday 1 September, the last guest will close the door behind them and our spare room will become just that - a place in which people rarely sleep and Phil has his wee man office for doing manly activities.
Before you begin reading and assume its full of the pitfalls, I must say I would recommend Airbnb to those looking to earn a bit of money from their home. With that said, it is hard, hard work and is very much like a second job. Don't think it is easy money. I would also say that if you like meeting new people it can be great. If not, steer clear. Finally be under no illusion that (some) people will not treat your home as you would wish it to be treated. Expect breakages, spills, slams, smashes... and to have to pay for them.
I began Airbnbing in a bid to earn some extra income finding myself living alone and bills mounting. I was one of those "this is easy" people - I went above and beyond, laying out a 5 star breakfast, bottles of water - even whisky a kind guest left was on offer. I was smiles and staying up til 11pm, waiting too patiently for guests to arrive from China, India, Glasgow, New York... Most were on their way to or from the airport, a handy 5 minutes away.
As the months and years went on, my enthusiasm and room began to deteriorate. Fresh licks of paint couldn't hide the fact that we were both tired but committed to seeing out the Festival then calling it quits. When I looked back at the reservations and saw just how many people have stayed, it took me a bit by surprise and remembering some of the experiences I was lucky enough (or not) to endure. So... onto some of the highlights.
Mr "Don't Tell My Wife"
The strangest experience was probably with a young Chinese "couple" who were up from England for the night to explore Edinburgh after studying here. The lady didn't say much; in fact when I tried to engage her in conversation she recoiled. The man was lovely. The trundled off home in their family car complete with child seat and it was only an hour later when I received a message asking me not to mention a woman had been with him in my review, that I realised I had been host to some form of adulterous creep. I thought long and hard about what I should do. In the end, I left no review at all and figured his real wife would find out at some point.
The Lady with the Apples
The lady with the apples had messaged me to tell me her orchard was offering an excellent yield and did I want an apple or two. By apple or two, she meant to huge bags of Bramleys that kept me in pies and jam for at least a month. I was so touched I spent a bit more time with her than most guests as she told me her husband had been killed in a mountaineering accident in Scotland some months before. The price of the air ambulance that came to rescue him was tens of thousands of pounds. She had come back here to help fundraise. She was a remarkable lady.
Climb Every Mountain
My youngest guest was a lad from France. He had come to explore part of the North Coast 500... in trainers and thin jacket. During his stay, he decided to pop up Arthur's Seat in the dark (as you do) and lost the key to my house. Instead of sensibly calling me, he headed back to the house and attempted to break the door. Luckily my mother was on hand to save the day and let him in as he tearfully begged me to immediately come home. Tip: Zip your pockets.
Four in a Bed...
One of the worst experiences was a lady who was staying the next day with her partner. My listing clearly states it is a room fit for two, with a double bed. She messaged asking if her two daughters could stay last minute. I apologetically said they could not. "On the floor?" No sorry, there really isn't room plus I don't have spare duvets and pillows. Her indignation led her to pretty much demand I gave up my bed. I declined, with equal indignation. Fine! She would stay in a hotel and expected a full refund. Which Airbnb refused to give. It didn't go down well.
Fancy a Date?
Whilst it was flattering, a young rich American gentleman invited me to dinner and thankfully I had already made plans. He had spent the previous few hours in my living room drinking a bottle of wine and telling me about his life. Whilst it was interesting, it was pretty clear what his intentions were. I managed to escape for dinner with Mum and thankfully when I returned home, he was asleep.
Thankfully it was Phil who was witness to this tale. A very young Chinese couple were staying the night. They had an obsession, it seemed, with keeping everything damp and hot. The bathroom was steamy for hours and all windows kept firmly shut in a bid to create some form of tropical environment.
As we returned from a night out to Amazon-like conditions upstairs, the young man was scuttling about in our hall naked. Phil announced his arrival again, but it did little to encourage the boy to dress or even pop some clothes on. Phil describes his movements as some weird crab-like dance. I am so, so pleased I didn't have to see it.
Lost in Translation?
"Please put jug on I cold." (Translation: Please use your Hive to turn on the kettle so I can get some hot water (even though I can easily do it myself)).
"No problem," I replied. "It does say the heating is up at 20 degrees which is pretty hot (she had been fiddling) - if you like there is a hot water bottle in the wardrobe and a rug?"
"No I fine." Two hours later... "Put jug on I cold now.". I explained I couldn't as the Hive plug only works when reset up but said she could fill and use the kettle as normal.
When I returned home the next morning, and the guest had left about 11am, I discovered every candle in the house in the spare room, a kettle in the bed (!) and every blind/curtain in the house shut (even though it was a light Summers day). The heating had been manually fixed to 25 (!!) but the rug left untouched. Very confusing and expensive.
Why Does Your Shower Not Work?
I received a message from a German couple staying for a few nights, angry that my (new) shower was not working. I apologised profusely and alerted them that as soon as I was home I would investigate and get it fixed. When I saw what had happened, my heart sunk. An easy-to-use swing handle had been wrenched off the wall (by them) and shoved back on so forcefully the whole shower was knackered. I told them the exact reason as to why the shower wasn't working and that a claim would need to be made to fix it. They refused. Luckily a plumber friend managed to patch it up but my gorgeous new shower was never the same.
When Love Takes Over
We played host to a(nother) German couple who had popped up to Edinburgh for a few days. They were mid-50s and the poor lady had broken her leg with her whole limb in a terrible contraption. That did stop them from having sex for 45 minutes directly above Phil and I who were watching TV.
The Great Flood
A few weeks ago, we had the unfortunate task of hosting a couple of Airbnb virgins. They came from a country who typically have different bathroom habits from us in the UK which is absolutely fine. What is not fine was that every time they went to the bathroom, sometimes five times in one hour, there were huge pools of water left after them, ruining my beautiful floor. I did leave one of three bad reviews and was shocked when I saw they had the audacity to criticise my house: the room was too small for their needs and they expected a lot of hanging space. I didn't hold back on firing right back at them suggesting they literally clean up their act before staying somewhere else.
A Surprise Gift
An older couple had been chatting away to me before they headed upstairs to bed. I was impressed with how polite they were, telling me all about their home in France and where they would travel in Scotland. The next morning, the bed was made immaculately although a rogue pillow had been placed in a slightly odd position. I soon discovered why. One of the party had not only had a leaking nose, but leaking other parts too. Instead o of letting me know, or attempting to use a cloth to clean up the blood and poo... they used a beautiful cushion not only to wipe, but to hide so I wouldn't see. When I was changing the bed. And cleaning the sheet, mattress and pillow.
Room for a Little One?
A couple of lads were heading to stay at mine on Saturday night. I thought, how lovely - they must be enjoying a romantic night in Edinburgh. When they arrived at 4pm that afternoon, they shared their plans. There was a rave at Ingliston. Did I want to come? Would I mind if they brought a girl back? (I did). Would I mind if they checked out at 12pm instead of 10am? (3pm).
My neighbours have had people wandering into their house. My street has been awoken by the trundle of suitcases and shrieks of guests as they discover they have arrived at their destination. My door has been slammed of its hinges at 5am. My bath has been clogged with half of a yeti. Lights have been left on all day and night. My toilet has leaked from god knows what being stuffed down it.
Airbnb is no walk in the park. Yes I have met some fascinating people, but my house (and I) are done in. I have a much better housemate to keep him company. One who will very soon be enjoying his little man office.
Adios Airbnb!! <3
If you are considering Airbnbing as a guest in the UK, then Manchester is one of my top recommendations. They city is vibrant - full of things to do, see and enjoy. It's pretty similar to Edinburgh in a sense of atmosphere, fab transport links, unique places to live and more. Just over four hours from the city, you can make a weekend of it and see all the city has to offer.